Daphne Hedley


What and when did you study at INSEAD? 

MBA ‘06D

Tell us about your career to date.

I am the CEO and co-Founder of Mekhala, a fast growing Asian whole foods brand, which I run with my two sisters. I hold an INSEAD MBA degree, majoring in entrepreneurship and finance, and spent my pre-Mekhala years in finance (JP Morgan and Barclays Capital), working in Commodities and Credit Derivatives. I majored in Finance and Japanese, then worked at the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney, and Bloomberg in Tokyo and London. During this time, I harboured dreams of founding my own company but never chanced upon the right idea. Upon my return to Singapore in 2010, I spent time at the Suanthip Retreat, which was run by close friend and leadership coach, Brian Bauerle, and his wife Jang. Seeing a gap in the market for these beautiful, clean products, with Jang we decided to go into business together and Mekhala was born. Mekhala started as a retail brand with a range of spa and food products, but unfortunately, Jang passed away, so we pivoted to organic food. Since 2016, I’ve been growing Mekhala with my sisters and my amazing team in Thailand from a small outfit out of the retreat into a certified organic brand stocked in the US, Canada, Singapore, Thailand, Australia and the UK. We are a socially conscious company that provides equal opportunities and fair work conditions for women and youths from the Burmese Shan community.

How did you end up in this part of the world?

I moved to Sydney for my undergraduate degree and ended up applying for PR. But I left after a couple of years at the Commonwealth Bank to work for Bloomberg in Japan, followed by London. I met my husband in Japan, he’s from Sydney and after 10 years in Singapore, in the midst of COVID, we decided to return to Sydney to live by the beach so that our kids could have more of an outdoor lifestyle.

How can the INSEAD community help you?

The community helps me every day! Mekhala’s shareholders include INSEAD angel investors and alumni founded funds. There is always someone with the right experience you can reach out to. And of course the friendships and trust are invaluable.

How can you help the INSEAD community?

I hope I help in the same way- always open to providing guidance and support (I was an Entrepreneur in Residence when I was living in Singapore) and friendship.