Multinational corporations (MNCs) have always been an important element of the Malaysian economy ever since the country embarked on industrialisation from a generally agrarian society. Panasonic, Toyota, Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive and Nestlé are some household names known to most Malaysians.
In terms of economic contribution, MNCs have not only provided a steady stream of revenue to the government in taxes, but have also been important providers of highly skilled jobs.
And there is much more. These international firms, many of them with strong presence in Kuala Lumpur (KL), also provide employees a chance to gain global experiences through overseas job postings and other means. They enhance the value of the workers. They infuse in them skills and expertise that can literally transform some of them.
Here are some stories of transformation of Malaysians engaged with MNCs.
“I was the only one there who could not speak Portuguese and there were not many women colleagues around. It was a very interesting experience and trying to understand the bits and pieces of what was going on,” recalls Anniza Soh from Schlumberger Ltd. In 2012, she was posted to Brazil.
“Coming from a small town in Malaysia to being someone in the engineering field mainly dominated by males, it was a good feeling. So the opportunity to come back and serve Malaysia was an opportunity to give back to the country what they had given me in the first place,” said the testing and process field services manager.
A Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) scholar who pursued her degree at Universiti Teknologi Petronas, Soh joined an expert programme with Schlumberger in 2006. Her first posting was to Qatar where she served as a junior field engineer for three and half years, before being made a general field manager in 2011.
She is contented with her job and sees it as a good platform to excel.
“Right now I am doing a field manager position, which is a ‘hot seat’ in Schlumberger. This is where you will grow, where the learning curve is steep,” she said.
Oil and gas (O&G) technology services firm Schlumberger has a long presence in the country. In 2010, it launched a financial hub in Malaysia. The presence of the hub in Malaysia drove a major transformation in how the company provides financial support to its operating business managers in the O&G industry.
Another example of an MNC developing a local talent is Jonathan Pereira from Service-Source International Inc. ServiceSource is a global company operating in eight countries with over 3,000 employees supporting more than 60 clients in some 35 different languages.
For Pereira, the company is a great place to work at with good opportunities for career advancement.
“The centre started in 2010 with 20 employees. Directors from San Francisco were impressed with what Malaysia can offer — a good pool of talents. This is also one of the reasons why they continue to invest here. Six years later, the company grew rapidly and the number of employees jumped to 600 from 20 when it first started,” said Pereira, an operations manager at the company.
He said employees also stand to benefit from the active exchange of knowledge from abroad.
ServiceSource provides business-to-business (B2B) companies with expertise, technology-enabled solutions and best-practice processes to grow and retain revenue from existing customers. With a holistic approach to the entire revenue lifecycle, ServiceSource solutions help companies drive customer adoption, expansion and renewal.
Honeywell: Stepping Up
A similar “growth” story also emerged from Honeywell International Inc. Chia Mei-Yin, a regional sales director, said the company provides her an excellent platform for career enrichment and advancement.
“Honeywell provides an excellent platform. Our vision is to be as close to our customers as possible. With this vision, we are growing as fast as we can in the region where we have business; and Malaysia is one of them,” she said.
Starting as an account manager, she has moved up the ladder, being promoted to lead major projects for the region within a period of less than two years.
“Malaysia has a good talent pool and is competitive. On leadership, we need more Malaysians to step up and hold more leadership roles in MNCs,” Chia said.
Honeywell is a technology and manufacturing company. Its businesses are involved in aerospace, home and building technologies, performance materials and technologies, and safety and productivity solutions.
Honeywell started its
operations in Malaysia in 1985. It currently employs over 1,450 employees in six cities across Malaysia, namely Kuala Lumpur, Petaling
Jaya, Shah Alam, Penang, Kemaman and Johor Bahru.
The KL Magnate
The expansion of the likes of Schlumberger, ServiceSource and Honeywell to KL involves InvestKL, a government agency driving the investments of MNCs in KL.
Set up in 2011, InvestKL has successfully attracted 64 MNCs with a total approved and committed investments of RM8.9 billion. The investments have created more than 9,300 regional highly skilled jobs, according to statistics from the agency.
These included 13 MNCs which InvestKL secured in 2016, with RM3 billion in approved and committed investments, and a creation of 1,863 regional jobs. The MNCs are from Europe (five), Asia-Pacific and Gulf regions (five), and the US (three).
Among the 13 MNCs that have established regional centres in KL are Switzerland’s Novartis International AG (global service centre); the US’ Oracle Corp (inside sales and business development hub for Asia Pacific) and Oceaneering International Inc (regional head office for Asia Pacific); German-
headquartered Voith GmbH (Asean regional centre and centre of competence);
Spanish-based Técnicas Reunidas SA (regional hub for Asia Pacific); and China’s Amer International Group (commodity trading hub).
In just six years from 2011-2016, RM3.2 billion or 36% of the RM8.9 billion investments have been realised. In addition, 5,233 or 56% of the 9,335 high-skilled regional jobs are already on the payroll. Of these, 4,318 or 83% employed are Malaysians with an average annual income of RM114,000.
For 2017, InvestKL’s target is to attract 10 MNCs.
With more MNCs coming to KL, we can expect more transformation taking place in the vibrant metropolis, and the cultivation of more bright local talents to emerge in the various scenes, from engineering to technology.
Of course, it is not an overnight process. It is a marathon, not a sprint. And KL continues to be in the running.