A s a global conglomerate with a footprint in more than 30 countries, Keppel has key businesses in the offshore and marine industries, urban living and infrastructure. It is a key player in shaping urban landscapes in Asia and a leading company in the offshore and marine industry.
All this expertise also means that Keppel is poised to usher in a more sustainable future, at a time when it is more important than ever to pursue sensible and environmentally-friendly solutions for urban development.
Berton Lim and Liang Yibin are two Keppel Group scholars who have experienced first-hand the multitude of opportunities that Keppel employees have to contribute to creating a more sustainable and efficient future. We speak to them to find out more.
A Guiding Hand
Even before they joined Keppel in earnest, both scholars were already being prepared for their future careers. Berton got to intern at five different departments at Keppel Land, including Marketing, Corporate Development, Investor Relations, Project Management, and Finance. He recalls, “My key takeaway was that while Keppel’s businesses span a truly diverse range, there is still synergy across the board. We have eight core values that are embraced across all business units and functions, namely, a “can-do” spirit, integrity, customer focus, people-centredness, safety, agility and innovation, collective strength, and accountability!”
Keppel Group Scholar
Senior Executive, Asset Performance, Keppel Land
Similarly, Yibin also had the opportunity to get more intimately acquainted with Keppel’s diverse operations through three internship stints as an undergraduate. He shares, “The first was in the Machinery Section of Keppel Shipyard, where I was involved in ship repair projects. My second internship turned out to be in the Mechanical Section of Keppel FELS, where I worked on a newly built Drilling Tender Vessel. Finally, I also interned with the Accounts and Estimating Department of Keppel FELS, which gave me exposure to a very different side of the business.”
It’s not every day that fresh graduates enter their jobs with a solid knowledge of the various aspects of their organisation’s business, but that is exactly what Keppel Group scholars have come to expect and look forward to.
And even after they start work at Keppel, the Group still continues to invest in them to ensure that its people have all the resources and support they need to thrive. For instance, Berton was sent on a one-month attachment to Tianjin, China when he first joined Keppel five years ago. “It was quite a big deal back then because it constituted a significant investment in a young employee. Later on, I learned that real estate is really a local business, and to do well, one must spend time on the ground. That realisation helped me to better appreciate the opportunity to understand first-hand the nuances of China’s real estate market!” he enthuses.
An Enriching Career
As a Senior Executive in Asset Performance at Keppel Land, Berton is part of a team that reviews and analyses the performance of Keppel’s assets in different countries. He explains, “We then prepare summaries and propose strategies for the senior management’s consideration. In addition, I am also involved in the evaluation of business development deals in new markets.”
Berton recalls times when he had to work long hours, but ultimately coming out on the other side with new skills and a keener understanding of the business. “Two years ago, a broker called us and said that they were going to put up a building for sale. The seller wanted to move fast and do an off-market deal. However, my supervisor was on holiday so I had to step up and take the lead.
“The due diligence process required 16- to 18-hour workdays a week. There were also many discussions via teleconference and further negotiations on taxes and other matters. And even though we ended up not buying the building, I learned a whole lot in the process!” he shares, smiling.
On Yibin’s end, he is currently a Senior Project Manager at the Operations Department of Keppel Shipyard. “I am responsible for overseeing the engineering, procurement, and construction of various projects. Right now, this means heading the construction of a 401-man Living Quarters for a Pipelay and Heavy Lift Vessel,” he tells us.
Of course, the job has not been without its challenges, and Yibin has his share of memorable anecdotes to relate. “One of the biggest challenges I faced was when I was leading the fabrication of an offshore oil and gas platform at Keppel Offshore and Marine’s yard in Subic in the Philippines. As it was the first platform of its kind to be fully constructed there, we had to start from scratch and develop the infrastructure, systems and even train the necessary personnel to undertake the project,” he recalls.
“I consider it a point of pride that we eventually managed to successfully deliver the project to our client, thanks to the strong support of our management in Singapore and the good working relationship we had with our counterparts in the Philippines!”
Keppel Group Scholar
Senior Project Manager, Keppel Shipyard Limited
A Bright Future
Keppel knows that it can only succeed if its employees succeed as well, which is why it has dedicated so much time and resources to helping new talents transition into the organisation. Berton never felt out of place at Keppel because of its open, collaborative, and innovative culture. He says warmly, “I have had four supervisors to date and we have always been able to share our views openly and look out for each other. It is this collegial spirit that makes Keppel a home to many of us here.
“Furthermore, scholars and new employees are invited to company events across the Group and this helps us to understand the business better. For example, Keppel Land has an annual staff conference that gives scholars a platform to network and learn. Scholars are also partnered with senior staff who mentor us and provide the necessary guidance. The best part is that we are also able to offer input on our job placements and training programmes, so it is very much a collaborative experience.”
Yibin concurs, saying, “All of Keppel’s scholars undergo a modular training programme, which consists of on-the-job rotations amongst various departments and classroom-based learning at accredited training institutions. To guide us along, we are assigned mentors who are able to share advice gleaned from years of experience.”
When it comes to the next generation of Keppel scholars, Yibin also has a few words of parting advice. “Aspiring Keppel scholars should truly relish a good challenge. They should also have a people-centric attitude and have a global mindset as we operate on a global scale. More importantly, they should make every effort to understand Keppel better – perhaps by attending information sessions and speaking to company representatives – before committing to the organisation,” he concludes.