Petroliam National Berhad (PETRONAS) , Malaysia

Zahira Sughra Zainuddin
About: Zahira Sughra Zainuddin - Head, SVP GHRM Office

Zahira, a PETRONAS scholar who holds a Master’s in Chemical Engineering from Imperial College in London, started her career at PETRONAS in 1999. She has held many roles in diverse PETRONAS businesses throughout her career which includes petrochemical, oil trading, LNG and gas, exploration & production, corporate strategy and project management. She is currently attached to the Group Human Resource Management of PETRONAS and appointed the role to drive the transformation of HR under the Senior Vice-President of Group HRM’s office. Zahira is passionate to humanise the workplace, by creating a compassionate, enabling, truly diverse and inclusive environment.

1. Please introduce your role at PETRONAS

I am currently attached to Group HR at PETRONAS. My primary role is looking at the overall transformation of Group HR for the organisation. However, my previous roles were in the various businesses of the oil & gas value chain.

2. What does your typical workday look like?

There is no typical workday for me!

3. Women represent growing segment of oil and gas workforce but what are the main challenges that come with being a woman in the traditionally male-dominated oil industry?

For me, being in the industry for almost 20 years, I never felt that I had to compete with the men as equal opportunities were given to me throughout my career. However, one must be resilient and determined to be able to compete well.

4. What does workplace innovation look like at your organization?

Innovation is basically a continuous process and evolves over time. As this current juncture, it really is about the ability to change the workforce, workplace and the way we work by being agile, empowering and enabling.

5. How does this impact your customers?

There is greater scrutiny in this day and age by customers, hence we need to be more agile and alert in meeting their expectations and requirements.

6. What does the subject of digital transformation and IoT mean to your organization?

Digital transformation & IoT is not just about technology but in essence changing the way we work in totality, utilising the advancement of technology to improve efficiency and productivity.

7. How do you see the role of the Industrial Internet of Things in refining, petrochemicals & chemicals? What are the key benefits and opportunities of using IIoT solutions in downstream operations?

Obviously there will be lots of benefits if we can use it as tools to improve efficiency and productivity throughout the value chain. And the key is to understand what it is we want to improve on exactly and then using the technology to assist us in a logical manner.

8. What are the current challenges and hurdles that affect the spread and deployment of the Internet of Things in your organization? (for refiners, petrochemical & chemicals companies only)

Like most changes that an organisation goes through, an effective change management is crucial to ensure the adoption rate is favourable. The challenge is that most people want to jump on the bandwagon of digital and IoT without having clarity on what exactly the impact it will produce.

9. “Developing diversity across a company isn’t a quick fix but is a long-term business imperative” – please elaborate from your perspective

Diversity and inclusiveness is fundamental is ensuring the sustainable of any company.  This is because only when we acknowledge and welcome differences in thoughts, ideas and approaches, then we push the boundaries of creativity and solutioning.

10. In your opinion, what is one of the best ways to attract more women into the oil and gas industry?

Firstly, it starts with us women – if we, believe we can thrive in this industry, the sky is the limit for us to make it an exciting and rewarding career. At the same time, we do need to remove the unconscious biases that may exist and also, have clear targets to ensure women are given enough relevant roles at appropriate levels including C-level within the industry.