Natasha Zulkifli, Founder Director of WIR Malaysia
Women in Rail Malaysia began as a dream in 2017. Realising that Malaysia needed good talent to support the many upcoming rail initiatives, including the massive KL – Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project, Natasha decided to dive in and become actively involved to actually DO something about it.
Having a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE) in the UK, meant Natasha ended up working in Malaysia’s public transport and rail industry, quite by accident. Jobs at SPAD, and Prasarana made Natasha realise how proud she was to be working in an industry which would not only take Malaysia to the next level in terms of industry development, but it also made her realise how she had a duty to give back to the industry, which had provided so many professional career opportunities to her as well.
For anyone who knows her will attest, Natasha is the epitome of determination and if she really wants something, then she will work really hard to realise her wild, crazy dreams.
Once she had decided she wanted to set up Women in Rail Malaysia, Natasha reached out to Women in Rail in the UK to see if they would support the setting up of a Women in Rail Malaysia entity. She then talked to her teenage daughter to see if Laura would consider taking more science- based subjects in school, because it was girls like Laura that would be the future for the Malaysian rail industry. Then Natasha talked to CEOs in the domestic rail space, as well as female colleagues working alongside her in the industry to gauge their interest and level of support for the setting up of Women in Rail Malaysia.
After many meetings, lunches and chats, Women in Rail Malaysia was officially born in September 2017. Starting out small, it has now grown to more than 600 members, with both male and female members, including students and corporate partners. Women in Rail Malaysia regularly organises Leadership Talks with senior industry experts, with many speakers coming from abroad, eager to meet with Women in Rail Malaysia members. A Mentorship Programme is also being rolled out by Women in Rail Malaysia, with a Job Placement Programme and workshops for professional development also being organised.
Like all things not-for-profit, Women in Rail Malaysia runs on little funds, plenty of sunshine and the passion of its volunteers. This was keenly evident when Women in Rail Malaysia decided to organise its inaugural Leadership Conference on 8 th July 2019. Gathering more than 500 participants, Women in Rail Malaysia created history by organising the first conference of its kind in Malaysia. Never before had a conference blended the multiple topics of rail, leadership and STEM issues, but Women in Rail Malaysia decided to venture into unchartered territory and provide something new and different for Malaysians.
Which is the raison d’etre for its existence: to provide added value into the domestic rail space which has so much potential for growth.