Maggie Lee is a Senior Scientist at Procter & Gamble. As a Founding Leader of the P&G Sustainability team in Singapore, she is leading corporate sustainability programmes, coordinating with the Environmental Protection Agencies and supervising the corporate environmental stewardship, as well as the social responsibility.
Besides, her role involves leading team of 11 members across 3 sites (global innovation center, manufacturing factory and Asia Pacific headquarters); and establishing long-term partnership with NGOs, governmental departments and social enterprises such as WWF, Singapore Environment Council and Singapore National Environment Agency.
LadyBoss spoke to Maggie on sustainability!
Seeing this beautiful planet from different angles across the globe motivates me to protect it with all that I can.
Q: Tell us more about your role as a Senior Scientist at P&G!
A: I am the founding leader of the P&G Singapore Sustainability Team – the first country sustainability team in the company. I have also been a skincare scientist at the company in charge of, besides the obvious task of helping develop efficacious skincare products, introducing product science and technology to the public.
Q: What is your background and how it led you to this career path?
A: I was trained as a food scientist and have worked for companies such as Aeon and Nestle before. I eventually specialized in sustainability, compliance and safety when I moved to P&G. Onwards, I choose to focus my efforts in sustainability as my lifelong career.
Q: What were the challenges you faced as a scientist initially and how did you overcome them?
A: Being a scientist in my native Hong Kong was quite difficult as not many people understand what R&D is about. Most people think you pour liquids from one test tube to another – what a cliché! Also, it is hard to convince people that sustainability is important to everyone, especially when they don’t see why they can help with something so macroscopic as climate change and the planet’s wellbeing.
Q: What are some of the initiatives in P&G on sustainability and social impact?
A: P&G has launched its newest sustainability initiative in France – the Head & Shoulders with packaging made with beach plastic. It is the first of its kind and we look to devote more efforts into using more recycled material in the future.
Q: How can corporate companies be sustainable and have positive impact on their society?
A: We are now looking not just to decrease our environmental footprint, but to goals such as zero waste to landfills. We can all do our part to minimize our impact on the environment. In Europe, P&G is now looking into something even more progressive – making net positive impact. We will start with our processes and work our way to improve our sustainability across the globe.
Most people think you pour liquids from one test tube to another – what a cliché!
Q: Share with us a successful sustainability project you worked on…
A: I have started the P&G Singapore Sustainability Team as an interpreneur, which is an entrepreneur but in the corporate setting. It was a very similar pattern with any startup you may find. I first had to pitch my idea of an internal sustainability team to the leaders who may be interested in funding this idea.
Once I found my “angel investor”, I had to assemble my team and work on the viable initiatives that would create the most impact and also align the most with the company’s business goals and the team’s objectives. Now, we are a team of 12 and we are looking to have other geographies adopt this model.
Q: How to can women succeed in sustainability?
A: Women and men are alike in terms of making impact in global sustainability trends. We need to understand what we do best in and how to do what we do more sustainably in. Starting with our own habits and personal life, we can always take one extra step for sustainability. After all, change does not happen overnight, saving the planet starts with every little habit.
Q: Who are you thankful for your success?
A: I would like to thank an ex-associate director in the Communications department who was a true inspirational figure who propelled me to keep going with what I believed in. She was also the key to connecting me with my “angel investor”, the vice president of P&G Asia Pacific.
Q: What motivates you personally?
A: Seeing this beautiful planet from different angles across the globe motivates me to protect it with all that I can. And I hope I can make a different by driving sustainable culture in the corporate sector.
Q: What is your advice to women who are determined to climb the career ladder?
A: I don’t know much about climbing the career ladder. With that said, I only do what I believe is right. If up is the right way, never look down.