Update (March 2022): Ooi Lay Pheng won the EY Woman Entrepreneur of The Year Award 2021 and she truly deserves the win. She has taken the company to greater heights with her leadership and grit. A true womenpreneur!
This time around, I spoke to Ooi Lay Pheng is the CEO of Berjayapak Sdn Bhd in Penang, Malaysia. Lay Pheng is in a business that many women would not choose to be in.
It’s a hard, hot and dusty business!
But she had no choice.
Her family and in particular her father was counting on her to help him in his wood packaging articles business.
Their business manufactures and supplies wood packaging such as pallets, crates and boxes to multinational corporations that need to ship and send their cargo all over the world.
Lay Pheng grew up with the business but didn’t know that she would take over the business in time to come!
The wood pallet industry is nothing short of rough and tough. It is a challenging industry as sustainable timber resources need to be managed with integrity, competitors are aplenty and customers often ask for competitive pricing. On top of that, the manufacturing facility is always hot, noisy and dusty.
Lay Pheng is an accomplished baker who loves nothing more than to bake bread and decorate cakes but she had to put aside her own plans to step up and lead the manufacturing business. In fact, Lay Pheng taught baking and professional cake decorating at schools in Kuala Lumpur as part of her desire to help equip youth with skills that could help them make a living.
At that time, she was living in Kuala Lumpur after returning from the US where she studied and worked.
Since she became the CEO of the business, the company has grown to include an expansion into Vietnam.
In the last five years that she has come on board, the company has experienced double-digit growth and won award after award for quality and innovation. Their most recent win was the Asia’s Leading SME Award.
One of the things I find refreshing about Lay Pheng is that she is a rare breed of women CEOs in a tough and predominantly male-led industry.
She is also an Asian/Malaysian which makes her perspectives invaluable on global platforms especially when she joins the dialogues of the wood pallet industry forums in the USA and Europe.