Olivia Lee Wei Ling’s upkeep of herself is perfection – the Director of Business Development for Mega Fortris (M) Sdn Bhd (MFM) is perfectly groomed from her intricately manicured casino-themed nail art to her impeccable hairdo.
She arrives at our shoot fresh from the salon with her hair done up in tight curls. However, she decides to change her hair at the last minute, saying she felt “like it could look better”.
As our interview progresses, it becomes clear that this is how Lee is, both in her personal life and running the business side of things at MFM – she’ll stop at nothing to get things done, and she’ll go the extra mile to seal the deal.
With a perpetual smile on her face, she instantly puts everyone around her at ease, a trait that most certainly helps on her business trips to seal deals for her company.
For one who is directly responsible for the incredible growth and expansion of the business, Lee is incredibly humble, constantly steering the conversation away from herself.
“During my last 12 years with this company, I have had the privilege of having my CEO, who has been bestowed with numerous entrepreneurial and business excellence awards, as my mentor, ” she says glowingly.
“With his guidance, I am proud to say that I am more than capable of confidently expanding our market share even further, and this has empowered me in building a reputation amongst my international customers as their business partner of choice.”It takes a little coaxing for Lee to actually acknowledge her achievements, as she keeps giving credit to her mentors, but eventually, it becomes clear that she is a force to be reckoned with.
The director of business development has travelled the world for over two decades, striking deals for her company in some places many would not have even heard of.
MFM, a company headquartered in Malaysia with 24 main offices globally, is a security solutions provider which manufactures and produces a complete range of security seals. They also build software and RFID solutions for a wide range of digital security applications.
“Physical and digital security go hand-in-hand and are crucial in every company and industry. We supply and service all industries from logistics, financial services and manufacturing to aviation, gaming and even international government ministries, ” explains Lee.
Her passion for the business, which she has been running for over 20 years, shows in the way she speaks about her work, and the slew of awards the company has won over the years. These include the award for Malaysian Business of The Year at The Star Outstanding Business Awards 2016 (SOBA 2016), and Lee herself recently received an Asean Master Class Award in RFID Security Excellence.
“I am very passionate about our current projects: exciting software solutions that track vehicles, assets, and animals,” she says. “This is going to be a new era and I am thrilled about how much I can expand our market on these innovative products across these emerging industries.”
It hasn’t been an easy ride – 20 years ago Lee was a woman finding her way in a very masculine business environment, traipsing the world in remote places with nothing but her business knowledge and a steadfast attitude.
“Initially, it was a little difficult for me to get into this business when I first started as it was the shipping line. My customers would say ‘pretty girl coming to sell in a man’s industry’ and I took this as a challenge and worked harder, ” she recalls. “From then on, we went into the casino business, also a man’s world, which I also took on as a challenge.”
“I am ambitious and results-driven, and like an Olympics athlete, I look forward to beating my previous records year after year. For me, I think the sense of achievement and taking my company to greater heights each time, motivates and inspires me to do the best for my company.”
Raising two children while taking on huge responsibilities at work must have been challenging for Lee, but her positive attitude is responsible for her successes at work as well as in her personal life.
“At the company, they leave everything to me, I run the business independently but along the way, I can just approach my CEO and chairman and they give me a free hand. I can just pack tomorrow and go to any country, whether it’s Namibia, Kenya, and I’ll just let them know and if they have any issue they can just guide me along, ” she says.
“They have complete trust in me because I never let them down. I am a driven deal maker. I am genuinely interested in meeting customers’ requirements, and providing total solutions for their needs, thus making customers happy, comfortable and having peace of mind. To date, I have built an ironclad reputation where customers have full trust in me and my company.
“We have institutionalised our company by having institutional shareholders in Overseas-Chinese Banking Corporation Limited, EDB Investment Pte Ltd and LION-OCBC Capital Asia I Holding Pte Ltd. That was a decision in our strategic plan moving forward to form a strong and solid platform for our expansion plans and to be recognised as one of the largest, if not the largest, player in our chosen industry.” “After the company’s restructuring, my new portfolio covers leading global sales and network for the entire group and to bring in new businesses and expansion plans for the group.”
She adores her two children, a daughter (29) and son (19).
“My girl is working and independent. As for my boy, he just started his first year in medical school, ” she says fondly. “They mean the world to me and I hope that they will do well in their own fields and to have meaningful purposes in life. I think I am at my happiest when I see my children growing up and having a purpose in their lives. That applies to me too, for me to have a purpose in life.”
Thanks to her role of expanding the business on a global scale, Lee travels over 200 days a year and has been to countless places, striking up friendships with people from all walks of life.
In every country she visits, she immerses herself in the culture and cuisine, opening herself up to trying new experiences.
“I find time to travel after business calls in order to enjoy the sights and taste of the diversity of culture in the countries I find myself in for work. I enjoy travelling to places – to name a few, Mongolia, Russia and Vietnam. I love Mongolia for its beautiful landscape and nature, and Vietnam for the fountains and beaches. I always travel by combining business with pleasure, reserving one or two days after back-to-back days of meetings when abroad because I do not really have much time to go for holidays except once a year with my children, ” she says.
As a member of the Diplomatic Council, an organisation officially accepted by the United Nations, she networks with a strong community of national and international business people and companies. She is also a member of the IWFCI (International Women Federation of Commerce and Industry), which is a platform built to connect and promote friendships and business relationships among women around the world.
Within her work network and among friends as well, she serves as an inspiration to women, as she seems to “have it all”, though she is very humble about her achievements.
“I would advise women in general to be focused in life and never give up, and be consistently hardworking and persistent in achieving what they want in life, ” she says.
Now 20 years into her career at MFM, Lee’s drive to expand the business has only grown stronger, as she continues to innovate and come up with new ideas.
“What I find most rewarding in my job is that we have many big and reputable global companies who recognise us as a formidable and reliable global security seal supplier, and our customers who have also loyally stayed with us throughout the years.
“The most challenging part, of course, is to maintain and retain all our customers, big and small, while seeking to secure further market shares through being innovative and staying ahead of upcoming security trends with our customers to set the pace with creative solutions as a market leader, ” she adds.
Finally, she insists on thanking her mentors as she claims she would not be where she is today without them.
“Last but not least, I would like to thank my biggest mentors in my life, my chairman, Datuk Dr Nick Ng Meng Kee and CEO, Adrian Ng Meng Poh. My chairman has shaped and moulded me to where I am today, being consistently the best performer and always an achiever in whatever I do.”
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