27 Apr 2017 03:47:49 PM

Thriving opportunities for versatile talent in the construction sector

Malaysia’s construction sector continues to offer a promising outlook, with property development companies expected to transform the nation’s city landscapes. The sector recorded 7.4% growth in 2016, and is expected to lock in a growth of about 8.0% this year1.
Pivotal to the growth of this sector is the 1.2 million jobs created through the rapid development projects in Malaysia via the 10th Malaysia Plan, which translates to 8.9% of the country’s total available jobs2. With deadlines for major development projects coming online over the next few years, the race is on for qualified and skilled talent to push for better deliveries in the sector.
UEM Group Berhad is gearing up to face the battle for talent head on. As one of the country’s most successful engineering-based infrastructure and services conglomerate, the company is constantly seeking the best talents to contribute their skill sets to many of Malaysia’s iconic developments already in their project pipeline.
To ensure their talent strategies are well implemented, UEM Group brought in Norlida Azmi as Chief Human Capital Officer in 2014 and in 2016, she took on the role of Chief Talent Officer at UEM Sunrise Berhad. Prior to joining UEM Group, Norlida spent over 17 years in the banking and finance sector overseas such as Singapore, London, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and most recently, Abu Dhabi. When asked about her career aspirations prior to her return, Norlida had this to say:
What I wanted to do coming home was to bring back all my experience abroad and make a difference to the landscape here.”
Her extensive portfolio in the banking sector had offered her early insights into the 'people' element as key to a corporation's overall success, regardless of sector. "I came from a background that was very structured and systematic, but I have always been fascinated with the human aspect of business."

Having had talent management roles in her experiences in international banks gave her the confidence to continue advancing her career in the talent management space.
When I took on my current role in UEM, the challenge was to find talents who are game-changers and lateral thinkers, and that aspect inspires me.”
Norlida hopes to be able to attract the best talents in Malaysia to deliver the group’s goals and in the long run make a difference in the ever-growing construction sector. Norlida is of the opinion that in today’s rapidly changing talent landscape, being versatile and highly adaptable is crucial to career success. Emphasising that UEM actively seeks the best candidates to be part of their diverse workforce, Norlida explains, "In UEM, we hire people from various backgrounds, even in my HR team I have a trained marine biologist and a psychologist."
Since joining the company, Norlida has led strategic improvements to UEM's various talent development initiatives, with a special focus on young professionals. For example, UEM Group's Young Executive Talent Programme (YET) places promising young talent in the group’s overseas projects for short-term assignment stints. Once they return to Malaysia, they are able to transfer their skills and knowledge gathered from handling projects abroad, into local context. On the other hand, the Young Engineering Programme allows participants to attain technical competencies and accreditation by The Board of Institute Engineers of Malaysia.
"Our agenda at UEM is to move towards what the nation needs," says Norlida, explaining the engineering-based conglomerate’s focus on infrastructure and therefore requiring a quality talent pipeline to prepare the country for the next digital revolution. Just recently, UEM Group announced a partnership with Microsoft Malaysia (Microsoft) to drive cloud-based digital initiatives within the company, which is based on new technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), Predictive Data Analytics, Machine Learning and Augmented Reality.

Through the partnership, UEM aims to also increase their efficiency and productivity by implementation of modern digital solutions and exposing its workforce to growth opportunities available through the digital economy. The group’s subsidiary UEM Edgenta Berhad will be among the first in the country to adopt and implement the tools that will change the face of facilities management.
The partnership with Microsoft is UEM's response toward the strong momentum of IoT implementation across the world. According to a study by MIMOS entitled National Internet of Things (IoT) Strategic Roadmap3, Malaysia predicts the implementation of IoT to contribute a total of RM9.5 billion GNI creation by 2020. IoT is expected to disrupt the status quo, forcing industries to relook the way we use technology and run businesses.
UEM Group's partnership with Microsoft aims to train and expose their current talent on growth opportunities in the digital economy and the adoption of modern technology. This initiative is aimed at implementing digital solutions and upskilling UEM's workforce to understand and utilise new technology efficiently. UEM group subsidiaries will be among the first in Malaysia to adopt these technologies.

When it comes to bringing back the best talents, UEM prioritises Malaysians first. Convinced that Malaysians have tremendous work ethics, Norlida explains
When you work overseas, you will realise many of the best people there are Malaysians. It is the Malaysians who are creative and able to persevere.”
Excited to meet Malaysian talent who are willing to push boundaries and innovate, Norlida is especially optimistic about talents who are keen to leverage on the opportunities offered by the group and shine in their various areas of expertise. She goes on to say, "In my experience here, I have noticed that an organisation may have stars, but success is when you align those stars together. That’s what makes them great."
1 CIDB: Malaysia's construction sector to grow by 8% this year; The Edge, April 2017 [link here]

2 Opportunities in the Malaysian infrastructure sector in 2017; Zuu Online, December 2016 [link here]

3 National IoT Strategic Roadmap; MIMOS, 2015 [link here]

* This article was originally published in Malaysiakini on 24 April 2017.
** Photo credits: Malaysiakini


Norlida Azmi has worked overseas in the banking and finance sector for 17 years. In 2014 she returned to Malaysia under TalentCorp's Returning Expert Programme to take up the role as the Group Chief Human Capital Officer for UEM Group Berhad. 

To find out more about TalentCorp's job matching initiative for Malaysian professionals abroad, visit our website or drop us a note at globalmalaysians@talentcorp.com.my.