Written and compiled by Nicole Yeong, Malaysian-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry: https://www.malaysia.ahk.de/
4 November 2019
Natasha Zulkifli is a Director at YTL Construction in Malaysia. She is part of the project team that is building the new 192km electrified double track rail link for the Malaysian government in the state of Johor. Natasha has extensive experience in the Malaysian public transport space, having worked previously at Prasarana Malaysia Berhad (“Prasarana”) as Head of International Relations where she initiated collaborations and partnerships with international public transport players to further enhance Prasarana and its standing in the international public transport world. Prior to joining Prasarana, Natasha served as Special Officer to the Chief Executive Officer at Malaysia’s Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD).
Given her deep interest to strengthen human capital development in the Malaysian rail space, in 2017 Natasha founded Women in Rail Malaysia, a not-for-profit entity which was established to support and promote equality and diversity within the Malaysian rail industry. She is passionate about driving Women in Rail Malaysia for the benefit of women not just currently working within the industry but to also promote the Malaysian rail space as a career of choice to young women currently studying in secondary school and in universities. In 2019 the German government recognized Natasha as a one of the ‘Remarkable Women in Transport’, officially recognizing her as a female change-maker and highlighting her contribution to sustainable mobility solutions. Natasha is an Independent Non-Executive Director of TSH Resources Berhad, an oil palm and plantation based company listed on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange.
As a strong female advocate for diversity and equality in the male-dominated rail industry, MGCC asked Natasha about her thoughts on women empowerment in Malaysia.
How can women continually support and raise each other up as both a co-worker, superior and subordinate at the workplace?
Give them the exposure and opportunities to learn. Invite them into a meeting with a new client prospect, take them to an event you are invited to for them to meet new people and enhance their professional network. Include them in a work project which will give them insight into a different side of the business.
What are some best practices for transitioning back into work for women who have stepped off the path or are returning after a career or work hiatus?
I took a break and didn’t work for 7 years. I took time off to raise the kids so I know how challenging it can be to find that courage and develop that inner confidence to get back into the game. What you most definitely need is a good support system at home as well as a lot of inner mind-conditioning to ensure you are in the right place to focus on giving your best at work.
I don’t believe in the concept of women empowerment because if you believe in that, then you are coming from an angle that women are disempowered to start.
How can you maintain a record of professional development, despite being on “break” or “catch up” to be competitive in your career of choice?
Read continuously about what is going on in the business world, stay up to date with friends and former colleagues in the business world and also be in the know about new industry developments.
What do you foresee being your next leadership challenge and how will you overcome it?
I face challenges every day at work. I work in a really tough industry that is undergoing so much change but I make sure I face these challenges head on with a positive attitude because I want to turn these challenges into opportunities which will allow me to grow and enhance myself as a professional. With a focussed and optimistic outlook, I believe you can overcome anything.
In the whole women empowerment conversation, is there anything that’s frequently overlooked that needs to be addressed?
I don’t believe in the concept of women empowerment because if you believe in that, then you are coming from an angle that women are disempowered to start. In the business world, we are as smart and as hardworking as men are, if not more so. So why do you need to even have the conversation of women empowerment?