From rock climbing to scaling the top of KLCC, this is the story behind viral ‘Iron Lady’, Normalia Sidek

Image credit: Normalia Sidek

Chances are over the past week, you will no doubt have come across some jaw-dropping drone footage that was captured by local photography talent, Mr Siva Kumar, from the very top of KLCC. Showcasing the sheer majesty of one of the country’s most recognisable landmarks, he also managed to shine the limelight on some lesser-known heroes who work behind the scenes to keep these incredible feats of architecture and engineering up-and-running: rope access technicians.

Meet Normalia Sidek, M’sia’s own ‘Iron Lady’

One of them in particular has caught the attention of Malaysians across the nation, leading her to be dubbed the ‘Iron Lady’ for her sheer unflinching courage despite working at such perilous heights. Meet Ms Normalia Sidek, one of the first female rope access technicians from the industry locally.

Meet Normalia Sidek, Malaysia's very own 'Iron Lady'. Image credit: Normalia Sidek
Meet Normalia Sidek, Malaysia’s very own ‘Iron Lady’. Image credit: Normalia Sidek

In speaking with WauPost, she said that she was shocked after realising that she had gone viral across the local social media space, and said that she only came to know of the video after her workday when her family members tagged her on her profile. Having worked as a freelance rope access technician and Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) technician since 2018, Normalia explains that her foray into the field started from her interest in rock-climbing.

Iron Lady Normalia Sidek hanging off from a building.
She works as a freelance Rope Access Technician and NDT Inspector. Image credit: Normalia Sidek

For those not in-the-know, rope access technicians are assigned to clean and maintain skyscrapers or oil rigs from death-defying heights. As for Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) technicians, they are typically responsible for conducting non-destructive tests to examine a building’s structural integrity.

One of the first women in the field

At this point in her professional career, KLCC is the tallest building she has been granted an opportunity to work on. However, not one to rest on her laurels, Normalia adds that she would one day hope to be able to work on PNB 118, or other iconic edifices across the globe such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

She is among some of the first women to join the field in Malaysia. Image credit: Normalia Sidek
She is among some of the first women to join the field in Malaysia. Image credit: Normalia Sidek

On the topic of her bravery, Normalia manages her fear of heights with the confidence she has in her work and experience. Given the male-dominated nature of the job, she said that there are currently less than 10 women who are working in her role, and she is considered to be among the first to join the industry with a specialisation in mechanical work broiler by rope access in Malaysia.

Normalia also hopes that her story will inspire more women to join the field, and strongly advises those interested to obtain a license from the Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) to bolster their skillset.

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Also read: M’sian photographer captures incredible drone footage of ‘Iron Lady’ technician fearlessly working on top of KLCC

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