An interview with Sim Syh Liang, Factory Manager of Nestlé Malaysia’s Batu Tiga Factory.
WHEN DID YOU JOIN NESTLÉ & WHAT LED YOU TO PURSUE YOUR CAREER AS A FACTORY MANAGER?
I started my research technologist career in Nestlé R&D Centre Singapore in September 1996. Throughout the 20 years, I have been inspired by the value creation directly attributable to manufacturing. I see that a Factory Manager’s responsibility in leading a team to overcome everyday challenges helped to develop people’s capability. I liked this dynamism for its continuous learning opportunity and I derive great satisfaction from it.
HOW HAS NESTLÉ ENHANCED OR HELPED YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
Nestlé has the richest experience and reach compared to many other companies in similar industries. Throughout my years in Nestlé, the rich hand-to-hand knowledge sharing between senior colleagues and the younger generations, along with the organisation’s willingness to invest and entrust responsibilities to employees, regardless of race, creed and gender has helped me to develop my career. At Nestlé, as long as we are willing to put in the effort, be committed and professional, the Nestlé journey is an opportunity in self-discovery, self-enhancement and to realise one’s full potential.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE WORKING CONDITION AT OUR NESTLÉ FACTORY AS A WOMAN IN A ROLE COMMONLY PERCEIVED AS A MALE-ORIENTED JOB?
In my two decades of working with Nestlé, half of my time have been spent focused on factory, whereby the challenges and opportunities were mainly on problem solving and ways to produce high quality and cost-competitive products on a daily basis. The male-female divide was not obvious to me as we have been working collaboratively and celebrating every success and achievements as a team, regardless of gender.
WILL YOU RECOMMEND OTHER WOMEN TO PURSUE THE NESTLÉ FACTORY MANAGER POSITION?
Certainly! This is the best job in Nestlé manufacturing as we have the opportunity to go far and make an impact on hundreds of employees, which in turn makes a difference to the community around us.
We have the opportunity to go far and make an impact on hundreds of employees, which in turn makes a difference to the community around us.
Sim Syh Liang, Factory Manager of Nestlé Malaysia’s Batu Tiga Factory
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGE TO FEMALE LEADERSHIP AND WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO OVERCOME IT?
Throughout my career, I have to travel extensively for work and sometimes, the working hours are not the regular 8AM to 5PM. Coupled with several overseas assignments which requires years of being away from family meant that the most significant challenge is to have quality family time. In order to ensure that family bonding remains strong, frequent communication with family members is the most critical in order for them to understand and appreciate the work I am doing. I am fortunate that my family has always been closely knit and we always make time to have open and regular interactions.
CAN YOU NAME ONE WOMAN WHO INSPIRES YOU AND WHY?
Marie Sklodowska Curie (1864-1934). She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first and only woman to win twice and the only person to win a Nobel Prize in 2 different sciences (Physics and Chemistry). However, it wasn’t because she had these illustrious awards in the most prestigious and pre-eminent scientific arena which touched and inspired me from young. Instead, it was her strong character, sense of justice/moral and societal contribution from her work in radioactivity which made her one of the most respected figure in history.
She overcame barriers to attain scientific achievements in both her native (Poland) and adoptive country (France). Her greatest impact to mankind was using and applying her scientific discovery to help injured soldiers in the front line of First World War tirelessly, pioneering field radiological centres to assist battlefield surgeons to provide timely diagnosis. She actively supported the regions devastated by the war by donating her Nobel Prize medals, using the Prize money to purchase war bonds and even intentionally refrained from patenting the radium-isolation process so that the scientific community could be free from hindrance in doing further research to advance knowledge, benefiting mankind. She repeatedly turned down or refused awards and medals and was highly commended by Albert Einstein as probably the only person who could not be corrupted by fame.
She was truly an iconic role model, a rare individual who not only excelled in her chosen field of profession but also lived up to the true meaning of humanity.