A Singapore-based international bunker trading house has emerged with a revised strategy focusing on improvements in talent management, business digitisation and operational processes after the republic ended its COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) circuit breaker period on 1 June.
Sing Fuels representatives offered Manifold Times a frank view on the issues and challenges the company faced during the circuit breaker and how the unforeseen situation provided a timely opportunity to revisit its corporate strategies and processes.
A new game plan
“At Sing Fuels, we believe the world that we will see after its recovery from COVID-19 will be very different from what we were used to, and this is something important that we must embrace,” remarked Sonnich Thomsen, Managing Director, Bunkers.
“Due to this belief, the management used the circuit breaker period to revisit strategic priorities while focusing on core capabilities that differentiate our company from others in order to build a team which is more resilient and quicker in adapting to changes.”
Thomsen highlights the subject of recruitment to be among strategies which Sing Fuels will place utmost importance on.
The firm has started looking into the SGTraineeship initiative led by The Singapore Business Federation to help support and develop fresh graduates from local educational institutes.
“We are enhancing our human resource strategy to support our growth initiatives by implementing new processes and tools to identify, hire and groom the right talent, while increasing employee growth and retention rates,” he said.
The revamped direction will include focus on utilising the various supports and grants the Singapore Government has in place, in order to enhance efficiency of business processes.
“We are also reviewing and enhancing our practices to improve operational process and service quality for our partners, both externally and internally, by exploring various digitalisation and innovation tools,” he adds.
“Digitalisation and automation are important tools to enhance operations, processes and communications. These tools and processes will be regularly reviewed and improved on.”
Preparation for circuit breaker
Satnam Singh, Chief Operating Officer, meanwhile, shared the circuit breaker period implemented by the Singapore Multi-Ministry Taskforce from 7 April has provided Sing Fuels with an invaluable learning experience.
“We learned there should always be contingency plans which can be easily activated in the event of unforeseen circumstances,” he explained while adding, “the experience gained during the lockdown propelled us to make further improvements to the existing contingency plan.”
Sing Fuels already had preventive measures in place to protect employee well-being before the circuit breaker, according to Singh.
This included local split team arrangements working on alternate weeks in the office where surgical marks and hand sanitisers were readily available for employees to use. The company’s overseas colleagues were included, and have been advised to take precautions and work from home.
The firm additionally went the extra mile, ensuring employees had a comfortable home office to work efficiently and productively in. Tables, chairs and printers were provided for staff who needed them, while some even had their Wi-Fi network upgraded, he shared.
The Sing Fuels HR department started an initiative to conduct regular staff check-ins, while tracking staff movement data including Health & Travel Declarations for international travel.
Partners were also notified that the Sing Fuels team was working from home and were reassured of no disruption to services via regular updates and constant communication.
Challenges faced during circuit breaker
Though the company prepared for the circuit breaker as best as it could, Tang Lay Hoon, Chief Finance Officer, transparently noted Sing Fuels faced certain commercial and non-commercial challenges during the period.
Commercial issues included the lack of physical engagements with business partners, identification of productivity metrics for telecommuting employees, and deployment and education of digital solutions for staff productivity.
“Even though we are miles apart, we want our partners to know that they are always in our thoughts. So, we decided to brighten up their day with a surprise gift sent right to their doorstep as a nice gesture to stay in touch,” said Tang.
“The period has prompted us to redevelop our human resource strategy while aligning employees’ KPIs with the possible new normalcy of telecommuting. To date, we are still discovering and considering smart digital solutions to facilitate productivity.”
Non-commercial issues experienced by the company included a slight challenge at maintaining a high level of morale and interactivity among staff, which resulted in several creative solutions.
“Many internal activities were conducted to promote engagement among employees,” she notes.
“We organised online monthly birthday celebrations, competitions (e.g. karaoke) and a series of meditation webinars. On a daily basis, we have an internal social media page where colleagues can share casual posts and catch up with one another.
“Celebratory cakes were sent to employees on special days like birthdays and Mother’s Day, and this included both local and overseas colleagues.
“There were occasions when Sing Fuels employees had the biggest and sweetest surprise when special deliveries, ranging from doughnuts to pizzas, were gifted by the management.
“Complimentary webinars on building resilience were conducted for our partners to boost performance, resilience and quality of life. We believe that practicing the methodologies mentioned in these sessions would be beneficial in our everyday life.”
Launch of the new Sing Fuels website – Prizes to be won
Moving forward, Singh believes the improvements and experience gained during the circuit breaker period have reinvigorated the company; which now plans to launch a new corporate website effective 2 June.
“The new website symbolises a new era and victory for Sing Fuels which have emerged as a stronger and more resilient player to support the Singapore marine fuels sector after the circuit breaker,” he shares.
“We intend to celebrate the launch with a game where you have to find a specific word on the website (https://www.singfuels.com/) and email the screenshot to us.
“The first five players with the correct answer will win a small gift.”
Details of the game are as follows:
Sing Fuels was ranked 37 out of Singapore’s top 100 fastest growing companies in a list compiled by The Straits Times and Germany-based global research firm Statista published during January 2020.
The company received the Enterprise 50 Awards for the second consecutive year in November 2019, positioning it as among the Top 50 privately-held companies which have contributed to the economic development in Singapore and abroad.
It is also a recipient of the Dun & Bradstreet Business Eminence Award in 2019.
Related: Sing Fuels ranked among top 100 fastest growing companies in Singapore
Related: Sing Fuels wins Enterprise 50 Awards for second consecutive year
Related: Sing Fuels receives Dun & Bradstreet Business Eminence Award
Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 2 June, 2020
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