Bandar Seri Begawan - The saying that 'any business or organisation is only as good as its people' is arguably best related to the country's biggest employer in its private sector - the Brunei Shell Joint Venture companies. As the pioneer of cutting-edge technological breakthroughs and efficient work process and procedures, its initiatives and best practises have been emulated and shared with not only the government but also the community that it serves.
It is also said that the only constant in life is change and organisations are not spared. Change brings about not only uncertainty and risks but also opportunities for growth. And in the knowledge and information age that we live in today, organisations that can successfully harness and shape the information available stand a greater chance of sustaining success.
This concept, which is not a new theory, has increasingly been embraced by many modem companies as one of its underlying philosophies - where building a learning organisation is a means to a business goal.
Providing educational opportunities and investing in training local talents are intrinsic in BSP's business ethos. Since 1972, Brunei Shell Petroleum Sdn Bhd (BSP) has already been at the forefront of pushing the agenda for expanding, improving and nurturing local content within the oil and gas industry.
Over the years, thousands of promising young students that have been identified as having the 'right stuff' have been selected for BSP's prestigious scholarships schemes and upon joining the company, groomed throughout their careers, to become future leaders in the organisation.
Just like the government scholarship programme, BSP's scholarships are not new whereby it has been widely recognised as one of the more established, sought after and prestigious scholarship opportunities for students to apply in their quest to improve their academic well-being.
The most recent signing of 37 new scholarship recipients joining the expanding professional ranks of BSP, together with the signing of four new helicopter pilot trainees under BSP's aviation department, further strengthens the reputation and solid commitment of the organisation's unwavering commitment in selecting the country's best and brightest for further education and training so that, one day, they would carry on the responsibility of fuelling the country's future.
"In BSP, we pride ourselves on our people. Without them, this company would not be what it is today. We strongly believe that our people drive the company's growth and have key talent development strategies and measures in place to ensure that we continue our focus on nurturing new joiners to the industry, as well as up-skilling professionals in various technical and non technical fields," highlighted Ken Marnoch, Managing Director of BSP.
Fleshing out his explanation further in context of the company's forward vision, he added: "In delivering the vision of energy for life in support of Brunei's future, we will need to continue to invest in our people so that we are better prepared and more capable to face the challenges of today and the challenges that will inevitably come our way"
As the biggest oil major operating in Brunei, it has become somewhat of an expectation not only from the government but also the community to ramp up its investment and support of human resource and capacity building - particularly as BSP's most recent signing coincidentally took place just a day after His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam noted his appreciation of the private sector's efforts in providing more employment opportunities for unemployed local graduates and jobseekers alike but called for them to significantly carry out more corporate social responsibility programmes to fortify the country's strong economic foundations for more sustained growth.
"In terms of education, there is a lot more that they can do. I want them to do more as mentioned in His Majesty's titah," reaffirmed Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awg Hj Mohd Yasmin bin Hj Umar.
Calling on BSP to be "more generous than what it is doing now", the energy minister explained, "I want BSP to do more because I am looking for Bruneians to not only work in the country but also abroad and in the region where Shell operates." With the current focus on empowering human resource and capacity building, the government's tone is adamant to see more Bruneians stepping up to the challenging call of rallying to support the country's economic backbone.
Siti Nurfarhana Akmal binti Hj Wahid, who achieved a First Class Honours' in her Bachelor's Degree in Systems and Control Engineering, and poised to pursue her Masters Degree in Control Systems through BSP's scholarship, shared that "BSP has provided us with a good learning programme by giving us the opportunities to work with them before and during our degree programme".
Expressing her support of the minister's suggestion that "to work or get an attachment with Shell companies in other countries is a golden opportunity that I will surely grab", Siti Nurfarhana cited that, other than the valuable experience and exposure this placement would invariably present, it would also "give an opportunity for us to bring technology or any improvements or ideas that can be used in our country itself".
She even accepted "if the location is challenging, the more challenge given, the more first-hand experiences and knowledge we can get", which otherwise, "we can only hear or read about in Brunei how the oil and gas industries in other countries operate".
Jonathan Tiah Teck Chian, another First Class Honours' recipient agreed that "BSP has awarded more scholarships over the years, with 2012 being its largest batch of scholars to date", but suggested further that "other Brunei Shell Joint Ventures should also provide more scholarships in the following years, whilst also introducing young Bruneian students to their respective companies through scholarship talks or exhibitions".
Exposures such as these, he added, "could be one of the key factors in attracting more students or even graduates to choose BSP as their future career of choice".
Trained as a mechanical engineer, Jonathan acknowledged, "BSP will never hesitate to provide the support and opportunity for their scholars to further pursue their post-graduate or even doctorate education, as long as it's within the relevance and interest of the company".
He agreed that "to have summer placements in another country where Shell operates would be a privilege, as it would require the scholars to step out of their comfort zone and adapt appropriately, as well as establish an external connection with fellow Shell employees in a different country".
Every BSP scholar is expected to serve the organisation and support the country in its tenacious bid to ensure sustainable upstream and downstream growth for its oil and gas industry and the socio-economic development for the future. In addition, having already been identified for their unpolished potential, every scholar also indirectly carries the hope of both the organisation and the country as one of its growing ranks of future leaders - to lead and steer the country on its road towards the uncertainty of the future.
This point was exemplified in the minister's speech when he pointed out that the two Permanent Secretaries at the Energy Department of the Prime Minister's Office - Hj Jamain bin Hj Julaihi and Hj Azhar bin Hj Yahya - were also once recipients of BSP's scholarship and in-service training programme. "This demonstrates that experience in the oil and gas industry is not only given recognition by the BSJV companies but also by His Majesty's Government."
"In BSP, our people are our pride," said Hj Kamaludin bin Hj Bungu, BSP's Human Resource Director, who himself was a BSP Scholar in 1984. "The industry itself has matured in such a way that we need more and more skilled talents to drive organisations like BSP that will continue to support meeting the needs of the nation, as part the country's vision, Wawasan 2035. To deliver BSP's vision, 'Energy for Life... Fuelling Brunei's Future', we recognise the need to continue investing in our people to be better prepared to face the challenges of the future."
The human resources director pointed out that of the numbers of students "who aspire to join BSP go through rounds and rounds of tough assessments and eventually a selected group will be awarded scholarship studies to leading educational institutes here and abroad". Highlighting the stringent criteria in successfully being awarded a BSP scholarship, Hj Kamaludin noted: "It is no easy feat to go through the assessment centre successfully" The students that have received this privilege are aware that their journey towards their professional career has only just begun.
"When you are out there on your own, you will face challenges in adapting to a new environment and balancing your priorities. It won't be easy."
The scholarships on offer have been tailored to suit the business needs of the organisation to prestigious tertiary institutions in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, which will also include Germany in the near future, for courses ranging from Geology Physics to various engineering subjects such as Chemical, Mechanical, Petroleum and Control Systems Engineering. Moreover, during the scholars second year of study, they will return during their semester breaks to complete eight weeks of summer work placement.
"From the beginning of the assessment centre to date, our journey as BSP scholars has always been a challenging and fulfilling one. With the opportunity to work in BSP during our summer break, the scholars are given a glimpse of how the working life differs from our student life," acknowledged Jonathan, citing his personal experience.
"I was fortunate enough to be given the task to pursue two legitimate business contracts (RFID Tag and Virtual Presence), whereas another colleague of mine was given a research and analysis project to tackle (Vibrations in Drill String) during our attachment last year."
Meanwhile, Siti Nurfarhana also echoed her colleague's sentiments. "Since the Master degree programme is taken outside Brunei, students can gain the opportunity to learn and bring different learning experiences and materials that can be shared here in Brunei. Thus, we will have a good background of oil and gas even before we start working."
Any organisation that is firmly committed to future success must adapt to become a learning organisation in order to compete and survive, where in today's modern world, continuous improvement has become a necessity. And within the BSJV companies, the ethos of 'convince people and you win their minds, inspire people and you win their hearts', through learning, growing and improving.
"This is the Brunei Shell Joint Venture's Way of Being", highlighted Hj Kamaludin as the recipe for success in recruiting and retaining the best people to pave the way for the country's sustained economic future prosperity.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin