AFTER a typically long day at work, nothing relaxes Noripah Kamso more than pottering around in her garden.
When particularly stressed, she would even talk to her plants, the chief executive officer of CIMB-Principal Asset Management Bhd admitted with a laugh.
“Gardening is very relaxing for me. The colourful flowers and greenery make my day and relieve my stress. They help me forget the tension in the office,” said Noripah, who has two daughters and two sons.
Although Noripah has a gardener, her maid, who shares her passion for gardening, helps take care of the flowers and plants whenever she is away on working trips.
“My job requires me to travel a lot, so I taught her how to fertilise, trim, use pesticide and generally take good care of the plants,” she said.
Conceding that gardening required a lot of patience, Noripah said it made her “very happy” to see her plants thrive at the front and back gardens of her bungalow home in Petaling Jaya.
Besides her obvious green thumb, she is an accomplished cook who loves to dish up the family’s favourites that include Indian style masak asam pedas (chilli fish), golden syrup fruitcake and chocolate chip cookies.
“I love to spend time with my family and serve our favourite dishes,” said Noripah, who learnt to cook as a nine-year-old in her hometown in Sepang, Selangor, on her father’s insistence, and took part in a cooking contest two years later.
She has imparted her cooking skills to her daughters. “They like my cooking and they learned. They also love to bake cakes and cookies,” she said proudly. Her elder daughter Nurul Fatin, 23, is studying at the Moscow Medical Academy, Russia, while second daughter Nurul Hidayah, 21, is taking accountancy at Oxford Brookes University, Britain.
On her days off, the sports-loving Noripah plays badminton or softball with her younger son Shazrain and her husband Fadzlullah Shuhaimi, who is a director of Prestar Resources Bhd.
Shazrain, who is taking music lessons, plays the piano well. “I will sing when he is playing the piano,” said Noripah, while hugging the shy nine-year-old. Her elder son Shazwan, 16, who is studying in KYS College in Malacca, comes home once a month.
Noripah counts herself lucky to have a very understanding and supportive husband. “Because my schedule is tight, I try to spend more quality time with my husband,” she said.
The youngest of seven siblings, the house-proud Noripah also enjoys sewing and the family home is a colourful gallery of her handiwork. “I sewed all the curtains and cushion cases myself during my free time. I did that for my old house too,” she said, adding that they moved into the present house three years ago.
“My home is a paradise. I think we must stop to smell the roses no matter how busy we are and appreciate nature around us.”
Despite being very busy, Noripah makes it a point to jog with her husband after dinner daily. “I must jog every evening or I would feel uneasy. This is a nice place to jog and it’s safe.” She also joins a qi gong class every Sunday morning.
On her childhood, Noripah said her father, a former police officer, was very strict and insisted his six daughters learn to do housework, cook and sing. He even “forced” them to take part in cooking, singing and even beauty contests.
“He plays the guitar, violin and saxophone, and formed a band with some friends. At family functions such as weddings, we had to sing while the band played.
“This exposure helped build self-confidence and trained us to become leaders. It also helped develop our public speaking and social interaction skills,” said Noripah, showing an old newspaper cutting on the beauty contest in which she emerged second runner-up.
Noripah graduated from Northern Illinois University, Delkalb, in the US and holds a Master of Business Administration from Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia.
She assumed her current position at CIMB-Principal in September 2004.
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