For Derek Chan, Management Director of Jardine Engineering Corporation (JEC Singapore), leadership isn’t about being a hero. Rather, he believes the most valuable thing a leader can do is to empower the team.
"You can be a superman trying to do and be everything, but in the end, you cannot do everything with your own hands. You need to rely on people," he tells The CEO Magazine.
"A great leader is the one who can actually make his people the heroes instead of himself. It’s about how you train them, develop them, guide them and support them so they feel proud and have the power to carry out the work."
As an industry leader in providing, sourcing and contracting engineering services, JEC helps clients to operate their facilities in the most streamlined and high-quality iterations.
The company provides expertise throughout the entire process, from design and supply to facility operation and energy management. Established in Shanghai, China in 1923, and headquartered in Hong Kong, the Singaporean division has been in operation since 2008 and is now gearing up for its most exciting chapter so far.
Only in the bad times do you realize who really good partners are. We swallowed the bullet together, walked hand in hand through the challenges of the pandemic.
Facing the challenges
JEC has always prioritized the development of long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships with subcontractors and suppliers. Which meant that when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the company was in a good position to maintain its existing business requirements.
"During the pandemic we all suffered quite a bit," Chan concedes. "And this is the time when we really treasured those partnerships because, honestly, it wasn’t easy. But only in the bad times do you realize who really good partners are. We swallowed the bullet together, walked hand in hand through the challenges of the pandemic."
Chan points to the trust between both parties in these relationships, which has been built over their time working together and continues to increase through joint ventures, enhanced collaborations and frequent, open discussions.
Another repercussion of the pandemic has been the inflation of material prices, which is something he says JEC has found challenging.
"It’s shown that we need to rethink the way that we work because if we keep on just using the old method of doing things, without increasing efficiency or new ways of working using digitization and more innovative technology, then we’ll certainly be hit by inflation," he says.
Chan says it’s about working smarter by utilizing the benefits of modern technology to improve efficiency.
"Part of my role is to look at how we can shape the company toward a more sustainable future, and this involves changing the way we’ve worked in the past," Chan explains.
When it comes to digitalization, he says it’s important to look at how JEC can make best use of the data it’s collecting, which is something he believes will prove transformatively significant for several of its company processes.
"Nowadays, we talk about how AI can improve efficiency. On a day-to-day level, a simple example is how we can improve the efficiency of the air conditioning unit in a building," Chan explains.
"Traditionally, early in the morning, people always complain about coming into the office and it being too cold and we have to turn the temperature up. Then it then gets too warm and we have to turn it down again.
"With AI, we can examine the data and the air conditioning system will be able to detect when people are coming into the office, and therefore pre-set the temperature so they don’t need to adjusted. Examples like this show how we can make use of technology to improve efficiency."
It’s a long history with a lot of experience and knowledge within it. We have a great culture and people love to work in this company.
Over the next few years, JEC will also be focused on expansion through diversification by looking into different business opportunities and identifying how it can increase its offerings to customers.
As a company with a rich 100-year history, it’s clear that JEC has never shied away from innovation or taking steps to ensure it remains not only relevant, but at the industry forefront. "It’s a long history with a lot of experience and knowledge within it," Chan says proudly.
"We have a great culture and people love to work in this company. With the company’s 100 year anniversary this year, we are all extremely proud to celebrate together."