"I feel very proud to be a member of the AkzoNobel family," says Lee Yen. "My story started in May of 2000 when I joined the company as a laboratory technician in a Quality Control laboratory for Marine, Protective and Yacht Coatings in Singapore."
"Three years later, I was promoted to Chemist and transferred to the R&D laboratory, where I was given an opportunity to further my studies in Belgium for a year. I was the very first employee at that time to be given such a sponsorship to pursue studies abroad. I'm very grateful that I was able to complete my Master's degree in Material Engineering at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven."
In 2019, Lee Yen took up a two-month assignment in China. It was part of a program that opens up opportunities for career development in the R&D community.
"This was a great learning experience and fantastic opportunity to work with the R&D team in North Asia to broaden my knowledge and skills," says Lee Yen. "I kept a record of many of my sweet memories in a journal during the assignment. One of these was creating a mini-dictionary of technical terms in Mandarin. It was certainly a challenge to keep up with a Primary 6 language level education – but thankfully I had lots of support from my Mandarin teachers and colleagues in China."
Leadership role models
Lee Yen recalls hearing one of AkzoNobel's senior leaders saying: "We win together, not as individuals. Together we're stronger, together we're unstoppable." It's an inspiring message that still helps her boost morale and team spirit.
Her own team has vision statement that helps keep them focused: Unconventional solutions to create a brighter tomorrow for South Asia with excellent teamwork and positive thinking. Created four years ago, it's standing the test of time!
"As leaders, we need to be role models, be consistent and deliver a clear message to our teams," Lee Yen says. "It's up to us to harness the strength, talent and commitment of all employees and make sure they know how vital their contributions are."