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FWC: Special Interview with Brig Gen Fadzillah Abdullah

The Family Wellness Club (FWC), in conjunction with International Women’s Day 2022, organised a live interview with Brig Gen Fadzillah Abdullah RMAF, who is the first woman Director General of the Defence Training Department of the Malaysian Armed Forces. The interview was conducted by FWC President, P Mangaleswary and was live-streamed via the FWC Facebook page on the night of March 7. 

Born in 1964 to a ministry officer and a government servant, Brig Gen Fadzillah Abdullah was one of the first women pilots recruited by the Royal Malaysian Airforce in 1986. She has flown a number of aircrafts including transport air force planes, and went on to grow her own family while still in service with the Royal Malaysian Airforce. She has been with the Airforce and the Armed Forces for 36 years and is currently in charge of the basic military training in the Armed Forces. 

During the interview, the amiable Brig Gen Fadzillah recalled the hardships she had to go through in her journey towards becoming a pilot in a largely male-dominated field, including physical challenges and bias due to being a woman. However, she also shared that the strong support from her parents, having tenacity and a positive mindset were what helped her keep going despite her hurdles. 

“At the time, I didn’t think that nothing could be done. I kept telling myself that no matter how bad I am, I won’t be among the last,” she shared, all smiles as she spoke on camera.

Brig Gen Fadzillah also briefly shared about the aircrafts she has flown over the course of her career, some examples being the Cessna 402B, Casa CN 235-200M and Beechcraft King 350i. 

When asked on how she managed to find balance between building her career and building her own family, she said that it was all possible thanks to the unending support of friends, family and colleagues. “To me, whatever I am now here is not because of me alone, but because of the support from the people surrounding me.”

“I think I had a good life with the Airforce. True, there were definitely some hurdles, but I’m very proud to not only be involved in the organisation that safeguards the sovereignty of our country, but at the same time I believe I helped open the way for ladies to progress more in the air force,” she shared. 

Despite her busy schedule, Brig Gen Fadzillah cites cooking and baking as her hobbies and oftentimes cooks for her family whenever she is home. “The kitchen is the heart of my house. It is where a lot of laughter happens and where many stories are told. I love it when we sit together for dinner and everyone starts talking; I think that’s the best time to be in.” 

As advice to women who would like to pursue a challenging career but are afraid of the bias against them, this is what Brig Gen Fadzillah had to say: 

“Always think positive. When you think positive, the results will also be positive. People always say that women have to work double the amount to be seen as equal to men, but nevermind—we are smart, we are strong, and we can afford to do double the work. When we do more, we learn more, and knowledge is never a waste. And of course, you must enjoy whatever you do and you must do it for yourself, not for someone else. Always think ‘if other people can do it, why not us?’ And remember that although there are people who will talk bad about you, there are many more who will support you and give you encouragement. 

“Finally, always be kind. When you are kind, the return is always double.”

For those interested, a full recording of the live-stream can be watched on FWC’s Facebook page and on YouTube

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