Local Talents, Global Opportunities
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to work virtually, remote working was no longer the future; but rather the present situation many of us experience today. Articles and opinion pieces on both the struggles and benefits of working remotely are not uncommon. Yet whilst most Malaysian have grown accustomed to remote working, how does this render for those who work internationally, especially in an industry such as construction?
To find out, we spoke with 3 Gamudians based in Kuala Lumpur who are supporting the Gamuda Australia team remotely: Larissa, Jabbar and Faizudin, on what it’s like to work on Australian projects whilst remaining on local soil.
There are several benefits of working internationally, remotely. Generally, there is greater exposure to new people, cultures and work environments despite virtual settings. The ability to interact with subject matter experts on projects entirely new and foreign to our local grounds means greater exposure to international markets and different ways of thinking. Unique to the construction industry, heterogenous grounds are also an added benefit. Every new project developing on foreign grounds signifies new sets of challenges, and with that, greater opportunities to learn. Similar to how karstic limestone is a unique sedimentary rock to Malaysian geology, engineers who work internationally will also have the chance to work with rocks unique to Australia, such as Bringelly shale, Hawkesbury sandstone and more. If one is keen on bringing forward such different learnings and experiences to future Malaysian projects, then being exposed to international markets would be an excellent opportunity.
Overall, the combined knowledge, experience and culture make the team more versatile and better communicators or negotiators when it comes to speaking and closing deals with international suppliers, industry players and communities such as Germany, Italy and more.
“I get to be exposed to international markets through learning the different technical standards adopted by Australia. By studying their national standards in detail, I’m then able to adapt that into our technical design solutions.”
– Ahmad Faizudin, Mechanical and Electrical, Assistant Manager
“Working with different time zones has really forced us to assess more critically on what meetings are necessary and what is not. We’ve trimmed the fat, and we’re no longer bogged down by unnecessary meetings. Now, it’s made us much better communicators.”
– Larissa Liau, Tunnel Engineer
As one begins working for an international team, two main concerns are often quoted: time zones and communication differences. Coordinating meeting times and understanding Australian colloquialism can prove to be difficult, on top of being exposed to new cultures and working environments entirely virtually. However, by practising patience and understanding on both sides, these challenges can be resolved with time.
Additionally, speaking the same common language also helps. With the added benefit of Malaysian’s multinational background, we are able to adapt to different cultures much more easily. Just as how remote working in general and the lack of physical interaction can cause a sense of disengagement between colleagues, it is important to create a habit of keeping in touch with colleagues, even if it’s non-work related.
As for Jabbar, he stresses that communication is key. One of the aspects of working remotely for an international team means the information travels to them later. Australian stakeholders such as suppliers, consultants or vendors often communicate directly with Gamuda Australia, subsequently passing information to the Malaysian team. With that in mind, scheduling follow-ups and weekly meetings are vital in maintaining transparent communication within the teams to ensure smooth workflow.
“I look forward to working with the Gamuda Australia team so that I can carry forward my learnings and experiences to mentor younger engineers in Malaysia.”
– Abdul Jabbar, Design Engineer
For those who wish to work with an international team remotely, the team’s general sentiment is to go for it. There is definitely much to be gained and learned from the experience, even if it may come with challenges that are more unique than the typical work-from-home norm we’ve all grown accustomed to. Larissa advises that it is important to approach the role with patience and empathy. In the initial stages, differing working styles, communication differences and time zones may cause tension to arise but one must keep in mind that the entire team strives for the same goal. Once that mindset has been set, as well as having learnt the processes and knowledge needed, things will run much more smoothly.
When asked about their aspirations, Larissa shares that career aspirations are fluid and ever-changing based on individual journeys. Being forced to view things from new perspectives since the pandemic has triggerred her to reevaluate what she truly values in her career. Ultimately, she looks forward to expanding Gamuda’s global footprint together and being in a position where she is surrounded by great mentors, allowing her to develop as a mentor herself one day.
As engineers, solving complex problems is an exciting element of the job. Whilst the technical complexities of working on projects in new territories can seem daunting, the prospect of learning new things is much more exhilarating. To learn more about what it’s like to work remotely for Australia from Larissa, Jabbar and Faizudin, watch this video below: