NOTE: I wrote this post to fulfill a request from a friend who wanted to know how I ended up at TNB. She is very curious on how I managed to get into TNB HQ with ease. Here is my answer.
It is almost a month after I completed my practical training program at Tenaga Nasional Berhad, or better known to our beloved Malaysian as TNB. Yes, this company is the premier producer, supplier and distributor of electricity in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah. Being a premier company and one of the core GLC (besides Telekom Malaysia, Maybank, etc.), TNB is also known as the sole distributor of electricity to all households and businesses in Peninsular Malaysia. Well, of course you can consider TNB is in monopoly situation.
When Malaysia’s economy is prosperous, it makes profit. Even if Malaysia’s economy is at doom, TNB still can get revenue, although it might not get profit due to increase in costs. If you want to argue how is it possible, well, let me ask you, in reality, how many of you can survive without electricity at your home or office?
Malaysian nowadays cannot live without ASTRO, Streamyx, air-conditioners, SMS/MMS and other electrical devices and gadgets. Can you imagine how people will curse TNB when electricity is down during the most important period? Remember during September 1997, when the whole Peninsular Malaysia was in black (recall: Paka Generation Station at Terengganu had technical glitch). Sadly in Malaysia context, it is almost impossible for us to switch electricity provider.
I know not everyone is really comfortable or at some extent, hate monopoly (read: the industry, NOT the legendary board game). But then, I had worked with a monopoly-practiced company.
On 20 April 2009 (Monday), I reported for duty at TNB Headquarters at Jalan Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. If you do not have any idea where is it, TNB HQ is located exactly opposite of Abdullah Hukum’s LRT station. I went to work and returned to home by boarding the famous Metrobus number 12, every day. It is more convenient than driving car to work. I just need to fork out RM1.60 for one way (which means RM3.20 per day) and I spent around RM70.00 per month. It is far cheaper compared to petrol + labor cost.
I was assigned to Investment Management Division, which oversees and manages all TNB’s investment related businesses locally and outside Malaysia. The office is located at level 4. Every day, I have to reach office at 8:00 a.m. an log out at 5:30 p.m.
First day was indeed a joy. I got to know all friendly and helpful staffs at IMD. I was put under Puan Suzana Ahmad’s supervision, manager of Support Services Unit (SSU). Graduated from Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) with degree in accounting, at first when I met her, I thought she is a serious and work-centric woman that will give no chance to me and will ‘sekeh’ me if I did any errors. Well, my assumptions was indeed wrong, she is very funny, helpful and a joker! However, when it comes to tasks/works, yes, no play, if she asked to submit in 30 minutes, she really meant 30 minutes, sharp.
One of the most common and famous question asked by my friends to me is how much TNB paid for my services there. To be honest, no payment or allowances granted to me for my three months of service there. Purely nothing.
“Eh, are you joking?” they asked, with raised eyebrow, and shocking expression. “No joke, I am serious. No allowances. Work for free…” is my reply.
Nah, then most of my friends started to bash me with all sorts of ‘killing’ comments.
- Some said that I am crazy.
- Some questioned my rationality of choosing TNB, as they claimed GLCs are lousy and greedy.
- “I am very surprised, you as a business student, opted for an opportunity that gives no rate of return!” said one of my friends.
- Another friend commented, “Audi, this is the worst decision! Why do not you go for banks that offer lucrative allowances, like OCBC Al-Amin or Kuwait Finance House?”
Of course, not all friends were ‘cursing’ me, some supported my decision. To clear all the illusions, let me explain to you why I choose TNB, although theoretically it is not the best option.
Of course, as a rational person, I would like to choose any offer(s) that gives me the required rate of return, not any offer(s) that worse me off. Being trained as business student with basics in finance, marketing, management and ICT, the best decision is to choose a company that pays me when I do my practical training.
But when I think carefully, the purpose of this practical training is to gain industrial experiences and familiarity with the challenging working environment. I already had experienced with private companies, did marketing projects (although not a large scale), engaged in small business, but I have not yet worked with any government sector/firm. If monetary was my aim, I better working part-time, or if I were really a lazy type but want quick money, I would go for MLM. But money is not really what I want. I had enough of it, Alhamdulillah.
Again, my primary concern is experiences. Government sector is the area I never touched before. I want to understand the environment.
Before the practical training, I already evaluated several companies and corporations for me to consider doing my training. My evaluation was based on forecasted experiences that I might gain, and for your information, allowances and/or perks was not my primary concern at all. At first I had tendency to go for banking sector (as majority of my friends did), but I had some unfavorable encounters with banks. I learned from my father experiences.
My father was a former senior executive, with vast experiences in credit and finance divisions, and used to manage a number of project teams. He worked with several banks with his last career ended at EON Bank Berhad. I admit, during the era of his service at bank, my family enjoyed a very comfortable lifestyle. No worry for money. Yes, working with bank is indeed very lucrative, and many perks you will get. I have seen it.
However, my father advised me to think carefully if I want to choose banking. He gave some logical reasons, and that have made me to put banking as a lower priority option. Do not get me wrong, I am not saying banking is bad or not good, I just want to make a point that banking is not my cup of tea. Furthermore, I am far more interested in marketing thingy that deals closely with consumer taste and behavior (such as in Fast Moving Consumer Goods – FMCG).
Yup, I understand that bank has marketing team too. They have those task forces and project teams to attract customers to banking services (especially credit card). But I am not into it. I treat it as last resort.
Therefore, bank is out of question, very sorry (oh no, Audi, what happened to you?). I proceed with other options available. Seeking for information at IIUM Department of Business Administration, I found many companies were offering places to do practical training at their premises. As usual, I jotted down all the details for my evaluations.
From the information I got from Department of Business Administration, I screened the list and evaluated them to match my resources availability and capabilities. Sadly, although I was interested in some of the offers, it is almost impossible for me to try due to logistic constraint. Most of the companies located at the heart of Kuala Lumpur, and the job description requires me to travel from one point to another, doing marketing things (I love it!). However, too bad, I do not own driving license nor any modes of transportation (car and motorcycle).
So, due to impossibility, I dismissed the options, which left me almost none! Then I started to think about trying to ask all the GLCs regarding practical training, as I realized I have no experiences working with government firms before. Thank God, my family had several networks with people who worked at GLCs and other associated companies. With help from my parents, I establish connection and send my CV to Telekom Malaysia, Tenaga Nasional, Celcom (Malaysia) Berhad, Petronas, and several Non-Profit Organization such as Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat.
The next step was to wait for their responds.
After a few weeks, TNB responded to my enquiry. At first, TNB offered me to do practical training at one of its subsidiaries (TNB Fuel) at Crystal Plaza, Petaling Jaya. Then, they transferred me to HQ and offered a place for me at Investment Management Division (IMD). Without delay, I accepted the offer.
That is how I ended up at TNB.