BY RHB WEALTH RESEARCH
KL gleams in the sun like any other capital city of a rapidly-developing nation. But within these tall glass buildings and fancy urban districts, more women than in most cities in Southeast Asia are running the show,1,2 leading corporate institutions and businesses with their own brand of tact, values and ideals. 62 years long after Merdeka, their success offer a much-craved, fresh new perspective on the concepts of strength and independence—not only for aspiring women, but for all Malaysians.
For this Merdeka special, we talked to two successful, self-made women to get inspired.

Sharizad binti Jumaat

Chief Executive Officer of RHB Islamic International Asset Management,

Head of Institutional Business (Malaysia) &

Head of RHBAM Group Islamic Business

From research analyst at PNB and Head of Treasury & Equity at EPF to CEO of the country’s several top asset management companies in just three decades,3 Puan Sharizad today leads RHB Islamic International Asset Management as Chief Executive Officer. Since joining at end of 2013, Puan has expanded the Assets Under Management (AUM), almost tripling its size. She is living proof of what a study early this year by the US Federal Reserve claimed—that banks with more women on the corporate board and high female participation perform better in return on assets.4 Currently, she and her team are driving efforts to further amplify the Group’s AUM and business activities.
Puan Sharizad is as much an accomplished mother as she is a corporate leader. With so much on her plate, it’s amazing how she manages to cook and bake her children’s favourites. With little time in between her family of four children and work, her daily mantra is to be physically and mentally strong and organised, in order to make quick decisions.

Merge:

Who was your one greatest ally on your path to success? Was there someone special who inspired or instilled the confidence in you to succeed… who was consistently there to encourage and see you through?

Puan

That special person is myself. I am a self-driven person in view of my humble beginning. I aspired to be someone who is competent, respected and recognised in the finance industry. It is for my own satisfaction and confidence to go a long way in the industry. I satisfy my own pride with every achievement earned ever since my kindergarten, primary school and university years. I earn the respect and recognition from the people around me in my own way. To me, if you follow others, you may be losing your own self and never get satisfied with what you achieve, as you may be aiming a changing target. But of course, in the process, I also learned a lot through observations of certain people around me and picked up some traits which I may be lacking. At the same time, I have supportive family members and a close circle of friends of similar background whom I respect very much and am happy with their own great achievements.5

Merge:

Do you think your maternal instincts give you a special ability—that men do not have—to deal with and lead people in the corporate world?

Puan

Yes and No. Sometimes in the corporate world, in order to be at the top, people have to step on others and make their lives difficult. To me, I just need to be myself— clear, firm and consistent; and let the things take their natural course. I am a team-worker and love to share knowledge with my team… recognition is for all my team members. At the end of the day you work not only to earn money but also to share and nurture your people down the line. It does not matter whether you are a woman or a man. Sincerity is key to whatever you do.5

Merge:

Are any of your children pursuing leadership paths like yours?

Puan

In terms of career path, my first daughter has a lot of similarities with mine, only that she graduated from Business and I graduated with BSc in Biochemistry before pursuing an MBA in Finance in later years. So my path in the early stage was far more challenging. Despite my children being in different lines of career, what’s important is to develop their own expertise in their own line and eventually become leaders in their own space. I put more emphasis on personality development. For example when they were small, I had a whiteboard at home where I wrote DRESS SMART, SPEAK WELL. To me, building up self-confidence with a positive attitude goes beyond academic qualifications.5

Merge:

What do you think are the most essential traits to have in a leadership position?

Puan

Integrity, competency, consistency, and above all wisdom.

Merge:

What advice would you give young women who have ambitions to lead in any field?

Puan

First they must be good in whatever they do and must have a lot of pride in whatever they do… never settle for less—stay observant, continue to learn, persevere and be honest. At the same time, pray, be humble and always respect people. The rest will fall into place.

Merge:

What is real success to you, personally?

Puan

Success is when you contribute to people to become successful.5

Ng Hui Ming

Founder & Owner of Fatbaby Ice Cream, Ice-Cream Shop, Manufacturer & Distributor,

Speaker at Dangerous Ideas,
Cooler Lumpur 2015,

Epson Ambassador 2015,

PAWS Advocate forever

Some of the most iconic brands today began in a garage or dorm room; Hui Ming’s started in her mom’s kitchen with Stella, her first ice-cream machine. Before long, with much support and repeat orders from friends and F&B owners, her experiments with flavours turned into enterprise. Incorporated in 2013, Fatbaby Ice-Cream was first a distributor to cafes and restaurants in and around KL before opening shop at end 2014. For Hui Ming, ice-cream is only ice-cream when it’s full-fat, full-cream, not the ‘supposedly healthy low-fat stuff’ as she puts it.6,7 Yes, we believe that the real ingredients and her real disposition do make all the difference.
Six years on and thousands of happy customers later, her kitchen continues to experiment to achieve flavours based on awardwinning choc bars or reinterprete everyday familiar tastes. Her recent breakthroughs include novelties such as Lemon Seasalt Chocolate, Strawberry Black Pepper and Mango Sticky Rice.8 And yet, the biggest surprise remains the fact that she was previously a practising actuary with no experience at all in F&B. You can say she makes her own definition of success, ‘freedom to choose your path’, a resounding understatement.9

Merge:

What drives the Hui Ming?

Hui Ming

I have been incredibly lucky to have the full support of my family and friends. I mean those early days weren’t easy. It’s somewhat easier now with a team but those early days, we did food fairs and bazaars and churned ice-cream using my dinky little ice-cream machine. Long days followed by even longer nights. I look back on them fondly but am surprised by the amount of energy I had back then and am humbled by my family and friends’ willingness to jump into this crazy venture with me without judgement. So I suppose what drives me is a combination of grit instilled in me throughout my upbringing, personal responsibility to my customers and a genuine interest in what I do.9

Merge:

Do you think women in particular possess an innate ability or instinct for ideas that not only benefit their own fields, but take societies further?

Hui Ming

I don’t think there’s a difference between the innate skills and abilities that men and women possess. Both men and women have the ability to contribute to, change and further society as a whole. I do however think that the environment and societal norms shape what men and women think they’re capable of and this in turn shapes their goals and expectations in life. So an open mindset and the willingness to question societal norms will go a long way.9

Merge:

Dangerous Ideas was the first and only idea festival in Southeast Asia. The first and only… in year 2015… more than 60 years after our independence, 100 years after women earned the right to vote. It hosted nearly as many women speakers as men, many of whom were seasoned leaders and advocates in their fields.10 But what about the majority of Malaysian women?

Hui Ming

I find that in general, Malaysian women are resourceful strong and entrepreneurial. Their contribution to the country has brought us to where we are today. I don’t think we need an idea festival just to come up with ideas or debate ideologies. You can challenge assumed norms or strike up a healthy discussion in your everyday life. You start by speaking to someone who has a different view from you and you try to learn where they come from. I don’t think you necessarily need to wait for a platform to open up for one to exchange ideas and views.9

Merge:

Then whatʼs stopping them? Whatʼs everyone missing?

Hui Ming

I spent 15 years abroad. I chose to come back because there’s a certain sense of diversity, a certain order in the chaos. In Malaysia, you grow up with diversity in culture, so you’re comfortable with constant change. If you pick me up and drop me somewhere else, it’s just another thing… I’ll get on it. And that makes Malaysians unique. You put us in most places, we will thrive. You give us a challenge, we’ll make it work. And I think that makes us strong. It’s just how do you harness that and turn it into something.11


Dangerous Ideas was a platform at the Cooler Lumpur Festival in 2015, the first and only festival of ideas in Southeast Asia at the time, to share new ideas and to serve as a catalyst to inspire societal change for the better. It brought together writers, artists, musicians and thinkers from all over Malaysia and the world and they included writer-poet-educator Bernice Chauly, NGO leader Marina Mahathir and writer-director Kam Raslan. More than 70 speakers ran a series of conversation panels, workshops and campuses over three days, discussing topics such as popculture and how to cash in on fandom, ideas to save the Malaysian movie industry, and the future of photojournalism in the instagrammable world.10

Meaningful progress

If there was one common thread of inspiration in their success stories, it’s this: both Puan Sharizad and Hui Ming never saw any difference in abilities between men and women. Hui Ming was never shaped by societal norms like male dominance in business. And Puan never thought there were such things as glass ceilings.
But for Asian women, it’s never really been about glass ceilings. It’s the other breakthroughs.
Vietnam’s Deloitte Chairman Hà Thị Thu Thanh emphasised on how having female board members helps broaden company perspectives, promotes creativity and facilitates sustainable development decisions. With 50 percent of her country’s population being women and the percentage of women-owned enterprises reaching 35 percent by 2020,2 she knows what she’s talking about.
We‘re not far behind.
Malaysia along with Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore are the top four Asean economies with more female entrepreneurs than men.1 And this year, Malaysian women lead the region with the highest board representation in large banks.4 As a result, how we progress as a nation into the future may fundamentally change, from a landscape of steel structures running on speed into a society that is more value-focussed, personal in approach, nurturing in experience, creative in ideas and sustainable in economy. In other words, women are bringing meaningful progress to the table—one that will help us become a truly developed nation.

As your ally,

RHB Premier is a name you can bank on to help you get there. Because success is easier with someone beside you. Whether itʼs Day-to-Day Banking, Wealth Management or International Privileges, itʼs about investing in potentials together to arrive at success that means something to you.
Every financial instrument we offer is designed with insight, integrity, drive and diversity in mind. For Women Premier Customers, we further personalise financial solutions to their unique needs in personal wealth and business. Learn more about our comprehensive range of products and services from our RHB Relationship Managers and how they can give you an edge in life and career goals.
Sources: 1 Forbes, How Southeast Asia Female ‘Millennipreneurs’ Are Killin’ It In Business, 27 December 2016. 2 Viet Nam News, VN leads Asia in corporate gender diversity, 24 June 2017. 3 Top 10 of Malaysia, Malaysiaʼs Top 10 Women In Finance Institutions, 14 December 2017. 4 Bloomberg, Malaysian Banks Lead Southeast Asian Peers for Board Diversity, 18 June 2019. 5 Mister Yeow Creative, The Questions—Puan Sharizad, 24 July 2019. 6 Fried Chillies, An Ice Cream Dream: Hui Mingʼs Story, 23 September 2015. 7 Little Eyes of Mine by Claudine Imelda, Ice Cream Appreciation Day, 19 October 2014. 8 Mister Yeow Creative, Hui Ming Interview Recording 1:15–7:00, 19 July 2019. 9 Mister Yeow Creative, The Questions—Hui Ming, 18 July 2019. 10 Cooler Lumpur, Dangerous Ideas, 2015 11 Mister Yeow Creative, Hui Ming Interview Recording 32:38–35:19 , 19 July 2019.