Malaysia Business Trip – August 2nd -5th
I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel to Malaysia as part of my internship. The aim was to bring around 30 of GSK’s suppliers to take part in 3 2 hours training sessions to show them how to input bids in a online live reverse auction and how to use the other functions of the system such as quotations and questionnaires.
I was fully prepared for the meetings, however, last minute changes meant a quick adaption to my plan. But it I still managed to get the message across. It’s unfortunate that the one thing I wasn’t able to do, but planned for, was what all the suppliers wanted to see. But looking forward, I revised the plan so that I could build an auction event, and hold it with all the suppliers taking part. The only issue was getting the timing right, so I had to adapt it to open the event for longer than it should realistically be, but the idea is to have a go so I guess the main point is getting across.
I was on a budget airline to fly over to Malaysia. I was expecting something similar to EasyJet, but instead I had a swift and easy check in. The plane was much smaller than I thought it would be. Being one of those exposed propeller ones (I’ve always been a bit apprehensive of them). But I was pleasantly surprised by the interior. Yes, a budget airline with leather seats, and relatively wide too, so I was not cramped. I didn’t even have someone sitting next to me, which was another bonus. We also had a choice of muffin or nuts, complementary of course.
The flight was only an hour, and once I arrived after a taxi journey to the office, I was setting up my first meeting. The offices in Malaysia are very open plan and spacious. There are actually more kitchenettes than toilets and it also has a pool table. It’s definitely got a positive vibe about it.
My first meeting went well. Presentations are my weak area, so it was such a good opportunity to get some practice in. The feedback was positive, and it also opened up a new challenge to work on, which was to increase the uptake of ePASS in Malaysia, as they tended to favour the traditional email method of tendering. So I have decided to make a plan to help influence the use of the system.
Outside of the office, I had some time to explore Malaysia. The culture here is very different to that of Singapore. The vibe is that it is more chaotic. The traffic was horrendous, with people in cars and motorbikes all over the road. The taxi I was in decided to create its own lane (even though there were already five!) and then must have got tired of waiting and bolted off down the equivalent of the hard shoulder. I don’t think the white lines indicating not to drive there were very effective. It’s good that it cut my journey time, but not exactly legal.
The hotel I booked was in a bit of a dodgy area, and unfortunately I did feel extremely unsafe. This was probably because I was a female travelling alone, so it is bound to make anyone more apprehensive. But I was determined to not let this stop me exploring. I did have a good view from my window. I could see the one of the Petronas Twin Towers, which looked very nice when lit up. Unfortunately, the noise was terrible all night, with a single glazed window and Malaysians not being shy to use their horns, sleep ended up being quite limited.
The next day, I walked to the Petronas Twin Towers, which were impressive, but I didn’t go up, just looked from below. I think it would have been good to have a look, but never mind. I took in a few of the local sites too, which offered an interesting cultural experience. I tried to have look at the famous Chinese market, but unfortunately I took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up back where I started, so instead of trying again I gave up. I had heightened my fear of feeling unsafe, so that prevented me from trying again. I flew back to Singapore the following day, and although I was disappointed in myself for not seeing more of Kuala Lumpur, at least I experienced some of it. I think I would love to return to Malaysia, but definitely with someone else. There are so many beautiful places in the country that would be really good to visit.
Back in Singapore, and back to the office the following day. It was good to have a momentary change of routine and scenery, but it was good to be back to familiar surroundings.
My aims for the following weeks are to pursue my task in increasing the usage of ePASS in Japan and to see what can be done to help Malaysia to embrace the system more. Other tasks on the books include reaching out to Sri Lanka to assist in their eSourcing activities. I was also contacted by the SGM (sourcing group manager) in the Philippines to assist in building an RFP (Request for Proposal) which was for a logistics contract. It contained a 10 section questionnaire and 13 lots with 159 items, most of which required 6 bid fields to be created. I also needed to set up 8 supplier profiles and reach out to these suppliers to ensure that their login details had been received. It was a lot of work, but it was a good experience. I feel sorry for the suppliers who have to fill in all the details and quotations!
I really feel a part of the team, and it will be strange to be going back to the learning environment at University after this experience. But it will really help to apply theoretical concepts into practice. I am so grateful for this experience! I can’t believe how much I have learnt and accomplished and I still have time to learn so much more.