Vivian Liew

Vivian Claire Liew

One way to gain insight into a person is to ask about the best present they’ve ever received. For PhilanthropyWorks (PW) founder Vivian Liew, the answer is: Friendship and joy. “Christmas Eve 2012: After an absence prompted by security and other constraints, I returned to Pakistan to refine the strategy for an effective restart of our project, Project Hausla. I felt guilty for not returning sooner, but the children at the camp recognised me and welcomed me with such joy. That was humbling and so beautiful — the best Christmas present I’ve ever received,” she recalls.

The sort who walks the talk, Liew is an “idealistic pragmatist” whose former experiences — working at The World Bank, Goldman Sachs and UBS, as well as a board directorship at Médecins Sans Frontières — now places her in the unique position to advise philanthropists and governments on the how-tos of gaining the best bang (or rather, impact) for their buck.

Founded in 2008 as Asia’s first philanthropy advisory and implementation service, PW guides clients with business analytics and rigorous due diligence towards achieving their social goals. Its focus is on sustainable solutions, particularly job training and education for the poor and neglected. “That helps them keep their dignity and fulfil their potential, as well as society’s,” she says.