Malaysia’s Most Stylish Women: Shireen Kandiah

BAZAAR’s Malaysia’s Most Stylish Women from each year return to celebrate fabulous fashion and extraordinary moments. Presenting the luminaries, from original top models to world-class journalists, architects, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and wellness gurus—in a class of their own.

Shireen Kandiah

Director of Strategy, Partnerships, and Communications at Asian Institute of Chartered Bankers

Top; and skirt, both from Bottega Veneta.

Shireen’s magnetic presence is evident as soon as she walks into the studio, but it is her warm personality that truly makes one at ease. She definitely couldn’t keep a straight face when quizzed about her previous ‘Malaysia’s Most Stylish Women’ experience with BAZAAR. “I probably was skinnier, had less wrinkles. It was before my children took over my life!” she laughs.

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Back then, Shireen spent her years toiling away as a banker in the Middle East, where she had a front-row seat on the issues on women empowerment in the work force. “The fight for gender equality is long, and the progression is slow, but as women, we must take it upon ourselves, feel confident about our achievements, and promote our abilities,” she says. “I was fortunate that I was never in a position where I’ve been discriminated, but that doesn’t mean these issues aren’t real. Female empowerment isn’t a one woman show,”

As a mother who isn’t afraid to speak her mind, Shireen wants to educate the right values to her younger ones, that “you can’t just Google everything”. “I look at my children and I wonder, ‘What can you actually teach them? What can you give them to prepare them for this new world?’” she questions. “Be conscious, creative, and pure with your intentions. And never lose your emotions. Feelings are what separates us from simulated machinery.”

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SHIREEN KANDIAH, in BAZAAR December 2005 ‘Malaysia’s Most Stylish Women’: “Coincidentally, the shoot kick-started my new life as I had just returned from working in Dubai. An exciting chapter in my wonderful relationship with the BAZAAR family.”