Nik Tasha believes that women are represented in Corporate Malaysia, but not across all levels. The avid book lover tells us what else can be done to achieve greater parity in the country.
Options: Congratulations on being the first woman to be appointed deputy chair of the British Malaysian Chamber of Commerce since its founding 57 years ago.
Nik Tasha: It is an honour, but also a responsibility as this appointment will pave the way for more women on board and management-level roles. I am also very fortunate to have the support and guidance of fellow board members.
You’ve served on BMCC’s board of directors for a while now, though. What have been some of the highlights?
I have been privileged to be part of the executive office of the Chamber as well as the board and seen it go from strength to strength. Key highlights will, of course, include the royal visits of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Prince of Wales as well as (former UK) PM David Cameron and Boris Johnson as mayor of London. The Chamber plays a key role during such visits that help elevate the relationship [between the two countries] further. Working with the previous lady ambassador Her Excellency Vicki Treadell with her amazing vision is also hugely memorable.
What do you think of women representation in Corporate Malaysia today, and what else can be done to achieve greater parity?
For me, women are represented but not across all levels. There are still big gaps in middle to higher management. This is not just a corporate issue but, in fact, reflects the ecosystem. We need to make life as a working woman in Malaysia — and Asia — easier. I have always believed, without this, it will be difficult to move the needle.
Tell us also about your main work as senior general manager for Sunway’s marketing and communications.
I oversee branding, communications, digital and corporate responsibility roles as well as events for the Sunway Group. It is an amazing role which I hope will create an alignment within Sunway’s multiple divisions while supporting the chairman’s (Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah) vision of being the lead in addressing the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (UNSDG) in all our brand positioning and key messages. Corporate responsibility also has a key role in the Sunway DNA and it is something we are proud to be acknowledged for, besides from the purely-business perspective.
Back to the British-Malaysian topic, Gordon Ramsay has just opened a restaurant at the Sunway Hotel — it is the world-renowned chef’s first outside of the UK. Tell us about it.
It is exciting! We are so proud to be able to bring such a brand to Malaysian shores. The Sunway hospitality team, especially Sunway Resort, played a big role in making this happen.
You also famously love reading. Which books have had the most impact on you, and why?
I am a history buff and generally prefer non-fiction. I really do believe you need to understand the past in order to make sense of the present. Having said that, I also like classics such as Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy and anything by Jane Austen. Persuasion is a particular favourite.
How did this passion for history and historical fiction begin?
It probably started when I was living in Oxford, the UK, where historical books were aplenty. I realised then that history need not be learnt from just a military angle, but from a cultural one as well. The author Alison Weir really got me going on Tudor history. She made the subject so readable. It snowballed from there and I was hooked. I literally went from country to country in history through reading.
So, what are you reading right now?
It is very hard to concentrate on a single book at the moment. I find reading multiple books simultaneously also helps speed up the reading process. I am currently in-between rereading Muhammad, the World-Changer: An Intimate Portrait by Mohamad Jebara, The Great Imperial Hangover: How Empires Have Shaped the World by Samir Puri and The Book of Ichigo Ichie: The Art of Making the Most of Every Moment, the Japanese Way by Ikigai authors Héctor García and Francesc Miralles for Zen.
What about music? What’s your playlist like?
You know you are old(er) when your favourite songs are listed as classics! I am an ’80s and ’90s pop child at heart, so my playlist will always have Sting, Madonna, Craig David and Latino remixes.
What have been your most memorable trips to date?
There have been quite a few. Seeing the Winter Palace in St Petersburg, Russia was mesmerising. I also once travelled in a camper van around New Zealand with nine family members while a 2019 road trip through Ireland with my husband was positively therapeutic. My first work trip to Vevey, Switzerland during my days at Nestlé was also an eye-opener.
What are your travel plans like for the rest of the year?
I would like to say they will be adventurous but, then again, going to Singapore is considered exciting enough now. I would really like to — finally — make it to the Mulu Caves in Sarawak this year, though.
Describe your idea of a perfect weekend.
These days, that would mean getting all the chores done, some ‘me’ time, rest and catching up with friends and family.
This article first appeared on July 25, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.