As women, we carry a lot on our plate, balancing both our private and professional lives. Reading Datin Lily’s story below, one can’t help but wonder how she manages to do and achieve so much, effortlessly and with clear purpose. Here is her story in her own words.
Areas of focus
Board governance | consumer products | financial analysis and management | supply chain
I started my career with a short stint at Petronas in 1982 in the Domestic Marketing Department before embarking into the financial industry. I have more than 20 years of experience in the financial sector, specifically in Corporate Finance and Corporate Banking. Previously as Vice President of JP Morgan Chase, I was responsible for the development of client relationships and the origination of big-ticket investment banking transactions for the aviation and transportation industry as well as multinational businesses in Malaysia. I am result orientated, with a focus on fulfilling and exceeding client requirements.
In 2003, I set up RP Network, a multi level marketing (MLM) venture. This provided me with another dimension in the entrepreneurial world. As a shareholder with an executive position, I was responsible for securing the MLM license from the Ministry of Domestic Trade. I was actively managing the business and formulating both short and long-term strategies. Through my leadership, communication and entrepreneurial skills, the company managed to expand its marketing and membership network.
Currently, I am managing my family’s investment portfolio of properties and general investments. In this respect, I make it a point to stay current with new investment products in the market and the development of both local and global economies.
A day in the life
I endeavour to lead a life that is balanced between family, career and personal wellbeing. I believe time waits for no man, and as such, I am an early riser and start my day doing my morning exercise. Keeping fit is very important to me and sets a positive tone to my day. When I complete my morning routine, I feel more confident and in control to handle the rest of the day. I am an avid reader and I keep myself updated with the daily financial and economic news, both local and international. The world has no borders, what happens in the west or in the region will impact us. This information and knowledge helps me develop and review my investment strategies.
I also do a fair amount of networking especially with my former colleagues who are still in the corporate world. The networking keeps me abreast with the grapevine. Information is a valuable commodity and the more informed you are, the more this helps you in your decision-making. Evenings are spent with family and friends and watching European dramas and thrillers.
My life philosophy
As cliché as it sounds, I strongly believe that life is a journey, not a destination. In this day and age, we need to have the drive to continuously learn and open our minds to the ever-changing environment. It’s important to be positive since a positive attitude will make you a happier person.
My proudest moment (career wise)
My proudest moment would be taking a leap from a steady career in a multinational organisation and getting out of my comfort zone to start my own multi-level business venture. Starting a company from scratch was definitely a daunting task but whatever I acquired in my previous roles were fully employed in this new chapter.
I was instrumental in securing the license from the Ministry, formulation of the business strategies, development of the marketing plan and the expansion of the membership network. This is where I learnt that dealing with people is fundamental in the successful implementation and running of the company.
During this period, I was confronted with many challenges, which I managed to overcome. Believing that I can achieve my goals and having the right mindset is clearly the recipe in overcoming any obstacles.
I am passionate about
I am passionate about philanthropy – helping those who are less fortunate. I have always put aside what I can to give them. I am part of a group that does this in our small little way, providing funds, effort and time where possible.
Seeking knowledge is something that I have always believed in, be it on business, philosophy or religion. Knowledge is not just something we acquire from reading. It is through living our lives as well. I also gain knowledge from travelling around the world, observing and understanding how other cultures view and do things. I try to emulate all the positive things that I see around me in my travels.
I’m also passionate about my faith. Having faith gives me the grounding and the moral compass in doing things right. A moral compass also creates integrity which is a highly regarded value.
1981 – MBA (Finance) from the University of Miami, Florida, USA
1980 – BSC (Finance) from Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA
2012 – Options Trading Strategies by Miriam MacWilliams of Wealth Mentors
A short story that defines me
I see myself as a strong person. When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, I decided that I was going to fight and beat it and am now cancer-free. I have always believed that being positive is instrumental in succeeding in your endeavours and in rising above challenges. I adopt these traits in my daily life and in any environment I’m placed in.
How I handle conflict and negotiation
Being level-headed and un-emotional, in my opinion, is the best attitude to approach conflict and negotiation. There is a balance between listening to what other individuals have to say and respecting their views but one must not be afraid to voice out one’s own opinions.
Additionally, the choice of words and delivery are important in order to get the correct message across. The tools to deal with conflict come with experience. Notwithstanding, one should always keep an eye on the surroundings and take note how others are handling situations.
My views on financial literacy for individuals
It is important for individuals to have a reasonable understanding of financial knowledge professionally and personally. Keeping up to date with current affairs and the economic climate is essential and useful. As I am handling the family portfolio of investments, I have to keep myself current as any changes in the economic environment could impact my investments. Reading daily news (local and international) and subscribing to financial and investment journals are how I keep myself updated.
In what ways can we as women empower each other?
Supporting one another in the belief that women can excel, and in turn, break the glass ceiling is key. It is our duty to encourage and motivate the next generation of women – they are our future. We should go out of our way to help one another when other women are encountering a personal or professional problem. At the end of the day, we should advocate for the women we work with, not against them.
What I believe holds people back in terms of professional success
What holds people back, in particular, women, is finding a balance between progressing in your career and your family. As a wife, the birth of a child instantly changes how we define ourselves. Our priorities shift in fundamental ways and we make sacrifices we never thought we would. Parenting is the most challenging experience, yet the most rewarding. Complacency is also what could hinder someone from progressing in his or her career. One must always stay hungry and have the drive to do better, to be better.
Three things you need to do at the start of your career
Be inquisitive, there is no such thing as a stupid question. Be humble no matter where you graduate from or what qualifications you have. Finally, be willing to accept criticism and always look at life in a positive manner.
Datin Lily Lokman has had an extensive career with both multinational corporations and local Malaysian corporates. A former Vice President at JP Morgan Chase, Datin Lily ventured into multi-level marketing in 2003 through the establishment of RP Network Sdn Bhd. After the sale of RP Network, she took on the management of the family investments in property, shares and securities as well as general investments.