Vice-President of Planning
Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB)
“Women look at the qualifications needed and say, “Oh, I'm not good enough. I've never done it.” That mindset needs to change.”
As part of incentive-based regulation introduced by the Malaysian government in January 2014, I’ve been working on the calculations for the Fuel Cost Pass-Through (FCPT) Mechanism and meeting with regulators to discuss the numbers. We hope to be approved to use the FCPT for the first time this July.
We are all gearing up to make sure that this goes smoothly; it should help boost our share price and ensure that we have enough finance to build our infrastructure. With electricity demand growing at 3% to 4% a year, we are looking at an increase of 500 MW annually.
We currently have two major hydroelectric plants and a coal plant under construction, and a gas-fired plant in planning. With additional capacity needed from 2018 to 2020, our infrastructure build-out carries a massive cost, and there are challenges in terms of human resources as well as fuel resources.
In my role, my engineering degree has been critical. I have worked in various roles in transmission and my work can be quite technical. Our regulators are predominantly engineers, and we have to defend our case in technical as well as business terms.
When I moved into strategic forecasting, I felt I needed a broader skill set so I got an MBA. This has been very useful in particular with incentive-based regulation, where you have to calculate elasticity of demand and justify sales growth, demand growth, etc. We are now encouraging our engineers to take up MBAs, because the skill set required now is so analytical and economics-based.
I think there's a misconception that, if you're a lady, you cannot do engineering because you might have to climb poles, which is totally untrue. I expected other companies to have similar numbers of women on the board as TNB, but I am not surprised that women represent a low percentage.
Unfortunately, I frequently see qualified women not applying for jobs, whereas men will just go for it. Women look at the qualifications needed and say, “Oh, I'm not good enough. I've never done it.” That mindset needs to change.
The culture of Tenaga has always been very open and receptive to female leaders. We have always had women on the management team and the company has proactively promoted gender diversity. Last year I was in charge of nominating women to the boards of our wholly-owned subsidiaries. They received training from the Ministry of Women and Development. The Ministry also maintains The Women Directors’ Registry, an online database of board-ready women directors that companies can search.
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