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Westports views staff as most important asset

PETALING JAYA, 11 NOVEMBER 2008 - While Westports Malaysia Sdn Bhd leads the industry in terms of productivity, its success does not solely rely on advanced equipment and facilities, but more importantly, its workforce.

"The port business is in a service-oriented industry where people are the most important asset," its executive director Ruben Emir Gnanalingam told StarBiz.

"Every port can acquire the most advanced cranes, berths and system but what makes a terminal better than the rest is how it manages its people."

In scouting for talents, Gnanalingam said Westports offered attractive remuneration packages and staff benefits.

"As there are not that many applicants with prior port experience, we basically train our employees from scratch."

"Experience is a not a necessary pre-requisite, what is more important is finding the suitable person for the right position," he said.

Gnanalingam said Westports' young executives programme would include training in various departments to evaluate and identify the areas that an employee could excel in.

"And if an employee feels jaded doing the same job for a long time, we will try to move him around," he said.

Westports averagely recruits 12 young executives every six months as part of its succession plan.

Gnanalingam said via the recruitment plan, Westports ensured that when a person left or were promoted, the vacant position would be filled by another experienced employee.

Another interesting talent management practice at Westports is its focus on key competence indicators (KCIs).

"Alongside our key performance indicators (KPIs), we also have KCIs that measure and describe an employee's competence and character."

"This will identify a person's talent to be placed in the most suitable position," he said.

Westports also values leadership potential at every level of its operations.

"Every employee is encouraged to develop and train newer and less experienced subordinates. For me, I am constantly developing 30 to 40 of my senior managers to be better," he said.

Westports is one of the key sponsors alongside Sime Darby Bhd and StarBiz for the Asia Strategic Talent Management Forum 2008 on Nov 13.

The forum, which will be held at Sime Darby Convention Centre, is organised by Leaderonomics Sdn Bhd.

Source: The Star