Attracting talent to certain industries can sometimes be a challenge.
One such industry is energy. And for PETRONAS Digital, a division of Kuala Lumpur-based PETRONAS Group, the recruitment challenge is even more acute. Digitally talented job seekers, whom PETRONAS Digital aims to recruit, have a menu of choices in a world of exciting and innovative tech startups.
It’s an issue recognized by Vice President of Group Technology & Commercialization (formerly CEO of PETRONAS Digital) Aadrin Azly.
If there is an industry that is going to play a critical role in making a difference toward this climate and energy challenge, then it’s energy companies.
“Energy companies are no longer popular. Youngsters don’t feel they are the most attractive proposition,” he admits. “And when digital talent looks at employment opportunities, more often than not it’s the Googles of the world that come to mind, or maybe Grab or one of the other startups. That’s what attracts people.”
Yet Azly is convinced that PETRONAS Digital has advantages that, once articulated to potential recruits, fires their imagination.
According to Azly, in contrast to startups, the company has a multitude of “live assets”, which he likens to a “really big playground”.
“When we speak to talent, what excites them is the ability to test their solutions across the many assets we have across many geographical locations and multiple businesses,” he tells The CEO Magazine. “With a startup you almost have to approach another company to deploy your solution. Here it’s all in our own backyard, so you can test and experiment with live assets.”
Attacking climate change
In addition, working in the energy sector can mean contributing to one of the planet’s most pressing concerns – solving the climate crisis.
“If there is an industry that is going to play a critical role in making a difference toward this climate and energy challenge, then it’s energy companies. That is the value proposition that we’re trying to put forward.”
To engage with potential and current employees, PETRONAS has created an internal digital academy to reskill its workforce, Azly says. In addition, the company last year launched its BeDigital Bootcamp, a two-week program designed to prepare and upskill graduates for the job market.
Many of the participants land jobs at either PETRONAS or with its partners.
All businesses are transforming, but for the energy sector, the rate of change and these existential decisions that we need to face, it’s even greater.
Given the importance of the subject, the conversation often returns to clean energy, and the quest for net zero carbon emissions.
PETRONAS has plans to achieve that target by 2050, an aspiration that will lean heavily on the digital platform to measure each piece of machinery and each emission. It will become “the single source of truth for our emissions,” observes Azly.
While the pressing need to shift to green energy is paramount, so is making it both affordable and available. To that end, Azly believes its portfolio will not exclusively be green energy and green fuels. Fossil fuels will remain an integral part of the mix.
“The question is, how can we make fossil fuel cleaner and more energy efficient? All businesses are transforming, but for the energy sector, the rate of change and these existential decisions that we need to face, it’s even greater,” he says. “We need to redefine ourselves, and because of this the ability for companies to look at digital and technology becomes a lot more profound.”
Though the need for change is clear, Azly says strategic clarity will outweigh all other considerations. Much is said about fast execution, but without clarity, it can all turn sour, he says.
“A lot of people believe strategy is the easy part and implementation is where the real challenge is,” he says. “But most of the time you trip yourself up during implementation because the strategy is not clear. I’m a stickler for clarity and want everyone to understand the strategy. It needs to be simple enough for people to be able to tell their parents when they go home.”
I provide the clarity of direction, remove bottlenecks, but then I let the experts execute without breathing down their neck.
That, Azly adds, is where his true management skill set lies: drawing up and overseeing a transparent and clear vision that the workforce can understand and buy into. Experts in the workforce will look after the rest.
“I’m not a digital guy, I’m really not, but I don’t have to be,” he says. “I’m a big believer in surrounding yourself with smarter people than me. I provide the clarity of direction, remove bottlenecks, but then I let the experts execute without breathing down their neck. I give them space to do what they do.”