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After graduating with a law degree from the University of Lancaster in 1990, Chan Yuen-Li took the unconventional path of working as a journalist with The Star newspaper in Malaysia. As a feature writer, she wrote on a broad variety of subjects ranging from theatre reviews to social issues and adventure travel. She received several media awards for her articles including the Malaysian Media Outstanding Journalism Award for three consecutive years.
Yuen-Li began working in the outdoor industry at 16 years old. Her professional experience encompasses Outward Bound schools in Colorado and England.
Yuen-Li is one of the driving forces behind rock climbing in Malaysia, with many first ascents to her name. Many of the routes she established have become the country's most classic climbs. She also mentored many of the leading climbers who make up the climbing community in Malaysia. As an enthusiastic kayaker, Yuen-Li has also made the first descents of a number of whitewater rivers. In 1994 she founded Nomad Adventure Sdn Bhd, which pioneered whitewater kayaking as an eco-tourism product in Malaysia.
Yuen-Li has continued to push the limits of the Malaysian adventure sports scene with her involvement in adventure racing. In 1998 she formed and captained Team 2020 in the world's toughest race, the Eco Challenge in Morocco.
Team 2020 emerged 31st out of 55 teams, becoming the first Asian team to complete an Eco Challenge race. The team's inspirational efforts became the focus of the Grammy Award winning television program of the race. Team 2020's triumph of completing the race as a united team remains one of the defining moments of adventure racing. Hundreds of athletes around the world were inspired by their example and this has lead to the boom in the sport across Asia. The team was nominated for the Chivas Regal Malaysian of the Year Award for their effort.
In total Yuen-Li has captained Team Toyota 2020 through four Eco Challenge races, with an extraordinary 100% record of finishing each race. The team has also raced in other acclaimed races such as Discovery Channel World Championship Race 2001 and Raid The North Extreme Canada 2000. The team was awarded the prestigious Team Spirit Award for Eco Challenge New Zealand 2001.
In 2001, Nomad Adventure organized the first Malaysian adventure race series, the Eco X series. With Yuen-Li as race director, these one-day adventure races have gained considerable reputation across the region as being well-organised, safe and fun events "created by adventurers for adventurers". 12 Eco-X races have been held to date, with the Splash Eco X-Treme Selangor 2002 making history as "The longest non-stop adventure race" as awarded by the Malaysian Book of Records. In 2003, she was selected for the Youth Ambassador Award organised by the Malaysian Ministry of Youth and Sport.
In recent years, Yuen-Li has turned her energies to developing her facilitation skills in the area of personal and team development. A much sought-after public speaker, she has led numerous experiential learning and team building programs. Her creative program design and innovative debriefing methodologies have inspired thousands of participants in their personal and professional journeys.