New Unilever chairman a man of many talents

“NOTHING beats home – I am happy and proud to be back and hope to contribute to the industry and society at large.” 

That about sums up the feelings of Sze Tian Poh on his appointment as Unilever Malaysia and Singapore’s new chairman and managing director. 

With his appointment effective Aug 1, Sze became the first Malaysian to head Unilever Malaysia in its 57 years of existence. 

Sze, who holds a bachelor of social science degree from Universiti Sains Malaysia, started out as a management trainee at Unilever Malaysia in 1987. 

Between 1992 and 1995, he was seconded to Unilever Germany, based in Hamburg, as a product manager.  

Sze returned to Malaysia in 1995 as group business head and subsequently became marketing director of the home and personal care division of Unilever Malaysia. 

In 1999, he was appointed general manager of Unilever Pte Ltd in Singapore. 

Having worked in three countries has enabled Sze to learn the importance of harnessing the strengths and diversity of each culture for the benefit of the company. 

“My strength is being able to work through people, identify and harness their strengths, and utilise them in the right place in order for them to flourish. My weakness is that I am always doing things at high speed. I do things very quickly and people tend to be left behind,” he said. 

An avid reader, Sze spends a lot of time reading – ranging from Far Eastern Economic Review to Reader's Digest to fashion magazines. 

Reading fashion magazines has helped Sze keep in touch with the latest trends and fashion. 

“Because of the industry I am in, it is important to know what is in and out for hairstyles as well as the latest skin technology,” he said. 

Married with three children, Sze believes in having a balanced life. 

“When I finish work, I totally cut it off. Besides spending time with family and friends, I like time alone for myself too. The bathroom is the most important place to spend time alone with myself. It is my incubation place,” he said. 

A man of many talents, Sze cooks during the weekends to unwind. 

“I picked up my cooking skills from my mum who is a good cook. I find it very fulfilling, especially when people appreciate it,” he said. 

A deeply religious person, Sze finds inspiration in God. 

“I thank God for what I am today. I am constantly on a quest to better myself to please Him. He is my benchmark in everything that I do,” he said. 

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