Challenges & Lessons Learned: The Foundations of a Successful Career

Adam Yee sharing challenges and lessons learned.

I started at Siemens as a fresh-faced sales engineer some 18 years ago. Today I'm the President and CEO of Siemens Malaysia – and as I reflect on the past two decades, I can safely say it’s been an amazing journey. 


Much of the progress I’ve made is a testament to the opportunities available at Siemens. I’m proud to continue the tradition of employee empowerment that has made Siemens an upstanding company for many years, and helped me get to where I am today.

The serendipitous moments that made all the difference

 In truth, I never expected to become CEO. But as I rose through the ranks from sales engineer to head of a business unit and then of a division, everything fell into place quite organically.


 Looking back, two events stand out to me as having impacted the direction of my career.


 The first was in 2009 when I was invited to join a different business unit. Despite it being an enticing offer, I decided to stay with the same business unit as I saw great potential for growth and development of the sector.


 The second was to decline an overseas delegation. It was a tough decision that I had to make in favour of my family. At the time I thought I would never receive another good opportunity because you have to be flexible if you want to advance in your career.


On the contrary, staying in the local market for 18 years, focusing on my deliverables and being persistent in driving the business forward helped me stand out, and I believe are some of the biggest reasons why the company picked a country kid like me to be the Malaysian CEO.


I haven’t always made the best decision or had the right answer, but I don’t regret anything because every experience is useful in some way. It’s the challenges, barriers and lessons learned that have brought me to where I am today – and I’m very grateful for them.

I hope my experience may inspire others

I like to think my being chosen as CEO means something to Siemens employees, in Malaysia especially. It really goes to show that there are many possibilities within the company and everyone can excel with the right mindset.


That said, opportunities will not wait for you – you have to go after them. Even if you are very skillful and smart, you need to be visible for people to see your abilities. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and speak up. For a lot of people it’s difficult to make that first step and overcome those barriers, but it is crucial in becoming more visible so management can see your capabilities and you can ultimately achieve your goals.


Although speaking up and taking on new challenges can seem daunting, remember it’s all a learning curve. For example, if the regional or global CEO is visiting your country and you’re given the chance to present, that could be your golden ticket to be recognised. Maybe it won’t be perfect if it’s your first time – that’s ok! Always believe that you can do better, and try again.

A career is what you make of it

At Siemens, we often talk about growth, and for us, people are the key to driving the business forward. We recognize that supporting and openly communicating with our employees leads to better alignment and transparency. Just as importantly, we know that empowering our employees to grow their careers helps grow our business.


This is why we encourage all employees to take ownership of their career development – to make the most of the learning opportunities available and embrace challenges with a positive mindset.


Of course it’s important to practice what I preach, which brings me to my own mission: to enable our business to constantly change, adapt and take the right opportunities at the right time to remain relevant in the market. These are the challenges I’m embracing, and I’m very much looking forward to what’s next.