Aerospace engineering graduate Darren Yeo did not plan to enter the offshore marine services industry. Now, after more than two decades of experience in the field, he has developed a passion for it. He climbed up the ranks to CEO and is now the Executive Vice Chairman of Vallianz Holdings, a company that provides offshore support vessels to oil and gas companies.
“Trust, respect, affirmation, determination and excellence” are the core values he holds closely. The CEO Magazine speaks with Darren regarding the ins and outs of leading such a business.
The CEO Magazine: How did you become Executive Vice Chair of Vallianz Holdings?
Darren: I was appointed as CEO of Vallianz in 2012, before assuming my position as Executive Vice Chairman in 2015. I continue to chart and drive the company’s long-term strategy and business direction together with our current CEO, Ling Yong Wah.
How does your new role differ to being CEO?
I am still busy day to day, but with a greater emphasis on corporate matters. With decades of experience in the offshore oil and gas industry, I am able to leverage my knowledge and business network to steer the company’s strategic direction and add value to the execution of growth plans. I spend time on ensuring effective management of talents in Vallianz.
I understand the capabilities of the staff and I am able to identify the roles and positions they can take on to maximise their strengths and reach their full potential.
“I form strong and healthy relationships with my staff so they feel the company is a great place to work.”
What distinguishes Vallianz from other companies in your industry?
Vallianz has grown to become one of the largest providers of offshore support vessels in the Middle East, with the backing of our controlling shareholder in Saudi Arabia. As specialists in the offshore marine field, we have strong in-house engineering and design capabilities that allow us to modify and customise our solutions according to the stringent requirements of our customers that include one of the world’s largest national oil companies.
Our commitment to service excellence also means I don’t leave liaising only to my staff; I meet clients personally and understand their needs to build strong interpersonal business relationships.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I am a hands-on person. If necessary, I’ll go down personally to our onsite operations. Our people are essential to the company. I believe in having respect at the workplace and forming trusting and healthy relationships with my staff.
I would like our people working in Vallianz to feel that the company is a great place to work, not only for money, but also because of the bond and culture we create here.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in business?
Patience and not to over-leverage your company. We don’t rush into major decisions that should be deliberated carefully alongside the company’s business objectives, resources and long-term sustainability.
We are also careful not to overreach the company, especially in light of the prevailing economic and geopolitical uncertainties.
In his spare time, Darren likes to be outdoors. His favourite place to travel is Nepal, where he can go trekking, meet interesting people and spend time admiring the mountains.
What has been your biggest achievement?
I was trained as an engineer, so I was surprised to join the offshore marine industry. To be able to make the switch from the aerospace industry into the oil and gas marine industry is a significant milestone for me.
I had to make many changes and take on a different mindset, and the people involved are different. To be able to assume a leadership position in the offshore marine industry, even though I was not in this industry in my early years, is a great achievement for me.
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