Home Networking company IRJ Women in Rail Awards 2022: Part 3

IRJ Women in Rail Awards 2022: Part 3


Natasha Zulkifli, Stakeholder Manager, YTL Construction, Malaysia

AFTER stints with a government agency, the Public Land Transport Commission (Spad), public transport operator Prasarana and now private company YTL Construction, Natasha Zulkifli has seen the Malaysian rail industry “under all angles” over his 10-year career in the industry.

She is very efficient. Among a long list of accomplishments, Natasha was part of the project team that conceptualized the Kuala Lumpur – Singapore high-speed project in 2013 and that same year she helped set up a branch of the Institution of Railway Signaling Engineers (IRSE) in Malaysia. . She has organized various international exchange programs to support the development of railway knowledge in Malaysia, notably with Japan and Transport for London.

She also represented Malaysia in 2017 when negotiating the joint venture operating consortium for the rapid transit system that will operate between Johor Bahru and Woodlands North in Singapore, and organized a mobile learning unit in a double-decker bus converted to promote the 192 km Gemas – Johor. Bahru double track project that YTL Construction is working on.

Natasha Zulkifli, Stakeholder Manager, YTL Construction, Malaysia

These successes led to Natasha being recognized by the German government as one of its Outstanding Women in Transport in 2019 and as the first recipient of the Malaysian Government’s Outstanding Woman of the Year in Rail Award in 2021.

Natasha is a strong advocate for inclusion, especially creating opportunities for women to enter the rail industry, which has not always been easy in a conservative country like Malaysia. She is the founder and director of Women in Rail (WiR) Malaysia, a free network designed to promote equality and diversity in the Malaysian rail industry. Natasha says she was inspired to start the group by the founder of British band WiR, Adeline Ginn. Like the UK organisation, WiR Malaysia facilitates networking opportunities and promotes existing opportunities or creating new ones for women to access rail education and employment.

“I was lucky to have bosses and role models who helped me grow in my career,” she says. “I have been extremely lucky to have had many different opportunities throughout my career and the confidence to pursue them. Not all women are as lucky as me.


This sense of opportunity pushes Natasha to act as a role model for young women. In addition to providing support to its over 500 members through conferences and online events, WiR Malaysia has hosted leadership discussions with over 5,000 primary, secondary and graduate students. These conferences aim to encourage young girls to consider studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects at a higher level and to consider rail as a career of choice.

“I started all of this because young girls need to know when they graduate what’s coming in Malaysia and where the rail industry is heading,” she says. “It’s really important to have role models, and it’s not just me, so many other women are going to talk to these children and it’s nice to see that we are warmly welcomed, even by educational institutions public.”

The pandemic has presented challenges to the sector, and Natasha admits the morale of many female employees in the industry has been hit by pay cuts and working from home. Some have even lost their jobs, a situation made worse by the reduction in railway investment in Malaysia in recent years.

However, WiR Malaysia continued, and while some online events took a while to get going, Natasha is ‘proud’ of the Love Local series, which showcases what women business owners have done to overcome the crisis. .

“It’s really important to have role models, and it’s not just me, so many other women are going to talk to these children and it’s nice to see that we are warmly welcomed, even by educational institutions public.”

Natasha Zulkifli

Its next big project is WiR Connect, which aims to generalize British and Malaysian concepts.

Natasha says she was interested in the Baltics and Britain early on, and is looking to bring participants from the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia and Japan. “WiR Malaysia has funded the establishment of WiR Connect and we want to use WiR UK’s global network to push it even further so that different countries can create their own little community, and when they start creating online business , other countries can participate too,” she said.

“If you have a group of women who have seen what I do here in Malaysia and they want to do it in their home country, but they are worried that their boss won’t give them time off or they don’t have the funds to set it up, they can join WiR Connect and they can immediately see other people in their country who have signed up, then you can get together for lunch, coffee and before you even realize it, you work together.

Natasha plans to hold an in-person conference in Malaysia later this year, and in the longer term, she hopes that WiR Connect can facilitate greater mobility among female employees to work on rail projects around the world. Indeed, she says, the network could help nurture a global pool of female talent, which will improve the overall competitiveness of the rail sector, an intriguing and potentially exciting prospect.

“I want to shrink the global rail community in a way that will allow our industry to be at the forefront of national infrastructure investment,” she says. “You can invest money in housing, in oil and gas, in finance, in all those kinds of industries. But let’s create this avalanche, this wave of excitement in rail, for countries and governments to say we’re going to spend it here.

Priannka Kumar, Principal Engineer, Aurecon, Australia

PRIANNKA Kumar specializes in signage. A member of the Institute of Engineers Australia and the Institute of Railway Signal Engineers (IRSE), she was selected to take part in the Horizons 4.0 program organized by the British Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), a six-month international program aimed at training tomorrow’s leaders today.

In 2021, Kumar has also been chosen to participate in the Australian Rail Association’s Women in Rail mentorship programme. Described by her nominator as “a rising star in the Australian rail industry”, she has been supporting junior engineers for two years in technical skills such as the design of signaling arrangement plans and more general skills, in particular the management of time and project completion.

Priannka Kumar, Chief Engineer, Aurecon, Australia

She devised a new approach to training graduate signal engineers at Aurecon, which allowed graduates to gain experience through tasks directly related to their day-to-day work, improve their technical skills and gradually become fully functioning members of the team.

Kumar was also a member of the Aurecon Spirit team, an interdisciplinary community service initiative that helped non-profit Ability Works gain access to the Australian rail industry.

Ability Works is dedicated to providing meaningful employment to people with disabilities and disadvantaged people, and Kumar was able to use his network of contacts to help the company reach industry decision makers.

Annie Adams, Executive Vice President and Chief Transformation Officer, Norfolk Southern, USA

MANAGER of IT, Human Resources, Labor Relations and Communications, Annie Adams has been a catalyst for change and innovation throughout her 21 years in the rail industry. In her current role, she has made it her personal goal to attract and retain diverse talent at the company’s new headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, created as part of a $575 million initiative of which Adams was responsible for supervising.

Annie Adams, Executive Vice President and Chief Transformation Officer, Norfolk Southern, USA

To inform the design, she compared other companies to create a building that aligns with the needs of providing a safe and collaborative workspace for all. Leading multiple cross-functional teams, Adams has drawn on her background in human resources and industrial and organizational psychology to design equipment that provides employees with an alternative place to interact and collaborate.

She brought her passion for technology to the forefront of the new building by creating a tech-focused workspace. Sustainability has also been incorporated, with particular attention paid to energy consumption, water use and ventilation.

Adams viewed the move to the new headquarters as an opportunity to create a progressive perspective on developing a healthy and productive corporate culture and as a clear embodiment of Norfolk Southern’s commitment to safety and well-being. be employees.