Asia School of Business

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An engineer and manager at PETRONAS as well as a mother of four, Anis has a demanding schedule. Despite this, she not only survived the ASB MBA, but considers it “the best educational experience” she has had. Read her advice, and find out how she has grown her career post-MBA, below.

What have you been up to since graduating from ASB?

I started working for PETRONAS, the national oil company in Malaysia, in 2005 as Drilling Engineer in the Wells Department. After 15 years, I am back in the same department. I call this the “Unexpected 15-Year Comeback!” I’m now responsible for a different work function and portfolio with greater responsibilities. I have been appointed as the Head of Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) for the Wells Department, Centre of Technical Excellence, Upstream Business at PETRONAS.

This is a Senior Manager position responsible for strategizing and executing HSE plans and programs across Wells operations globally. Due to the current pandemic, our offices are currently closed and the staff must work from home. On May 5, 2020, just weeks after graduating from ASB, I reported for duty using Microsoft Teams and will continue working remotely until our offices reopen.

Apart from working from home, I am also currently serving as an official homeschool teacher and an unofficial “mommy monster” for 2 high school students, 1 primary school student, and 1 kindergarten student– all of whom are my kids! I have also resumed my machine embroidery hobby, which was put on hold while I was earning my MBA.

What were you doing before you joined ASB?

Before joining ASB, I was a Senior Manager of Business Development in the Strategy and Commercial departments at PETRONAS, where I drove acquisition and divestment of Upstream exploration and development blocks for two years, from 2016 to 2018. Prior to that, I spearheaded the Wells Competency Assurance Section and was one of the key players who introduced the All Rounded Drilling program, a unique competency development program for fresh graduate drilling engineers in PETRONAS.

At the same time, I was also the first female Technical Coach in Wells, spearheading capability and competency matters for PETRONAS drilling engineers. I also spent 11 years in Wells leading, strategizing, and executing various complex drilling and completion projects, mainly in Malaysian waters. I was a PETRONAS scholar when I obtained my Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cardiff University, Wales. I had the opportunity to earn an MBA from Asia School of Business as a PETRONAS employee studying under corporate sponsorship.

What was your MBA journey like and how has ASB prepared you for your current role?

The first year at ASB was the hardest year for me. Managing my responsibility as a wife and mother of four sons while also fulfilling the MBA workload was a tremendous challenge. This experience has prepared me to handle even bigger responsibilities post-MBA which might demand more working hours, dealing with multiple stakeholders and being away from family. The learning curve at ASB was steep, like “drinking from a fire hose,” and taught me a great deal about prioritization and time management.

The ASB MBA was a journey for my family too. For the 20 months of my MBA, my husband and mother helped with the kids while I was on campus or on Action Learning projects outside of Malaysia. They deserve a special award, or at least the same MBA degree recognition that I do. Without them, I would not have been able to complete my MBA.

In particular, my husband has learned a lot of cooking skills and tried out different recipes which turned out to be delicious, and I must say that now he is a better cook than me! Being close to my big family and staying in my home country had its own benefits. However, it was also very demanding. On top of my existing commitments to my family, friends, and community, I also had a commitment to my new “family” – ASB. This prepared me to be ready to manage multiple stakeholders.

I also learned to say no to others while maintaining professionalism and not jeopardizing my commitments. This is the most important lesson I’ve learned from ASB. Additionally, the rigor and diversity of the program have not only taught me the value of focus and empathy but also heightened the value of friendship and trust.

The MBA has prepared me to fail forward – “try it until I make it,” be attentive to feedback, and widen my view beyond the energy industry. It has prepared me to learn about other industries and overcome my fear of networking, especially with those outside of my work circle.

What are some of your key takeaways from the ASB experience?

During the MBA, I have not only made new friends from more than 20 countries, but also gained a new family – the ASB family. The connections and bonds created within the ASB community, especially among the ASB MBA 2020 Cohort, are beyond words. My ASB experience was the best educational experience I’ve had so far, and it definitely ranks among the most unconventional and unforgettable memories of my whole life.

Looking back on my ASB experience, here are some of my key takeaways:

    • It’s important to take a break occasionally and reflect on your progress and past achievements. Don’t be afraid to let go and embrace new adventures.
    • Never underestimate your ability to learn new things and don’t be afraid to learn something new. It’s never too late to acquire new knowledge and skills. It’s important for your self-growth, and knowledge and skills are the things that no one can take away from you.
    • Never be afraid to fail but fail forward. It is the best way to learn and improve! It fosters growth and makes you a better version of yourself.
    • Be authentic and stay true to yourself – it’s the only thing that differentiates you from others and makes you truly happy
    • Age and experience do not make you wiser and more mature, but willingness to unlearn and relearn, to listen attentively, and to receive constructive feedback and reflect on it will take you far.
What are your plans for this next chapter of your life?

Looking forward, I am determined to continue learning. The MBA taught me a lot and prepared me well for my current role. However, I am determined to continue learning and equipping myself with new skills. While working from home, I have managed to up-skill myself with data science courses as a continuation of the R programming elective taken during my final year in MBA.

I hope to continue developing my data analytics skills. I am also looking forward to developing my coaching and mentoring skills and am currently looking for opportunities to get a professional coaching certification to complement my current technical and business skills. The 20-month journey at ASB was the time for me to learn more about myself, my strengths, my growth opportunities, and my fears.

I learned how to build valuable connections with other people and overcome the impostor syndrome. It was a golden opportunity for me to reflect on the last 39 years of my life, question my true values and beliefs, and set the path for my future post-MBA. For sure, there is a lot of room for improvement, and with the tools and knowledge gained through the MBA, I am all set for a great new adventure.