Queenie Tham from Sime Darby Auto ConneXion-Ford was recently named ‘Automotive Lady of the Year’ 2020 at the Vehicle of the Year (VOTY) awards organised by DSF.my.
I am grateful for the recognition of everyday people, many of whom have worked in the industry for some time and who would have persevered through all the challenges to build something good, something positive and are in the process of contributing back to the people around us.
Queenie, who is the Head of Marketing Communications at Sime Darby Auto ConneXion-Ford, was recognised for her conscientiousness in building, promoting and upholding the Ford brand in Malaysia. Her devotion and perseverance made her a true custodian of the brand. Queenie embarked on her motoring career with the Ford brand in 2007, before joining Sime Darby Motors when the company took over from Ford Malaysia as the sole distributor of all Ford vehicles in Malaysia.
What’s the best part about your job and working at Ford?
I have been handling the marketing communications portfolio for the Ford brand in Malaysia since 2007. In 2008, when the Ford Motor Company appointed Sime Darby Auto ConneXion (SDAC) as the sole distributor for the brand in Malaysia, we had to start building the marketing communications infrastructure for Malaysia from scratch.
Being in marketing communications pushed me to be in the forefront of change, always pushing for higher standards and innovating methods to stay ahead of competitors. I guess it’s this journey that makes the job so challenging, exciting and rewarding throughout – this would be the best part of my job.
What would you say was your biggest challenge in your career?
The biggest challenge was starting all over again to build relevance of the Ford brand to the Malaysian target audience. This was the situation when we had to launch a B-segment and C-segment passenger vehicle to the market when the brand in Malaysia was historically associated with pick-up trucks – so we had to change that perception of Ford equals pick-up trucks.
What would you say are your biggest accomplishments in your career with Sime Darby?
Winning the Automotive Lady of the Year 2020 at the Vehicle of the Year awards by DSF.my came as a big surprise! As the award event was carried out virtually, I was not expecting it at all.
Personally, I feel that there many other women in high positions in our industry in Malaysia who have done a lot more than I have.
However, I am grateful for the recognition of everyday people, many of whom have worked in the industry for some time and who would have persevered through all the challenges to build something good, something positive and are in the process of contributing back to the people around us. I am truly humbled and grateful by this recognition.
What is it like to be a woman in a male-dominated industry?
No difference I feel. There are many women holding leadership positions throughout the automotive industry in Malaysia. Many sales and service advisors are also women. And at the back-end, from finance, legal to information technology and human resource roles, there are many women in this industry.
The allure of the automotive industry has changed, and this had attracted more women to want to have a career in this industry. I guess, historically it was not attractive to women, but this has changed.
Therefore, I don’t see any obstacle at all. It is really up to one’s self to decide and design the life and career we want.
What do you think makes a successful leader?
Someone who can bring out the best in a person. Someone who is able to pull together different individuals with different talents and capabilities into a team, to achieve a common goal.
I also feel that a great leader must be someone who is fair, trustworthy and has a strong sense of integrity.
And being inspirational is the icing on the cake.
What do you think about the working culture in Sime Darby?
I do think that Sime Darby is a great corporation to work for and that it makes consistent efforts to create an organisation where staff are proud to be part of it and able to contribute great work.