FOR more than 40 years, PETRONAS has been developing talents through its robust education initiatives, dedicating its resources towards Malaysia’s human capital development to meet the country’s requirements and the energy industry’s demand.
Since its establishment, PETRONAS' top management have consistently championed and supported efforts to empower individuals to reach their full potential.
Several of the top management themselves are success stories of these initiatives -- one of whom is PETRONAS’ Upstream executive vice president and chief executive officer, Datuk Adif Zulkifli.
According to Adif, educational initiatives under the “PETRONAS Powering Knowledge” programme – of which he himself was a beneficiary over 30 years ago – provide the opportunities and platforms to nurture and prepare students for their future careers.
Adif was sponsored by PETRONAS twice during his tertiary education, first as an undergraduate and then during his postgraduate studies.
He was offered a PETRONAS scholarship after completing his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) in 1987 and was among the first in his batch to be sent overseas for his college preparatory programme in South Dakota, and later, a petroleum engineering undergraduate course at the Colorado School of Mines in the US in 1989.
After returning to Malaysia in 1993 and serving PETRONAS for close to 10 years, Adif received an offer from the global energy player to pursue his Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
“The educational experience not only provided me the opportunity to acquire core technical skills, but also to learn from some of the best in the petroleum industry. I also gained insights from other industries and was able to network with people from different backgrounds, disciplines and cultures,” Adif adds.
The educational foundation proved to be highly valuable during his early years in PETRONAS as Adif honed his leadership skills in delivering technical projects.
“I always believe in the importance of developing a solid foundation and was fortunate that PETRONAS allowed me to do so through various stints within the group and secondment opportunities in other international oil companies back then,” he says.
Adif credits his professional growth to PETRONAS' approach to human capital development.
To empower its people to grow with the organisation, the energy entity offers different career pathways and talent development initiatives encompassing both technical specialties and strategic leadership roles.
“PETRONAS is a big believer in providing the very best exposure and education to its talents. If I were to reflect, PETRONAS offers the opportunities, environment and platform for people to chart their professional journeys, which I fully benefitted from.
“My formative years as a reservoir engineer helped me build a solid technical foundation. I was then able to move into commercial and strategic roles, growing my knowledge base, which has served me well even until today.
“If you are someone who believes in lifelong learning and wants to be in the driver’s seat of your career, PETRONAS will empower you to meet your aspirations,” he says.
Adif believes that within the energy industry, the accelerated energy transition calls for professionals to have an agile mindset – meaning, graduates will have to continuously develop new skill sets to thrive in this increasingly challenging landscape.
He strongly believes that it is extremely critical that the workforce is proficient in digitalisation, given the rapid pace of change in the sector and the world.
“With the fluid nature of the energy business and the daunting task of decarbonising business operations, professionals who are well-versed in technology and digitalisation will be a valuable addition to the workforce.
“Technology is a key component in our industry, and we need our people to embrace technology as it is a critical differentiator for our business.
“As PETRONAS is embarking on many exciting areas of innovation such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), renewables, hydrogen and others, we need to work together with those within and outside the industry to develop actionable solutions in delivering clean energy solutions,” he says.
Speaking as a PETRONAS alumni, Adif advises students interested in applying for the education sponsorship to have a lifelong learning mindset, be agile, and always be willing to improve and progress themselves.
“I promise you this: once you graduate and join our organisation, if you are always hungry to learn and continually strive to better yourself, PETRONAS can be your oyster.
It is an organisation that will give you plenty of opportunities to learn, develop and grow, as well as make your mark in the world,” says Adif.
The “PETRONAS Powering Knowledge” initiative champions students’ and educators’ pursuit of knowledge and empowers them to positively impact a rapidly changing world.
Since 1975, PETRONAS has awarded education sponsorships to more than 38,000 students in its commitment to building future talents who will contribute to the growth of the energy sector and Malaysia’s economy.