Friday, May 6, 2011

Iron Lady

A very secure woman in a man’s world

This is a made-in-Malaysia rags-to-riches story. Maznah Hamid had nothing, sometimes not even a few coins for a meal. But today she is the head honcho of Securiforce which employs more than 6,000 people throughout Malaysia, Singapore, Bangkok, China, South Korea, Turkey and Germany.Maznah has known many of her employees when they were in their teens and today they are one big secure happy family.

The executive chairman of the security firm is very down to earth. She has no airs or pretensions and, like she says, “I am just a woman doing a job in a man’s world.”On her success, she said: “I am successful because I am a woman in this field. Women shouldn’t doubt themselves because there are times when you need a woman to do a man’s job.”

She remembers clearly her early days .Ten banks turned down her application for business loan. “All of them told me they had no money to lend me! Some even doubted that my business would succeed because of my gender,” she says.The irony is that the same banks that turned her down now needs her service.
“They used every excuse they could find not to give me the money,” she laughs. And now she is laughing all the way to the bank.

Maznah was born in Air Hitam, Kedah, to parents who divorced when she was just five years old. Brought up with the help of her grandparents who were both conservative and religious, she confides that it was her upbringing which made her very timid.

“I felt so alone as a child and a teenager and was very quiet – you wouldn’t believe that now, of course,” she says, sitting forward in her chair, “but I was.”

“Do you know that my grandmother told me that I should study to become a religious teacher? I actually wanted to become a diplomat because although I was quiet, I was very good at communicating and expressing myself. I even helped my friends write love letters!

“It was a very confusing period because I didn’t know what I should study in order to become a diplomat. The first step I took was sign up at a language centre to better my English. Later, I took up business courses but I was still without direction. All I knew was that I wanted to be rich and successful,” she states.

Rich people
After taking up these business courses, Maznah realised that she wanted to become an entrepreneur only to have her grandfather tell her that entrepreneurs are drop-outs who will eventually end up selling fish and vegetables in the market.
Undaunted, Maznah took her certificates and became a tutor and translator for several embassies.
“I met so many rich people during this time. I saw how they lived and liked the lifestyle – they were earning RM100,000 and up and what was I driving? A car that couldn’t go uphill!”
“I was not shy to ask them, ‘How do you earn so much money?’ They replied that I have to become an entrepreneur. A person may not have a sound education background, but what they will always have are resources,” she adds.
Where financial resources were concerned, Maznah had a grand total of RM5,000 – her life savings. She put all of it into a security service company. Consider for a moment that she had no idea how to run a business, let alone one that dealt with security. All she knew were the basics of security operations, law and firearms.

Immense responsibility
Her earlier contracts included providing security for her clients’ homes. Maznah could not afford to hire many people and ended up guarding the premises by herself while her husband did the patrolling.
“It was also at this time that I got pregnant with my first child. My husband and I stayed in a rumah haram (illegal housing area) and there were no facilities as you can imagine.

“When I delivered my baby, my husband and I made a joint declaration that we would never give up because we wanted to provide the best for this child and others should we have them. We worked so hard and there were times when we even brought the baby along!

“My husband is an amazing man and I thank God everyday for him,” she says, glancing at a family portrait which takes centre stage in her office. “Being with him is very empowering for me because he truly is a secure man and has been through everything with me. We even had similar nightmares!” she said.

What Maznah is referring to would be the immense responsibility of taking care of someone else’s valuables. “I used to not only have nightmares, but insomnia, migraines and ulcers,” she grimaces at the memory. “When I saw how much of trust they put in me, I said to myself, ‘I wonder if they’ll trust a man this way!’”

Thirty years down the road and Maznah has built her company to include logistics services, cash-in-transit, cash management, high-tech cargo management and armoured trucking service.

The Malaysian iron lady has these words of wisdom:v “We are only as weak as we think we are. Even if someone tells us that we can’t, we have that choice to prove them wrong. People ask me about retiring and I want to laugh. There’s so much left for me to do.”

my comment:gender, race, or religion doesn't matter..what really matters is to "believe in your guts" and to "work hard"

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing... its really is inspiring .... wow, the power of a woman...


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