From Kindergarten Teacher to Insect Caretaker to Breeding Supervisor; our team member, Suhaila, has a lot to share about her experience at the heart of our insect farm: the Breeding Team. The Breeding Team ensures the continuity of the BSF cycle. They’re responsible for the availability of healthy seedling larvae for insect farming and bioconversion - they are the heartbeat; without them, we simply won’t have farms!
Suhaila has a degree in Science (Biology) from UiTM Negeri Sembilan and started out her career with us initially as an Insect Caretaker in the Breeding team in 2020. She has proved herself to be capable, intimately understanding the whole lifecycle process and recently stepped up in her role to be our Breeding Supervisor.
We watched Suhaila develop from being quiet and reserved, to being able to articulate her thoughts clearly while expressing her views, laying out all the rational behind her decisions and questions and being pro-active in her role - while still doing it all with her polite and calm demeanor. We’re proud of Suhaila and her personal development with us, and we’re looking forward to more to come.
Suhaila shared with us fun facts about her: she can run really fast if she saw a rodent (but wants to save all BSFs!), loves attending weddings for the vibes and food and she can’t swallow medication without diluting it first.
It was fun talking to Suhaila! Check out our interview with her:
Q: Tell us about yourself and your background
S: I had always learned science-related subjects since secondary school all the way to my degree. However, my first job was as a Kindergarten teacher where English was used as a medium of communication. I did not have any experience in teaching - what more teaching children 3-6 years of age! It was fun, exciting, and challenging. After two years, I wanted to work more with science and hence I joined Protenga as an Insect Caretaker in the Breeding Team. I was in the role for 1.5 years before I was promoted as a Breeding Supervisor. Protenga is my first experience working in a start-up environment and factory.
Q: Good on you and that promotion! What have you learned so far - seeing the lens from an operator and a supervisor?
S: When I was an Insect Caretaker, we operated daily breeding tasks. I learned how to communicate, how to work as a team, and learned how to listen to instructions carefully, execute work and made sure my tasks were completed responsibly.
As a supervisor, I have learned (and still learning!) how to evaluate proposals and decisions based on data and evidence to make it easier to understand. I need to recognise and anticipate problems, and work together to discuss to find solutions. Besides learning how to coordinate with my team members, the main thing I have learned is also how to coordinate and communicate with other teams. We all rely on each other to strive for the success of the company!
Q: What do you enjoy in your work and what do you find challenging?
S: The work I enjoy most is collecting the eggs in the chamber. The more I collect, the more I want the eggs. At that moment in time, I’d feel like I was saving and collecting the eggs for the survival of the Black Soldier Flies, that I was responsible for the next cycle of their lives. I also enjoy working with a team since I was an Insect Caretaker. We’re all helping, supporting, encouraging and caring for each other - not only in my own team but all teams: Production, Management, Engineering, Research & Development, QA/QC, Maintenance, Manufacturing, Sanitation and Pet Food department. We all really work together and everyone is very helpful.
What’s challenging to me is when the work becomes physically taxing. You need to be fit and have good stamina as working in the farm can naturally be tiring. Breakfast is important and it helps me get through this challenge! Another interesting challenge would be working with thousands or millions of Black Soldier Flies buzzing around - I don’t want to hurt them so I have to be very careful!
Being a new supervisor has its own challenges as well. I need to be more alert and observant of what’s happening around me including possible problems, factors, and finding solutions for the breeding process. I have to analyse the data to understand patterns, optimisation and improvement points. Never stop learning from others and never give up!
Q: Do you feel heard, and can get what you want at work and in life ?
S: I realised that it is crucial for us to know our career path, where we need to go to unlock our potential and achievements in life. I am grateful to be promoted to be supervisor, carrying responsibilities I have never experienced. With this, I am able to challenge myself to see how far I can go, to see which areas I can improve on to be better than before. I can say that I have gotten what I want at work since I saw myself develop from Insect Caretaker to Supervisor. Thank you Protenga for believing in me!
It is too early to say that I can get what I want in life yet as there are more things to be explored, experienced, and achieved. Each stage of life has its own challenges and I pray that it would be possible for me, and for others, to get what we want in life. I believe it can happen on the condition that we never give up, keep trying, and have faith.