Article: Farehana Hanapiah, PETRONAS on the Power of Collaboration


Farehana Hanapiah, PETRONAS on the Power of Collaboration

In the recent episode of the video series, Adaptable HR - The future Is Now, Farehana Hanapiah, Vice President Group Human Resource Management, PETRONAS shares how adaptable HR means to become more collaborative than ever before.
Farehana Hanapiah, PETRONAS on the Power of Collaboration

According to the late Roy T. Bennett, a politician and author of The Light in the Heart, you will only begin to change, grow and transform once you have stepped out of your comfort zone. Today, we are truly learning the meaning of this phrase amid the pandemic, where the way we work and live is changing, whether we were ready or not. The COVID-19 outbreak left leaders and the entire workforce with no choice but to leave their comfort zones and quickly adapt to the new reality of work to remain relevant, in this challenging time. 

The hard truth is adaptability is no longer an option but an imperative. Change is inevitable. 

The State of HR Transformation study in 2020 has shown that now is the time for HR Operating Models to be revisited.  HR teams who leverage Digital Tools with Disciplined Governance will be successful in driving maximum success. An organisation that has taken the progressive step to undergo an intense transformation in future-proofing its human capital is PETRONAS. In this recent episode of the video series, Adaptable HR - The Future Is Now, Farehana Hanapiah, Vice President Group Human Resource Management at PETRONAS talks about PETRONAS’ HR transformation journey amid the lockdown and the pandemic. 

Adaptable HR: A Brief Overview 



In the first part of the episode, Shaswat Kumar, Vice President and Asia Head - Payroll, Advisory, and Cloud Solutions, Alight Solutions shares the findings of the recent study and highlights, “Highly adaptable HR organisations (Mature Archetypes) are not only looking at addressing risks that are closer to the business, but they are also more ready to address these risks driven by stronger governance, right capabilities and the right platforms.”

PETRONAS focused on three aspects when they began their transformation to be more agile and adaptable due to the company’s emphasis on pace. Farehana says, “What has always come back is that it is not about the technology or process, it is the ability of the organisation and the people within the organisation to be able to adopt a lot of these things to make it happen.” Agility and adaptability should go beyond organisational culture and be made part and parcel of the entire oil and gas industry for us to transition to the new reality of performance efficiency. 

Farehana reminisces the beginning of the lockdown phase and how the entire PETRONAS had to get a new system of work in place overnight, while ensuring the safety of its employees working on the ground at the same time, as many of PETRONAS’ operations are essential services. “Overnight we were able to provide an online platform for people to continue working from home without really impacting the overall productivity,” says Farehana. 

On top of managing the crisis at hand, PETRONAS’ leaders were strategising the best plans to move forward. With the oil and gas industry being jolted by COVID-19 and the consequential slowing down of energy demand, PETRONAS had to plan for its survival and business continuity, quick.  This includes investing heavily in its people. 

“The type of skills that we will have to have in order to pivot to this new way of doing things will be very different. We are working side by side with businesses to start thinking what those skills would be,” shares Farahena. 

Insights from the State of HR Transformation Study 2020: A deeper Outlook 




PETRONAS aims to reimagine the future of work with a clear purpose, shared values and culture, and right capabilities. 

Reimagining the Future of Work with Collaboration

Do we have the skills to thrive in the new world of work? This is the key question many organisations are grappling with now. And PETRONAS is not that different. For the industry, it is not only the pandemic that has triggered the change, but the need to have a more sustainable business model that focuses on renewable energy. 

These external drivers of change are making HR’s role more critical as it has to rethink the approach of human capital development. From skill mapping to organisational restructuring, the onus and the expertise both lie with HR, yet without understanding businesses’ perspective and needs, a relevant and sustainable strategy can’t be created. 

PETRONAS then decided to break the silos and build collaborative and diverse HR teams, where a variety of views and perspectives were shared and discussed. The business imperative was to move down the value chain and become a company that meets global demands but in a more sustainable way. That required breaking the siloed functions and re-organising the way work is delivered. 

CHRO’s Take on Adaptability in HR



A quick dose of collaboration has worked in favour of PETRONAS in driving change and becoming more adaptable. “The whole governance structure and the way we had organised ourselves became the impediment. We realised that once we have a common goal, we would break the boundaries that we had set for ourselves previously,” says Farehana. 

The silver lining of the pandemic for HR was that it has been able to experience what it means to be a true HR partner, together with the rest of the businesses in making critical decisions. HR professionals have now been given that exposure to make essential calls that directly impact business outcomes, so they feel more empowered. Additionally, working closely with business partners to take a balanced approach that benefits both the people and the organisation has improved decision making. 

Shaswat concluded that HR is both part of and a peer to the business. As HR is the custodian of employees’ trusteeship, it has a bigger role than just serving the business to embrace if it wants to accelerate an organisation’s performance.  

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Topics: C-Suite, #AdaptableHR

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