Women in Rail Malaysia was set up in September 2017 following discussions with Women in Rail UK and is working towards shaping the future of the rail industry in Malaysia to make it more diverse and inclusive.
Its current activities include Leadership Talks with industry experts and illustrious transport and female leaders. Women in Rail Malaysia is also undertaking a mentorship programme, as well as creating an online presence for maximum reach to all stakeholder groups.
The group is led by Natasha Zulkifli, Stakeholder Director at YTL Malaysia.
Natasha’s has worked in the public transport space for 7 years, having previously worked at SPAD, Malaysia’s land public transport regulator and planner and also at Prasarana, Malaysia’s largest train and bus operator as Head of International Relations. Natasha currently works at YTL Malaysia as Stakeholder Director for what is currently Malaysia’s largest inter-city rail construction project, connecting Gemas to Johor Bahru in the southern part of Peninsular Malaysia.
She is passionate about driving Women in Rail Malaysia for the benefit of women not just currently working within the industry but to also promote the Malaysian rail space as a career of choice to young women currently studying in secondary school and in universities.
Natasha has studied in Kuala Lumpur, New Zealand and London and has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE), with a special focus on European Union and international law.
She also previously ran the Malaysia-Europe Forum, a not-for-profit organisation as its Executive Director, responsible for improving relations and bilateral understanding between Malaysia and Europe in areas relating to business and trade.
Natasha has always been passionate about working on cross-border initiatives and has in the past, sat as Malaysia’s representative on the Asia Low Emission Development Strategies (LEDS) Partnership Steering Committee, which is a voluntary regional network set up by USAID to support and promote low-emission development across Asia and the Pacific region. Since 2015, Natasha has represented Malaysia on the Business Women’s Working Group within the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC).
Women in Rail Malaysia 7th Leadership Talk on 1st November 2018
Women in Rail Malaysia together with Institution of Railway Signal Engineers (IRSE) Malaysia hosted the Women in Rail Malaysia 7th Leadership Talk on 1st November 2018, with special guest speaker, the newly appointed Minister of Transport, YB Anthony Loke Siew Fook.
For most of those who attended, it was their first time being at the Malaysian Houses of Parliament, and also the first time to listen to YB Anthony since he took office. All were eager to know the future of the rail industry. “Is there hope? Is there light at the end of the tunnel?”
YB Anthony kicked off by saying that when he heard about the existence of Women in Rail Malaysia, he was eager to meet its members. His curiosity was piqued and he was interested to support a not-for-profit entity such as Women in Rail Malaysia and engage directly with representatives from the rail space.
The minister talked about recent developments in the rail space and the initiatives he had taken to transform the Malaysian transport industry. One of them was during the first cabinet meeting, where Minister requested to have SPAD under the Ministry of Transport. That marked the first time in the history of Malaysia that the Ministry of Transport would have centralized and systemic jurisdiction over all land public transport matters.
The minister covered issues such as railway asset management, land utilization along nearly two thousand kilometres of railway tracks, transit oriented development providing affordable housing as well as monetization opportunities and commercial viability for the sector.
He also touched on the need for balancing investment in urban rail projects with the need for developing public transport utilisation in the secondary towns throughout Malaysia. To promote ridership, the ministry of transport was rolling out a monthly pass for the urban poor in the 2019 budget.
To further encourage lifestyle changes, the minister would focus on harmonizing multimodal urban travel by reorganizing bus routes, further improving first and last mile connectivity. Non-fare revenue would also start to be a priority for the ministry and partnerships with smart solution providers would be an area of focus, as would PPP development and expansion.
The minister said to the audience “you have chosen the right path for your career.” He acknowledged the existence of many talents with great skills and expertise in the Malaysian rail space. He emphasised that the Malaysian economy is strong enough to absorb these talents, still providing many opportunities but he did recognise that personal sacrifices would have to be made in these changing times for Malaysia.
The minister ended his session by reiterating his appreciation for both female and male technical professionals, recognising their individual strengths. He said that both in his ministry and within his political party, opportunities were provided to women for their career advancement.