One hundred years after the first commercial planting of oil palm in Tennamaram Estate in 1917, Sime Darby Plantation (SDP) is proud to introduce its first female mill manager. For Nor Azian Anuar who manages the company's Tanah Merah Mill, this achievement comes with big responsibilities.
Azian, 37 years of age and a Chemical Engineering graduate from Universiti Sains Malaysia joined Kumpulan Guthrie Berhad as a mill assistant, prior to the merger of 2007. She had stints in several mills in Negeri Sembilan and Johor including the now-closed Rantau Oil Mill and Ulu Remis Oil Mill, before being seconded to SDP head office in FY2010 as a Key Process Owner. In that role, she was tasked to assist with the deployment of SDP’s SEMUA Project to all mills and provide training on the new system to operational staff.
The biggest challenge for me is not the technicalities involved or even the job itself. The biggest challenge for me is dealing with perceptions from various parties – my subordinates, colleagues and even external parties like contractors, clients, and government agencies. I recall the surprised look of a DOSH officer upon seeing a woman sitting in the manager’s room and helming operations. In this industry, people are used to taking instructions from men. Having a woman in a position of authority provides the necessary change to shake things up for the betterment of not just the Company, but the industry.
Together with my team, I am focused on making Tanah Merah Mill a model mill - efficient, outstanding and fully certified. I believe that Tanah Merah Mill already has what it takes to exceed current targets, and we will achieve this in due time. There is no secret to becoming successful in this position. One must simply work diligently and passionately. It helps to take advice from the people around you and to dream big. When I am at the mill, whether it is climbing up the boiler or moving from one platform to another, I never think about myself as a woman. I am there as a mill manager, an engineer, and I am committed to delivering results whilst consistently pushing for continuous improvement.