‘The most luxurious form of enjoyment is to have meaningful, inspiring and deep friendships’. ILARIA chats with Tatler about her reflections from her action-packed & star-studded trip to Singapore in September 2023.



Ilaria Chan is an old friend of Tatler’s. The last time I met her was in London a year ago, after she had just finished attending Care For Children's annual gala as their board director co-hosted with His Royal Highness Prince Michael at Windsor Castle. At that time, Ilaria's thoughts and actions on women's empowerment and children's growth left a deep impression on us. She has always been committed to help inspirational people and worthwhile causes make strategic connections in order to help them realize their fullest potential. 


Singapore in September 2023 was extremely bright and busy. Ilaria, who lives in San Francisco, also flew to Singapore halfway across the globe to attend several conferences and dinners that brought together influential people from all walks of life. As the Chairman of Tech For Good Institute, a non-profit think tank founded by GRAB (Southeast Asia's Nasdaq listed unicorn technology company & leading super app), and a technology and social impact advisor for GRAB, she delivered speeches and networked at these events. She also serves on multiple boards and advisory councils of humanitarian organizations, venture capital & real estate funds, and international think tanks. In her personal capacity, she also helped her friends such as former NBA basketball star Jeremy Lin, top Hollywood producer Dan Lin and Gold House founder Bing Chen build new social networks in Asia.


After the 11-day trip to Singapore, Ilaria accepted Tatler's invitation and chatted with us about her reflections on this trip to Singapore.

Left to Right:

Jacqueline Poh (Managing Director of Singapore’s Economic Development Board)

Ilaria Chan

Jeremy Lin (international basketball star)


Left to Right:
Ke Huy Kuan (2023 Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role)

Ilaria Chan

Tatler: Please help us recall your trip to Singapore and share the most interesting and meaningful things you found during it.

llaria: My trip in Singapore lasted for more than 11 days, and there were dinners and activities every day. I first went to the Forbes CEO Conference, which gathered many Asian CEOs and tycoons. The next two days were spent attending the Milken Conference. This conference is international renowned especially in the United States where they’re headquartered. They also have summits in Asia every year. This year, the President of Philippines and Prime Minister of Malaysia attended as speakers. Jeremy Lin also spoke at the conference where he shared his life story, the ballroom at Four Seasons was packed during his session with standing room also at capacity! If you are not invited as a guest but wish to purchase a ticket on your own, per ticket is US$20,000, which is roughly 140,000 RMB. The guests invited were of very high calibre, similar to Forbes. Three days after the Milken Summit was Formula One Grand Prix. I was at the Paddock Club, where I watched the race up close from the private observation deck. Many company founders, presidents, and this year's Oscar winners were invited to the Paddock Club to observe the race as well as conduct business exchanges with one another. After this event was SuperReturn, the world's largest private equity summit. I was a speaker at the summit on a panel that focused on investment themes into Asia.
There was also a Gold Bridge dinner during that week which I co-hosted with the founders of Gold House. Headquartered in Los Angeles, USA, Gold House is an organization that helps advocate for Asians and Pacific Islanders around the world. Last year Asians won a record-breaking number of awards at the Oscars, and Gold House provided immense support behind the scenes. Aside from Hollywood, they have also built strong ties with Silicon Valley and Wall Street, hoping to advance Asian and Pacific Islanders on all the key sectors around the globe.
It's been an honor for me to be able to serve as a bridge between the East and the West at these key events so that innovative and inspiring people can further their influence on society.

For example, Jeremy Lin is now building his family office, and I am invited to be one of his advisors. I helped him and his team build more strategic and meaningful relationships with business leaders and founders in Asia. I also have a friend, Dan Lin, who is an outstanding, top tier producer in Hollywood who has produced movies that were Oscar nominated and have grossed billions of dollars in box office. He is building a new state-of-the-art Hollywood animation studio and is interested to collaborate with Asia, so I helped facilitate his meetings with key officials and investors in Singapore.
By coming to Asia, they can further enhance their already strong influence. So I think the significance of this trip was not merely about helping successful people superficially hang out with each other, but to find intentional ways to be a bridge and connect the best talents from the East and the West with thoughtful introductions, so that they can further advance their work and contribute to society.


Tatler: You have been in Singapore for more than ten days. Do you have any new feelings about this place?


llaria: Actually I visit Singapore often. Singapore becomes the focus of global attention every September, with big wigs from all industries gathering there. The local authorities such as the Singapore Economic Development Board and Singapore Tourism Board in partnership with international organizers carefully arranged nearly two weeks of top notch activities and summits. Singapore is a perfect confluence of Asian and international culture and development, with genuine respect for each and every race and religion, which is rare in our world today. Beyond that, Singapore is a vibrant and technologically advanced country, arguably the safest in the world in terms of security. In the current chaotic world, Singapore provides a neutral and welcoming platform for people from all over the world to gather.

Singapore boasts a very low crime rate. You can even try leaving your wallet in your taxi with a high chance of having it returned. Even chewing gum is prohibited here because of the need to keep the city clean. In such an environment, people feel very reassured because Singapore ensures order and tranquility by providing freedom in appropriate areas and exerting control where management is required.
Most of my activities in Singapore were in hotels, such as Shangri-La Hotel and Four Seasons Hotel. Then we watched the Formula One race at the Paddock Club, which was specially built for F1. You can see the entire night view of Singapore from above with the gorgeous skyline. It also has fireworks at night, which rivals Hong Kong. The "Times 100 Awards Ceremony" this time was held on the rooftop of the National Gallery of Singapore. We enjoyed the night view, F1 race and fireworks from the vantage point of the gallery’s rooftop, which was breathtaking. In addition, we also toured local tourist gems such as hawker centres with our foreign friends. With Singapore being such an easily walkable city, it was convenient and pleasurable.


Tatler: You have participated in so many events these days, what are the most memorable moments? 


llaria: In fact, what impressed me most were the people and the meaningful conversations, rather than events. I was able to spend quality with old and new friends such as Jeremy Lin, Oscar winner Ke Huy Quan, and Hollywood director Dan Lin. I am very proud of them and overall of Chinese people. For example, Ke Huy Quan is so famous now, but he remains exceptionally humble and down-to-earth. I had only known him for about 5 minutes and he already exchanged phone numbers with me and introduced me to his wife, who sincerely shared with me stories from the days when he was not well known yet. I have always known Jeremy Lin’s family, but this time round because of quality time spent together, I was able to learn more about his inspirational story, especially the hard work and struggles during his NBA days.

There is also Dan Lin. He is a top tier acclaimed producer in the United States and his movies have been Oscar nominated, as well as blockbusters that have grossed around US$6 Billion in box office. In addition to creating top notch films, Dan’s charity also brings mentorship and performing arts opportunities to the underprivileged communities in the US.
These friends of mine have blazed their trails in the West yet retained a deep sense of identity and pride as Asians. I am heartened that the time has come for them (and other Asians) to shine on the world stage.


Left to Right:
Sunny Kapoor, Echo Quan, Ke Huy Quan, Guneet Monga, Bing Chen, Ilaria Chan 

Guneet Monga (2 time Oscar winning producer, 1st Indian to win an Academy Award, voted as one of the top 12 women achievers in the global entertainment industry by The Hollywood Reporter), Ke Huy Quan (1st Vietnam-born actor to win an Oscar) both brought their spouses to Singapore to attend the Gold Bridge dinner amongst other events. Ilaria really enjoyed meeting both Sunny Kapoor (Guneet’s husband) and Echo Quan (Ke Huy Quan’s wife), especially inspired to witness how much of a rock they both are to the respective Oscar winners in supporting their careers whilst not losing their own sense of self. Strong and mutually respectful marriages do exist after all in the highest echelons of show business!


Left to Right:
Eddie Nam (top), Ilaria Chan (bottom), Brian Nam, Eric Nam, Dan Lin

Ilaria was catching up with Dan Lin, Eric Nam and his brothers Eddie and Brian Nam.
Dan Lin (top Hollywood producer who has produced films that grossed nearly US$ 6 Billion in worldwide box office. Notable movies include the “Lego Movies”, “I.T.”, “Sherlock Holmes”, “Aladdin”, “The Two Popes” etc.) and Eric Nam (Korean pop star sensation, named GQ Korea’s Man of the Year 2016, Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia in 2017) are two of the world’s top entertainment talents.
What Ilaria find most impressive about them is their desire to positively impact their fans’ lives. Eric Nam advocates for mental health by boldly sharing about his own mental health struggles and how he left his record label to become an independent star. Dan Lin uses his resources as a top Hollywood producer to provide mentorship and programs to help aspiring performers, writers & filmmakers and focuses on advancing racial equity on screen.


Left to Right:
Ilaria Chan, Maia Shibutani, Alex Shibutani

Ilaria was a guest at Time100 Awards Ceremony, along with Alex and Maia Shibutani (2 time Olympic medalists, 3 time World medalists, 2 time US National champion ice dancers)


Tatler: Apart from the three of them, are there any people you met for the first time in these 11 days who were particularly impressive?
llaria: At the "Times 100 Awards Ceremony", I met a pair of Japanese ice dancing brother and sister. They are Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, 2 time Olympic bronze medalist, 3 time World medalist, the 2016 Four Continents champion, and a 2 time U.S. national champion. They grew up in the United States and were already famous at the age of twelve or thirteen. Besides winning so many international medals, they are also authors, photographers and content creators. I really enjoyed getting to know them. In addition, I was also able to catch up with my childhood friends who are now female successors of their family businesses, such as the CEO of Rosewood Hotels and the executive director of Shui On, and we talked a lot about how to help female CEOs do better. At these summits you will see mostly men, because most CEOs are men, so we have a lot of meaningful conversations about women's rights.


Ilaria was invited to attend Forbes’ Global CEO Conference held this September 11–12, 2023 in Singapore. The conference convened CEOs, tycoons, entrepreneurs, investors and thought leaders to discuss key issues of global concern and to build new partnerships. Notable attendees included leaders such as Heng Swee Keat (Deputy Prime Minister, Singapore), Dhanin Chearavanont (Senior Chairman of CP Group), Jenny Johnson (CEO of Franklin Templeton), Liang Xinjun (Co-founder, Fosun Group), Stephanie Lo (Executive Director, Shui On Land) etc.

Ilaria enjoyed the insights from these top titans of their industry, many of them are patriarchs of the giant Asian family conglomerates founded more than six decades ago. What was especially remarkable to Ilaria is seeing the next generation of leaders take over their family businesses and steering them to new heights, or starting their own innovative startups, with a common theme towards sustainability and advancing societal good. Examples are Ilaria’s childhood friends Sonia Cheng (who is now the CEO of Rosewood Hotels and Vice Chairman of Chow Tai Fook Jewellery), and Stephanie Lo (who is Executive Director of Shui On Land, who owns the famous XinTianDi in Shanghai). To see strong, young female leaders thrive in Asia is something Ilaria is passionate about and keen to help foster.


Left to Right: Deborah Mei, Ilaria Chan, Vinnie Lauria

<Global Interest in Developing Asia>
During the Forbes CEO Conference, Ilaria was invited to a VIP breakfast hosted by Golden Gate Ventures, a South-East Asian venture capital firm founded in 2011 that brings together knowledge and experience from Silicon Valley for Southeast Asia investments. That breakfast was attended by investors and CEOs from all over the world as Golden Gate Ventures unveiled an investment report titled: “Vietnam: An Emerging Growth Engine” in partnership with top consulting firm Boston Consulting Group. During the breakfast, Ilaria was able to meet and share her insights about the Tech scene in SE Asia region with CEOs from countries such as Philippines, USA, Malaysia, Singapore, UK as well as discuss collaboration opportunities with Tech investors, founders and journalists.

Tatler: I'd like to learn more about the Gold House you mentioned earlier. They are an organization that promotes Asians in Hollywood, right?


llaria: Yes. The people in this organization are all Asians living in the United States. Their founding team includes several Chinese Americans and one Vietnamese. They all graduated from renowned colleges such as Stanford and U Penn, all of them are simply outstanding.
They are establishing more meaningful ties in Asia to further their advocacy. The organization is still new, only five years old, yet they have tremendous traction already. Gold House launched in 2018 on their 5th anniversary) with the debut of Crazy Rich Asians, whose commercial success in the U.S. was driven chiefly by Gold House’s promotional efforts with Director Jon M. Chu and his cast. The film broke records and set off a movement around investment in Asian Pacific stories, and later, businesses. 
Over the past five years, the team has built a comprehensive ecosystem of top Asian executives, founders, investors, and celebrities to cement Asian leadership on the world stage and build stronger ties between the U.S. and APAC. This initiative is fondly known as “Gold Bridge.” Tatler did a great job covering their story.


Left to Right:
Natalie Balakrishnan, Claudia Sondakh, Margaret Wang, Sonia Cheng, Shamina Singh, Ilaria Chan, Sara Jane Ho

Left to Right:
Ilaria Chan, Echo Quan, Ke Huy Quan

Ilaria was a speaker at SuperReturn Asia at Marina Bay Sands, the largest private investment conference in the world, and shared the views in front of an audience comprised of the most prominent global investors in the world.

Tatler: Thanks! If Chinese Tatler readers want to go to Singapore to experience the local lifestyle and the country’s unique positioning and culture on the global map, which places would you recommend?
llaria: First of all, I would recommend everyone to go to Singapore in September. This period is the most exciting time for Singapore’s activities. The experience at Formula 1 and these summits are unrivalled. Even if you don't go to those parties, you will have many opportunities to meet global citizens who have flown in from around the world for those events. In addition, Singapore is very lively during Chinese festivals, such as the Mid-Autumn Festival and the Chinese New Year given the strong Chinese culture that prevails. Because they don’t have four seasons, winters are also conveniently very warm. Chinese people can go to Singapore when it's chilly in China.