Tan Ying Ling

Country Manager, FMC Malaysia

Ying Ling is the country manager for FMC Malaysia. She’s responsible for managing the overall commercial activities and overseeing distinct functions to ensure that we are working effectively and proactively to provide sustainable and innovative solutions to serve our stakeholders and farming community. She’s also a huge geography fan, being absolutely obsessed with learning about the capital cities of different countries. This fascination started when she was about 16 years old. And now she’s still hoping to always add more to my list of capital cities visited.

Tell us a bit about your career. What do you love about your job?

I joined the agriculture industry by chance, actually! I graduated as an applied chemist who dreaded going into the laboratory to spend hours in front of scientific instruments. So, when I saw a job advertisement for a regulatory professional with a chemistry background—and without the need for actual laboratory work—I jumped at it and the rest was history. I spent the first 10 years of my agriculture career in regulatory for the agrochemical industry. Then the fateful day came when I was promoted to be the country manager for Malaysia at FMC, a drastic change in career direction that I boldly took. There has not been a dull day since! The things I love about my job are the growth and impact I can create! Currently, my job challenges me in ways that I could not have imagined. Every day is a new experience and learning opportunity to do things differently, to force me outside of my comfort zone and grow! I’m motivated every day by the positive impact I can create at FMC, from improving the livelihoods of our farmers with great crop protection technology to empowering and paving the way for other female colleagues, showing them that women can play a significant role in advancing agriculture just like our male counterparts.

How did you decide to work for your current employer?

I was seeking career development opportunities and FMC was the obvious choice as an agrochemical company having class-leading chemistries, an innovative and robust R&D pipeline plus a diverse and inclusive workplace with equal opportunities for its people.

How much do you communicate about your work with your friends & family?

Very often, it is essential to have a good support system with whom you can share stories and challenges and at the same time celebrate successes together no matter how big or small.

What advice would you share with other young people looking to work in the plant science industry?

Congratulations, you are thinking about being in an industry that will be the major driving force in solving one of the world’s greatest concerns: food security! With a growing global population and decreasing arable land and scarcity of resources, putting enough food on the table for the world is going to be a challenge. But there are many ways you can be a part of the solution in the plant science industry depending on your interest and functional skills. Just don’t limit yourself and be brave to explore.

How does agriculture need to change to be more sustainable?

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important in agriculture, and it is easy to see why. We have to feed more people due to the growing population with fewer resources like arable land and water. The food supply now has to be more efficient and innovative so that we can continue to reap food harvest safely and sustainably without jeopardizing human and environmental health.

How can science and innovation help promote sustainability in food and agriculture?

Enabling farmers to get access to safer and highly effective products or innovative technologies is critical to help them solve their pain points from weeds, insects, diseases, as well as labor shortages. Innovation helps support improved crop health and yields, a sustainable livelihood, and provides food security to the community.

In what ways are you/your company leveraging innovation to promote strong, sustainable food systems?

By not only providing effective product solutions to solve growers’ problems but also placing equal importance on educating farmers about product stewardship so that they become responsible users who adopt good agricultural practices using the right products, right timing, and right dosage. This concept will enable farmers to reap the maximum product benefit plus reduce the risk of resistance. We are also driving the adoption of drone technology which helps to alleviate the current labor shortage issues among farmers while promoting the application of pesticides precisely to reduce waste and water usage.

How does your job influence your engagement in activities outside of work? How does your employer/company support your engagement in activities outside of work?

My job and FMC’s cultural environment have really opened my perspective with respect to the importance and value of diversity and inclusion at work and off work. We need to recognize that everyone is unique and will bring different values to the table in different manners. One topic that I’m particularly passionate about is gender equity. Being one of the youngest female country leaders in the industry, I am empowered to contribute as a woman in agriculture and encourage many more colleagues, industry friends, female farmers, and young women out there to step up, break the bias and make an impact!