AS the first Malaysian managing director of brewery giant Heineken Malaysia Bhd , much will be expected of Roland Bala, the 53-year-old Sarawakian who assumed the role six months ago.
His task would be to not only maintain Heineken Malaysia’s leading market share in the local beer market but also consistently try to do better than its competitor Carlsberg Brewery Malaysia Bhd .
Going by Roland’s track record though, heading Heineken Malaysia through its next course seems like a role he was destined for.
As a young boy, Roland had to brave the elements and environment. Growing up in a small village in Sarawak, Bala had to travel far each day for his education.
That hardship and determination had served him well as he displayed the traits of not wanting to fail, when he secured his very first job.
Roland, along with his university classmates, had applied for the management trainee position at British Petroleum (BP).
When he found out that he was not selected for the job interview, Roland then thumbed through Yellow Pages and called up the office of BP.
Intrigued by Roland’s persistence, the human resource director then granted him an interview.
At the end of the selection process, Roland was one of the five hired to be a management trainee at BP, from a pool of 4,500 applicants.
Roland spent 16 years of his career at BP.
“When I look back at my career path, it has always been about taking those bold steps that made a difference.
“It is important to know what you want and be daring enough to make the bold move.
“At the age of 41, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and venture into the unknown, by joining the beer industry – partly for the love of beer!
“But it was mainly for the opportunity to run an operating company, which provided a new challenge and I had a lot to learn,” says Roland.
Roland joined Heineken in 2008, and has served the group in Singapore, Vietnam, and Cambodia, before returning to his homeland last year.
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