Head of RO Family Office and F&B entrepreneur
While the finance professional is a familiar face in the local society scene and a dedicated mum to three adorable young children, Serene Chua is also known to be one of the new change- makers in the F&B industry. During the later part of her 16-year career in private banking, the avid foodie co-founded Wolf Burgers and Carvers & Co. in 2014, expanding operations islandwide and diversifying her F&B business.
In the past few years, she opened four Wolf Burgers cloud kitchens on top of two physical outlets at Funan mall and Changi City Point, and also collaborated with other F&B companies to offer its menu at their premises. The brand also partnered with local chef Shen Tan to open OG Lemak, a nasi lemak brand at Newton Food Centre in 2021.
“The entire strategy during the pandemic had to change as volumes dropped on the back of tourism halt, government restrictions on dining out, and WFH arrangements. There was definitely more focus on delivery versus dining at the outlets, hence we leveraged this to open more cloud kitchens,” she says.
In her corporate life, Serene has also recently switched from private banking to managing liquid investments as head of RO Family Office. “I prefer flexi-work to being in an office job. So while my new job scope is similar (that is, managing wealth), it is far more flexible and affords me more time for my children. As two of them are in primary school, I can juggle my career, businesses and being a mum and teacher more effectively. The pandemic not only changed the way we work, but it also made us re-focus on what’s important: health and quality time with the family.”
This mindset shift is also what led Serene in recent years to join the Neugen arm of ISCOS, which is a charity established some 33 years ago to serve low-income reformed offenders and their families. While ISCOS rehabilitates and reintegrates ex-offenders back into society – by training them in practical skills like baking, cooking and hairdressing while they are being incarcerated, Neugen uplifts the children and families with the main aim of preventing the phenomenon of intergenerational offending. “We help these families to restart their lives and break the negative cycle they were once in.”
Every year, Neugen supports over 400 children of inmates. Following an internal review of its programmes to stay relevant and effective, particularly in a post-Covid world, the organisation has adopted a new empowerment model to support their charges more holistically through educational and pro-social initiatives. Later this month, Neugen will officially launch its new framework along with a publicity blitz involving showcases of its beneficiaries as well as a week-long exhibition in town.
Serene wears the Hublot Big Bang One Click Steel Diamonds 33mm
Photography: Bryan Foong/BF Studio; Art Direction: Audrey Chan; Hair: Jimmy Yap/Kimistry Hair Boutique; Makeup: Keith Bryant Lee, using Chanel Beauty