RISING UP TO THE CHALLENGE
This gift of gadgetry would indeed have been useful considering they would be employed in the Lynas plant, widely derided for the production of supposedly toxic rare earth.
This is as far as it gets from the truth, listening to Lynas CEO Amanda Lacaze, who is the living embodiment that the proof of the pudding is in the tasting.
Afterall, she has been living in Gebeng for over three years.
“I care for the environment. We are part of the community,” she insists, when asked on the backlash Lynas had received from the public ever since it set foot in Malaysia.
Lacaze came on board at a time when Lynas was literally a dying company, facing much opposition backlash for its presence here nationally and regionally.
“In the early days, there was never a time when Lynas was not described as “struggling miner”, “beleaguered Lynas” or “dead-ridden basketcase”. But those are not the clichés describing Lynas today,” says Lacaze, a 57-year-old straight-talking woman who is adamant at making Lynas a company that is here to stay.
Lacaze would not say that she actually knew what was in store when she decided to take on the top job at Lynas but she but she felt that there were “so many hard working people and they deserved returns”.
In the early days, there was never a time when Lynas was not described as “struggling miner”, “beleaguered Lynas” or “dead-ridden basketcase”. But those are not the clichés describing Lynas today - Amanda Lacaze
In January, Lynas will be launching a “Hand-in-Hand” campaign to the public at large in Malaysia to boost its image as a company that cares for both community and environment.
Lacaze recalls the two hour-long video shoot on the beach where hundreds of her staff had to repeatedly re-do the 'holding hands' scene, adding that Lynas' workforce diversity in Kuantan, be it gender, race or religion, is core to her business strategy.
“Having diversity in the workforce is not from any philosophical conviction. It is just that if I recruit from 100 percent of the workforce, I would get more talent if I should only recruit from 50 per gcent of the workforce,” says Lacaze simply.
A woman who champions women empowerment strongly, Lacaze sets the tone by going to the extent of giving books to her females employees to encourage learning and upskilling.
“If we create an environment that is positive for women, then I will get really smart women,” says Lacaze
For Lacaze, Lynas does much more than "just taking the rare earth out of the ground”.
“If we stop what we do – turning it into a concentrate – then, we would just be a miner. If we look at our plant in Kuantan, our concentrated material from Mount Weld is only 20 percent of the imports into our processing plant. That is why I say we are in the material specialty business because the processes of separating and refining the material is what actually make it (rare earth) valuable.
“We are not just a miner,” she emphasizes.