Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) alumni are playing an influential role whether it’s in their community or the workplace. A leader in technology education, UTP is proud that its alumni, now about 16,000-strong, are sought after by industries.
UTP graduates are not only known for their high rate of employability – 90% get a job within six months of graduation – they are also rapidly climbing the leadership ladder.
Assoc Prof Dr Nor Hisham Hamid, UTP deputy vice chancellor of student affairs and alumni, says its surveys show that UTP graduates hold leadership roles within three years of graduation.
“We are not only preparing them with technical knowledge that is second to none, but also grooming them to become leaders of industry,” he says.
Since its establishment more than 20 years ago, UTP’s goal has been to produce well-rounded graduates with attributes that include technical competence, lifetime learning capacity, critical thinking, communication and behavioural skills, business acumen, practical aptitude and solution synthesis ability.
Today, the university is considering the inclusion of other attributes to better reflect current needs.
“One of the areas we’re looking at is replacing business acumen with entrepreneurial mindset to support the government’s aspiration for graduates of the future to become job creators instead of job seekers,” he says.
“We also want the inculcation of values such as integrity, collegiality and respect to have greater prominence.”
Engagements with the university’s industry advisory panel and international examiners are important in ensuring its graduates have the wherewithal to thrive in a global role.
Assoc Prof Dr Nor Hisham adds: “We want to ensure our graduates will succeed wherever they are in the world and key to that is understanding and appreciating cultural differences. We want them to be global citizens and responsible leaders.”
Thriving On Challenge And Change
Nur Baizurin Zulkanain has spent more than half her working life on assignments abroad, holding engineering and business leadership roles in Brunei, Qatar and Labuan.
The 36-year-old has been based in Qatar since March 2016 where she works as Weatherford’s service delivery manager for its Completion Groups and Well Integrity product lines.
“My main priority is to build the highest quality and safety standards for all the product lines, to achieve certification of API Q2 at country level,” says the mechanical engineering graduate.
Having majored in petroleum engineering, Nur Baizurin says her interest in oil and gas was fuelled during her internship at Petronas Melaka Refinery Complex.
“The learning, skills and support received from UTP and my supervisor motivated me to distinguish myself from the others, become a role model and asset to the organisation.”
Her oil and gas career began at Malaysia Marine and Heavy Engineering Sdn Bhd in 2005. A year later, she moved to Weatherford Malaysia. Since then, Nur Baizurin has held various roles in the company’s operations in Brunei, Labuan and Qatar, each with its set of challenges and milestones.
Recounting her stint in Brunei as the group business unit manager, Nur Baizurin recalls: “During those busy years, I had sleepless nights and received calls from the rigs in the middle of night for urgency load outs and operational troubleshooting.
“I gained a lot of technical knowledge, experience and network support from the management and clients.”
She relishes overseas assignments for the challenges and experiences. “Different countries have different cultures, languages and way of life, which require me to be adaptable and flexible. Take for example living and working in the Middle East. It is quite tough, especially in summer when the temperature hits 50°C and humidity of up to 90%.
“Working under these conditions – crossing the desert to the client’s location, going to the rigs, communicating in different languages – makes you an independent and strong person. It also opens your mind and teaches you to become diplomatic during demanding negotiations.”
Through these global assignments, she has built good working relationships globally. Nur Baizurin, who has an MBA from Open University Malaysia, is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Business Administration (Economics) and plans to delve deeper into management strategy and business analysis.
A High Impact Role
Ivan Radebe has had fantastic opportunities in very high-tech sectors of the energy industry. “The highlight was being one of the pioneers in setting up the renewable energy industry in South Africa by developing the country’s first utility scale wind farm,” he says.
“I also had the opportunity to effect high impact changes at PetroSA when I was an engineer at their FA offshore gas production platform.”
Ivan is currently Pelchem SOC Ltd group managing director. The company is a global manufacturer and supplier of commodity and speciality chemicals.
In the years since his graduation from UTP, Radebe, who also has a Masters in Strategy and Project Management from Pantheon-Sorbonne University in Paris, has held various roles in oil and gas companies in South Africa and in France.
“UTP’s approach to developing well-rounded individuals helped shape and develop the character required for the tough corporate world,” says the 40-year-old South African, who was a Petronas scholar.
His undergraduate years at UTP also exposed him to various cultures. “I grew as a person and enhanced my interpersonal skills.”
The different experiences have helped to shape his leadership style. Key lessons learnt include enhancing soft skills and leading from the front. “I have also learned to focus on developing people for the future,” he added.
At Pelchem, he is primarily responsible for setting up and executing corporate strategy to meet shareholder and stakeholder requirements and expectations, essentially creating value for shareholder and stakeholder by driving growth sustainability.
“I am also ultimately responsible for all day-to-day management decisions, and for implementing the company’s long and short term plans. In 2018, the main priorities will be to consolidate the business re-engineering exercise, enter new markets and implement business transformational projects to expand production capacity,” he says.
Focused On People Potential
As the director of quality management in Johnson Electric, an international automotive company, Wong Kam Yuen is passionate about developing and deploying the company’s vision of “zero defect” throughout a global supply chain of more than 1,000 suppliers. Key to this, he says, is people.
“A company’s assets and strength lies with its people. A well-groomed talent will have three times higher productivity and motivation compared to the average staff,” says the 39-year-old, who has been based in China and Hong Kong for the past 12 years.
Wong built his team from scratch, beginning in 2006 with just three engineers. Today the team numbers 160, comprising technical specialists, managers and employees, boasting a high level of expertise to serve the business needs of automotive customers.
Wong developed an annual apprenticeship and mentee-mentor programme to recruit the cream of the crop from top universities in China. A mentor is assigned to guide new recruits in hands-on, practical problem solving and learning from mistakes.
Wong also built a culture of continuous improvement and established a weekly Gemba Kaizen programme, where employees are given the chance to share success stories and awards for recognition.
“I’m a strong believer in human potential,” he says, adding that his human capital philosophy has been influenced by UTP’s internship programme. “My internship in Intel Penang is still etched strongly in my memory. To this day, I network closely with my mentor and colleagues there.”
Other elements of his education at UTP helped shaped his career path. One is the quality of industrial training that brings together the fundamental theories with practical applications and real-life exposure that’s backed by a strong buddy and mentor system.
He has spent more than a decade in China and Hong Kong, but admits to having been initially nervous about the assignment.
“I did not converse well in Mandarin but now I’m glad that I have no problems with the language. The biggest highlights have been gaining a deeper understanding of Chinese culture and way of doing business.”