updated 8 Jun 2011, 06:54
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Jeanne's Double Happiness
by Victoria Barker

REGIONAL sales executive Jeanne Lee has had an exhilarating Labour Day weekend.

Last Thursday night, the 25- year-old, who works for publishing and financial-information firm Dow Jones & Company, clinched the top prize at the annual my paper Executive Look contest, winning $10,000 in cash, among other prizes.

She beat 15 other contestants to the grand prize in the finals at Zouk.

Then, last Saturday, she officially tied the knot with her boyfriend of five years, Mr Dillon Kho.

"It's been a wonderful double celebration," a breathless Ms Lee told my paper yesterday. Her whirlwind weekend included a church wedding at the Church of St Ignatius and a banquet at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel.

Having bonded with the other Executive Look finalists over two months of auditions, business-etiquette, catwalk and grooming classes, Ms Lee invited some of her fellow contestants to her wedding.

Last Saturday's wedding reception saw relationship manager Christine Tran; project manager Willy Foo; and Ms Sylvie Khau, who works for an investment company, in attendance.

"It was great to have the people with whom I've become close be there to see me get married," said Ms Lee.

Now in its fourth year, the Executive Look contest attracted a record 530 applicants this year.

The final 16 comprised eight male and eight female contestants from various fields such as finance and medicine. The two- hour final drew around 700 enthusiastic supporters to the Jiak Kim Street club last Thursday.

The first and second runners- up were, respectively, Health Promotion Board deputy director (Youth Health Programme Development) Zarina Yusof, 38, and Ms Tran, 31, who works for financial-service company Citco.

Ms Tran also bagged the HTC Best Communicator Award, which goes to the most eloquent executive.

Ms Lee said she plans to use most of her prize money to pay for her wedding, and to also put aside a sum for her "very expensive" university degree.

She was the only finalist who did not have a university degree, but is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Management at the Singapore Accountancy Academy.

Not having a degree has spurred her to work harder to achieve her goals, she said.

"It has been tough, but I think I've been able to prove myself," she said.

The sassy gal stood out because of her "distinct personality", one of the contest's judges, Mr Josh Goh, told my paper.

The assistant director of corporate services at recruitment agency The GMP Group said: "Even though she's young and has started work only recently, she possesses all the important qualities, such as eloquence and confidence."

The other judges were Mr Marc Hopstein, Asia-Pacific director of mobile communications business at Microsoft Singapore; Ms Denyse Yeo, deputy editor of Her World magazine; and my paper lifestyle and entertainment editors Jill Alphonso (English) and Glenn Low (Chinese).

Ms Zarina, a mother of two sons aged six and nine, also caught the judges' attention.

"She came across as the sort of woman who can inspire others, one who thinks deeply about her struggles as well as her triumphs," said Ms Alphonso.

As for Ms Tran, winning the Best Communicator Award was her most important takeaway from the night.

"I feel so proud to have won the award because it reaffirms my love for connecting people," she said.

As for why Ms Lee clinched the top prize, Mr Kho can perhaps provide the best insight.

"She's very driven when it comes to what she wants, and is always true to herself," he said. "That aspect of her personality inspires me to strive to be the very best person I can be."

And that, in the end, is what being an ideal executive is all about: He or she helps bring out the best in others, be it in their personal or professional lives.

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