2020 Managing Director New Year Message

I am grateful to each and every one of you for your tremendous effort over the years, and I wish everyone a rewarding new year.

Last October, we launched our new “JEL” logo and “Rise to the Challenge” tagline. This tagline aptly underpins the importance of our unrelenting effort to learn and operate successfully in the face of challenges. The events that unfolded in the past year have caused setbacks to the global economy. Events like the trade war between US and China and the political unrest in Hong Kong contributed to the negative global economic outlook. We will have to closely monitor our business strategies to strike a balance between the risks and rewards in our efforts to ensure that the long term growth of our company is sustainable. Our JEL Group of companies continue to prudently manage finances, particularly cashflow which will provide cushion during difficult times. Whereas on the project execution front, we will improve processes to increase profit margin.

Over the past year, the JEL Group of companies successfully secured new jobs across geographies, comprising of both power and non-power projects. Our move to focus on sustainable energy projects yielded results. We have managed to secure three projects in South East Asia, namely, a renewable diesel expansion project in Singapore, a hydrogen refinery plant project in Malaysia and a waste-to-energy project in Thailand. Expanding our capabilities given the transition that many countries are undertaking to develop cleaner form of energy to tackle climate change is an important stride in the right direction.

The rebranding exercise is a group wide initiative to unify and integrate all stakeholders within the JEL Group of companies. By aligning our logos and standardizing the corporate colors and materials, we will be able to raise our profile and solidify our position in the various markets under one common identity. There is an inertia inherent in us to resist change but with the changing of times, we have come to realize that, if we do not recalibrate and integrate as one common identity, we risk being decimated by intense competition. Rebranding is integral to our efforts to reinvent and reposition ourselves to seize opportunities that may arise. Nevertheless, as we embrace change, we must also retain the relevance of our identity to foster growth in the years to come.

We continue to build a strong culture, and be embedded in our core values: Diligence, Continuous Learning, Shared Ownership, Customer Satisfaction and Respect. These are the values found in our hardworking colleagues, some of whom have already retired. I encourage everyone to rise to the challenge, and continue to find ways to meet or exceed the benchmarks set by our predecessors.

Across the JEL Group of companies, the various initiatives under the Management Policies 2019 – 2021 which began early last year are currently underway. We believe the successful execution of these initiatives, spanning from human resources, information technology, finance, risk management to safety, and the initiatives adopted by key subsidiaries which are best suited to its market and goals – will lay a strong foundation for the future growth of JEL Group of companies.

We will continue to actively promote individual and collective responsibility in ensuring workplace safety. A safety committee was formed with the mission to create an accident free environment. Last year, we also held the Annual Safety Meeting where safety presentations and lessons from incidents that happened in different projects were shared. I am pleased to report that in the latest data available, we managed to maintain a low accident frequency rate compared to industry average.

Looking forward to a new year, let us be obsessive when it comes to quality. We must have the intensity and the refusal to accept anything but closest to the best, only then can we thrive in our field our work. To elevate customer experience, we must develop the ability to tap on our engineering and project management competencies – combine that with the inflection of lessons learned in completed projects, and apply them. Sustaining motivation is a key to overcome obstacles, so let us stay on course and press on to overcome the challenges as we strive to build a resilient business. Moving forward, with the fighting spirit of ‘Rise to the Challenge’, I would expect all to be prepared and embrace changes to reach where we set out to be.

Masao Akamatsu
Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer
January 2020

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