Malacca Workshop Explores Career Development, Expectations

Young industry engineers and professionals from the Asia Pacific region gathered at the Equatorial Hotel in Malacca, Malaysia, in September for a YEPP workshop with the theme “How YEPPs Can Make a Difference in the Industry.” A total of 97 attendees from Malaysia, Brunei, Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and Kuwait attended, representing a diverse set of operating and service companies including Petronas, Shell, ExxonMobil, Saudi Aramco, Kuwait Oil, Woodside, Schlumberger, PetroVietnam, Sinopec, and BJ Services. In addition, 10 students from U. Teknologi Petronas and U. Teknologi Malaysia were sponsored to attend the event.

Event Cochairperson Alex Parks of RPS Energy opened the workshop and discussed its objectives. Tuan Haji Akhbar Tajuddin Wahab, Head of Southeast Asia Region for Petronas, was the first keynote speaker and presented a history of his company and its ongoing transformation from a national oil company to a multinational corporation. Zainul Rahim, Deputy Chairman of Shell Malaysia, then presented a multinational’s expectation of young E&P professionals. Chas Charles, Regional Vice President, Asia Pacific, for Halliburton, shared the importance of lifelong learning and how training and competency enables high performance.

The keynote session continued with Todd Gilmore, former Technical Manager for BJ services, who provided a personal perspective on how SPE contributed to his professional and career development. Finally, Dato’ Mohamad Idris Mansor, former Senior Vice President, E&P Business, Petronas, closed the keynote session by sharing his perspectives on the oil and gas industry and the importance of having or being a mentor.

The next session focused on YEPPs’ roles and expectations. Sam Choon Yau of Intelligent One Sdn. Bhd. highlighted the importance of having clear career goals and a belief that success can be achieved. John Lau of Halliburton discussed how the concept of work/life balance should really be work/life integration. Mazli Noor of Maces Sdn. Bhd. provided an entrepreneurial perspective on how to start your own business.

Another session focused on company roles and expectations. Stephen Pang of Shell stressed how companies expect professionals to learn, deliver performance, and develop proper behaviors and attitudes. S. Ramamoorthy of Schlumberger reflected on the impending crew change in the industry. The session ended with a presentation from Zainal Abidin Jalil, General Manager, Oil Operations, ExxonMobil, titled “Leadership—A Major Oil Company’s Practice.” There was a breakout session to end the day, discussing the topic of YEPPs and value creation. Feedback was obtained from the delegates on how young professionals can add value to the industry.

The second day of the workshop started with another breakout session focused on capturing the best practices in technical development and training, career development, and workplace environment. The lively discussion captured several key points, such as young professionals’ desire to be more involved in crafting their own training and career development path. Other issues emphasized included the benefits of cross-discipline training and job rotation, the use of technology in training and development, and the importance of work/life balance.

Soft skill development was the topic of the next session. Shanton Mowe of Shell delivered a presentation on its Leadership Development Framework. Tengku Nasaria, Chief Executive Officer of Petrosains, shared her journey of establishing the Petronas Philharmonic Orchestra and Petrosains and how important soft skill development was in her journey. She also touched on the subject of mindful vs. mindless learning and how to become a good leader. The next presentation, by Paul Pillai of Shell, featured tips on writing resumes and attending job interviews. To end the session, Cynthia Divka of Schlumberger led a role-playing exercise in which attendees were split into groups and played different characters in a simulated oil-producing country. In the afternoon, delegates were treated to a tour of the nearby Petronas Malacca Refinery.

The third day started off with several short presentations followed by a panel session. Syahril Hussin of ExxonMobil presented results of a survey that was taken at the beginning of the workshop and discussed how the results compared to a similar survey conducted globally by The Way Ahead. Anwar Raja of U. Teknologi Petronas shared his voyage from the upstream into academia and stressed the importance of giving back experience and knowledge to future generations. Next, Raja Ezuma Raja Ahmad of MB Petroleum Services and Todd Gilmore of BJ Services shared their contrasting experiences in climbing the corporate ladder. The presenters then answered questions from the floor.

The next session was focused on The Way Ahead. SPE’s Susan Sexton kicked off the discussion with a presentation on the role of SPE as an organization and what benefits and assistance are available to young professionals. Next, Alex Parks’ presentation, titled “The ‘New’ Old Boys’ Network,” provided tips on how to set up and run local YEPP activities. The session ended with attendees discussing the best way to kick-start YEPP activities in the region, and it was suggested that several local YEPP chapters be formed in the region. The theme of the closing session was career progression, with presentations from John Lau titled “How To Climb the Ladder” and from Alex Parks titled “Tricks and Tips.”

Attendees at the Malacca event gained useful insights from the workshop, forged new friendships, and are committed to sharing their learnings with colleagues in their home organizations. They agreed on the importance of YEPP programs and the need to empower young professionals in the industry.


Participants in the YEPP workshop.