Malaysia’s Pride: Leading Ladies And Their Thoughts

Aug 29, 2014 1 Min Read

Photo credit (above): algenta101 | Flickr

They stand by their principles and what they believe in. They are women of calibre, strength and care.

Be it in the office or out in the field, Malaysia prides herself with an array of inspiring and resilient women; women who have swum across the sea of obstacles without an ounce of hesitation.

Here are some of the exemplary women of Malaysia.

Pauline Ho

Pauline Ho

Pauline Ho is the first woman Assurance leader for PwC Malaysia. She is also a partner with the firm. She has an impressive portfolio with 20 years of valuable experience in handling assurance and business advisory assignments in Malaysia and the United Kingdom (UK). Ho is also a proud mother of triplets; two boys and a girl.

What does independence mean to you?
Independence to me as an auditor is the ability to form an independent point of view and to articulate it without the influence of others. However, on a personal level, independence means being able to pursue what I want in life.
It is important to be financially independent too, so that I am able to provide for my family and take part in activities that I enjoy such as spending time on the ski slopes or on the beach with my family. Independence also means being respected for my views and aspirations in life.

What are the challenges you faced when taking on a secondment in PwC UK and how did you overcome them?
Firstly, leaving a comfortable lifestyle that I had grown accustomed to in Malaysia. It took some courage to make that call. Being an introvert, settling into a large office was also rather daunting.

It helped that there were many international secondees in the London office. I also spent a lot of my time working with a large oil and gas client. I was privileged to work alongside a very capable and high energy team on the client engagement.

I was also lucky to have mentors who provided me the necessary support and guidance. Gradually I built many strong friendships both within and outside PwC UK that I continue to nurture to this day.

What is your recipe for managing your career and family?
I enjoy my work. Therefore, I find the energy to perform well at work, delivering quality service to our clients with the support of my team. I also maintain open lines of communication with my husband and children. My husband is supportive of my career and my children understand what my role demands.

They see it as a part of who I am. They know that I make it a priority to participate in our family events, spend time with them and be there whenever they need me.

Eight-year-olds are very smart nowadays and they are my toughest clients. I always need to work hard to exceed their expectations! And that motivates me to be a better mom.

Datuk Dr Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria

Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria

Born and bred in the Portuguese Settlement in Malacca, Datuk Dr Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria is secretary-general of the International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI). Her roots are deeply entrenched in this country and through mixed marriages, her family is a reflection of 1Malaysia.

What does independence mean to you?
Independence is a blessing, and a gift. The freedom borne of independence should not be taken for granted. And given the challenging times that Malaysia is going through, Merdeka Day takes on a special significance for me.

It reminds me that our founding fathers worked so hard for us to have the rights and freedoms to live in peace, to practise our faith and to enrich each other through our diversity.

What is the most valuable advice you have received thus far and who was it from?

“To thine own self be true.”

This advice is from Polonius to his son, Laertes. I first encountered this when I read Hamlet for my A Levels. Regardless that this piece of advice came from a person less than authentic himself, for me this quote reflects the importance of being true to oneself, the value of honesty and integrity.

On a lighter note, another piece of advice that has stayed with me is from my mother, on the day before I was married:

“Don’t change your name, don’t quit your job, and have a separate bank account!”

Would you mind sharing what your proudest moment has been, and why?
For me it was the day I received news that my PhD dissertation was awarded the “best dissertation of the year” by the American Academy of Human Resource Development. This was validation for the work I put in and the sacrifice made by my husband, Jaya, and my daughter, Raisa, during the three years I was pursuing my dream, my ambition.

Datuk Dr Mazlan Othman

Mazlan Othman

Born in Seremban, Datuk Dr Mazlan Othman is the country’s first astrophysicist. At the height of her career in Malaysia, she was the founding director-general of the National Space Agency.

She was also director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) in Vienna, in 1999 for a total of two years and eight months before returning home to set up the space agency. She was then re-appointed by the UN to lead UNOOSA in December 2007 until December 2013.

What does independence mean to you?
To me, independence is the freedom to think, associate and to move. If you have the opportunity to associate with anyone and move wherever you like, that to me is independence. We are lucky we have all of these opportunities in our country.

What is the most important lesson you learnt throughout your experience at the UN?
The most important lesson I learnt throughout my tenure at the UN is that, a lot can be achieved through continuous, sincere and open engagement. From there, you build solid consensus. There can never be a situation where everyone agrees on the same thing.

Nevertheless, consensus building enables us to talk, leave behind differences and agree on a direction. Standing behind this final decision allows us to achieve a lot of things.

What is your advice to young people who want to pursue a career in astrophysics?
My advice to the young people is to do what you are really passionate about. Do not give up easily, especially when you find challenges coming along your way.

There is a cycle in every career. There are the glory periods filled with accomplishments. Then, there is a time when the field you are in is down.

However, you as an individual can always be up if you excel in your field, which can only be achieved if you are passionate about your work.

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Prema was a team lead at Leaderonomics Digital. As a travel enthusiast who loves connecting with people from all walks of life, Prema believes that everything thrown to us by life enhances our development.

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