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The inspirational Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah


The inspirational Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah
Healthcare is a business that requires the human touch. It is an area where its practitioners - especially in the private sector -  have to balance profitability with the very grave issue of people's health and lives. One organisation in Malaysia that is living up to such high standards is KPJ Healthcare Berhad. The largest healthcare services provider in Malaysia, KPJ has - since its first hospital was opened in 1981 - been the preferred choice for at least three generations.
As such, its hospitals have gained the deserved reputation as being "family hospitals". There are many factors behind the success of KPJ, and one of the most pivotal is that it has lived up to its tagline "Care for Life". And it does this most prominently through its people. Without a doubt, the one person who best personifies these qualities is its Managing Director, the formidable Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah.
What makes her story all the more remarkable is the fact that not only is she one of the most respected persons in the healthcare services industry, but she is also a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. In a society where women have been told they should be one or the other, she is proof that being dedicated in your career does not mean having to sacrifice your family life. In conjunction with our Special Feature on Women Power and in commemoration of Mother's Day, PASSIONS is pleased to bring an exclusive interview with Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah - the definitive woman for all seasons.

The inspirational Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah

Making the difference
Boasting a network of 19 hospitals across Malaysia, and managing six offshore ones in Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Saudi Arabia, KPJ is - as mentioned above - the largest healthcare services provider in the country. Furthermore, it also has around 650 medical consultants and specialists within the entire Group, thus providing the opportunity for patients to benefit from inter-hospital referrals and a vast network of expertise. Thus it is not a surprise that in 2008, more than 2 million patients placed their trust in KPJ and Datin Paduka Siti Sad'iah is hopeful that this number will increase this year.
However, as she emphasised, it is not just the size of KPJ that distinguishes it from others, but its services and commitment to continuously enhancing them. These services, she explained, encompass comprehensive diagnostic, curative, therapeutic, rehabilitative, and preventive medicine - thus making all KPJ hospitals into definitive one-stop centres for healthcare needs.  Furthermore,  much emphasis placed on ensuring that the needs and concerns patients are taken care of and that the quality of care is of the highest quality around.

This is realised by all KPJ hospitals adhering the strictest regulatory frameworks governing the standards of patient care. For instance, all hospitals have to comply with the Group's Clinical Governance guidelines which are monitored by the Medical Advisory Committee. Furthermore, five KPJ hospitals have received accreditation from Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) as well as the International Society for in Health (1SQH), and Datin Paduka Siti Sa’diah revealed that efforts are underway to get remaining hospitals accredited.
It should also be noted that although KPJ is a corporate entity, its staff are always aware of the importance of the human factor behind healthcare. For Datin Paduka Siti Sa’diah the success of KPJ can be credited to the drive and passion of its people to providing the best medical care, which has become part and parcel of the working culture within the KPJ Group.

This culture of care is encompassed in the Core Values of KPJ, which commits KPJ staff to ensuring safety for customers, staff and the environment; being courteous; maintaining integrity by being transparent, honest, and compliant to corporate governance principles; by adhering to high professional standards by being ethical and following best practices; and by aiming for continuous improvement through inculcating a culture of quality.
Furthermore, KPJ hospitals have also implemented a framework known as the Seven Patient Safety Goals, which demonstrate an active concern for the well-being of patients. These goals commit those dealing with patients to proper patient identification, improving effective communication, improving the safety of using medication, and accurately and completing reconciling medications across the continuum of care. It also seeks to eliminate wrong-site, wrong-patient, and wrong-procedure surgery; reduce the risk of healthcare-acquired infections, and to reduce the risk of harm to the patients resulting from falls.
According to Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah, the Group's core values are very much in line with those espoused by KPJ's holding company -Johor Corporation (JCorp), and "draws everyone's focus towards achieving a collective higher purpose more than merely personal gain." And here we touch upon one prime example of how KPJ Healthcare is a healthcare services provider with a difference; and that is its corporate social responsibility initiative.

Transforming the community
Being a healthcare provider, it does not come as a surprise that much of KPJ's CSR activities and programmes are focused on health issues. As Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah explained, the Group firmly believes that "everyone deserves the best treatment and care". In order to transform this theory into practice, she has been at the forefront of setting up the Klinik &- Hospital Waqaf An-Nur and Dialysis clinics (KWAN) initiative comprising of eight clinics and one hospital. Through this initiative, those less fortunate can receive quality medical treatment and medicine for just RMS, while dialysis only costs a nominal amount.
Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah also shared that she has "always believed that corporate responsibility initiatives should concentrate on getting closer to society and make healthcare affordable to everyone." Thus, KPJ also actively organise and participate in community outreach programmes such as health seminars, talks, exhibitions, visits to schools, and other nationwide campaigns. These efforts have resulted in more Malaysians being aware of their health and health matters, as well as help nurture a healthy lifestyle amongst the youths.
For her, what is truly important in the healthcare business is not about being the largest or having the most profits, but about being the preferred choice. In order to achieve that, it is important - she said - to ensure that the hospitals provide quality care. As such, Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah revealed that she makes sure that all hospitals are equipped with state of the art medical technology as well as skilled professionals.
As impressive as the quality of the staff and the technology may be; what really distinguishes KPJ hospitals is not the hardware but rather the 'heartware'. As Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah explained, "During our patients' say in our hospitals and during their process of recovery, our nurses and our staff will always be by them to assist in any way possible."

The matriarch of KPJ
She compared the care and concern shown by the staff for the patients to that of a mother caring for a child, and here we see one aspect of Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah that not many of us see in public. While to many of us she is a successful business executive and a respected member of the corporate world; we should also remember that she is also a wife, a mother, and a grandmother.
As with many successful working women, she has found herself juggling the roles of corporate figure and home maker - a process which she admits is not always easy, because "to become a successful career woman and a mother, one would have to sacrifice their personal needs at times, in order to fulfil the demands of the two roles."
Some would also see a sort of aptness that a mother (and thus a caregiver) like Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah is involved in the healthcare management sector, as there are correlations between the two. In many ways, KPJ can be compared to a family with Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah as its matriarch. As such, she stressed that the people at KPJ work together like a family.
Furthermore, although she takes care not to let work mix with her family life; she revealed that she has taken some lessons she has learnt from being a mother to the working world. As she told PASSIONS, "Being a mother, I know the recipe to achieving harmony and success in a family is by understanding the members' different personalities and listening to the opinions that each of them have to offer."
It is also said that women - especially mothers - have a natural affinity towards management. Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah agrees wholeheartedly with this theory, and opined that "Women are skilled in managing time, people and work," and theorised that this is because women leaders tend to adopt transformational leadership style in management.
This, she explained, is where the leader or manager encourages the team to participate, to share information, and attempts to enhance the self-worth of the followers or subordinates. And in doing so, both parties help enhance one another, and "life each other towards higher achievements". She revealed that KPJ does this through the practice of musywarah, which she describes as "coming together to discuss and decide on major issues, which helps promote cohesiveness, unity, and team spirit."
Being a mother and a successful career woman, it comes as no surprise that Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah holds other women who have managed the same feat in high regard. Thus she told PASSIONS that she "salutes them for being able to do and be successful in their ventures".
Having said that, she admitted that more can be done to encourage women to play a greater role in the corporate world, and in order to do that three key challenges must be addressed. The first challenge is for the woman to maintain "that delicate balance between family obligations and the demands of a growing career", and the second is to tackle the "unspoken social insistence that 'a woman's place is at home."
As we can see, Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah has managed to address these two challenges successfully. And this brings us to the third challenge, which is the perception that there is a glass ceiling that holds women back from rising to the top. Being someone who has risen to the top of her career, Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah told PASSIONS that she does not believe that a glass ceiling actually exists.
Furthermore, she also highlighted that in KPJ, everyone - regardless of gender - is evaluated fairly and this evaluation is done with regards to their competencies, performances, and potential. This, she said, is in accordance to KPJ's drive to maintain its position as an "employer of choice, focused on creating human, social, and intellectual capital, with strong respect for individuals and the creativity and skills they bring to their jobs." For Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah, "being in the healthcare industry; being able to cure and care, is always rewarding," and she believes that this has contributed to the Group's high employee retention rate. Furthermore, she also credits KPJ's strong clinical governance as attractive.

Turning values into practice
Having been with the management team of KPJ ever since the organisation was founded, and being its Managing Director since 1993, it is only natural that some of Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah s personal values are reflected in her management style. And like any man or woman of substance, she holds firms to certain set principles.
She revealed that these principles - which number five in total -include seeking to expand capabilities, being self-committed and also providing inspiration to her team, encouraging her team to practice continuous learning, and continuously searching for new ways to position the company and to rejuvenate the business. Last but not least, she strives to maintain the equilibrium between family, friends, and work, as well between her spiritual, emotional, and intellectual needs.
Furthermore, as she told PASSIONS, Datin Paduka Siti Sadiah has had several role models who have helped shape her values. First amongst those was her late father whom she credits as being her inspiration, and she paid tribute to him by saying, "1 have always strived to follow in his footsteps in terms of personal integrity and commitment to work."
She also acknowledged the lessons she learnt from two other men -namely the late Tan Sri Basir Ahmad, who was the CEO of JCorp, and Tan Sri Datuk Muhammad AH Hashim - the present CEO of JCorp as well as the Chairman of KPJ Healthcare. Talking about their influence on her professional life, Datin Paduka Siti Sadiah said, "The knowledge and lessons I learnt about being visionary and thinking innovatively have been derived from these two gentlemen who were and are my immediate bosses."
And here we touch upon yet another aspect of business that Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah holds as vital to its success - innovation. She said, "innovation is very important to a business' long term sustainability and success," and explained that this is because companies go through a process where they progress from starting out to reaching their peak, before going into decline. She stated however that "companies can always rejuvenate," but this requires creativity and innovativeness.
In order to encourage that, KPJ has - as Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah revealed, a comprehensive intellectual capital development agenda, especially for those who show great potential and who have been with the Group for a number of years. This include programmes that are conducted through collaborations with varsities from within and without Malaysia, as well as short term courses to develop skills and knowledge management.

Training caregivers of tomorrow
As a healthcare services group and with the motto of "Care for Life", KPJ places great emphasis on the quality and training of its caregivers - namely its nurses. As such, in 1991 it set up the KPJ International College of Nursing and Health Sciences (KPIJC), which according to Datin Paduka Siti Sadiah was "driven by our aspiration for KPJ to be self-sufficient in its human capital requirements especially in nursing."
With its main campus in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan and a branch campus in Johor Bahru, the KPJIC is the first private nursing college in Malaysia to offer the Diploma in Nursing Programme. From 30 students in 1991, it has since accounted for 2,500 graduates and Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah was happy to inform us that the College has a 100% pass rate for each intake.
Furthermore, in August 2003, it also received permission from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Home Affairs to recruit foreign students. As such, the College now boasts students from all around the world, particularly from China, Nigeria, Nepal, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Vietnam. This has helped boost the international reputation of KPJIC and goes to show that Malaysia can be a leader in healthcare services training and development.
The establishment of the College has also gone some way in helping boost the nursing profession in Malaysia. For instance, it has given nurses the opportunity to pursue comprehensive hands on training through the KPJ network of hospitals. This according to Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah helps "provide quality nurses who are geared for the reality the healthcare industry brings."
The excellent record of KPJIC is also reflective of its motto - "Towards Excellence in Nursing Education and Healthcare Services", and it does this by inculcating what Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah described as a "discipline and culture of proactive and continuous improvement". It is obvious then like the rest of the KPJ Group, KPJIC is leading the way in Malaysia.

Showing appreciation
Before we ended our interview, Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah raised up the point that on the 12th of May, the healthcare industry will celebrate International Nurses Day, and touched upon the theme for this year which is "Delivering Quality, Serving Communities: Nurses Leading Care Innovations." She said that this is in line with KPJ's Care for Life motto, and reiterated the Group's support for nurses "expanding their scope and role in a rapidly evolving healthcare scenario". She also said it is important for nurses to do so, as they would be able to "optimise, leverage and extend their capabilities as key contributors to the delivery of quality care."
So what does KPJ have planned for this event! Going by its emphasis of care, Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah told us that the Group's nurses will be conducting outreach programmes that will reach across the community especially to old folks' homes and orphanages. She told us that by doing this in the past, more people understood the importance of healthcare and as such the Group is looking to continue this practice in the years to come.
More than that, it also underlines just what "care" means to KPJ Healthcare. Care does not begin or end in the hospital environment but goes beyond that into the community as a whole. Through its efforts, KPJ Healthcare Berhad is changing the concept of care in healthcare.

A highly respected executive who is in charge of the largest
healthcare services group in Malaysia, as well as a wife,
mother, and grandmother - Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah is living
proof that a woman can rise to the top of her profession while
being a caregiver. Perhaps we can see her values most clearly
in KPJ Healthcare. What makes KPJ truly impressive is not the
fact that it is the largest healthcare group in Malaysia, but
its emphasis on the intangibles such as its culture of care.
It is a culture that is best reflected in the gentle, mild
-mannered and yet redoubtable lady at its helm –
The incomparable Datin Paduka Siti Sa’diah.