Arup is a global collective of designers, consultants and experts dedicated to sustainable development, and to using imagination, technology, and rigour to shape a better world.
Arup’s presence in Malaysia dates to the 1960s when we were involved in shaping some of the country’s early landmarks, beginning with the redevelopment of the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital and later, the KOMTAR in Penang.
We have then grown to a team of more than 400 people, able to deliver engineering and advisory services for every stage of a project, from inception to completion and after; from vision, strategy and business cases through to planning, engineering and project implementation to operational readiness and asset management.
We draw upon our multidisciplinary expertise to help our clients solve their most complex challenges – turning exciting ideas into tangible reality.
What are some of your organisation’s proudest moments/milestones in Malaysia?
Lawrence Yeap, Malaysia Country Leader: Winning the prestigious Technology & Innovation Award at the 2022 British Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (BMCC)’s Business Excellence Awards was a great recognition of the firm’s success in pioneering innovative technology and embedding digitalisation across disciplines, to drive optimum outcomes for our clients and stakeholders.
Our team has been delivering excellent engineering skills and significantly contributing to many iconic developments, including Merdeka 118 – the world’s second tallest tower, a reference design for KVMRT Line 2 and Line 3, and Setia SPICE Convention Centre in Penang, which was awarded the Gold Award of Special Merit in the prestigious Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia (ACEM) Engineering Awards 2019, the association’s highest award.
In recent years, we are broadening our services by integrating our best-in-class specialist services like acoustic consulting, audiovisual and multimedia, façade, and fire engineering as well as advisory, master planning, smart cities, and sustainable infrastructures to achieve sustainable solutions and resiliency in the built environment.
Based on your overall experience of doing business in Malaysia, name the advantages and challenges of doing business in Malaysia.
Lawrence: Malaysia offers a vibrant and business-friendly environment that makes it an increasingly attractive investment destination. The country has a highly diversified economy and supportive government policies that maintain a business environment with opportunities for growth and profits. The private sector has become partners with the public sector in achieving the nation’s development objectives. Malaysia’s highly skilled and multilingual workforce and developed communications infrastructure make it easier for us to share resources and deliver projects. Expatriates enjoy the living environment here and are happy to move to this part of the world to work on some of our projects.
The greatest challenge remains in Malaysia’s political tensions and uncertainty which we hope are improving with the recent election outcome. As with most emerging market economies, there can also be an element of geopolitical risk.
Based on your experience in operating in Malaysia, what are the 3 most important criteria for achieving business success in Malaysia?
- Understand the client’s needs and constraints as well as embrace the local culture.
- Ensure professional and technical excellence in all our work. Push boundaries constantly and create better solutions for clients, every time.
- Invest in our people to make them truly the best in class and empower them as owners of the business to grasp the agency and freedom they have to make a difference. We want to be completely inclusive, harnessing the greatest possible diversity of perspectives to create the best ideas.
How has your business evolved during this pandemic, especially in terms of optimisation of human and technology resources?
Lawrence: We embed digitalisation to transform the way we design for the built environment, which has allowed us to explore more creative solutions and services, find better ways of working and generate greater value for our clients and stakeholders.
We rolled out Microsoft Teams firmwide to stay connected with members and clients via video calls and meetings. We have been leveraging online software like Miro board to conduct effective discussions and client engagement. Virtual engagements have swiftly replaced physical meetings that we once thought were irreplaceable.
Our local team was brought closer to where our global teams and clients are. It removes the physical gap, narrows our digital skills gap and promotes greater project collaboration and resource sharing across different countries.
We also implemented flexible working to give our people the flexibility to work from home or the office and to manage their work time, accordingly, providing a more humane way of working to enhance work-life balance, talent retention and business resiliency.
How do you see your business growth and prospects in Malaysia now?
Khedzair Osman, Markets & Clients, Leader: These are exciting times for Malaysia with growing economies, rapidly developing societies and stabilising politics, coupled with the challenges of our time including climate change. We see increasing potential as we sit at the heart of the ASEAN nations with a high demand for development in all areas of infrastructure and social amenities. Malaysia office shall be able to undertake regional work competitively while delivering to global quality and standard.
This progress is continuously providing major opportunities for us to work with the private and government sectors, to enact advancing infrastructures, enhance transportation systems and more to elevate the liveability of our cities.
We want to work with like-minded clients and collaborators to deliver exceptional value in shaping a more sustainable future, on the back of our diverse skillsets across regions.
What are the top 3 reasons for your organisation joining the BMCC?
- To widen our networking, connections, and exposure across industries.
- To exchange insights from the well-planned events with Government ministers and C-suites.
- To partner for strategic initiatives and reach out to new and larger audiences in Malaysia.
What is the top value you see for yourself or your organisation in being a member of the BMCC?
Khedzair: We have gained valuable exposure, market intelligence, and connections and have become a trendsetter from BMCC’s initiatives which are all thoughtfully planned out.
In one sentence, how would you describe your own experience or your organisation’s experience as a member of the BMCC?
Khedzair: Being a BMCC member has opened doors to connecting with competent industry players and strengthening relationships with partners and leaders of various industries. This is crucial for Arup as we build on the collaboration, support and trust of our clients, collaborators and our own members who continually find new solutions to create a more sustainable world.