In the last century, societal norms and cultural practices limited women’s roles to domestic responsibilities, hindering their access to employment opportunities. However, there have been notable advancements toward gender equality in certain countries, where more women now hold prominent positions such as ministers, CEOs, department heads, and other high-ranking roles traditionally dominated by men. May Yap, the Chairwoman, CEO, and Managing Director at LHT Holdings Ltd. is a remarkable example of a female business leader who has achieved success in a male-dominated industry.
From Humble Beginnings
May Yap embarked on her professional journey by joining Lian Hup Timber & Trading, which later became known as LHT. At that time, the company had a workforce of fewer than 20 employees and operated on leased land with a size not exceeding 100 sqm in the Mandai area. Starting as a teenage admin clerk, May took on various responsibilities that required her to multitask. She fulfilled roles such as receptionist, arranging deliveries, managing stock inventory, handling accounts, and even taking care of housekeeping duties. Despite the modest scale of operations, May’s dedication and hard work allowed her to make significant contributions to the company.
Through Constant Learning & Evolution
Throughout her career, May prioritized continuous learning and professional development. She obtained a Diploma in Sales and Marketing from the Marketing Institute of Singapore, further enhancing her skills in these areas. In 2011, she participated in the Operation Management Innovation (OMNI) program conducted by A*Star, broadening her knowledge and expertise.
May’s commitment and contributions did not go unnoticed, and in 1988, she assumed the role of Sales Director, overseeing all sales and marketing functions within the company. During a restructuring phase for the company’s listing, May seized the opportunity to become an Executive Director by acquiring a significant portion of the company’s shares. In addition to her corporate achievements, May is also a member of the Singapore Institute of Directors, demonstrating her commitment to maintaining high standards of corporate governance and professional conduct.
May Yap’s career trajectory exemplifies her resilience, determination, and willingness to seize opportunities for growth. From her humble beginnings as a teenage admin clerk, she has risen through the ranks and played an instrumental role in the success and growth of LHT. Her journey serves as an inspiration to aspiring professionals, highlighting the value of hard work, continuous learning, and seizing opportunities for advancement.
In Sink With The Digital Transformation
May acknowledges that her company is fortunate to have government support in coping with the digital transformation. The government provides funds to assist businesses in navigating this transition. May further emphasizes that LHT has proactively embraced these opportunities by collaborating with ASTAR (Agency for Science, Technology, and Research) since 2009. ASTAR acts as a catalyst, enabler, and facilitator of significant research initiatives, fostering collaboration within Singapore’s research community and extending its reach beyond the country’s borders.
The industry is experiencing rapid changes, leading to the emergence of various uncertainties. It has become essential to adapt and move away from outdated practices. The digital transformation has had a significant impact on the industry, introducing concepts such as digital supply chains and online warehouses for efficient transshipment and storage before reaching end consumers. May emphasizes the importance of adopting smart strategies and integrating high-tech machinery and technology to optimize productivity and adapt to the evolving landscape.
A True Believer In Innovation
May remains dedicated to providing cutting-edge products, continuously investing in upgrades to meet evolving market demands. Her company’s commitment extends beyond innovation, as it recognizes its responsibility for the conservation of natural resources. May emphasizes the importance of recycling as one of many efforts undertaken by LHT to mitigate climate change and combat deforestation. This commitment reflects their dedication to sustainable practices and environmental stewardship.
In the era of social media, platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and TikTok have been flooded with motivational videos and lectures, promoting positive thinking. For May, her mother serves as a constant source of inspiration. Despite the challenges of raising eight children, her mother single-handedly managed a chicken and duck farm as well as a vegetable farm. May describes her mother as a strong and resilient woman who never let the weather or any obstacles deter her.
Witnessing her mother’s remarkable actions and accomplishments, May is reminded of the adage “Action speaks louder than words.” She admires her mother’s perseverance, determination, and unwavering attitude. May proudly states that her mother outperformed any man in her work, and the income she generated from farming was used to support her siblings’ education and the family’s daily needs. Her mother’s incredible work ethic and dedication left an indelible impression on May, reinforcing her belief in the power of action and hard work.
May Yap is a true example of what a woman can achieve through sheer resilience. To read more stories of inspiration, be it of a brand or a leader, join World Brand Affairs. We bring you the most valuable insights from the world of branding and marketing to satisfy your curious mind.