Candid Conversations with Redza Goh

  • Source: Article
  • Article Date: 11/12/2017

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Having worked with PETRONAS Group Chief Information Officer and CEO of PETRONAS ICT, Redza Goh to develop the future leaders of PETRONAS ICT for the past three years, I was quite confident I had seen and heard it all from this leader. Yet, the leadership sharing session at the Leadership Academy LEAD 3 programme held back in August 2017 was different.

Redza is passionate about developing future leaders at PETRONAS ICT, and he continues to inspire, teach and coach his teams at every opportunity he has. He began the session by sharing his observations on how far this pool of Senior Managers and future leaders had come in terms of how they ‘showed up’ at their Strategic Challenge presentations.

In years past, many had assumed that all problems led to a technology solution. Now, future leaders are beginning to demonstrate the discipline of first seeking to understand the situation and challenges, and where necessary, reframed the problem statements before coming up with their recommendations.

According to Redza, we need to think strategically and critically in order to differentiate the real issues and challenges before coming up with the solutions.

The participants asked Redza a common question of how he copes with the constant changes and challenges within the organisation. In addressing this question, Redza stressed that PETRONAS ICT exists to bring value to the PETRONAS businesses, and that we need to keep pace with the businesses or become irrelevant.

“To do this, everyone needs to continue excelling in his/her respective area and upskill where necessary, be willing to question the ‘way things have always been done before’, and come up with ‘a better way forward’,” said Redza.

To Redza, part and parcel of developing one’s ability is to first “put ourselves in the other person’s shoes”, then think from different angles and talk to people to obtain a more holistic perspective before coming up with the recommendations.

On what it takes to succeed at PETRONAS ICT, ambition was the first thing that came to his mind. Redza reminisced his university days and said that if he had the chance to turn back the clock, he would have studied harder and made the best of his education. While he may not be the smartest person in the room, he reckons that being at "the right place and at the right time" has brought him further along in the corporate world. He believes he also "built his (own) luck" by having a "can do" attitude. Being resilient and daring to speak up when the occasion called for it were also important factors to making a difference as a leader.

As a leader, Redza’s personal view is that it is his moral duty to give his best and deliver while at PETRONAS, in order that PETR​ONAS ICT people will continue to have meaningful work and a future within the organisation. To fulfil his duty, Redza is guided by the need to build mutual trust and deliver what he has promised, for example, to transform PETRONAS ICT to become a world-class ICT organisation.

On that front, he reckons that "on a scale of 1 to 10, we are probably at a 7 or 8." A recent Gartner assessment conducted by way of a dipstick survey among PETRONAS ICT leaders saw PETRONAS ICT achieve the mid-way mark in ICT maturity, which indicated that we still had room for improvement. To be world-class, it would mean reaching the "transformational" stage (with a score of 4.0, if not 5.0), where PETRONAS ICT would be the best in class and have a place at the decision-making level.

The session concluded with a couple of guiding principles that matter to Redza. "Pay attention to details" and "know how to be human" (a literal translation of a Chinese proverb that encourages a person to be humble and treat others well). He always made it a point to respond to every email he received, as he would never know when the other person would cross paths with him, and perhaps, end up being his boss or client!


​Article by: Michele Lum, Chief Leadership Officer & Head, Strategic Communications, PETRONAS ICT.