Breaking the Glass Ceiling at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre
The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre’s (the Centre) team members are all smiles with BFM Radio Host, Freda Liu (seated, 4th from right) after her Work–Life Integration Talk at the venue, which was one of the Centre’s activities organised to celebrate International Women’s Day.

KUALA LUMPUR, 21 March 2018 ­– The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (the Centre) is at the forefront of employing and developing female staff. Currently 52% of its Managers are women. In total the Centre employs 145 women, of which 79 hold executive to senior managerial positions despite residing in a perceived male dominated business events industry. Celebrating this fact and to mark the recent International Women’s Day, the Centre organised a series of focused activities for its female team members. These included a Work–Life Integration Talk by BFM Radio Host, Freda Liu and a Health Talk by Dr Juliet Mathew from Hospis, Malaysia.

According to the Centre’s Director of Sales & Marketing, Angeline van den Broecke, “Developing our team members has always been at the forefront of our professional education goals as we constantly strive to be an ‘Employer of Choice’. The activities were open to all team members and formed part of the Centre’s ongoing effort to create an environment which inspires team members to advance their personal and professional aspirations regardless of gender. Our corporate culture is inclusive and mindful of the need to encourage all team members to advance their career aspirations. This enables us to retain a high calibre of professional women who are involved and demonstrate mentorship and inspiration, for our younger team members.”

Echoing van den Broecke’s comments, the Centre’s Director of Human Resources, Muhammad Vickneswaran shared that, “The Centre is renowned for its excellent service and our female employees make a large contribution to its achievements thus far and to the global business events industry. We take great pride in their achievements and recognise their contribution to the Centre’s success. For example, Angeline is on the Professional Convention Management Association's (PCMA) Asia-Pacific Advisory Board and our Audio-Visual Manager, Norbiha Ismail, is the only woman in Malaysia to have obtained the Professional Certification for Rigging Entertainment. Finding and retaining the right talent is key for an organisation such as ours. An open corporate culture for both female and male team members ignites a greater degree of competencies and equality.”

Joining the Centre’s Security Department as a Security Officer when the venue opened in 2005 and in a field that was relatively new to her, Security Manager Natalie Ann Xavier is one of these successes. She was a bit intimidated by the knowledge of her more experienced male colleagues and this put a lot of pressure on her. “This (pressure) made me persevere and work harder. I was promoted in 2010 and became the Centre’s first female security supervisor and in 2014, I was again promoted to Assistant Security Manager. Upon completing my Masters in Executive Management, I applied for the Security Manager’s role in 2015 where I was appointed to the position.”

Being in the hospitality industry, Natalie said the Centre’s policy on security is to ‘enforce with a smile’. “Our security is a lot more than the conventional guard doing visitor registration, it involves hospitality, enforcement, technology, access control, CCTV cameras, traffic control, crowd control and emergency response, to name a few. My experience in handling all the different elements of security has helped me develop my skills, which are also helpful outside of my workplace.”

For Susie Teng, Head of Events, “Women can break into any industry; be it male-dominated or not, as long as they are willing to work hard to meet their goals.”

Teng was a member of the Centre’s pre-opening team as its Event Coordination Manager in 2005. Teng shared that, when it comes to managing her team (comprises of a robust mix of males and females of different ages and levels of experience), it is important to earn their trust and respect. “One way is to let them know I am always behind them in times of need, to provide support and back-up. For me, grooming, guiding and mentoring my team to enhance their potential has been the most challenging yet rewarding part of my job.”

Joanne Hoo, another rising star, joined the Centre in 2015 as Safety Manager. Tasked with providing professional advice on all matters pertaining to Safety, Health and Environment (SHE). Hoo is entrusted to ensure that all clients understand and adhere to the Centre’s SHE regulations. She is a registered Safety and Health Officer with the Department of Occupational Safety & Health, Malaysia. Adding more feathers in her cap, she is also a registered Certified Environmental Professional in Scheduled Waste Management with the Department of Environment, Malaysia and successfully passed the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification Examination for Food Safety.

With the Centre’s emphasis on Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) within its business operations, Hoo plays an integral role in conveying and implementing these measures. However, her role is not short of its challenges, “Unfortunately there is a lack of understanding about Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) and people tend to think that SHE is difficult, troublesome and very expensive to implement. But once explained properly, everyone’s mind-set generally changes as they can clearly see the benefits that they bear. My role allows me to deal with such an interesting and diverse client base and I am thankful to be in this learning environment that has allowed me to grow and experience so much,” Hoo concluded.

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