The work culture behind Petronas' success story

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KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 23): Petronas is a success story well beyond Malaysia's shores but one with global footprints.

Born out of the Petroleum Development Act in 1974, the company has evolved from the country’s oil and gas regulator to a full-fledged integrated oil and gas company with businesses throughout the oil and gas value chain.

Not resting on its laurels, the company continues to improve, thanks to a work culture that its president and chief executive officer, Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin, is very passionate about since he took the helm four years ago.

Wan Zulkiflee said the effort to inculcate the culture started when he was the chief executive officer of Petronas’ downstream business in 2012 and has been rolled out to the entire company after he assumed his current position in 2015.

“Many people can say they make good culture but the question is what is a good culture and that question not many has the answer,” he told Bernama in an interview.

He said the foundation of a good working culture started with a good working experience at the company.

“Experience will form a belief whether Petronas is a highly bureaucratic organisation or an inefficient organisation,” he said.

He said these beliefs would be translated into action that would be producing results.

Wan Zulkiflee said in addressing the good working culture questions, Petronas has highlighted six cultural beliefs that would be the integral part of the company’s good working culture vision, starting with the emphasis on results followed by focus execution.

“The third is owns it (a sense of belonging). If everybody behaves like this is their father’s company, everything will be fine,” he said.

He said the other beliefs are nurturing trust, giving feedback and sharing success which is working as a team and avoiding working in silo.

“So, even if you go to Italy or South Africa, they will fully understand what I’m talking about and it’s not only in Malaysia,” he said.

Wan Zulkiflee said the company also put great emphasis on talent development and spent around RM400 million annually on it.

He said talent development is one of four annual spendings that has been kept constant during high or low oil price cycle which also includes exploration activities, research and scholarship awarding.

Apart from the good work culture, he said Petronas is also being defined by the shared values incorporated by its previous president and chief executive officer, the late Tun Azizan Zainul Abidin who held the position from 1988 to 1995 — loyalty, professionalism and integrity.

“On integrity, we have a chief integrity officer (CIO), on secondment from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, who reports to me,” he said.

He said the CIO would organise a continuous awareness programme which is also part of Petronas’ preparation for the implementation of the Corporate Liability Provisions which come into effect on June 1, 2020, under the new Section 17A of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (Amendment) Act 2018.

Under the new legal provision, corporates can be prosecuted if they failed to prove that adequate procedures were put in place to detect, prevent and respond to bribery and corruption cases.