ENGINEERING: IN THE BUSINESS OF ENERGY
From a plantation-based company to becoming the leading Independent Power Producer (IPP) in Malaysia – this is the story behind Malakoff Corporation Berhad, a company that was incorporated in 1975. Today, Malakoff is the largest IPP in Malaysia, based on an effective power generation capacity of approximately 5,020 MW, representing 22.5 per cent of Peninsular Malaysia’s total installed capacity. As a multinational water and power company, Malakoff is also engaged in the independent water production and power generation business in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, with an effective water production capacity of approximately 358,550m3 of water per day and effective power generation capacity of approximately 480 MW. “We are in an industry that is growing,” says Ir. Mohd Hafiz Ibrahim, Manager, CEO’s Office. “As we speak, the demand for energy and water continues to grow.”
The company went for corporate restructuring and shifted its operation from the plantation business into the power of business in 1993. Between 1993 and 2006, the company had developed and commenced operation in the following power plants in Peninsular Malaysia: the SEV Power Plant (1996), the GB3 Power Plant (2001), the Prai Power Plant (2003) and the Tanjung Bin Power Plant (2006). In building its critical mass, the company has also pursued a number of greenfield and brownfield projects both in local and international front. Malaysia is not the only country where Malakoff operates out of. “We have business in Algeria, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi,” says Mohamad Fardaus Rahmat, Manager, Human Resources, Corporate Services Division. “So really, there are opportunities for young graduates in terms of international placement.”
Says Hafiz, “The economic growth and pace of a country’s development correlate with the amount of electricity consumed. As a country develops, more electricity would be required for new residential and commercial property developments, industrial activities as well as public amenities. With Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product (GNP) expected to grow at 4.9 per cent per year between 2011 and 2017, as forecast by the International Monetary Fund, the electricity supply industry will need to plan and make its move in meeting this anticipated increase in electricity consumption in the coming years. This will chart the way for improved efficiency, new technology, and incentives for renewable projects. It will also create new job opportunities as diversified expertise are necessary now in designing, building and optimising the operation of existing and future power plants, including the growing trend in renewable energy development in Malaysia.”
BEHIND THE POWER SCENE
What exactly is the nature of the business in energy? According to Hafiz, the opportunities are endless. “We conduct our business mainly through our operating subsidiaries, associates and our jointly controlled entity. We are engaged in the following six primary areas of business: Independent power generation business in Malaysia, independent water production and power generation business outside of Malaysia, operations and maintenance business for power plants and water plants, electricity and chilled water distribution business, project management business, primarily plant design review and construction monitoring for our own power plant projects and development of renewable energy projects.”
However, the company does focus on hiring mainly for the operations maintenance division, and engineering graduates are encouraged to apply. “From there, you will develop your engineering fundamentals when exposed to plant operations or when given technical assignments and over the years, further develop your technical competency and leadership skills as you climb the career ladder,” says Hafiz. He also stresses though that graduates with a finance, law and human resource background should also apply if they are interested in the company as there are also jobs that require these functional expertise within Malakoff.
To ensure it gets the best talents in the pool, Malakoff has in place an engineering and executive development programme, which provides intensive and focused training. The programme – which lasts from 18 to 24 months – will provide the necessary exposure to the business at hand. Not only will hires get the proper training, they will also be rotated within the business, getting on-the-job training that is necessary. “We take in about 20 to 40 fresh graduates every year for this programme,” says Fardaus. “We mostly visit career fairs, put out adverts in the newspapers where we receive up to 300 applicants each time. We then narrow this down via interviews, assessments and even more interviews as well as aptitude test.”
As alumni of the programme, both Fardaus and Hafiz vouch that opportunities await for those who seek a career with Malakoff. In fact, Fardaus and Hafiz themselves are the longest working staff based from the programme when it was first implemented, having been with the company right for 10 years now! “Career moves are also available here at Malakoff,” says Fardaus. “It really depends on the individual to work hard for the promotion as well as the opportunities at the moment. We are given the right responsibilities to progress. Upon graduation of the programme, which takes about two to three years, you will then get a permanent assignment based on your skills as well as what is needed. Then there could be promotions three to four years later”.
On top of the development programme, Malakoff also offers scholarships to deserving graduates. Currently, the company offers students of Uniten, UTP and UTM non-bonded scholarships, as well as overseas students (though this is bonded). Existing employees are not forgotten either in terms of career and personal development. Says Hafiz, “Malakoff does education assistance programmes for its staff where they can enroll for courses that are related to their job functions and responsibilities. It has to be relevant to the industry but the option is there for them. As part of continuous development of its staff, the company has a dedicated facility called the Malakoff Academy of Excellence (MAX) where in-house trainings are offered and organised for staff, ranging from technical to soft skills training modules.”
A NEW GENERATION OF TALENTS
Having been in the industry for a decade, what do Fardaus and Hafiz think of the current talent that come their way. Their unified answer? “Different.” Says Fardaus, “They have different requests now, where of course salary is important. We try to make it as comparable as possible by looking at what our competitors are offering.” With this in mind, Fardaus advises young graduates to look beyond the ringgit and sen. “You should take this opportunity to learn as much as you can while you are still young. Put in all your effort to learning, especially from the experienced people.
At Malakoff, you will have the access to all these individuals so take advantage of that.” Hafiz, on the other hand, believes that passion should always come into play. “Look for something that is of your interest; don’t just focus on the salary. In order to achieve greater heights in any organisation or career, you need to make sure you know what you want to do and then only will you able to make full use of the opportunities around you. At the early stage of one’s career, learn to broaden your horizon and always be relentless and proactive in acquiring as much knowledge and experience as possible,” he concludes.
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