coporate treasurer

Q&A: PT Shell Indonesia, pt. 2

May 20, 2013 | By |

Andre Khor, FD of the oil firm, talks about Shell’s approach towards developing leaders and effective "knowledge management".

Q: What are you trying to achieve with your knowledge management (KM) initative?  
A: We deal with a lot of data and information. This is not worth much unless we dig value out of it. So, I strongly believe [developing] an effective knowledge management programme is going to be a competitive advantage for us.

One of the key achievements I had working back in London in the fourth quarter 2012, before coming to Jakarta, was to lead the creation and design of the group treasury knowledge management portal. My aim is to replicate this in Indonesia. We’re making good progress.

We’ve started pulling together and ensuring that there are detailed and comprehensive work instructions for our key processes. We’ve pulled together a summary log of control incidents, put it in a single shared location, and started to analyse trends and potential improvements.

Everybody’s got a risk map, but there’s too much focus on the downside. Indonesia’s got opportunities, and we want to build something that helps us evaluate those while remaining compliant.

We’ve established a tax knowledge database that captures the question and answer sections from previous audits. And we’ve started work on summarising the key lessons from the statutory audit that we’ve just closed out to see how things can be done better, faster, and more cost effectively for the next round.

It’s going to yield a number of advantages for us. Firstly, it fosters connectivity and innovation through encouraging the free flow of ideas. Secondly, it improves speed of decision making and execution because we learn from the past. And thirdly, it makes the system stronger and more robust to [tackle] unexpected surprises such as staff movements or unavailability.

Q: So how does Shell develop internal finance and treasury talents?
A: We operate in a complex industry that presents new types of challenges for our people. At Shell, leaders personally develop the best people. We have a leadership model that provides a focus on the qualities needed for the future to achieve our vision of becoming the world’s most competitive and innovative energy company.

We try to instil four major attributes: authenticity, growth, the ability to collaborate, and the ability to perform. Briefly, authenticity is about instilling professionalism through transparency and personal integrity. Growth is to ensure people capture opportunities to generate value for Shell. Collaboration is showing the ability to build strong partnerships and win-win solutions for customers. And performance is about delivering business outcomes by investing in people so that teams are ‘future-ready’. 

Q: What does that involve from a practical perspective? 
A: We have a self-assessment tool that gives our people the ability to think about and review their performance with respect to those four leadership attributes. It’s like a checklist questionnaire. Based on the results of the assessment, the tool provides tips and suggestions that the individual can take to improve their effectiveness. The suggestions are a starting point for reflection.

From here, I work with the individuals in my team to draft an actionable individual development plan, which we call IDP for short. It is exclusively customised to the needs of the individual.   

Some of the questions we talk about are as follows: How can I help you deliver on your job better? What can I do to help you develop to be successful for your future career, in terms of leadership attributes and professional competences? What do you want to do next and how are we going to get there? Where there are identified gaps, could a different approach or behaviour help?

We then go to work on the agreed items. I encourage my team to spend at least 10% to 20% of their time on self development. We track it using the DART tool we spoke about earlier. We come back to the IDPs at least once every quarter. My team members do this with their direct reports as well. I think this makes the individual as well as the team stronger as a result.

Q: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said his government will allow fuel price increases. What are your thoughts on Indonesia’s energy subsidies?    
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently issued a paper on energy subsidy reform. The IMF mentions that subsidies come at a high cost. It contributes to fiscal imbalance. For example, energy subsidies in Indonesia come up to around 2% to 3% of gross domestic product. It is projected that the country will spend up to $30 billion this year on energy subsidies alone if nothing is done.

That crowds out spending on other things such as roads, schools and hospitals. Most benefits are captured by the middle class rather than the poor. It’s a structure that reinforces inequality.

But there are always two sides to the coin. The ordinary man or woman on the street may not fully appreciate the benefits from swallowing the short-term price increases that would occur.

From Shell’s perspective, we’re positioning ourselves to invest in the advent that these subsidies are removed. In such a scenario, I believe more competition benefits the consumer. For example, Shell is the first company locally to introduce windshield cleaning at our retail stations; now everyone does it. I think you could see more of similar benefits to the consumer moving forward if we are able to expand our participation in the market.

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