How Materialise Malaysia Became a Great Place to Work

4 min read

The reception of the Materialise Malaysia office

San San Woo, Managing Director of Materialise Malaysia, provides us with insights into our company culture, her personal growth path within the organization, and how the Malaysian office became a great place to work.

Although I’ve been at Materialise for 14 years, most people are quite surprised when I tell them that Materialise Malaysia has existed for just over 23 years. We began as a representative office in 2000, and like any other startup, we were a small, lean operation but very serious about our company culture. I often explain to people that Materialise’s culture resonates with me because it mirrors my own story.

My journey began as employee number 46 at Materialise in 2009 (hard to believe, as we now have 217 people at our office!). I joined as a C++ developer. I soon realized, however, that I wasn’t proficient or passionate enough to continue on this path. Despite this, I consider myself quite lucky because our R&D manager at the time, Tom Cluckers, was very supportive. He opened multiple doors for me, and his guidance and encouragement allowed me to carry on with this fantastic company. We discussed and explored different options, which led me to an HR Manager role. It seemed interesting, and I thought I could use some transferable skills I’d learned in my previous position, despite my lack of experience in this particular field. I’m happy to say that this career change was just what I was looking for; I finally found my passion. I grew into the role thanks to the strong support from my managers (past and present). I even worked briefly at our headquarters in Belgium, which further accelerated my growth personally and professionally. This is what I think makes Materialise special. It’s a company that believes in its employees and is committed to helping them grow.

A group photo of the employees at Materialise Malaysia

One of the biggest highlights of my career was the recognition we received at the Malaysian office. Thanks to our company culture, we were distinguished as a Great Place to Work in 2022. I was quietly confident about the strength of our culture at Materialise. But to be honest, the thought that our culture would be dissected, analyzed, and benchmarked against other big corporate names in Malaysia was rather daunting. We finally decided to participate in the certification process because of a few factors: Materialise HQ was certified three years in a row as Top Employer in Belgium, and Materialise USA is also recognized as one of the 100 Cool Places to Work in Michigan. This spurred us on: could we be the next office to receive external recognition and a prestigious award?

A group photo of Materialise Malaysia employees posing in front of several awards

At Materialise Malaysia, many positive changes have been realized in recent years, boosting our confidence. One example is how we handled the working conditions of our employees during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. While other regional companies are still trying to figure out the best working solution for their employees post-covid, we’re one step ahead. We implemented a solid hybrid work policy during the pandemic and renovated the office space, totally revamping our floor to support this policy. In addition, we’ve put years of effort into developing our leaders, which is now beginning to pay off. The leadership group and our HR team have grown and matured together. This togetherness expands toward supporting our employees while ensuring our unique company culture continues long into the future. Looking back and comparing how we started with the current state of the office, we knew that it was “now or never.”

We applied for the certification in 2022 to see how we fared against the top employers in the country. Why did we go for the Great Place to Work certification instead of something else? Simple really. As the name implies, it highlights great companies to work for and is recognized globally. The process was straightforward: it was 100% based on input from 200 employees that answered simple, research-backed survey questions. Fast forward to August 2022, we received the results that we’ve been certified! Here are some highlights:

  • 9 out of 10 employees have confirmed that Materialise Malaysia is a Great Place to Work
  • 86% approval rate for all statements in the survey
Great Place to Work certification

It’s often mentioned that leaders should treat others the way they want to be treated. At Materialise Malaysia, we hold this value close to heart while focusing on our business goals and results. That’s why I’m proud that we received a 90% approval rate for our general leadership behavior.

Let me share a few other notable highlights from the survey. Over 88% of employees think that Materialise is a company that focuses on fostering a healthy work environment for employees and supports people in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. This is a strong confirmation that we’ve made the right decision to renovate the office space and implement the new hybrid work policy. Over 88% of employees believe they make a difference every day by contributing to the innovations they work on and that they’re contributing to the company’s long-term success. Innovation is embedded in Materialise’s culture, and this amazing score will further encourage us to provide different platforms to listen to our employees’ wonderful and innovative ideas. And one final highlight: 90% of our staff said they felt welcome when they first joined Materialise and feel we’re a diverse and fair workplace.

Although the process was simple, receiving our certification was by no means straightforward. It has taken years of effort to instill a great work culture and environment, so kudos to everyone for making the office such a great place to work. I’m delighted to say our employees have spoken: Materialise Malaysia is a great, fun, inclusive, comfortable, and safe workplace. And just as important, we’ve created an environment that enables our people to grow, learn, and innovate, contributing our talents to create a better and healthier world.

What a journey; what an accomplishment!

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A picture of a woman: San San Woo, Managing Director of Materialise Malaysia

Meet the author

San San Woo

Managing Director of Materialise Malaysia

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