President of the Malaysian Community Pharmacy Guild
“Not everyone gets to enjoy applying what they have learnt at university in their daily life,” Lovy Beh says with a twinkle in her eyes. A graduate of University College London’s School of Pharmacy, she is a registered pharmacist in the United Kingdom, Singapore and Malaysia. More notably, she is also the first female president of the Malaysian Community Pharmacy Guild (MCPG). Yet, the path to her true calling wasn’t always straight forward.
“My interests after my A-level studies were actually in business and music,” she recounts, “but my father encouraged me to consider a career that would give me a good return on investment.” Deciding that she had always been more of the studious type, Lovy applied herself to the field of science. She cites the experience of her elder cousins, who offered her some insights into a career in pharmacology. “They described what a fulfilling job it is and how much you can help others,” she says.
Helping others has since become Lovy’s raison d’être. Representing over 18,200 pharmacists, including more than 3,000 community pharmacists in the nation, MCPG seeks to promote and protect the interests of pharmaceutical practitioners while advocating for everyday consumers to have access to quality healthcare.
Dealing with matters of trade and policy making, Lovy is a strong advocate for dispensing separation and seeks to champion the inclusion of pharmacy services in the government’s MySalam National Health Protection Scheme for individuals in the B40 income group. “We want to be seen as healthcare professionals that want to take care of people’s health, and not be viewed simply as drug traders,” she states firmly, determined to change the misinformed perception.
As the youngest female president of MCPG, she describes the role as anything but a walk in the park when she first took the reins. “I was quite fresh and didn’t know anyone in the industry that well and it takes a lot of effort to get to know people,” she says. Showing grace and dignity in the face of naysayers, Lovy also shares that she grew to earn the respect of those who disagreed with her views by holding true to her principles and showing results for it.
I believe that women are smart, creative, resourceful, strong and powerful and their voices need to be heard. We want to be appreciated and not be discriminated against or insulted just because we are women – especially in higher positions.Lovy Beh
Having served as chairperson in organising critical conferences like the Pharmacy Revolution 4.0 Summit, the Pharmacy Renaissance Summit and Green Community Pharmacy 2019, Lovy continues to lead MCPG in a progressive direction. On 8 March 2020, MCPG will hold a summit titled Advancing Pharmacists Role – Myths and Facts about Sexual Health and Family Planning. The summit aims to empower pharmacists, doctors, nurses and allied healthcare professionals to help men and women to take control of their sexual health and family planning.
“We want to debunk the myths that grip our community, because this is a topic that most are shy to discuss,” Lovy acknowledges. She is quick to offer her gratitude towards having the support of Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and State Exco for Women and Family Development, Gender Inclusiveness and Non-Islamic Religious Affairs Chong Eng who will be the guests of honour at the event. Participating delegates will also be able to earn their Continuous Professional Development (CPD) points, encouraging more healthcare professionals to engage in keeping abreast with developments that would enable them to provide better care for their patients.
As a woman who has dedicated a significant portion of her professional career to the service of a non-governmental organisation like MCPG, I ask Lovy about the women that have shaped her as a person. Crediting her mother Datin Poh Lay See, Lovy says, “She is a lady of few words but she works very efficiently, can multitask and has always taught us good things”.
Her voice is full of affection as she recites the credo she lives by, her mother’s favourite biblical verse – owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another. Having learned by example, Lovy says she watched her mother demonstrate great love in the way she cared for her family, late parents and late in-laws. This, Lovy asserts, taught her how to open her heart and share love with those around her without expectation of gaining anything in return.
She is also forthcoming with her praise for the previous Minister of Energy, Science, Technology Environment and Climate Change Yeo Bee Yin, as a woman worthy of admiration for her zeal and unwavering commitment to put into practice a “spirit of excellence.” It is apparent that Lovy looks up to Yeo who is the youngest female minister in the previous cabinet. Having been acquainted with her for a few years, she describes her as a dynamic person, capable of expediently resolving the issues brought to her attention while successfully maintaining a good work-life balance.
Sharing the secret to how she keeps her own work-life balance, Lovy reveals her routine, “The first thing I do in the morning is to pray. After that, I look at my timetable and prioritise things.” She acknowledges that it takes support and a collective effort to meet goals. “You have to think about how you delegate to the right committed assistants and leaders that can help you to do certain tasks – or else, you will drown. I have been there before, but we learn from the past and we improve.”
Lovy advises young women considering a career in healthcare to gain experience through internship. “Go and look at the daily job of a particular pharmacist. Observe them and decide if this is really something that you can spend the rest of your years doing,” she advises. While passion is a quality that Lovy feels is vital for success in the industry, she also discusses the importance of being tenacious in the pursuit of professional development opportunities, as well as to contribute to society someday.
“I have always believed in giving back. You must have a purpose in your life in how you want to give back to your community and industry.”