An Interview with Ramesh Kana

We speak to Ramesh Kana, Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Transformation Officer of Emery Oleochemicals Group.

by / Published: 18 Nov 2014

An Interview with Ramesh Kana

Content sponsored by TalentCorp

Ramesh Kana, Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Transformation Officer of Emery Oleochemicals Group talks about TalentCorp’s commitment to helping expatriates put down roots in Malaysia and why he thinks Malaysia is a great destination to work and live in.


I came to Malaysia in September 2009, so it’s been just over four years now. I’ve been in Australia for about 30 years, and I’ve lived in Beijing for about three years, then London, the Dominican Republic, Malaysia and then returned to Australia for four years before coming back to Malaysia, so I’ve travelled a lot as an expatriate.
The biggest benefit from TalentCorp is that it gives you the certainty to plan for the future, because when you’re here on a work permit or a work visa it’s renewable every couple of years, and it’s very hard to make longer term plans in the country.
Malaysia is a great place to live in, but when you consider things like wanting to buy a house here, it’s hard when you don’t have that certainty. With TalentCorp providing that ten year visa, you can plan for you and your family’s future here.
I will recommend TalentCorp’s services because they understand the situation and predicament that we are in, and they are able to give us solutions. The people that we worked with at TalentCorp are very motivated staff and we’ve been quite impressed.
The CEO, Johan Merican, came to meet us here, and I thought that was a very good gesture for the CEO of TalentCorp to take the time and trouble to come and meet myself and my CEO. I think it shows real commitment towards this initiative, and Johan has made the point that this is not an initiative that is short-term: this is ongoing for the country’s benefit and we support that.
We have had at least two employees in Emery who have joined us under the TalentCorp me. They’re returning Malaysians, we have brought them back from overseas and they are returning in part to work for Emery but also because of the attractive incentives offered by TalentCorp to bring them back.
Most multinational companies are headquartered in other countries outside Malaysia but Emery is very unique because this is our headquarters. We are a global multinational company, we have offices in 12 different countries and we have a lot of foreign talents.
Often, to hire expatriates you’ll have to go through the normal processes to justify why you need them, but that doesn’t apply to us. The highest position a senior employee can get to is a place at the headquarters, so in our case, they’d have to come here and TalentCorp reconigses and understands that.
TalentCorp has made processing work permits a simpler process now. They recognise the reasons why we need to bring foreign talents in or why we need to attract Malaysians to come back, and they understand the whole dynamics very well.
It’s a timely initiative for the Malaysian government as well, because so many other countries in Asia are also trying to attract a lot of high quality expatriates.
Malaysia is probably the most attractive destination for an expatriate to live in South East Asia because you have a very high quality workforce, the people here speak English and the infrastructure—despite what people say—is very good. Take the MRT for example—yes, it causes traffic jams now but when that is completed, KL will be a different place to live in.
Besides that, Malaysia also has great choices of international schools—the opportunities for your kids to diversify their learning is very significant here.
Malaysia is a reasonably safe place to live at. I would say that Malaysia is no less safe than any of the great cities in the world. It’s in a great location geographically because for companies like us, our markets for the future are in India and China, and Malaysia is sitting right in between.
To tap into the talents in this country who can speak Mandarin, Hindi or Tamil is great because they can service the two regions.
In Malaysia, which is typical in a lot of Asian countries, the culture is very warm here—you get to know someone and within a week they will invite you back to their home to meet their families to have dinner, and perhaps in the Western context we don’t do that as often.
The other thing is that, a lot of things in Malaysia work on relationships—having strong relationships make things happen, whether it’s in business or your personal life, and that applies all over the world but certainly in Malaysia it is a key aspect.
Also, Malaysians in general tend to take more risks and are willing to be more entrepreneurial in their outlook. People are hungry for success and they want to achieve something better for themselves and for their next generation. The people here are still improving and I think that’s very important and very attractive.
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