‘The best things in life come with patience’
Published on: Monday, October 07, 2019
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THE thoughts and views of Nippon Paint Malaysia assistant general manager of marketing Datin Wong Meng Lee (pic).

How has your life experiences made you the leader you are today?

Both positive and unfavourable experiences throughout my career journey have shaped me into the person I am today. 

I believe that no leader can achieve great results without a strong support system and I’m indeed grateful to have constant support from both my family and team at Nippon Paint.

Life isn’t always smooth sailing, and sometimes certain things happen in the way you least expect them to. 

However, I firmly believe that staying confident and always putting in your best effort goes a long way, and we will always come out stronger at the end.


What inspired you to further your passion in the paint industry?

The paint industry is largely a male-dominated industry. 

However, my passion for colours and design, coupled with my interest in creating greater good for the community inspired me to join the industry and spread more colours to the lives of others.

I am also a strong believer that innovation is key to success, especially when we are living in this day and age where technology plays a big role in our lives. 

As such, this is one of the factors that I considered before joining Nippon Paint. 

Indeed, I am glad and privileged to be able to work in an environment where innovation and technology is central to our existence – giving me the opportunity to grow, be creative in our marketing executions and am always conditioned to have the future perspectives in mind!

I have been with Nippon Paint for 12 years and it has been an enriching journey watching the brand grow to become a market leader today. 

As Malaysia’s leading total coating solutions provider, innovation is in our DNA and we are constantly looking for ways to inspire and care for the community. 

This is what makes me excited to come to work every day.

Nippon Paint strives to continuously bring about a positive impact on many fronts. 

One of the ways we do this is through the Asia Young Designer Awards, which aims to nurture the next generation of design talents.


How do you think the industry you are in will evolve in the future?

Technology changes on a day-to-day basis, and it has also changed the way our consumers think and make purchasing decisions. 

There is no doubt that the consumers today are able to make a more informed decision. In fact, a recent survey shows that consumers now are more tech savvy and more than 50 per cent of those aged between 25 and 34 purchase items online.

Having observed this trend, we have to quickly adapt to the changing habits of consumers to ensure that we meet their needs effectively and empower them with adequate information in the digital space.

A trend that I also observe is that consumers are now much more environmentally conscious and prefer to purchase green, sustainable products as a means to conserve energy, reduce impact to the environment and at the same time, utilise natural resources in the most efficient way possible. 

In line with this, we’ve developed a green series of coatings to minimise negative impact to resources and the environment.


What advice can you offer to those planning to join this industry?

Young talents should always come in with an open mind, exercise adaptability and be forward-thinking with their ideas and thinking process. 

They need to continuously push the boundaries when it comes to ideation, giving them a fresh approach or perspectives.

When hiring fresh talent, we are also on the lookout for talents who are passionate about learning the ropes of the paint and manufacturing industry, and are not afraid to learn about things outside their comfort zone.

Secondly, we also eye talents who showcase drive for growth and those who take on the initiative to further improve themselves. 

Innovation and creativity are also key characteristics we look for in our future talents.


What do you want to accomplish in the next five years?

There are quite a number of goals to accomplish by 2024 on the work front to further, as the team is committed to growing the brand to its fullest potential. 

On the business front, we are definitely aiming to grow our business with more breakthroughs and innovative products. 

It is also our goal to provide holistic end-to-end coatings solutions through improved offerings and services to meet the needs and demands of our customers.

On a more personal front, my aim is to ride the exciting journey ahead with my team, further augmenting Nippon Paint as the leading coatings brand in Malaysia.


Best piece of advice you got on your career.

Someone once told me that “the best things in life come with patience” and I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. 

Sometimes we may find ourselves in situations we never expect but by being patient and through perseverance, we will stay on course in spite of obstacles.

Another piece of advice that I always reiterate to my team is to have strong business acumen. 

By being able to quickly think with our feet, we will always be prepared to react to unpredictable situations, even if they are the worst-case scenarios.


How do you stay abreast of issues affecting your industry?

It’s important to be well informed of current news, be it global or local news which has a direct link to the paint and manufacturing sectors. 

As technology is part and parcel of our daily lives, I also take time out of my daily routine to keep myself abreast on the latest news and developments in technology.

I enjoy meeting different people from the different walks of life and learning about their experiences.


Off the top of your mind, who would be your favourite thought leader and why?

There are a few favourites that come to mind. One of them is Ole Kirk Christiansen, the founder of The Lego Group, who has greatly inspired me through his life journey. 

He made the most out of difficult situations, such as when both his factories burnt down and he had to set up his business all over again. 

Furthermore, his creativity in creating these simple toy bricks and how it grew to be part of all our childhood is very inspiring – allowing both adults and children to unleash their creativity and imagination in every way possible.

I also look up to the Nippon Paint management team, especially Yaw Seng Heng (managing director of Nippon Paint Malaysia) and Gladys Goh (group general manager of Nippon Paint Malaysia). 

They are both great leaders who have shared their sense of strong entrepreneurial spirit with me, guiding me in every step of the way in my career journey.

Last but not least, my husband is my pillar of strength as well as my motivator. 

As an entrepreneur in the tech sector, he is always looking at things from a unique perspective. 

While we are both in different industries, it is always welcoming to have a fresh perspective from him.


What has been your biggest challenge you have faced? What did you learn from it?

People management has always proved to be one of my biggest challenges as every individual is different and there is no cookie-cutter solutions to every talent. 

Nevertheless, I am constantly learning how to manage one’s expectations to ensure that both parties are aligned, and working towards a similar goal or objective.


What are the top three factors you would attribute your success to?

A strong support system that has stood by me and believed in me throughout these years have definitely contributed to my success over the years. 

I am grateful to have supportive leaders and team members from within the organisation that have always believed in me.

I am also grateful that I am able to learn from other industry leaders in terms of their experiences and expertise.

Last but not least, my family who has stood by me through thick and thin. – The Sun

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