Sunday, November 29, 2009


My 5 week holiday was fast approaching and my trip to Singapore for the Global Procurement Forum with the Client, that was scheduled 2 days before I left for my vacation, was approaching even faster.
Whilst I was excited about my long awaited vacation, I knew I had a huge hurdle before I could even think about packing my woolies. I had to convince the Client of 2010 Work Plan and without their sign off, all vacation deals with my boss would be called off.
So, off we flew to Singapore for the video conference as the Client was everywhere but in KL. The plan was to spend 8 hours sharing my Work Plan with the Clients and to facilitate global participation, the call had to be scheduled from 4 pm to midnight for the East. Alas...they are the Client.
As we entered the Halo Room, my heart sank when I saw all the top dogs from around the world sitting around the virtual table. Judging from the e-mails and teleconference preceeding this event, I knew everybody had full loaded guns under the table. So, I rehearsed my presentation a million times and played Devil's Advocate with colleagues a billion times more.
I started the Forum with a smile especially directed to the 2 GMs sitting in The Hague and London and told them this story, "A few weeks back I sent my 2010 Work Plan to London for a preliminary discussion, a Plan I was proud to share as it would bring values to all of you in more ways than thinkable. I was confident that I was going to be receiving comments like a job well done, let's cancel the Forum and let you focus on delivering the fabulous Work Plan. Instead, I was accused of starting a guerilla warfare for reasons known only to all of you. To set the record straight, I am a lover, not a fighter, but I am also known for not taking NO as an answer". So, let this Forum begins and let us all speak or forever we shall keep the piece."i

Friday, November 27, 2009


2009 focus at work was to provide strategies to take advantage of the market. The target was to deliver savings amounting to USD 7.5m. With a capex of USD 150m to spend, that translated to a price reduction of 5% which was quite a challenge considering I have to deliver the same across the board - Pakistan included! The fancy term used for the cost savings in Shell's world is VI which stands for Value Improvement!
The incentive for the Consultant was a fee of 10% for every dollar spent if we hit the USD 7.5m mark. It was not just about strategies, operationalising the plan, it was a race against time since, by year end, if we hit below the mark, even by a penny, we will get nothing.
We achieved the magic number in the month of November.
That was just a prelude to what was to follow:
Barry, our Client's rep needed to provide a short article of our key achievement for 2009. His e-mail to Sheldon, our Programme Director, read:
"If you have ready articles I can just copy - that will be great. Clear issues I will include are (1) cost reduction (2) VI achievement (3) time reduction (4) HSSE (5) Innovations? More?"
Sheldon in turn forwarded to us Barry's e-mail:
What do you think? Are we able to help out? I think I have all the HSSE material. I have the latest VI as well. Not sure if there are further cost reduction information.
Since he had the latest VI update,
Lini: I haven’t really done anything else apart from VI this year! So, nothing from me.

Sheldon: Slack ass! Playing golf all year have we?
Yeah...tough to juggle VI in between my golf and tennis. Imagine how much more VI we can get if I had done it on a full time basis!

Saturday, November 14, 2009


It has been raining oh so much these last few weeks. Enough for me to pour out my frustration on this blog!
Since we had to cancel so many games due to nocturnal rains, I shifted some of my tennis sessions to the mornings. With that strategy, I managed to play a fair amount of tennis (Yeeha!) but the setback is that I didn't get into the office until 9.30 a.m.
My boss had never really imposed working hours on us - he just expected all of us to behave professionally! I took advantage of that fact sometimes but I also traded a lot of times with graveyard shift to accommodate our European or American counterparts. So, all is square, or at least that's what I thought. So, when my boss called me into his office on one of my 9.30 start day, my heart missed a bit!
"Shit!" I uttered loud enough to get a few faces peeking from the cubicle to see what was going on. I walked solemnly to my boss' room in anticipation of a long lecture on work ethics etc etc. I formulated a speech in my head to counter every argument I could think off during that short walk.
"The Client has agreed to pay an additional USD 750k in fee for the result of your strategic effort this year!" he announced. With news like that I expected him to be jumping with joy, give me a hug and tell me I am a hero....but he just remained seated and serious.
I looked at his frown and enquired "What's the catch?"
"The catch is that.....whoever gave you a hard time about marching in at whatever time you desire, tell them to sod off!" and with that he finally broke into a smile and offered me a handshake.
"You got me there, you really got me" I shouted as I sprinted out of his office to break the news to my team. A big bonus is coming despite the rainy days, guys....

Monday, November 9, 2009


“Why did we bother with all the distractions we did? Back home, the O.J. Simpson trial was in full swing, and there were people who surrendered their entire lunch hours watching it, then taped the rest so they could watch more at night. They didn’t know O.J. Simpson. They didn’t know anyone in the case. Yet they gave up days and weeks of their lives, addicted to someone else’s drama.”

I shared the above excerpt from Tuesdays with Morrie with Tasha this morning and the first thing she said was “…. but I love watching Kimora Lee Simmons” to which I replied, “I know but the question is, “why do you bother with her life – she doesn’t even know you and worse, you don’t mean anything to her, and yet you spend so much time on her!”

I left her to ponder the “meaning of life question” for my morning tennis session with Coach Din and hurried to work for 9.30 a.m. meeting.

After the meeting, I went through my Things To Do list and asked Sree to send an invite to all interested to join the Mount Kinabalu climb, the date of which has been set in May next year. Within seconds, Sree came to my room to inform me that Franco has accepted the invitation with a message saying “I will come as long as I can still watch E!News.”

Sree looked puzzled but with that message I know Tasha has also been posing some hard questions to her dad this very morning.