Saturday, September 10, 2005

Shell Malaysians Hold Prominent Positions Worldwide 

Shell Malaysia is justifiably proud of the success it has had in contributing towards developing Malaysian talent through the promotion of Malaysian staff to senior management positions within the Royal Dutch/Shell Group worldwide.

Leading the pack of more than 200 Malaysians abroad is Datuk Lim Haw Kuang, until 30th June 2002, the Chairman of Shell Malaysia and Managing Director of the company's Exploration & Production businesses; and from 1st July, the President of Shell Oil Products East - a responsibility which has a large geographic spread; from the Middle East and Asia Pacific to Central and South Asia.

Datuk Lim, who grew up in Tawau, the timber town of Sabah, is a colourful character who balances a passion for stretching himself and his organisation to the limits with an equally enthusiastic enjoyment of good fun and good company.

His is one of those wonderful "feel good" stories of a small town boy making it good in the very up-town league of one of the world's super oil majors. An IT graduate, he joined Sarawak Shell Berhad in 1978 as a computer programmer and had the unenviable experience of being told by one of his early supervisors, that the best he could aspire to attain in Shell, was an IT managerial position.

Datuk Lim debunked that theory in no uncertain terms. He went beyond IT to hold several positions in Finance, Natural Gas and Exploration and Production, not only on Malaysian home ground, but overseas as well. From 1993 to 1997, he was assigned to Shell International Gas and later Shell International Petroleum Company in the UK and held several responsible positions as Natural Gas business development for the Former Soviet Union, as shareholder representative and as senior regional adviser, Asia Pacific countries, to the Shell Group's top management.

His return to Malaysia in 1997was as Managing Director of Shell Malaysia's Exploration & Production businesses and he was later appointed the additional role of the Chairman of Shell Malaysia on 1st October 1999.

Although it sounds like one of those ‘defying all odds’ type stories, Datuk Lim's rise as a Malaysian in an overwhelmingly white Caucasian multi-national, while exemplary, is not atypical.

Thanks to the Royal Dutch/Shell Group's comprehensive and forward-looking human resources strategy, which invests in the conviction that the backbone of any company is its people, more than 200 Malaysians currently hold regional or international positions in the Royal Dutch/Shell Group as managers, business advisers and specialists in various disciplines both technical and non-technical.

A key driver of Shell's strategy is the belief that the quality of its people can be nurtured and built via a holistic and structured approach to people development based on fostering professionalism, recognition and personal growth - an approach that combines exposure and experience with needs-based training and mentoring, performance-based remuneration as well as regional and international assignments, and even continuing education.

Besides Datuk Lim, at least three other Shell Malaysians, also count amongst the top 200 Royal Dutch/Shell Group senior management or "gods" as most Shell folk irreverently refer to them.

Among these is Datuk Megat Zaharuddin M M Nor, Shell Malaysia's first Malaysian Chairman till 30th September 1999, who now has responsibility for the Group's exploration and production business in the Middle East, Central and South Asia and Russia as Regional Business Director. He drives business strategy formulation and implementation for the region, the biggest growth area for Shell's E&P businesses over the next 5-10 years and countries with planned new major projects representing investments greater than US$10 billion over next five years (Russia, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar).

A mining engineer from Imperial College, London, Din, as he is more commonly known in Shell, first joined the Group as a petroleum engineer based in Brunei before going on to hold key petroleum engineering and general management posts in the UK, the Netherlands, Malaysia and Turkey.

Similarly, Datuk Tan Ek Kia, who headed Managing Director of Shell Malaysia's exploration & production business between 1994 and 1997, is now Country Chairman for Shell China and North Asia (Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Taiwan), a role which projects him also as shareholders' representative for the Chemicals business in the region and taking the lead in Coal Gasification and cross-business projects in China.

If you’re thinking, Malaysian stars only shine from the Exploration & Production business, that’s another myth Shell Malaysia has happily debunked. Undoubtedly, the largest number are from the EP sector (103 staff in some 14 countries), but there are also 20 Gas & Power staff in locations that range from The Hague to Oman and Singapore, 10 Shell IT staff and 69 Oil Products staff and in diverse locations across all the major continents.

One Oil Products star, Saw Choo Boon, had joined Shell's refinery at Port Dickson and quite early on distinguished himself as a very forthright and forceful personality with strong leadership qualities. His technical responsibilities soon led on to management positions in Supply & Trading, before he was appointed first, managing director of the Natural Gas and later Oil Products businesses. In 2000 the Group appointed him Vice President Commercial Business with responsibilities for the Asean countries of Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei, Philippines and Singapore plus Hong Kong. In 2001, his geographic coverage was expanded.

In his current position as Vice President for Commercial Sales, Shell Oil Products East Zone - which includes China and North Asia as well as Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East and South Asia - Choo Boon holds huge bottom line accountability and is well placed to energise and lead his diverse sales force towards the organisation's vision of being top performer of first choice in the challenging consumer, construction, bitumen, lubricants, transport and industrial markets.

Diversity is key driver in Shell's commitment to people development. The Royal Dutch/Shell Group subscribes to a Diversity and Inclusive commitment and policy that sees great potential for growth in unleashing the creativity that comes from drawing on different ideas and backgrounds. Acknowledging and attributing value to the richness of diverse thinking, culture, value systems and traditions stems from a very practical realisation that being able to understand and respond to the needs and value systems of its diverse customer base is essential to the company's competitive future and to its capacity to grow in new ways. .

This has smoothed the path for many Malaysians to acquire exposure in new environments with a view to bringing enhanced expertise home as well as opened the doors for other Malaysians, to share their strengths and expertise in substantive positions of responsibility in foreign markets.

Lim Min Teong, Global Discipline Leader for Reservoir Engineering is of the latter. Responsible now for Technical and Operational excellence throughout the Group, he has brought to the job, more than 20 years of reservoir engineering experience with in-depth subsurface technical and technology management as well as commercial knowledge, particularly in a production-sharing contract context.

Min Teong who shuttles between Houston and The Hague, is completely and colourfully clear about what he wants to deliver in the job:

“It's about elevating and ensuring consistency of the competencies of the global Reservoir Engineering (RE) community; it's about raising the game and ensuring the skillpool is ready to rise to the business challenges of today and tomorrow - understanding strengths and gaps of the global skillpool & formulating plan to close the gaps; it's about ensuring certain minimum standards are in place and diligently followed; it's about rapid sharing and deployment of RE expertise and best practices globally, especially in areas where we get the biggest bang for the bucks; it's about REs working in the most efficient, integrated fashion to deliver on reserves, production and costs savings to beat the @#$^ out of our competitors; and finally, it's about ensuring the presence of an enabling environment to attract, retain, develop, reward and recognise high performing REs so that they will not be distracted and detracted into other career paths."

Another Malaysian, Harun Johari, joined Shell's Global Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) business in early 1999, as Vice-President, East Region (Asia Pacific) and sits on its executive management team as well as on the boards of the LPG businesses in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Australia. Harun is responsible for the bottom-line of the LPG businesses spanning 14 countries in the Asia Pacific, which include Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Guam and New Caledonia.

Key challenges of his job are "managing the diverse cultures and different stages that the businesses are at in the different countries - from new market entry e.g. Vietnam, to the Philippines' large growing market and the more advanced and mature New Zealand market." explained Harun.

Some of the trials of the job are the extensive traveling, use of IT and virtual working in order to be close to the customers while delivering the business strategies in each of the business units in the countries. But fortunately, this Malaysian is based in Kuala Lumpur, "which is very convenient both in terms of managing the overall business in the Region and keeping close to the family and local community" added Harun.

Occupying a pivotal role at the Shell Corporate Offices in The Hague, is Sauu Kakok, a Sarawakian who is the Senior Adviser to the Regional Managing Director, Country Chairmen and Regional Directors responsible for the East Asian region. His independent and expert advice is sought on a range of things from country risks, deregulation, business embargoes and competitor activity to capital investment proposals and plans which need Regional Managing Directors' support.

Another dynamic Malaysian rapidly moving up the corporate echelons of the Shell Group is Idris Jala who currently holds the position of Vice President Retail Marketing, based in London, his third international assignment in about five years. Also a Sarawakian, Idris had worked in HR positions in EP at Miri before he switched to Retail marketing in Kuala Lumpur. His success there led onto a challenging and rewarding stint as General Manager of Shell Sri Lanka before he was transferred yet again to London.

Based in Singapore, Iain John Lo has just started his new assignment as General Manager, Sakhalin for Shell's Gas & Power Asia Directorate. Sakhalin is the first ever LNG project in Russia and the success of Shell's ambitious plans for the project depend on managing the relationships with the various shareholders, which include Japanese companies like Mitsui and Mitsubishi as well as with Russian shareholders. Iain who has worked in The Hague as well as in Malaysia before, will play a key role in governing Shell's Gas &amp;amp; Power involvement in the integrated oil and LNG project; providing· shareholder leadership in driving the development and capturing new markets in Asia & the West Coast of Mexico and in developing and enhancing the LNG revenue for Sakhalin.

For David Lau, working abroad has combined both bringing his extensive experience to enrich his overseas responsibilities as well as growing from new experiences and cultures with a view to bringing them home for Malaysia.

David Lau, who has just moved from Beijing to The Hague as Controller/Treasurer with responsibility for the finance activities of Shell EP companies worldwide, is no newcomer to the roving "pack-up and shift everything but the kitchen sink" life of an expatriate.

After eight years in Sarawak Shell, David spent two years in London, several more in Aberdeen and then it was back to Malaysia as Finance Manager for the Oil Products business before it was again time to move, this time to China.

"My three years in Beijing have been the best time of my life, for me and for my wife. I enjoyed coaching and bringing the standards of my Chinese staff to a level comparable to most of the international companies in the world, and I also found more time to improve my golf" says David, who is also not shy to admit that he picked up golf, "the single most important passion of my life" during his Aberdeen posting.

But it was certainly not all golf for David. As the Finance director of Shell companies in China, Korea and Taiwan he soon realized the enormity of the job which required him to close down six loss-making LPG plants and turn around the business in Shell China from a deficit of US$100m in 1998 to US$6m in 2001. He was also heavily involved with the Chinese national oil companies, negotiating alliance projects, which will increase the Shell business in China many times.

David hopes, like most of his fellow Malaysians abroad "in my next assignment, to return to Malaysia to work, giving back to Shell Malaysia what she has given to me i.e. a most interesting and rewarding career."

This infusing of enriched top ranking and performing personnel with renewed vigour and enthusiasm to give back to the company and the nation is possibly the ultimate returns the company reaps from this strategy.

While investing in international assignments has enabled the Group to harness and develop an unparalleled diversity of knowledge, technology and talent across Shell's global business interests, for Shell Malaysia, it has been a tremendous boost to overall morale, that doing a terrific job in growing its own timber has inspired the confidence of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group to entrust significant responsibilities in over 200 Malaysians.

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?