Photo caption: Alex Thomsom (left) and Ainol Yaacob
BP Global Business Centre
By PREMA JAYABALAN
BP is a leading multinational oil and gas company with operations in around 80 countries worldwide. In Malaysia its shared services arm was launched in 1999 to support the finance function for operations in Malaysia and Singapore.
Becoming a global centre
It has gradually grown to be a global centre of excellence supporting BP businesses and functions worldwide. From an employee strength of 20 at inception, it now stands at more than 1,000 with expertise in business services such as finance, corporate tax, human resources (HR), indirect procurement and information technology (IT).
According to Ainol Yaacob, head of tax compliance and reporting, BP constantly strives to add to its capability on the basis of experience and quality of talent. This approach allows BP to continually move up the value chain and expand its role within the BP Group, right here in Malaysia.
BP has five global business centres worldwide (Kuala Lumpur, Chicago, Budapest, Cape Town and Melbourne). Cost competitiveness always matters, however, for BP it is not the only factor.
Tapping the talent pool
Success will be determined by its ability to meet future business needs by building core expertise. Recognising this, BP is focused on building the local talent pool complemented by expert global talent where required.
“Technical skills are not the only requisite. We are looking to develop our people and prepare them for future leadership roles,” says Ainol.
In the case of its corporate tax division, BP was able to recruit high quality finance and accounting talent locally. Even so, they also require talent with experience and expertise gleaned in markets where key operations are located.
For instance, to support its business in the United States, BP with assistance from TalentCorp, recently hired a returning Malaysian from the United States. With his US tax experience, he was able to help the Malaysian team accelerate their technical up-skilling, as well as practical applications of US tax laws.
Ainol says that in cases where they are developing expertise in a new area, they sometimes need to access talent outside Malaysia.
An example would be in the area of indirect procurement, in which BP helps internal stakeholders buy services such as facilities, HR or IT services. He explains that indirect procurement requires an understanding of business requirements as well as strong commercial and negotiating skills.
According to him, this field is relatively new in Malaysia and finding suitable local talent has proven a challenge.
Ainol believes that this mix of local and international hires creates a positive synergy, adds to the existing rich diversity of teams in BP and helps develop local talent.
As he explains,
Our new commercial director is from BP China and has already brought us a new international perspective and an understanding of how things work at other successful businesses.
Alex Thomson who heads the business operations in Kuala Lumpur has been with BP for over 30 years. His experience and knowledge of BP helps tremendously in providing direction and identifying improvement areas for the Malaysian centre of excellence.
“Going forward, we will continue to pursue a strategy to develop local talent, looking to bring in international talent mainly to close critical skill and experience gaps. I am very impressed with the support we have received from the relevant authorities,” says Thomson.