Adelene Teh: Architect, developer, dreamer, ground breaker - Women's Agenda

Adelene Teh: Architect, developer, dreamer, ground breaker

With a proud family history in property development and a background in architecture, Adelene Teh is responsible for overseeing the highly intelligent and innovative designs behind each Beulah International project.

Adelene has a Masters of Architecture, and worked at award winning companies in Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne. She is now the Executive Director of Beulah International, a property development company she co-founded to specialise in luxury properties across the Asia Pacific.


Growing up, what kind of career did you want to pursue?

I was always fascinated by design, whether it was architecture, interior or fashion, and found myself drawn to wanting to bring change into the community somehow. I was introduced to property from an early age and fondly remember my father walking me through project sites he was working on and explaining the details to me. I always remember being in awe of his line of work, so it was a natural progression for me to go on to Architecture and enter the property world myself.

Who inspires you?

One of my biggest inspirations is my father, as he taught me to always push the boundaries and create things that bring true value into people’s lives. I’m also inspired by personal friends of ours, Daniel and Justine Flynn of Thankyou Group, who are young entrepreneurs themselves and already making such a big difference in the world. Hearing their story gave Jiaheng and myself the confidence to go out and start this company together. When it comes to designing, I draw a lot of my inspiration from projects in other parts of the world, particularly projects that are completely unique and transform the surrounding area.

Last but not least, my partner/cofounder Jiaheng has always been a key driver in my life, who never stops inspiring and encouraging me to be the best of me, and of course my team at Beulah – who are all passionate, committed hard-workers who never settle for second best.

Who (apart from you) is most surprised by your achievements?

Probably everyone who knows me since I was little. Though I’ve always had good grades in school, I was always one of the undisciplined, notorious ones as I just loved breaking the rules, couldn’t sit still in class or at home, always finding excuses to go out and play all day long! Thank God I grew up to be quite okay!

How have women helped shape your success to date?

Seeing the successes of other great women in the world has given me the confidence to be out there doing what I love, believe in myself and to do my best in what I am passionate about. We need to start believing that we can achieve more than we think we can.

What qualities do you most admire in a female colleague?

Seeing some of them having multiple demanding roles and responsibilities in life as mothers, wives and daughters, but still not compromising in living a life doing what they are passionate about.

What’s the key to successfully balancing work and life?

Have the right priorities in life, and stick to it! Never compromising what’s most important to you and work at protecting it.

I am a strong believer in giving your best in every area of your life, be it in relationships, family, health, career; nothing should take away from every important aspect of your life, in fact it should enhance in all you’re doing.

If you had an afternoon to yourself, how would you spend it?

Cooking a fresh breakfast in the comfort of my own home, have a beautiful cup of coffee, then walk around and soak in this gorgeous eclectic city of Melbourne. And perhaps go for a relaxing spa session!

Taking time off and relaxing is so important as it keeps you going and constantly inspired! I try to have at least one day a week as my “Sabbath” day, where I do nothing work-related at all, not even checking emails.

Who do you regard as your mentor?

My father of course, who’s one of my heroes in life, and also Choong from SP Setia whom I think is one of the genius developers in Melbourne! Also, my pastors in Planetshakers who are one of the most inspiring people I know.

All these people had always been a source of wisdom and empowerment in my life.

What personal attributes have you used to overcome adversity in your life?

To overcome adversity I’ve found that it’s so important to believe in yourself and the vision you have; to be confident in who you are and the gifts you have in you.

I surround myself with friends and family who are positive and encouraging, and I do my best to tune out from the naysayers.

I love spending time with other dreamers too, it always helps to put things in perspective, see things in a bigger picture, and helps me to be focused in the end goal and continue to work towards it.

Also seeking counsel from people you trust or even having catch-ups from experienced people in the field has helped tremendously too.

If you could make one change to women’s lives, what would it be and why?

I would say the perception and expectation of a woman’s duty/responsibility in work and life. I do believe we have our roles in marriage and family but in some parts of the world and culture, women are still being seen as the weaker gender. What’s even more disturbing is that even in our modern world, there are perceptions and expectations that people have already formed in their heads, whether they realise it or not, which is seeing and expecting women to take on certain roles in business and perceive women are only good in certain areas. I’m glad to see that there are other women out there in positions where they are equally just as good as the men. People, especially in the work places, need to start judging both men and women purely based on their merits and capabilities, not by preformed perception of the gender.

What is the hardest part of your job?

Being a female director in an industry that is often dominated by males can sometimes be difficult, so it’s important to strongly believe in yourself and what you’re doing.

In terms of developing, it’s often hard to strike the right balance between the vision you have and what you want to deliver, alongside what is feasible and what is going to be accessible to future residents. 

What advice would you give to someone aspiring to success in your field? Don’t give up on your dreams so easily!

Everyone is going to have an opinion on what you are doing or trying to do but it’s so important to not give in to the naysayers. Believe in your gut instinct and yourself. Do things the right way and don’t take the shortcuts.

Team up and collaborate with good people as it’s always stronger to work united as a team. “One can put a thousand to flight, two can put ten thousand to flight.”

Lastly, be prepared to get your hands dirty, give all you got, but also take time to enjoy life and the fruit of your hard work as it is one of the most rewarding things in life.

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