Go Beyond

by Melinda Tan

McDermott Asia Pacific’s Senior Manager Human Resources, Noor Hakimah Mohd Ghazali believes that the key to success is adaptability. She shares how this is encouraged within the organisation and how it has helped her in many aspects of her career.

With 30 years of work experience, we can safely say that Noor Hakimah Mohd Ghazali speaks with a wealth of knowledge with regard to career success. Hakimah herself has gone through an interesting career path where her first job was in finance in a newly set-up government-linked corporation. A graduate from Bradley University, Illinois, USA in Accounting, initially she planned to grow her career in the finance and accounting field. “However, there were a lot of HR initiatives and development to be established then, and my boss put his trust in me to take up the role,” she shares.

This is why Hakimah subscribes to the values of adaptability and continuous learning for success. After all she did a lot of it in her first role, picking up new skills and knowledge as the organisation grew. “Adapting to change and being flexible are key in staying relevant and staying employed,” says Hakimah, who since then has moved on to roles from the financial services industry to the oil and gas industry more than a decade ago. She joined McDermott Asia Pacific as the Senior Manager Human Resources in late 2015.

Being flexible early in her career is how Hakimah ended up in her current position at McDermott Asia Pacific. Her role in HR then motivated Hakimah to pursue her MBA at the University of Hull, United Kingdom in the same area. When she moved to the oil and gas industry, Hakimah decided to dedicate her career to HR, explaining that doing so has given her the opportunity to really focus on the issue at heart.

“It is exciting when you are directly involved in participating in shaping and influencing the organisation’s development and growth when it comes to its human capital – from talent acquisition to talent management and retention. When you work in an industry as dynamic as oil and gas, it is crucial for HR to be fluid and responsive to adapt to changing workforce needs and demographics, especially when we are managing multiple projects with different sizes in different locations. Attracting the right talent for successful delivery of our projects and assigning people across the globe on a timely basis are part of the challenges,” says Hakimah.

As someone who has been in HR for most of her career, it is apt to ask Hakimah this question: How does Malaysian talent compare to the rest of Asia Pacific?

She says, “Malaysia has a very good talent pool for highly skilled professionals and is able to attract multinational companies like McDermott to invest and grow their business in Malaysia. Our country has been investing in education to develop its home-grown skilled workforce. Malaysians are capable of taking up professional and technical roles.”

Hakimah shares that McDermott brings global technology, global organisation and capabilities, and optimises resource locally. The Houston, Texas based company operates in 54 locations, and in Asia Pacific it has major operations in Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. Kuala Lumpur is the regional headquarters for the Asia Pacific region, and since moving its corporate headquarters from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur in 2016, the company has grown from just 50 employees to 1,000.

As a talent and competency focused company, McDermott is putting in a lot of effort and focus in providing its talent with the competencies to be competitive. The fully integrated provider of engineering, construction and technology solutions to the energy industry after all is dealing with complicated technologies made even more complex with the new digital transformation that is taking over all industries today.

“Our employees continually learn and apply new skills, which is the foundation of achieving the company’s vision to be a leader of global engineering and construction. We believe everyone can help each other learn. The McDermott learning approach is a combination of special projects, mentoring and coaching, job rotations, workshops, presentations, in-house training, professional development discussions, and team lunch-and-learn events. Together these methods are designed to foster functional and technical excellence, encourage teamwork, promote McDermott values and enhance the ability to deliver results,” says Hakimah.

Currently, the company is focused on increasing female participation in this highly technical profession, especially at the management level, via several initiatives. For starters, it has increased its intake of young female engineers into its graduate engineer development programme. Recently, McDermott relaunched its Global Women’s Network programme, with a renewed focus on delivering professional development activities and opportunities to strengthen networks for all women in McDermott who have an interest. It also runs an Advancing Women Leaders programme that focuses on developing women into leadership roles in the company.

In her role, Hakimah is the gatekeeper who determines the quality of talent at McDermott in Kuala Lumpur. So what does she look out for? The right attitude with strong motivation for success, on top of technical know-how, she shares. “Interpersonal skills and a positive work attitude are significant contributors to a person’s career success. Always be on top of things no matter what you do. In whatever field you are in, there’s always new technology, new processes, new methods to learn. Evolve together, with change comes opportunity.”

On top of that, she shares her three principles in life that she believes will help young graduates go far: “Believe in the power of attraction – know what you want, always have the end in mind and this will draw you towards your goals. Also, always do and give more, and never be calculating. This itself is the driver for success. The more you give, the more you will get. Finally, always do good and take good care of your parents.”

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