A Chemical Engineer in the Palm Oil Milling Industry

Non-Fiction - Memoir
247 Pages
Reviewed on 07/29/2020
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Author Biography

Hong Wai Onn is a chemical engineer by training and profession. He is a passionate advocate who believes in harnessing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to advance development of the palm oil processing industry by ensuring greater participation by young people, especially chemical engineers.

Hong was born in Ipoh, Malaysia, and grew up on a small family. He attended Universiti Malaysia Sabah, where he studied chemical engineering. He started his career in palm oil industry with Genting Plantations and this exploration eventually formed the basis of his first book – a short memoir called A Chemical Engineer In The Palm Oil Milling Industry.

Hong has close to 15 years of operational experience in palm oil and biotechnology industries covering a very wide spectrum of responsibilities including production, engineering, project management, applied research, process safety and leadership roles.

Hong is the current Honorary Secretary of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) in Malaysia Board and Chair of IChemE Palm Oil Processing Special Interest Group. He sits on the Industry Advisory Panel for Chemical Engineering at few public and private universities. He is a public speaker at seminars, conferences and panel discussions.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Barbara Oliverio for Readers' Favorite

Possessing a degree in chemical engineering may lead a graduate to think that there are narrow career options. Not so, says Hong Wai Onn in his memoir A Chemical Engineer in the Palm Oil Industry. The impetus for leveraging his degree began with an internship while completing his studies at university. He soon discovered that much of what made a good chemical engineer, including changing raw materials into useful products, easily transferred into a job that would bring success in a rapidly growing, globally important industry. His innate passion for learning intensified as he learned more about the universality of palm oil, and as he embarked on the speaking circuit, he eventually crafted this memoir.

No prior study of chemical engineering or palm oil is needed to thoroughly enjoy this book. Hong Wai Onn writes in a completely accessible style, and I felt like I was present at a talk given by a charismatic expert who knows his topic, and who is both informative and compelling. The title A Chemical Engineer in the Palm Oil Milling Industry might sound daunting, but it’s an eminently user-friendly read. The author’s passion shines through in every chapter, and I came away with insights not only about the manufacturing process but also how widespread palm oil is in everyday life. This is the perfect read for a chemical engineer seeking a way to apply that knowledge, but at the same time, it’s a fine read for any voracious reader who loves exploring diverse topics.


I thoroughly enjoyed the book. This engrossing memoir captures the opportunities chemical engineers have in the palm oil milling industry than any book to date. But wait I don’t recall there is any book that has come out with stories from the palm oil mills!

The book shows the passion that the author has for his work, and how he went into details to figure out the right answers. To his credit, the author conveys the allure of working in remote areas.

Reading this book felt like listening to an immensely intelligent yet unassuming friend explain what life is like in the palm oil milling industry. Highly recommended!