Caleen Chua To Embrace Her New Season To The Fullest

Prolific entrepreneur and high achiever Caleen Caseryn Chua is recreating the best version of herself. Having faced fearfully in the face, she is now empowering women to do the same.
by Yvonne Yoong
Caleen Chua

Caleen Caseryn Chua | Law Soo Phye

Caleen Caseryn Chua — mother, daughter, serial entrepreneur, F&B head honco and now social enterprise champion and yoga creator for Adidas — has not escaped the attention of onlookers from various spheres. Being featured in prominent tabloids and luxury lifestyle publications, hers is the lot of the privileged empowered woman of the 21st century, as some would attest. Being also the daughter of none other than Datuk Seri Garry Chua, himself well- known in industry circles as a serial entrepreneur trailblazing paths where others fear to tread — the apple as they say, doesn’t fall far from the tree.

The past president of the Malaysian Retail Chain Association (MRCA) and current president council of MRCA was instrumental in passing over the reins of the Chakri Group of Restaurants over to Caleen who headed the F&B enterprise for a solid decade before she decided to relinquish this role to focus on her motherly duties while taking a lead role in encouraging mothers to become better versions of themselves.

Surprisingly, in person, Caleen is pleasingly petite and demure — her glowing skin bearing testimony to her healthy lifestyle incorporating a well-programmed diet incorporating stretching and meditating exercises. Trim figure in place, with an obvious glowing complexion and thick mane of black hair bunched up in a bouncy ponytail radiating wellness, her speech betrays someone who is obviously grounded with a very steady head on her shoulders.

Ever the dutiful daughter, having been summoned back from a career working as a business analyst in Australia after graduating in Finance and Marketing from The University of Melbourne for two straight years, she came back home to assume the role of CEO of Chakri Palace group of restaurants for the last 10 years which was her lot in life.

Wake-Up Call During The Pandemic

As the rest of the world would discover, it was not to be business as usual but business unusual when the pandemic unleashed its massive whiplash. As businesses pulled down their shutters — Caleen found herself not only bound by restrictions of the F&B restaurants running operations as usual but to add insult to injury — she also had to face a very personal life-changing battle.

During the very tough time following the lockdown, Caleen discovered that even being in a privileged position doesn’t guarantee she would be cushioned from all of life’s challenges either. In January 2020, when her son was just four months old, she discovered that a 8cm by 5cm cyst had developed on her left ovary, after she underwent a full body check-up.

To her horror — even her cancer marker for her liver and kidney were both elevated. The gynaecologist she was seeing urged her to undergo surgery as soon as possible to arrest the cyst to identify if it was benign or not, and what were the next steps needed.

“It was during this time that I truly contemplated death and what it meant to live,” she told The Peak.

“I prayed and set an intention that if I were to come out of this surgery well and healthy — that firstly, I will be a dedicated mother to my child. And secondly, I will dedicate my time and energy to serve others,” she said earnestly.

That big scare was a wake-up call for her. But thankfully, the surgery results revealed that the cyst was benign. Feeling like God had granted her a new lease of life, she told her dad that she would relinquish her role as CEO in the restaurant business but remain as a non-executive director, a decision which he, as a doting dad accepted with an open heart.

Focussing on her son and family, she also decided to start building a women’s community to help mothers positively transform themselves through “yoga and a state of mindfulness” as she was aware that mental and physical well-being were what people struggled with during the pandemic.


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Founding her new company called Yoga for Mums in 2020, she created a nine- week Mind and Body Transformation programme for women incorporating the practice of “gratitude through a weekly mindfulness sharing”. Not only was her programme successful — she also started attracting students via word of mouth who in turn shared how their lives were transformed via her input plus all the mindfulness sharing and especially from the practice of gratitude.

And, just like that — within two years, she was able to impact well over 250 women’s lives in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia through her programme. In April 2022, her success snowballed into her being selected as Adidas yoga creator.

“I felt truly blessed and privileged to be in a position of influence and pledged to continue to do my best for others,” she vowed to herself. Since then, there has been no stopping her as she continues to inspire women to join her Yoga for Mums platform culminating in an annual retreat for the women.

Having obtained her father’s blessings, and his support for the new direction in her life, her razor-sharp focus saw her building upon a community where women can support each other via organising an annual retreat for women.

Caleen has also planned a women’s transformation event which will be launched in November 2023 named “Enliven Women” – the first ever women’s event curated to help uplift women by helping them discover their inner potential while building and empowering mindset and personal growth.

“We are also collaborating with Thrive Well to impact B40 women through this as well. Every ticket sold for Enliven Women will contribute to B40 women attending the event,” she said in an attempt to be all-inclusive to empower women from all walks of life.

“In Western countries, there’s a lot of talk about women’s equality. But in Southeast Asia, the traditional concept is still that the mother stays at home or that the mother has to make sacrifices for the child… But who will take care of the mother?” she reasoned.

Spoken like a true champion for women.

Up, Close & Personal Takes with Caleen Chua

Caleen Chua

Caleen Caseryn Chua | Law Soo Phye

What are your goals and aims in life?

To live life with love and sincerity.  I feel that no matter what we do, if we do so with love and sincerity…eventually, others will feel it too. My students and the women in my community are the ones who inspire me every day and keep me going. Whenever they share with me how our programme and retreats have transformed their lives for the better, it motivates me to keep doing what I do which is to impact one life at a time.

Who are your women role models you look up to?

Oprah Winfrey, Mother Teresa and Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh. They have all overcome adversity, dedicated their time and used their voices and influence to uplift others.

Any parting words on how your dad has inspired you to be the person you are today?

My father and I have a very close relationship. In many ways, I am who I am because of him. He has always been a visionary and serial entrepreneur. I truly admire his ability to connect with anyone and make others feel his sincerity and friendship. Some of his core values which he inculcated in me since I was a child is gratitude, respect and empathy for others. That to me, is one of his greatest gifts that he has given me.


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