Engineering – why help your competitor?


The Malaysian oil and gas engineering fraternity seems surprisingly small. I don’t know whether it’s because people job hop a lot, hence old colleagues turn up in unexpected places. Perhaps a Malaysian engineer’s goodwill (‘ihsan’ in my old Perdagangan subject) and reputation spreads more rapidly than you’d expect, thereby making it seems that I know a person, but it turns out that the one big break (or big foobar) of her career has been magnified, embellished and edited for an additional shock factor. Or it could be that the community is small, for a reason I will pursue in another entry.

What I would like to ask is, why would an engineering company provide assistance to another, especially one that might be considered a current or future competitor? Examples of such help would be seconding your engineers to work in a competing company. An example would be seconding people between MMC, Ranhill Worley Parsons, or Technip. They are all in the EPCC market, and I presume would like more work then they could cope with. It seems even stranger if you consider niche skills, examples of which are flow assurance, HAZOP and HAZID facilitation, custody measurement and dynamic simulation. Why help each other?

The secondee’s company might be considered as manpower supply company if it’s not careful, with the receiving company getting all the glory. Is this situation a reflection of the above small community, where friendships and the requirement to keep good relations outweighs the benefits of watching your competitor take a dive? Or do you hope that your goodwill is reciprocated such that you will be the favoured partner of choice? Or is the company in a do or die situation, a survival mode where it will do strange and terrible things so that it may live?

5 Responses to Engineering – why help your competitor?

  1. Darth Bane says:

    Perhaps it may be a marketing ploy whereby, by seconding techno-marketing people, they may be able to form key relationships with the ultimate client , thus securing future work (i.e. stealing the work from the principal consultant)
    In an ‘open competitive market’ like Malaysia (laughs hysterically), why would a company accept secondees from a competitor? Surely this must pose some business threat? Unless there is larger organisation (or personal) benefit that is not obvious, I mean visible.

  2. Jenna Z Arbor says:

    Stumbled on this website looking for position in O&G. The same analogy applies to EU, where countries share resources rather than compete with each other. Engineers are free to practice in any member states.

    Same goes, where company compliment each other in Malaysia, although I do not know enough about the market.

  3. JN says:

    Agree with Darth Bane.
    From a business perspective, all involved in the industry are making as many giant strides as possible to take advantage of huge CAPEX outlays by operators due to obvious reasons given the current oil prices.
    Knowing that staff will inevitably leave, service companies (incl consultants) will ultimately want to ensure that they make full use of the engineer who is seconded to others. This would represent a catch 22 for employers as engineers with less than 10 yrs of experience tend to move around anyway. So the logic is why not squeeze them?

  4. Darth AirAsia says:

    So are Air Asia and MAS competitors ?

  5. jabbathehutt says:

    competition in what, who’s crappier?

    Air Asia = crappy, but cheap
    MAS = crappy, but NOT cheap

    Two of these operators are highly NOT recommended:

    1. Qatar Air :
    Doha-KL business flight don’t even have a screen for TV/movies. Air cond is central cooling (i.e. no way to turn up/down the air). If you want to feel asphyxiated, go on Qatar Air.
    KL-Doha business was posponed, due to mechanical fault. They didn’t have parts to replace, and required to fly in from Qatar.

    2. MAS
    KL – Dubai – Beirut business is worst than economy on KLM/Emirates. MAS (Malaysian Airlines Sucks)

    Those are the two worst airline, and i havent took them since the last 2 yrs. Thank god.

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