Navigating The Highs and Lows of Life

Rachel Wong Mai Kim

MANAGING DIRECTOR

MARUNDA UTAMA ENGINEERING PTE LTD

(Pulsar Category Overall Winner 2018)

“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.

Marunda Utama Engineering Pte Ltd was set up in 1985 with you as the director and co-founder of the company. Was it difficult at first?

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.

What is unique about Marunda Utama Engineering?

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.

What mindset, mentality or habits do you think contributes to making one a successful person?

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.

What are your thoughts about being a female entrepreneur?

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.

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AWARD JUDGE

BG (NS) Chan Wing Kai

Director

Seed Global Investment

BG (NS) Chan Wing Kai spent 29 years in the Singapore Armed Forces as a military officer. He rose up to the Army’s top leadership and held numerous key appointments.

The years in the Armed Forces provided him a strong foundation in leadership, human capital management, operational planning, training development and critical diplomatic skills.

He retired from active military service in 2016 and is currently a Director with SEED Global Investment, a real estate investment firm. He oversees the company’s portfolio and business development in the US and UK. He holds a MSc in Applied Finance from the Singapore Management University, and is no stranger to corporate finance, portfolio management, equities, bonds and derivatives.

AWARD JUDGE

TIN PEI LING

Member of Parliament
CEO

Business China

Ms Tin Pei Ling is the Chief Executive Officer of Business China, a non-profit organisation that harnesses the support of the public sector & private enterprises to strengthen the ties between Singapore and China. Prior to joining Business China, Pei Ling was the Group Director of Corporate Strategy for Jing King Group.

Pei Ling is an elected Member of Parliament in Singapore since 2011 and currently serves on the Public Accounts Committee. She also serves on the Government Parliamentary Committee for Communications & Information (from 2018, Dy Chairperson) and Health (2011 – present) and previously for Law/Home Affairs (2011-2015) and Social & Family Development (2015 – 2018, Dy Chairperson).

AWARD JUDGE

RYAN CHIOH

Managing Director

Faseastflora.com

Mr Ryan Chioh joined FEF.com in 1998 as Executive Director of Far East Flora Holdings Pte Ltd.

Always a firm advocator for technology, Ryan identified the direction for e-commerce development and saw a business opportunity to offer FEF.com’s extensive range of flowers and gifts online in 2001. Ryan blended his IT savviness and prudent business sense to steer the company’s website to become the leading portal for flowers and gifts. Ryan also brought the company to another level by spearheading the development of a CRM and ERP business solution, integrating the front-end and back-end operations so that there would be easier identification of customer base.

AWARD JUDGE

NEO SING HWEE

Asia Pacific, Asean and Singapore Internal Audit Leader, Risk Advisory Services

Ernst & Young

Mr Neo Sing Hwee sits in the EY Asean Partner Governance Council and leads the Advisory (Risk) Internal Audit Practice in Ernst & Young Asia Pacific, Asean and Singapore.

He has more than 20 years of experience in providing risk management, performance improvement, internal controls and business advisory services to clients in various industries, including organisations in the government and public sector such as ministries and statutory boards. He provides advice to Boards and Management on leading practices, insights as well as issues relating to corporate governance, risk management and internal controls.

AWARD JUDGE

DR LIM WEE KIAK, PBM

Member of Parliament
CEO

Eagle Eye Centre

Dr Lim Wee Kiak, is an elected Member of Parliament for Sembawang GRC since 2015 and serves as chairman of Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Ministry of Community, Culture and Youth. An Ophthalmologist, Dr Lim is currently the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Eagle Eye Centre.

Dr Lim joined the Singapore Armed Forces as a medical officer in 1994 and completed subspecialty training in Ophthalmology in 1998, with a Master’s degree in Medicine and two post-graduate specialist qualifications in Ophthalmology. During his service in SAF, he led numerous humanitarian missions to neighbouring countries. He joined Singapore National Eye Centre and was awarded the MOH HMDP fellowship in 2003, doing one year of clinical and research Fellowship at the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health.

Dr Lim had been an active grassroots leader since 1998 before joining politics in 2006. For his active community involvement, he was awarded the Young Executive of the Year in 2000 and Public Service Medal (PBM) in 2003.

AWARD JUDGE

Chew Mok Lee

Assistant Chief Executive
ICM & Digitalisation
Enterprise Services & New Industries

Enterprise Singapore

Ms Chew Mok Lee is the Assistant Chief Executive in charge of ICM & Digitalisation, Enterprise Services & New Industries in Enterprise Singapore, a government agency spearheading enterprise and industry development, reporting to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore. Enterprise Singapore is also the national Standards body in Singapore.

Prior to Enterprise Singapore, Mok Lee was with National Productivity Board (NPB), PSB and SPRING Singapore. She graduated from National University of Singapore, majoring in Economics and Statistics. She has a double Masters and is well versed in the area of enterprise promotion, industry development and partnership building, having been involved in various aspects of capability development, support for local enterprises, enabling a viable enterprise eco-system and entrepreneurship for 29 years. She also served as Secretariat to the Action Community for Entrepreneurship and was responsible for working with the Minister in Charge of Entrepreneurship and private sector members to foster entrepreneurship and support start-ups in Singapore.

AWARD JUDGE

CHIA KIM HUAT

Regional Head
Corporate and Transactional Practice

Rajah & Tann Singapore

Mr Chia Kim Huat has extensive experience in capital market, public and private mergers and acquisitions, cross-border joint ventures and private equity investments, both in Singapore and the region. He travels regularly in the Asia-Pacific region advising clients on a wide range of matters, including direct investments and infrastructure projects in China, major acquisitions in Korea, joint ventures in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan and cross-border mergers and acquisitions transactions. Kim Huat also advises foreign investors on their investments in Singapore, including listings on the Singapore Exchange, privatisations, secondary and dual listings.

He has been recognised as a leading lawyer in his field by International Financial Law Review 1000, Chambers Global “Leaders in their Field”, Asia Pacific Legal 500, “Eminent Practitioner” in Chambers Asia Pacific, Who’s Who Legal: Corporate – Merger & Acquisition/Capital Markets – Debt and Equity and Merger & Acquisition, ‘Leading Lawyer’ in Asialaw Profiles and Best Lawyers, 2017 Edition.

AWARD JUDGE

TAN WEE BENG

Deputy Chief Executive (Operations)
SkillsFuture Singapore

Wee Beng is the Deputy Chief Executive (Operations) of SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG). He leads the Business Technology Group (Operations Planning Division, Capability Development Division, Operations & Support Division, Security & Infrastructure Division), the Training, Manpower & Infrastructure Group (Manpower & Infrastructure Planning Division, Office of Lifelong Learning, and Institute of Adult Learning which comprises Learning and Professional Development Division, Research and Innovation Division, Learning Services and Support Division ) as well as the Business Services Group (Shared Services Management, Integrated Business Services Division &, Corporate Services Division).

Prior to joining SSG, Wee Beng was an officer with the Singapore Armed Forces, leading both large and small teams. His last appointment was Chief-of-Staff, Republic of Singapore Navy, overseeing a range of staff departments and ground commands. Other key appointments held were Head Naval Operations, Commander of Maritime Security Task Force and Commander, Naval Diving Unit. Wee Beng holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in Physics from Oxford University, UK, and a Master of Science in Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA.