Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Liew Mun Leong’s Advice in Career & Life

I was reading “The Edge Magazine” over the weekend and come across an article detailing the speech of Mr. Liew Mun Leong to some 400 NUS graduates. Mr. Liew is the current chairman of Changi Airport Group and ex-CEO of CapitaLand. He is rated one of the most successful CEO in this region. In 2000, he became the founding President and CEO of CapitaLand limited (merger between Pidemco & DBS Land), and later built it into one of Asia’s largest Real Estate Companies.   

For more about Mr. Liew Mun Leong, refer to here and here.

I had extracted key points of the article as follows, which summarizes Mr. Liew’s advice in career and life for young graduates.

Build Your Core Competencies

“Choose the first job to develop your core competencies in order to build something solid on which you can develop a recognizable strong foundation."

“Don’t immediately think about monetary incentives! They will come your way later.”

For e.g. Mr. Liew is an Civil engineer by training and started his career as an engineer to build camps, infrastructure, airports, apartments, shopping malls and hotels. Later the business community recognized his worth and he became CEO for Real Estate company where his engineering knowledge and management skills is put to good use.

Focus on Job Performance, Not Quick Career Climb – Be Patient

“Be Patient in your job. It is encouraging if you have big ambitions, but take your time. Most of you will have 40 years or more in your working life. Unless, of course you plan to retire very early in your 40s, when you should ordinarily speaking still be peaking. It would be wasteful if you choose to stop work prematurely, since so much human capital has been invested in you. And believe me, you will be bored to death if you let up too early in life. There is no need to rush to peak in your career climb.”

“Life is not about rushing to your final destination and then doing nothing. It is the journey that matters.”

“Take your time, enjoy your work and career journey. I have witnessed many talented people peaking very early in their life and sadly, failing off just as soon.”

“Do not ever take short cuts and always dream or plan how to get the next promotion or become the next CEO. Many times, you will probably end up doing worse or doing the wrong things in life.”

Mr. Liew also advised that in our first job, we should stay focused, learn and perfect our skills. He advocates to create value for yourself and become a competent and capable professional. To add further, he emphasized that we must “always build to invest in our own human capital.”

Stay Disciplined

“Develop strong discipline in whatever you do. I believe you cannot do anything great or achieve much in life if you don’t have strong personal discipline. I have not come across a CEO who has no personal discipline.”

“When I job-interview young people, I find that not many do their regular exercise and they don’t read enough. Many confess that they don’t even read the local papers. No time, no interest, or just no discipline.”

“Only when you conduct yourself with discipline, then you can impose disciple on others…”

Mr. Liew at age 69, still get up at 6am daily to job 5-6km to keep fit and healthy. He also read 2 local and 3 international papers every morning, before going to office.

Adopt and Stick to Your Core Values

“Good core values can serve as a moral compass when you have to make decisions in your job. It is your DNA. When you become more senior in your job, you will have learn to exercise discretion in lots of important decisions, sometimes in circumstances which are not clearly black or white. Your core values should guide you in your judgements and decisions. You will at least know what are the absolute no-nos.”

“Never, never touch money which is not yours.”

“Better be poor but proud” – Philip Yeo (Perm Sec)

Mr. Liew think that universal core value is “High Integrity”. He had seen many bright talents broken down in their career and life, because their integrity is compromised.

Build Your Character, Not Just Resume

Mr. Liew recommended books such as “The Road to Character” from David Brooks, a philosophical journalist.

“You will finally be judged by other people not only on your abilities, which contribute to external success, but also on the worth of your character – ‘Eulogy Virtues’.” – David Brooks

“Eulogy virtues will ultimately define your inner life.”

Your Working Mindset – 5Ps
  1. Paranoia
  2. Perseverance
  3. Perfectionism
  4. Passion
  5. Pragmatism

1. Paranoia

In Singapore, it is known as Kiasu and Kiasi, which Mr. Liew thinks it is nothing to be ashamed because  being paranoia forces him to plan ahead to deal with even the most remotely possible adversity. It also forces him to also foresee unexpected but large impactful events, which economists call “black swans.”

2. Perseverance

Mr. Liew advised that we should not give up too easily and achievements take time and sustainable efforts.

“I recall being patient in my first job, which was, I must admit, very boring. I didn’t really like doing a maintenance job in Mindef, but I persevered, learnt from it and got promoted and progressed. On hindsight, I did learn something from persevering in the first few years of doing a maintenance job.”

3. Perfectionism

“To me, being a perfectionist does not necessary mean you will get complete perfection. It means striving to get the best results, give the set of circumstances you have to deal with.”

“The question for perfectionist to always ask is whether his work can be improved or can he get an even better outcome. Sloppiness and carelessness have no place in great achievements.”

4. Passion

“If you don’t have passion for what you do, don’t do it. Quit and do something else. If you don’t have passion, you will not be a perfectionist and you can’t persevere.”

5. Pragmatism

“Pragmatism is about finding practical solutions to problems without blind adherence to doctrines, mantra or ideology, and yet be uncompromising in your values system.”

Mr. Liew mentioned both Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and Mr. Lee Hsien Loong have highlighted the need of pragmatism for Singapore to survive.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

O&M Companies – If No Rig or OSV Orders, Then What? Specialized Vessels?

This month Keppel O&M and Semb Marine had announced orders of US$770mil and US$1bil respectively. Keppel was awarded FLNG and liftboat orders while Semb Marine was awarded a Heavy lift Semi-Sub Crane Vessel. For the two leading O&M companies in Singapore, these are orders after some very quiet 2015 so far when order intake is concern.

The last time Keppel O&M announced order intake was in January this year when they were awarded a S$265mil contract to build an ice class vessel and S$65mil contract to build an Anchor Handling Tug and providing of technical services for the construction of a liftboat. As for Semb Marine, the only other order for the year was a FSO conversion contract worth S$56mil.

Exploration Halted
The number of Oil Rigs required is closely related to the capital expenditure (Capex) programs of Oil companies. Due to the low oil price, capex and other exploration works on new fields all come to a halt. So SGX listed O&M rig builders such as Keppel O&M, Semb Marine, Cosco etc will continue to feel the pressure of NO Rig orders.

With oversupply of oil rigs, Offshore Support Vessels (OSV)’s demand also dropped in parallel drastically. OSVs typically include vessels such as Anchor Handling Towing Supply Vessels (AHTS) and Platform Support Vessels (PSV) etc. Similarly, we will also see less offshore construction work, due to the low levels of new oil field developments.

Specialized Vessels!

So as alternative, yards will be counting on specialized vessels. What are specialized vessels, and why are they still in demand?

Operational & Maintenance activities Ramped Up
To compensate for the low oil price, production of oil has to increase. Therefore specialized vessels are employed to support the operational/production and maintenance side of the oil and gas value chain.

Floating Production Storage Offload (FPSO) vessels will store and process the extracted crude oil of existing oil wells, before the processed oil is transferred to a shutter tanker. Then there will be Pipelay vessels that lay offshore pipes to transfer oil and gas from one place to another. With almost little or no new developments of oil fields, older oil fields will need maintenance or well stimulation to increase production. Liftboat, Well Stimulation Vessels, Diving Support Vessels or Multi-purpose vessels will then be needed.

Fleet Renewal
Some ship owners may also take this opportunity to renew their older fleet at an attractive price. This is the case for Hereema when they awarded the US$1bil contract to Semb Marine just this month, mentioned earlier.

Anyway, I have included below some of the specialized vessels and their typical contract value.

Disclaimer: The values of these vessels provided below, are very rough indications use as a guideline only. The actual values vary depending on the specifications of the vessels and the complexity of the main equipment installed onboard.

FLNG / FPSO / FSO conversions
FLNG conversion ~ US$700mil
FPSO conversion ~ US$100mil and above
FSO conversion ~ US$100mil and below

FPSO (source: Modec)

Heavy Lift Crane / Pipelay Vessel
~ US$300mil to US$1bil

Heavy lift Crane / Pipelay Vessel (source: Hereema)

Reel Lay Vessel (source: Technip)

Flexible Pipelay Vessel (source: SapuraKencana)

~ US$60mil and above
Refer to Rolf Suey’s article “LiftBoat Lifting Expectations?

Cablelay Vessel
~ US$50-100mil

Cablelay Vessel (source: Van Oord)

Windfarm Installation Vessel

Windfarm Installation Vessel (source: Deme-group)

Multi-Purpose Support Vessel

Multi-purpose Vessel (source: Bourbon) 

Well Stimulation Vessel

Well Intervention Vessel (source: Island Offshore)

Diving Support Vessel
~US$80mil and above

Diving Support Vessel (source: Subsea 7) 

Rolf’s Summary

Even if there is still demand for specialized vessels, it is inevitable that the numbers of vessels required will be greatly muted in the current pessimistic O&G environment. Furthermore, profit margins will be squeezed since there will be so many shipbuilders chasing for the so little newbuild vessels projects.

Related Posts:

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Dave Ulrich – Father of Modern Human Resource

I was reading Business Times today and in the Raffles Conversation, an article caught my attention. I always love to read about Biography of successful people and hear what they have to say. So in this article, I unearthed another guy that I kind of admire judging from what he said. He is “David Olson Ulrich (born 1953) – the Father of Modern HR and also RBL Group, Co-founder and Professor, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.

You can read more about him here.

Let’s hear what he has to say, extracted from Business Times' Raffles Conversation section. 

About Employees

“The most strategic HR tactic is to place your worst performing employee in your competitor, and tell that employee to keep doing what they are doing.”

The most important question “are you retaining your best employees?”

Impact Vs Growth

“We’ve decided that growth is not what we’re after. We want to have impact. And (40 partners) is a number we can manage right now, and it seems to work.”

“RBL doesn’t have to exist. If we didn’t exist as a company, the world will go on – Singapore would produce products, America would produce enemies. The reason we exist is very simple: to help our clients be more successful. (We exist to be at the forefront of) thought leadership, and to ask: “what are some ways of thinking that will help the companies that we serve better serve their clients?’”

The liability of Success

“…that when you are successful, you grow and you succeeded and you think that what got you success in the past will get you success in future. That’s not always true.”

Half Life of Knowledge

“50 percent of what you know is out of date. For eg I’m a professor, I give presentations with handouts. My rule of thumb is every 2.5 to 3 years, I should have 50% new material. Because if I am not re-generating fresh ideas, then I am teaching what was appropriate for the past and not the future.”

“When you are successful, you tend to not push yourself to do new things.” The ultimate price of such laurel-resting, as many now-defunct firms know, is complete obliteration.”

“The facts speak for themselves. According to a research by American Enterprise Institute (AEI), only 12.2% of the Fortune 500 companies in 1955 were still in the list in 2014.”

Good Leaders

“But good leaders help their employees to recognize the causes for the change. They don’t impose change, but engage employees in the change; they help employees discover the changes are actually to their benefit.”

“If you choose to engage with the changes around you, then obviously you’ll be more successful and have more opportunities. But if you can’t adapt to the changes, we’re not going to be able to keep you – not because I say so but because that’s what the market requires.”

The 20-60-20 rule

“It’s fair to say that in almost any profession, 20% are exceptional, 20% are terrible, and 60% are in the middle. So if someone wants to find bad HR departments, I can lead you right to them. But I can also lead you to the good ones as well.”

“what I’m actually most interested is neither extreme. The good people don’t need my help, and the bad people won’t take my help. It’s the middle 60% that I really want to help.”

HR is not About HR

“HR is not about HR – it’s about the business. When a HR person meets with a business leader, their 1st question should be: ‘How do we win at this business – how to we better serve our customers, how do we make profit for investors?’”

“Once we get those criteria laid out then we say; ‘If we’re going to win this business by getting more revenue from customers – by share of wallet, stomach, home, or whatever it is – what does that mean for our people? What kind of people do we need to hire, what kind of skills our leaders need?’”

“If we can start a HR discussion by the business, then a HR department is the enabler of delivering business results. What I tell business leaders that, they say: ‘Oh, HR is here to help me do my job better.’ And that is absolutely right.”

The Positive Approach of Advisory

‘Lots of people who do advisory say” ‘You’re wrong.’ What I love to say now is” ‘Let me show you how you can do better.’ Some prophets tell people they are going to hell, other prophets tell people how to get to heaven. I’d rather be the prophet that tells people how to get to heaven, because I think that’s positive approach change, rather than “If you don’t change, you’re in trouble.”

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

To Plan OR Not to Plan?

After being extremely busy at work for past months, it’s finally time for a deserved break away from work this week. Thanks to also Hari Raya holiday, I am able to have a 10-day long stay home/Singapore vacation. Frankly, I cannot remember when was the last I took a long leave not to have overseas tour.

In the past, I will think that it is a waste to take leave not to have an overseas tour. And taking leave by staying in Singapore also means working at home too, sometimes. 

Now I think differently. Taking leave is an equivalent of “recharging” of battery. Forget entirely about work during this recharge period, focus on doing the things you like and being with the people you enjoy with.

The question arises. To Plan or Not to Plan for this 10-days break?

Definition of Planning

Before we dive into this topic, let us explore the formal definition of “planning”. According to Wikipedia,

“Planning (also called forethought) is the process of thinking about and organizing the activitiess required to achieve a desired goal. It involves the creation and maintenance of a plan, such as psychological aspects that require conceptual skills. There are even a couple of tests to measure someone’s capability of planning well. As such, planning is a fundamental property of intelligent behavior.”

Equally important to planning is the word “Forecasting”, commonly used also in the investment world. Let us see what the difference between both terms.
  • Planning predicts what the future should look like for multiple scenarios.
  • Forecasting can be described as predicting what the future will look like.

To Plan or Not to Plan?

Now back to the question of plan or not for my stay in SG vacation. Looking at the definition of “Planning” and making fundamental re-arrangements as follows.

1) Intelligent behaviour  2) Think  3) Goal 4) Conceptual 5) Organise

So Planning is an intelligent behaviour. Being an organise person, and since I love to be intelligent, then I better plan. LOL.

Don’t Plan at All
Anyhow, I have to agree that sometimes, the most fun things happen in life when you do not plan at all and enjoy the unexpected surprises.

But maybe not appropriate for me this time, since the main objective of this short break is NOT themed “adventurous” or “doing nothing”! Again it relates to your primary aim and how many people are involved.

Ask yourself the below two questions underlined!

What is My Goal?
Since I am traveling due to work for most of the time in the last few months, my primary goal for this week is to :

1) Have leisure time with my wife, just the two of us 
2) Spend time with kids, relatives and friends 
3) Have my own time to do the things I like

Who is Involves?
If it just involves myself, then planning is of lesser significance, since I can decide whatever I want to do, even on the day itself without being responsible to anyone.

“I like to walk, I walk… I like to sit…I sit, I like to run, I run.”

But it’s not the case for me! I have my family, relatives and friends to contend with.

This is when planning is usually more relevant and important when the impact is bigger and more people are involved.

So in this case, I need to plan for this break.

Simple Plan

A good plan is a simple plan!

Always relate back to the fundamental goal. We do not want to achieve too many things a day.

Plan not more than 3 main “things of satisfaction” for a day.

If my priority is time with my wife, focus on time with my wife and ignore on all the fanciful additions to that day.

For e.g. a simple movie and dinner will just do very well at a relaxed pace. DO NOT EVER RUSH, and try to squeeze as many things as possible in that day. It will backfire because you will be tired. You are not in a competition to see who can finish the most number of different things in a day.

If it is time with kids, a swim or jog or walk in the park together with them more than enough. You probably do not even need to bring them to the most sophisticated water theme park, because your ultimate objective is to spend time with them. Unless your aim is you want your kids to experience the “new theme park” then it is different.

Furthermore, if it is just 2 to 3 things to achieve in a day, it is definitely easier to attain to provide you a good sense of satisfaction.

Remember: “Focus, Prioritise and Keep it simple.”

Don't Over Plan  

Do not over-plan such as drafting a detail time table with hourly time slots for what I am going to do for each day throughout the week.

It is going to be stressful to meet all targets, since things can change to disrupt the schedules. The weather, your health, the traffic etc all can be unpredictable. It will also be too time consuming to set up an excel spreadsheet to include all the time slots too. It is NOT Necessary Really!.

Similarly as Parents, we should not give our kids a rigid and compact time-table to adhere or one enrichment class after another during weekends or holidays. It will not do your kids any good.

Backup Plan – It is in the Mind

Some people says, it is important to have a backup plan. I totally agree. But backup plan is only as useful as a positive mind.

For instance, you have planned for an Outdoor Sentosa Island getaway. Unfortunately it rains before you left your house.  Or maybe even worst, the moment you reach Sentosa, it started to rain. Then the traffic starts to get massively heavy, your kids start to whine….moods turn bad and you start blaming your partner that he or she should have check the weather earlier, or should have had backup plan that if it rains we should go to another indoor escapade immediately. You were fuming that everything just goes wrong.

In most cases, whatever backup plans you have is not going to help if it is the mind is controlling all the emotions.

If you have a positive mind, you will think “so what if it rains? As long as the family is together!” or “this is even more fun as we brave the rain like never before” or “whole family starts singing in the car during a traffic jam!”

My Simple & Focus Plan 

Ok, enough of long-windedness, below is my plan for the week.

Fri (Hari Raya) – Family Eat Eat Eat
- Dim sum breakfast for my whole family. Mother in law love dim sum. She had been working hard while the helper is not around.
- Shopping for my kids’ stuffs
- Steamboat dinner at home! 

Sat – Relatives Gathering
- Housework
- Bring mum, aunties, cousins, and family for Zi Char dinner. Then drop by my aunt place.

Sun – Time for Inner Peace
- Wife and kids go church, while I go for a haircut. 
- Family jogging to nearby park
- Family dinner nearby

Mon – Romantic Time for Me and Wife
- Movie time. Me and wife only.
- Catch up with my ex-boss - a retiree who is active in church work. Wife is joining. 
- Japanese dinner with wife

Tue – Time for Myself and Friends
- Wife working. Time alone for myself to relax.
- Catch up with my ex-boss and his son.

Wed – Family Adventure
- River Safari! 

Thu – Nostalgic Hobbies for Me & Wife
- Shopping

Fri – Relax Mind and Body
- Massage session with wife 

Sat – No plans yet

Sun - Go to airport to fetch our helper

For flexibility sake, in between daily schedules, I will slot in the below-mentioned activities, as and when I like, or as and when time permits.  

- Exercising (gym, swim or jog)
- Reading & Coffee 
- Blogging 
- Listening to music
- Talking to my kids
- Dinner, groceries and “Walk Walk” at nearby mall

Rolf’s Summary

So to plan or not, in my opinion, we can probably consider:
  • What are our objectives?
  • Who are involved?
  • Simple plan – focus on less than 3 main things daily that can bring satisfaction
  • Positive mind is most important
  • Have flexibility in the schedules

Essentially, this post is also for us to reflect if sometimes our investments, career or even in our life, did we actually over plan so much that we are forgetting what our fundamental objectives or priorities are.

Below some pictures from River Safari. 

Saturday, 18 July 2015

A Test! - So What If He is Financially Rich?

Let's do a fun test to see what and how we feel if we were to compare to people who are so call better than us in many aspects. Be it their lifestyle, wealth, health, knowledge or experiences. 

For simplicity, Mr. or he narrated here can also mean Ms. or she. 

Mr. X - The Financial Literate

Assuming Mr. X stays in HDB, does not own car, normal employee in the day with median household income. Frugal and contended, X has a happy family and a healthy lifestyle. He saves, invests and seeing his annual financial portfolio grow each year so far, has made him really proud. To enrich himself, Mr. X reads and blogs regularly. To add icing to the cake, Mr. X-variance may even have a 7-figure portfolio with 6-figure passive income. For some reasons, he also likes to announce his portfolio, his stock buy, and passive income in his blog.

Hmmm... Mr. X sound pretty much like ourselves in this blogosphere! It is no denial that in terms of financial knowledge alone, Mr. X belongs to the upper echelon compared to most, or at least, this is what he likes to be thought of as.

Mr. X then gets to know about Mr. Y for the first time.

Mr. Y - The Enlightened

Mr./Ms Y is younger than him, also a salaried employee but did not reveal specific details of his occupation or income. Mr. Y is a man of humility and hate to compare, but somehow during a conversation, Mr. X knows that Mr. Y lives in a big house, owns luxury car, buy relatively expensive but quality products. Mr. Y also has a healthy lifestyle, happy family and good career. As a matter of fact, Y is also well learnt, save, invests and have little or manageable debts. 

Assume it is unknown to Mr. X if Mr. Y is financial savvy or if he is using leverage to attain his current lifestyle. Then IMAGINE you are MR. X.

Upon knowing Mr. Y for the first time, what is the first thought that comes into your mind? 

Choose options A, B or C, whichever closest to your thinking.

It is going to intriguing but please be truthful.

Option A – Jealous & Think I Am Better
You start to think "so what, if he is having a bigger house, drives a bigger car! Aiyah…he most likely anyhow spends, leverages his finance and knows nothing about saving and investments. I am frugal, save regularly, knowledgeable about investments. I am definitely better than him. I feel good about myself and am going to write a blog article on the (assumingly) foolish and financial ignorant Mr. Y tonight!”

Ok… it is human nature to always wanted to outperform the other. The sourness kick in once you hear that he lives a better material life and yet younger than you. Then you start to console yourself by thinking that he probably knows nothing about personal finance and use debts to leverage his current lifestyle.

In fact and maybe aside from the house, car and better career, Mr. Y can be more financial savvy than you do, has no debts and a bigger and profitably portfolio with a large backup warchest all built up by himself without parents help. The only difference is he prefers not to announce in his Blog as he does not see the need. Mr. Y prefers to focus on himself and his family, continuous learning but dislike comparison.

Option B – Inquisitive & Learn
You find that Mr. Y is an interesting person and will like to know more about him. The conversation deepens, you realize aside from his material wealth, he is humble and posses knowledge and experience. He work hard and for some reasons, earn his first pot of gold earlier in his life. You further learn that Mr. Y is actually frugal despite his “on surface” spending. He spent on condo/landed properties with reasons of enjoying the facilities now (which he used frequently) and as a form of investments into the future particularly in land-scarce S’pore. He appreciates quality, which explains the spending within his means for certain things such as car, watch and other wants.

You think to yourself “wow, why don’t I find out more how he does it so splendidly well! Maybe if relevant I can also learn or add some flavor to my current life! If it is not relevant, then I can take it positively as a good example to remember and continue to enjoy what I am doing now!”

Option C – “Bo Chup!”
Listen and forget. Totally not interested and nonchalant. Continue to live each day, as it is.

Rolf’s Summary

So which options resemble the most your thinking?

This test is meant to "help" and not to "poke"!

It allows us to reflect our thinking and be extremely open-minded.

Words to My Children
I encouraged you to focus on yourself and your family and things you can change.

Stop comparing, envy or being jealousy! It only deepens and reveals our inferior complex more. Even if you do not think so, but subconsciously you already did!

“Know Yourself”, “Find Your Passion”, and “Invest in Yourself”

Eventually you will live an enriched life, whether being frugal or not, or whether if you know how to invest in financial instruments or not, no longer matter. For, your self-consciousness, positive-ness and continuously learning attitude somehow will automatically solve all problems that arise.