Tuesday, October 20, 2020
International Announcement
Congratulations to Smitha Menon!

Stanardsville, VA - October 20, 2020 - The International Women's Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation (IWIRC), the premier international, networking and professional growth organization for women in the restructuring and insolvency industries, is pleased to announce the 2020 WOYR Asia Award Recipient. The Asian IWIRC networks are delighted to announce that Smitha Menon of WongPartnership is the 2020 winner of the IWIRC Woman of the Year in Restructuring (Asia) Award ("WOYR(A) Award").

About the WOYR(A) Award

The WOYR(A) Award complements IWIRC International's pre-existing award program, Woman of the Year in Restructuring Award, which has been administered internationally since 2006.

The WOYR(A) Award is open to any female professional in the restructuring and insolvency industry based in Asia, including, lawyers, judges, bankers, accountants, turnaround managers, restructuring advisers and academician. Nominees could be actively engaged in or recently retired from the restructuring industry. The criteria for the WOYR(A) Award requires nominees to have inspired and/or skillfully led a restructuring or insolvency team, displayed exceptional leadership, made an extraordinary contribution to insolvency/restructuring, including the growth of women in the industry, and shown evidence of "going above and beyond" so as to have made a difference, including through mentoring, training and publications.

Presentation ceremony: Adapting to the 2020 landscape

The WOYR(A) Award 2020 was announced during a hybrid in-person / virtual event "Be Inspired: Celebrating & Sharing: IWIRC Success in 2020" which took place in Hong Kong and Singapore on 20 October 2020 with attendees joining from around the globe. 2020 Melnik Award recipient, Aruni Weerasekera and 2020 Fetner Award recipient, Joanne Collett were also presented with their awards during that event. Visit this link to view more about their extraordinary contributions to IWIRC.

During her acceptance speech, Smitha thanked her team at WongPartnership whose curiosity and conscientiousness inspire her everyday "I truly believe that one must leave a place better than when one joined. My ambition has always been to build a team of people who are more intelligent and accomplished than I will ever be. I believe I am succeeding. It is invigorating to be surrounded by young lawyers who strive to be the most excellent and technically sound lawyers in the industry". 

Smitha Menon: a unique combination of humility and charisma.

Smitha has 16 years' experience in insolvency and restructuring. She is the deputy head of the Restructuring and Insolvency practice group at Singapore law firm WongPartnership and one of the leading partners in the firm's Special Situations Practice.  Some of her key mandates in recent years include acting for the debtor in the restructuring by SGX Mainboard-listed Hyflux Ltd, advising interim judicial manages of Xihe Holdings to restructure more than US$1 billion of debt (related to fraud involving Hin Leong Trading and Ocean Tankers) and advising the rescue finance lender in Re Design Studios, one of only a handful of approved rescue financings in Singapore since the new provisions were introduced in 2017.

Manoj Sandrasegara, the head of WongPartnership's cross-border restructuring practice in Asia described Smitha as "trusted and respected by the members of the team for not just her unparalleled knowledge and expertise in restructuring and insolvency law, but also the integrity she consistently displays in her practice and leadership of the team. Smitha leads with a unique combination of humility and charisma. She is dedicated to helping each team member develop professionally and genuinely cares for the welfare of the team."

Although being an IWIRC member is not a criterion for winning the award, it was notable that Smitha had made significant contributions to IWIRC in her local network in Singapore and has contributed to a number of international events this year.  Smitha has served as Vice Chair (2013), Co-Chair (2014) and Treasurer (2015) of the Singapore IWIRC Network which was founded in 2009 and remains an active member on its board.

During 2020 Smitha spoke on an IWIRC / INSOL virtual panel "Global deal-making: Cultural Considerations". She was also instrumental in organising and jointly moderating the high- powered IWIRC / INSOL panel on 8 October 2020 which showcased a senior Singapore judge, a senior Singapore government minister and senior representative of the Singapore stock exchange discussing recent developments in the Singaporean restructuring regime.

Smitha acknowledged the role that IWIRC has played in her career, "It is said that women often suffer from "imposter syndrome" and that is why I feel organisations like IWIRC are invaluable. Belonging to such a community provides perspective and a point of reference to your identity as a professional. More importantly, the support from women, often way more successful than you, both inspires and reminds you to have confidence and belief in yourself."

The WOYR(A) Award includes a donation of the equivalent of US$1000 to the charity of the winner's choosing. Smitha chose Daughters of Tomorrow, a local charity whose mission is to facilitate livelihood opportunities for women from low-income families in Singapore, support them in achieving financial independence and enable social mobility for their families.

Thank you: nominations and judging panel

The sub-committee for WOYR(A) Award comprised members of IWIRC's Asia Board . The adjudication was a two-stage process, with a first round of adjudication done by the sub-committee and directors of the IWIRC Asia Board, whilst the second round was done by pan-Asia group of senior industry representatives - Justice Hima Kohli of the Delhi High Court, Hon Justice Audrey Lim of the Singapore Supreme Court and Jackie Walsh from Borrelli Walsh (in her capacity as the 2019 WOYR(A) Award winner).

The sub-committee would like to thank all of those involved in the adjudication for devoting their time and effort to the selection of the finalists and ultimate winner. The sub-committee were grateful for all the nominations received for this year's WOYR(A) Award and were both amazed and inspired by the work and contributions of this year's nominees from across the region including Hong Kong, India and Singapore. Each of the nominees are true trailblazers in the restructuring world, tireless advocates for women in the industry and who all embody the very spirit of the WOYR(A) and live by its ideals every day in their professional lives.


It is hoped that next year's WOYR(A) Award will receive even more nominations from across Asia, whether by self-nomination or otherwise, so that the valuable contributions of women in the restructuring and insolvency industry in Asia can be acknowledged and celebrated.


IWIRC is committed to the connection, promotion and success of women in insolvency and restructuring worldwide.

For more than 25 years, IWIRC has been connecting women worldwide. Across the board room, courtroom and the continents, our diverse relationships make IWIRC the premier organization for women in the restructuring and insolvency professions. IWIRC networks are located in Asia, Europe, North America and South America. We welcome the development of new networks in these or new regions.  Be Inspired. Be Informed. Be Connected.  For more information, please contact sbedker@iwirc.com or visit www.iwirc.com.

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