The CEO of wealth advisory firm NQ International, Noor Quek channeled her sorrow into action and helped co-found Breast Cancer Foundation in Singapore.
The first thing you notice about Noor Quek are her kind eyes and soothing voice that sets you at ease. She’s full of sagely wisdom mixed with decades of business experience in the cutthroat world of finance.
But if there’s one quality that defines her, it would be her grit, something she says she learnt from her mother. That determination to do better, and to care for others’ needs, has helped weave the life story of this incredible businesswoman and healthcare activist.
She recalls how in her youth, her parents tried to steer her towards the medical profession. However, she was recommended to undertake a degree in business administration and subsequently joined the banking industry. She was one of the first female private bankers in the country, and now leads her own firm which focuses on wealth advisory solutions for her clients, as well as senior executive placements.
Circumstance propelled Noor to establish NQ International, but it was her clients who helped shape its ethos. “I had some long-standing clients who said to me, ‘Noor, you know us and we know you. We’ve grown our wealth, but we don’t know what to do with our lives, and our wealth moving forward. Can you help us?’ So I spent a month considering all that before founding NQ International,” she recollected.
“I’ve seen, in my career, those with nothing come to wealth and the opposite as well. I’ve seen how money can transform people, both for better and worse,” she muses. “It’s forced me to consider the importance of planning and sharing one’s success and wealth, both with those around us, and to help raise the social standing of our community.”
It was the combination of an unfortunate family crisis, along with her realisation that there was very little awareness of breast cancer 22 years ago, that led to the establishment of a non-profit organisation specialised in this aspect of women’s healthcare. Breast Cancer Foundation (BCF) provides access to information on breast cancer, social support and much more. All this began due to a personal crisis that struck the family.
“One day, when my mother and I attended the opening of a friend’s women’s clinic, we discovered that she had breast cancer. There was so little information about it then, especially if you were not in the medical field... I thought that it was a death sentence,” she said in dismay. “When I realised that there’s life after breast cancer, I wanted to share that and more with the public at large.”
With the combined energies of a group of friends, they established BCF within 6 weeks. Since then, with the support of many others, they’ve helped transform public awareness of breast cancer. While she stepped down as president of BCF last year, she remains a powerful advocate for the cause and women’s healthcare in general.
Noor has certainly crafted a legacy worth celebrating, not only for her remarkable financial career, or the fundraising effort she has undertaken with various charities over the years, but because she took action to initiate a new programme for women’s healthcare.
She credits an important value with helping her build her legacy today: planning ahead. “There’s an Alan Lakein quote I use for my company: ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail.’,” she opines. As an expert in wealth advisory, she considers Opus’ tailored approach incredibly useful. “Opus makes us think about the importance of planning. No two persons' needs are alike. Coming from the banking sector, one often thinks that legacy is about money, but legacy is planning for what you want out of life.”
She further counsels, “Be patient. Never give up. I’ve seen 6 crises in my banking career and this is my 7th. It’s important to have the same set of values and apply them at home and at work. To me, kindness and respect, for yourself and for others, are the most important things we need to develop and impart to others and the next generation, so that we can all make this a better world.”
Thinking ahead has allowed her to craft a legacy that’s reached thousands of lives, thanks to her tenacity in forging her own path forward. “That’s a legacy that I took from my parents - to never give up.”