PETRONAS, the national Malaysian energy conglomerate that has the singular distinction of being the only Malaysian corporation included in the Fortune Global 500, is continuing its unwavering 45-year-long commitment to supporting and grooming the nation’s future talents and leaders with its trademark educational sponsorship programme.
Farehana Hanapiah, Petronas’ vice-president of group human resource management, elaborated on how the Petronas Education Sponsorship Programme (PESP), since its inception in 1975, remains a strategic pillar of sustainability development in the organisation, supporting human capital investment with resources of more than RM3.3bil over the decades.
It is a programme that not only funds and develops a “pipeline of talent that will further enrich the oil and gas industry, but also produces well-rounded people and talents of high calibre, ” people who will, she says, go on to make a significant impact in the sector they may be serving.
The PESP, long deemed both a desirable goal as well as a point of pride by both the recipient and their families, has benefited approximately 37,000 high-achieving students of both academic excellence and co-curricular contribution who are awarded prized sponsorships to further their undergraduate studies at acclaimed and recognised tertiary institutions both at home and around the world from Australia, Canada, China, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
This year, according to Farehana, the company has received more than 10,000 applications for the PESP bursary and after a rigorous and transparent screening process, only 370 applicants will succeed in obtaining end-to-end sponsorship from Petronas to further their studies in numerous, varied disciplines ranging from geoscience, mechanical engineering and chemistry to psychology and computer science.
Farehana also stressed the non-monetary value aspect of PESP. The programme gives substantial consideration to deserving students from remote areas and underprivileged families. It also looks into qualities and traits that are beyond academic achievement such as active community participation and engagement, leadership and communication skills, resilience and confidence.
Resilience, adds Farehana, is a quality that Petronas helps to further develop “when a successful Petronas scholar is living on campus away from home and family, as this builds problem-solving ability, a fundamental quality that translates into results when they make that transition into professional life.”
The additional aspect of the PESP, she adds, is that “while students are fully installed at the university, Petronas gives medical and other support to its scholars. This end-to-end support ensures they are successful and engagement sessions are also conducted between Petronas scholars and Petronas business leaders - including the president and group chief executive officer - to give them both a sense of inspiration and the opportunity to understand the bigger picture of professional life and socio-economic issues.
This extension of a well-rounded support system for Petronas scholars’ well-being, says Farehana, is part of the PESP’s focus on producing more wholesome and multi-dimensional graduates who develop the ability to transition into working life with the necessary confidence and leadership skills, qualities that are nurtured during the PESP off-term learning and development workshops.
“This is our way of contributing to the building of this nation, and as the PESP began in 1975 when we were developing the nation, the rest of the world caught up in understanding the value of education as the building-block for a nation, ” said Farehana.
“The United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goals is one of the bases that emphasises the need for sustainable development through education, and we are reinforcing our commitment to providing access to education.
“Generating high performing leaders in their chosen fields, ” she concludes, “is a sign of a successful corporation.”
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