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One Australian woman makes Asia's Power list: Mecca's Jo Horgan

·6-min read
Mecca CEO Jo Horgan and the inside of a Mecca store.
Jo Horgan, founder and managing director of Mecca Cosmetica has been names on Forbes Asia's power list. (Source: Getty)

There's been absolutely no slowing down these stellar women in business in 2021 despite the curveballs thrown at them by the COVID-19 pandemic

At a time when survival of businesses has been a great challenge since the onset of the pandemic, Asia's most adaptive and zealous businesswomen have emerged unbeaten. 

This year too, Forbes ranked the best female forces in business across ages and across sectors - spanning manufacturing, health care and technology, banking and private equity, and retail - and arrived at 20 prominent leaders who command startups valued at more than US$100 million ($134 million) or are running businesses with outstanding revenues.

While the list is dominated by businesswomen from Japan, Singapore and other South-East Asian countries, one notable name from Australia features on the Forbes 2021 Asia’s Power Businesswomen list.

This year's list is special because all of them are new entrants amid cutthroat competition.

Meet the Aussie power woman, Mecca's Jo Horgan

Among them is Jo Horgan, founder and co-CEO of Mecca Brands, who redefined the beauty landscape in Australia by leading the way in retail innovation and delivering the ultimate beauty experience to customers. 

Melbourne-based Mecca Brands - a multi-brand beauty store - was founded by the 49-year-old in 1997.

The idea dawned on her through her own personal experience of shopping for makeup at a department store in her 20s. She noticed the limitations of choosing brands from a shelf and customers being lured by representatives of different brands who were trying to promote their own products. 

Overwhelmed by the constant accosting and intimidating experience, she decided to create an experience for her customers to shop for makeup based only on merit of the brands. 

Mecca Brands was born and it has now grown to become the largest cosmetic retailer by sales in the $3.2 billion cosmetic and toiletry retailing market of Australia.

A former project manager at L’Oréal, Horgan grew Mecca’s network to more than 100 shops across Australia and New Zealand. The retail giant's online business houses nearly 200 beauty brands along with its own in-house makeup and skincare products. 

While Mecca's net profits grew exponentially until 2019, in 2020 sales dipped drastically with stores being forced to shut down in Australia due to the pandemic. 

Notwithstanding slowdown in sales, the cosmetics company has continued to expand, with more stores including a flagship outlet in Sydney. Notably, Mecca has also forayed into the Chinese market in partnership with Alibaba’s Tmall Global.

With all this under her wing, Jo Horgan is undoubtedly a force to reckon with and a role model for many aspiring businesswomen across Asia.

Women dressed in business attire raise their hands in celebration. (Source: Getty)
Women from Japan and Singapore dominate Asia's most powerful women in business list. (Photo: Getty)

Women from Japan, Singapore dominate the list

With only 20 spots on this esteemed list, it's noteworthy that three women from Japan and three from Singapore have been named Asia's most powerful.

Keiko Erikawa, 72, is the executive chairman of Koei Tecmo, a Japanese video game and anime company created in 2009. Erikawa debuts on this list for having reported 11 straight years of record net profits and for managing Koei Tecmo’s US$1.1 billion ($1.48 billion) in assets across Japan, Hong Kong and the US.

Eiko Hashiba, 43, from Japan, is the founder and CEO of VisasQ, a leading global expert network service. Hashiba reportedly owns more than US$240 million ($324 million) in shares of VisasQ, which has a US$471 million ($634 million) market capitalisation.

Takayo Kotani, 44 from Japan, is the president of robot manufacturer Yushin Precision Equipment. Ever since having taken over the reins of the firm from her mother, Takayo has grown the company successfully and posted about $170 million ($229) in revenue and an operating profit margin of nearly 14 per cent in the recent fiscal year despite the pandemic.

Veteran 58-year-old banker Judy HSU, CEO for consumer, private and business banking at Standard Chartered Bank is a prominent name from Singapore making an appearance on the list. 

NG Gim Choo, 69, is the founder of Singapore-based International Education Group EtonHouse. Under her watch and leadership EtonHouse has grown to house 20,000 students across 130 campuses in 11 Asian countries.

Helen Wong, 60, is the Group CEO of Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp (OCBC) headquartered in Singapore, and the first woman to hold this position at the second-largest bank by market value.

File photo of Meena Ganesh, cofounder and chairperson of Portea Medical. (Source: Getty)
Meena Ganesh is the co-founder and chairperson of Portea Medical in India. (Source: Getty)

Other prominent names from across Asia

Indian businesswomen aren't too far behind on this list, with two entrants. 

Meena Ganesh, 58, is the cofounder and chairperson of Portea Medical, India. It is the largest home healthcare company by revenue. She said the pandemic highlighted the dire need for home health care. 

45-year-old Farah Malik Bhanji is the managing director of Metro Brands, India’s fourth-largest footwear retailer by revenues. As the pandemic brought about many challenges, a prudent Bhanji was quick to ramp up online presence and sales.

The two entrants from Hong Kong are 61-year-old Teresa Ko - China chairman of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, one of the largest and most prestigious international law firms in the world - and 51-year-old Janice Lee, the CEO of video streaming platform Viu. Under Lee's leadership, Viu has overtaken Netflix to become the second-largest streaming service by subscription in Asia.

South Korea's two entrants this year are Kim Seon-Hee the CEO of Maeil Dairies and Lee In-Kyung of MBK Partners. 

From Indonesia, Marina Budiman, the cofounder and president commissioner of DCI, features on the list, along with Tessa Wijaya, the COO of Xendit.

Cao Xiaochun, 52, is the president of professional clinical research firm Hangzhou Tigermed Consulting. She is the sole name from China on this power list.

Winnie Lee, the cofounder and COO of Appier, from Taiwain, Maria Grace Y. UY, cofounder and president of Converge ICT Solutions, from the Philippines, Wallapa Traisorat, president and CEO of Asset World Corp, Thailand and Nadiah Wan, group CEO and executive director of TMC Life Sciences, also earned themselves a mention among Asia's most powerful women for this year.

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