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How to Build a Career in an Advanced Technological Age

This story is a reprint of an article published by The Sun (Malaysia) newspaper on 25 June 2018

SunBiz sat down with General Electric Malaysia CEO Datuk Mark Rozario to get his thoughts and views on what leadership means to him.

The Sun (TS): How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

Mark Rozario (MR): I would say having the opportunity to attend university in the UK, and subsequently, working in various countries for the first 10 years of my career. I’ve gained a lot of experience from working in different companies, such as MNCs, Malaysian conglomerates and the government. They provided me with unique insights and the privilege to work with talented individuals in both government and the private sector.

TS: What traits do you look for in your talent or how do you decide who is right for a job?

MR: I look out for those who have a passion to learn and the ability to apply what they have learnt.

TS: It is the age of technological revolution. How do you think the industry you are in will evolve in the future?

MR: Imagine a connected Malaysia – where road sensors communicate on a city-wide network, industry uses advanced data analytics to drive efficiency, and remote monitoring and digital collaborations open up opportunities for a nation.

Additive Manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics will play a major role in transforming the industrial landscape, enabling new ways of production and skills development for existing workers.

In the energy field, I see a growing interest in renewables. In the future, I think power producers will need to consider combining renewable resources with existing fossil fuels to bring affordable and reliable electricity to the country.

Malaysia sits on encouraging foundations, with high digital penetration, strong data connectivity, a skilled workforce and focus on STEM learning.  The realities of our connected world are already being realised and I’m excited to be a part of this with General Electric (GE) in Malaysia.

For example, in the aviation industry, we’ve been working with AirAsia to produce significant cost savings for the airline. GE’s Flight Efficiency Savings platform – combined with the power of industrial internet – this has allowed AirAsia to save up to 60kg of fuel for each flight. This translates into lower costs, cleaner skies and a positive impact on the affordability of air travel throughout the region.

TS: What advice can you offer those looking to start their career/ own business?

MR: It is important to have an unwavering passion and belief for what you want to achieve. There may be failures along the way, but learn from them and don’t give up.

Also, always put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Design thinking is a useful method for conceptualising innovative solutions that meet your customers’ needs.

TS: How has mentorship made a difference in your professional life?

MR: I did not have any formal mentors. However, I have had the privilege to learn from many experienced friends and colleagues over the years, whom I regard as my mentors. I’ve gained many valuable tips on dealing with problems and managing people through my interactions with them.

TS: What do you want to accomplish in the next five years?

MR: I would like to see GE expand its footprint and businesses in Malaysia, and do our part to help develop the local eco-system that would capitalise on the technology revolution.

An example of how we’re working towards this is through the use of data analytics at GE’s Oil & Gas iCenter in KL. Only one of three such centres in the world, it monitors over 1,000 gas turbines and compressors across 27 countries. By helping customers monitor the health of their assets in real time helps to improve operational efficiency, reduce unplanned downtimes, and deliver savings to our customers.

We are also looking at how we can leverage on Predix– a software platform for the collection and analysis of data from industrial machines. This will create an eco-system for our partners, ranging from governments to app developers, to develop solutions that cut across traditional and heavy industries.

TS: Best piece of advice you ever got in your career.

MR: An effective and cohesive team can deliver more than any individual on their own.

TS: Most admired business leader? Why?

MR: Jeff Bezos for revolutionising the way business is done in so many different industries.

TS: How do you stay abreast of issues affecting your industry?

MR: I read widely and partake in discussions with industry peers to keep ahead of current issues in the industry. I also engage in continuing professional development learning programmes to keep myself updated.

TS: If you could have an hour with any thought leader in the world, who would it be and why?

MR: Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. It would be great to get his insights on how he sees the future of many other key industries.

TS: What has been the biggest challenge you faced, and what did you learn from it?

MR: During the previous financial crisis, we were faced with what seemed like insurmountable uncertainties such as cash flow crunch, high gearing and meeting of payroll obligations. However, we realised that this was also the time to look at opportunities. Hard decisions have to be made without emotional attachment to any particular business or asset.

TS: What was the most outlandish business proposal you have ever heard of?

MR: A claim to be able to generate electricity from plain water through a simple chemical process at a lower cost than an efficient coal power station.

TS: What man-made innovation confounds you? Why?

MR: The commercial aircraft and jet engine for its ability to lift and move such a large mass.

TS: A must-read for every business owner/ manager is…

MR: Innovation as Usual: How to Help Your People Bring Great Ideas to Life by Paddy Miller and Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg.

TS: What are the top three factors you would attribute to your success?

MR: Keeping calm in a crisis, not procrastinating when difficult decisions need to be made and having the right team.

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