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Interview

with Sam Haggag, Manpower Malaysia

01.03.2010 / Energyboardroom

PETRONAS changed its internal policy in terms of human resources and now allows former employees to come back to the company. How do you believe this will impact the human resources situation in Malaysia?

Oil & gas companies re-hiring talent that has left them has been common for many years, given the nature of the oil & gas industry as a project driven sector, necessitating staffing up and down depending on the project requirements. Operation and maintenance as well as refining generally speaking tend to be the most stable areas. The challenge will be to integrate different generations back in the workforce. This is an issue that is not specific to the oil & gas industry, and the challenge that organizations have is to get diversity in terms of values and approach out of these generations. In the oil & gas industry there is an added challenge to adapt to the changes and evolution in technology, projects and ambitions. Traditionally older generations getting back in the organization tend to be more resistant to change and less comfortable in an environment that is moving very fast, which might create challenges. However it is the right thing for PETRONAS to do given that there is not enough talent and we cannot keep importing talent without balancing the equation. In order to make this integration happen successfully, they will have to understand the challenges and put the right integration processes in place.

What is Manpower’s implication in the oil & gas industry?

Manpower has traditionally been involved in more generic skills sets and IT related positions, nevertheless we tend to support most of the oil & gas industry with non oil & gas related skills sets. Niche skill sets tend to be provided by Specialist organizations. We do work with PETRONAS in certain areas to support their business but usually when they are looking for very specific expertise, they will tend to go to specialist service providers such as EPC contractors.
We support all of the organizations from operators like PETRONAS all the way down the supply chain. We are extremely strong in human resources, Engineering, IT skill sets, procurement skill sets as well as other skills such as customer service, Sales and Finance.

Given the ambitions of the industry to become a regional hub, how do you see your involvement in the industry evolve ?

Talent is becoming a major focus for organizations as they work towards mitigating the impact of global talent shortages. Manpower has a dedicated business unit specializing in Cross Border Talent Mobility that helps organizations identify the right talent for their needs from all over the world. This allows our clients to access the best talent as and when needed.
Malaysia has certain skills set that are sought after overseas, in particular the Middle East, largely due to the rich history in the oil & gas industry in this part of the world. Malaysians have also proven to be among the most able to adapt to the culture in the Middle East. You will see an increasing trend of workers going abroad, particularly to the Middle East where there is a premium on the pay and tax exemption. The Middle East is especially attractive for younger people who are looking to build a “nest egg” then retire in Malaysia.

In the Asian culture commitment is extremely important, so how do you manage to convince companies in the region on the benefits to use companies such as Manpower?

The financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 has done an exceptional job to convince them! Organizations need to be much more agile and creative about the balance between permanent skills sets that they need to retain, and flexibility of the workforce that comes in just in time. In the oil & gas industry projects start and finish, and unless they have a stable flow of project, they will need a great amount of resources at a point in time, with variable skills required depending on the phase of the project they are in, and after that they will have to demobilize and get back to their core. One of the key things Manpower does is to provide integrated services more than just people.

How does this concept of integrated services work, and where does Manpower’s competitive edge lay?

Our business has evolved from years ago, when we would have simply provided a temporary or contract staff or identififed a permanent employee for our clients. Today clients are asking us to help them by taking on more ownership of the outcome of what our people do. For example we work in a shared services center for a global IT company, where we get paid for the number of transactions that our associates complete. In addition to our traditional model of time and material which is the standard in our industry, we can provide services with total flexibility, based on the clients’ needs. The responsibility of flexing the workforce up and down can be totally ours, when in the past our clients would have had to manage it themselves. The slowdown has made companies aware that they need to engage organizations like Manpower much more as partners rather than just service providers. I am not suggesting that there is a revolution in the industry, but it is more an evolution of services as clients’ needs become more complex and organizations like us move up the value chain. Manpower is uniquely able to do that because of its portfolio of services encompassing the entire employment lifecycle from the initial candidate attraction to their assessment, training and development to their re-training and redeployment when there is a downsizing of organizations. That applies to contingent as well as permanent workforce. Not many organizations have either our geographical footprint or the depth of services we offer.

I am extremely passionate about Malaysia, and have had extensive experience doing business in Malaysia in my previous regional roles. My ambition for Manpower in Malaysia is to be the undisputed leader in the provision of HR Services by 2012. We want to be number one by setting new standards in HR Services industry. Staffing is a relatively young industry in Malaysia, with a consultant’s average age in the mid twenties. The Staffing Industry has also been viewed as a stepping stone to HR functions so we have real challenges retaining our top talent.
Globalization of the Staffing industry has helped attract more talent and by raising the profile and professionalism of the industry we hope not only to attract but to retain top talent.
Manpower has very strong grounding in corporate social responsibility, actually putting it into action. Moreover we advise governments on human resource trends that may impact their policies that are putting place and provide input on potential challenges and opportunities that relate to the changing world of work.
Malaysia is well positioned to become a knowledge based economy. To achieve this objective more work needs to be done to align the education and employment systems with global best in class.
We also need to attract global top talent to transfer knowledge and best practice to local Malaysian talent. This is an area where our Cross Border business unit has done significant work to help our clients and we see this as a significant driver of our growth as the talent shortage becomes more acute locally and globally.

If we were to come back in 2015, what would have Manpower Malaysia achieved?

Manpower has been in Malaysia for over fifteen years, and we expect to play a more prominent role, especially in the oil & gas industry which is among the largest industries in the country. Our clients should be expecting a more consultative approach to the way we support them in terms of their needs for talent, optimizing the potential of their existing resources and the value of their workforce.
In five years time we will be viewed as an industry star, a benchmark for people to reference best practice in Human Capital optimization.
Staffing services will continue to be our core business but our business mix is likely to polarize more towards solutions as we continue to lead in the creation and delivery of services that enable our clients to win in the changing world of work.

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