Mr Siew Yap Wong joined The Welding Institute whilst pursuing his MSc at Cranfield, becoming a Student Member in the 1970s and going on to be a Member for forty four years.
Having completed his BSc (Hons) Mechanical Engineering at the University of Southampton in 1978, Mr Wong began his MSc Welding Technology at Cranfield Institute of Technology in 1979 before continuing his studies and completing his MBA in 1989.
When did you join The Welding Institute?
“I joined The Welding Institute whilst pursuing my MSc at Cranfield and became a Student Member. Upon graduation from Cranfield in 1979, I became a welding research engineer at the British Steel Corporation, Middlesbrough. We focused on an ECSC-funded project on the HAZ properties of BS4360 grade 50 equivalent steels.”
Mr Wong returned home to Malaysia to work in a BOC-related company in 1982 (Malaysian Oxygen Bhd-Mox) as a technical manager for welding, providing technical support for its welding business and customers, as well as being a quality control leader in the production of welding consumables (electrodes). Altogether, his career spans more than thirty years with the BOC/Linde Group of companies (from 1982 to 1994 and then from 1996 to 2014). This included a broad career development path and senior management roles, for example, C-Suite. He embarked on a corporate role at MOX - business planning and marketing for a whole company, including the main business line of industry gases. This lead on to strategic development, embarking on mergers and acquisition, including leading the integration of acquired companies. He then joined the BOC regional team, which concentrated on product management of bulk liquid gases for its markets in South East Asia. After this stint, in 2008, he returned to head its business in Malaysia, becoming the first local person to head the BOC’s business.
Intro to you and your career in engineering
Why did you choose a career in engineering?
“I joined a technical secondary school following mechanical sciences to O-Level grades. This is where my interest of aircraft (as well as Airfix Modelling and Flight Magazine) began. After my A-Levels I was accepted to study aerospace engineering and so I chose mechanical engineering as there’s not so much of an aerospace industry in Malaysia. I was first introduced to welding as a topic (materials module) in my final year. For my final year project, I chose to look at the effects of niobium (Nb) in submerged-arc weld metals. This was selected as the best project work by a student in Mechanical Engineering, which earnt the prize of Mechanical Engineering. This motivated me to study and further expand my knowledge on welding through the postgraduate course at Cranfield Institute of Technology. On completing the course, I was accepted to a research role with The British Steel Corporation. All of these experiences cemented my interest in welding and fabrication, with welding metallurgy remaining a field of interest even till today.”
As one of our longest serving Members based in Malaysia, what has been the most valuable benefit from being a Member?
“I am proud to be a Professional Member of a world recognised welding body. It bears testimony to be a ‘certified’ welding practitioner in the field of welding, science and associated technology. Also, being a Member means continuous linkage to international welding bodies, progressing with the developments of welding science, fabrication technology and standards. I believe I am able to bring my experiences and knowledge in helping to foster welding learning in Malaysia, especially through WIM (The Welding Institute of Malaysia).”
As one of The Welding Institute’s longest serving Members in Malaysia, what are one or two of your fondest memories from being a Member?
“One memory is being able to refer to works of peers and giants in the field of welding. Another memory is continuing an unbroken Membership of TWI and being elected as a Fellow in 2019.”
Professional Membership and Registration: CEng
What have been some of your core involvements with The Welding Institute?
“Since retiring, I have conducted the course on materials and their behaviours on the IIW (International Institute of Welding) course at TWI Malaysia as part of giving back, as well as learning/re-learning in the welding of various materials. I am also serving as an advisory board Member of WIM IIW authorised Nominated Board (Malaysia).”
What advice would you give your younger self, beginning your career in engineering?
“Beyond just general mechanical engineering (or aerospace engineering), do not be surprised to develop fresh interests in new subjects early in your career path, as well as educational paths - like I did. Welding caught my interest and attention only in my final undergraduate year, where my motivation became heavily boosted by being selected as Best Project Work for the 1978 course cohort.
“Beyond engineering, do not be surprised to discover the essentials of management and business planning. As well as gaining further awards and career satisfaction in senior general management and C-suite. These were definitely not in my mind nor thoughts at the beginning of my career. I just wanted, or aimed, to be a good technician.”
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