Keppel Corp shows how firms can pivot: Chan Chun Sing

He cites its plans to go into new growth areas like sustainable energy, connectivity

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing at Keppel Corp's headquarters yesterday, viewing an exhibit showcasing the company's latest developments that are enabled by technology.
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing at Keppel Corp's headquarters yesterday, viewing an exhibit showcasing the company's latest developments that are enabled by technology. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

All companies large and small will need to pivot and grow new capabilities and seek new markets to overcome challenges as a result of Covid-19, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, who highlighted Keppel Corp as a good example.

After a visit to the corporation's headquarters in Harbourfront Avenue yesterday, Mr Chan highlighted its plans to pivot into new growth areas, specifically sustainable energy solutions, connectivity and urban solutions.

"Today's Keppel is a very different Keppel from 10 years ago," said Mr Chan.

"And from what I have heard of Keppel's plans, I am very confident that Keppel will be a very different company providing a very different suite of products and services in 10 years to come."

The minister urged companies in Singapore to follow in the corporation's footsteps to keep pace with market developments and technology changes.

He noted that companies like Keppel - which was known for building offshore oil rigs - are facing long-term challenges as a result of more consumers preferring sustainable energy sources.

Another challenge for companies is the accelerated pace of technological changes as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, said Mr Chan.

"In the past, a typical Fortune 500 company may have an average lifespan of maybe 40, 50 years. But today, if you look at the same Fortune 500 company, its average lifespan has gone down to below 20 years and maybe in the lower teens," he said.

To overcome these challenges, businesses of all sizes, from small and medium-sized enterprises to large local companies like Keppel, must seize opportunities and prepare themselves for the future.

"Technology is neutral. Whoever can master technology and have a better grasp of the mega trends impacting us will be able to position (themselves) much better going forward, and emerge stronger from this crisis," said Mr Chan.

Keppel Corp chief executive Loh Chin Hua, who also spoke to the media, said the company's long-term strategy, Vision 2030, will reimagine what the business will look like in 10 years.

He noted that in January, it was reported that semi-submersible rigs built by Keppel Fels were acquired by SpaceX to be repurposed as launchpads for rockets - an example of how Keppel technology developed for the offshore industry could be repurposed.

New, higher-value jobs - such as those of software engineers and data analysts - will also be created in Keppel Corp as a result of Vision 2030, and existing employees will have opportunities to upskill themselves, said Mr Loh.

But he also urged employees to take the initiative to develop skills in new growth areas.

"Whatever we do today, if you imagine that in five years you're going to do the same thing, then you are sadly mistaken," he said.

"We will have to constantly look at how we can improve and look at where the new areas of growth are, and then make sure that we are well-equipped to take advantage of these, when the company creates these opportunities," he added.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 24, 2021, with the headline Keppel Corp shows how firms can pivot: Chan Chun Sing. Subscribe