Navigating The Highs and Lows of Life
“If I as a woman who did not come from an engineering background can manage and run my engineering company successfully for 33 years, you too can succeed in whichever industry you choose to pursue. You must always believe and never belittle yourself.”
From its conception as a trading company in 1985, Marunda has grown to become a reputable name in the field of engineering services in the Asia Pacific region. Today, Marunda Utama Engineering is an approved and registered service provider for the Singapore and United States governments, specifically working with Singapore Public Utilities Board & Port of Singapore Authority, US Navy’s Military Sealift Command and Commonwealth Logistic Western Pacific, as well as the oil and gas industry. With Marunda setting up in the Philippines and also expanding to Guam, there is no end to its growth and diversification.
Beyond the supply of main propulsion and power generation equipment and spare parts to the marine and industrial sectors, Marunda also provides after sales technical backup, maintenance, overhaul, troubleshoot and repair of the equipment and its auxiliaries. Marunda also repair engines and generators of other brands’ makes and models.
Their portfolio also includes an array of ship husbandry services to US Navy ships calling into Singapore and voyage ship repairs; mechanical, electrical and hull repair, rigging, structural and hull fabrication, supplying and installation of US Navy approved Mil-spec materials for deck covering, thermal and acoustic insulation and lagging, and in situ chemical flushing of VCHT system, condensers for defence vessels and commercial vessels.
In addition, Marunda is the exclusive authorised channel partner, sales and service representative of global top-class engine makers such as Fairbanks Morse Engine (USA), FM ALCO (USA), Farymann Diesel (Germany), and other renowned brands such as Siemens Engines and Gensets (Spain), Dex-O-Tex Marine Deck Covering (USA) and Curtis Wright (USA) just to name a few.
Born to an impoverished family, Rachel Wong Mai Kim had very little growing up. The youngest of three children, her memories of childhood are of the harsh circumstances of that time. But despite the odds, her parents did everything they could to send their children to the best schools they could afford.
In those days, every penny counted and it was because of her family’s financial constraints that she learnt from a young age what it meant to be enterprising. As a student, Rachel took it upon herself to contribute to the family income to help ease the burden of her parents. For example, she would sell self-made iced popsicles to her friends and neighbours, from which she would earn about 20 cents per day. After her O levels, she took on various jobs such as selling of encyclopedias, modelling, photography and hairdressing to help support her family. However, those incomes were erratic and were never enough. Then one day in 1984, she was approached by a friend whose father was looking for a business partner to set up a company in Singapore. Seeing that there was nothing to lose, Rachel jumped straight in and has never looked back since.
It was very challenging. I was then a minority shareholder and had no experience in engineering at all. At the time, the co-founder was an Indonesian Chinese who spoke very little English. I translated for him from Bahasa Indonesian to English/Mandarin and vice versa for technical matters I didn’t even understand myself. But through this, I learned a lot about the industry. We worked together for five to six years. But his vision was short-lived and his professional decisions landed the company in huge debt because of the lack of demand, overstocking in our inventory, and insufficient cash flow. Eventually, I took over the entire company in 1992 and requested our creditors to give me time and opportunity to repay the company’s debt. I kept to my promise, and for the 10 to 12 years that followed after I took over, I worked very, very hard to rebuild the business and pay off all the debt and eventually turned the company around.
We never stop diversifying and growing. The product and services we are offering are very niche and specialised — that sets us apart from the other service providers in the market. Over the years, we have built a solid reputation and we are known for our areas of expertise and our professionalism in successfully executing each and every job or project no matter how big or small they may be. Over the years, we received numerous testimonials and accolades, and they give us much satisfaction to know that our customers are happy with our services.
Condition your mind that failure is not an option. We only live once and for everything we do, we should put our best foot forward and be passionate to pursue our goals. Strive for excellence, not perfection. One must have confidence and self-belief, and have a positive and can-do spirit. The moment you tell yourself a task is too difficult, you have already failed. Not trying won’t take you anywhere. Be positive and willing to take on the challenges head on, and don’t be afraid to fall. It is all about believing in yourself. Everything happens for a reason. I have swum the toughest water, and I tell you, you must have the guts, the grit and the motivation to want to succeed in life no matter what you do, whether it is in your marriage, career or relationship. Lastly, the greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do. I am one living testament.
Women are more than capable of doing what men can do too. In this era, where there is no gender barrier, any woman can work or sit side by side any man in any industry and let her voice be heard. It is a level playing field. I hope to inspire women out there with my life story, and motivate them to be fearless and to never underestimate their ability to excel in their own field.