Copyright © 2020 Gamuda Berhad
by Sheena Wong
Gamuda’s English Language Unit (ELU) and the Group Corporate Communications and Sustainability Department (GCCS) collaborated in organising the second annual English Writing Contest, themed ‘Sustainability, the Savvy Way’.
The contest was launched on the English Language Day and the World Book and Copyright Day, 23 April 2020.
It ran over a month and received a good mix of entries across the Group’s departments and projects, as sustainability is an overarching subject that applies to all.
Incorporating ‘Sustainability’ as a common theme stemmed from a coffee discussion between the ELU Head, Dr Ho Sook Wah and GCCS General Manager and Chief Sustainability Officer, Ong Jee Lian.
The collaboration was to kill two birds with one stone.
The ELU wanted to provide an avenue for Gamudians to write in English on a theme important to the Group, while GCCS wished to weave the interest of sustainability among staff members.
Ultimately, the contest hoped to seek feasible ideas for Gamudians to walk the talk on sustainability at a personal and professional level.
A panel of seven judges, including Dr Ho and Jee Lian, was mindfully selected to represent all sides of the business.
Copyright © 2020 Gamuda Berhad
The judges reviewed the entries for eventual implementation; hence, clearly articulated ideas are the key to writing for the judges to understand the proposed ideas and weigh the practicality to operationalise them.
In the process, the judges found sound suggestions to integrate sustainability, especially in construction operation, procurement processes and utilities usage habits.
Sustainability is certainly a mindset change. This is the common notion that Jee Lian gathered from all the submissions.
“It is heartening to see the writers understood the fundamentals of sustainability, and how the pandemic situation opened their eyes to the fact that the planet lies in balance with profit and people,” she said.
Many of the contest writers highlighted the importance of mindset change in personal habits and work processes, and practising ‘integrity’ to do what is right even when no one is looking.
“These reflect the ESG (environment, social and governance) fundamentals, which the writers understood. Many highlighted that it’s necessary to lead a change in the built environment and use fewer natural resources,” added Jee Lian.
Some of the submissions advocated implementing sustainable practices and using technologies to streamline business operations. Regulation compliance would help to kick start the process.
The actionable ideas will be explored for implementation, such as the use of chatbot algorithm for document control process, dashboard that displays utility usage and wastage in monetary value to induce behavioural change among employees.
The judges scored the submissions based on five writing criteria, i.e. content, relevance to theme, coherence and writing structure, language use and succinct communication.
“Generally, all the writers were able to express their ideas, but we found that some would still need to work on communicating with more impact by structuring their ideas more cohesively and coherently,” Dr Ho observed.
She opined that Gamudians should leverage on the writing contest as a platform to hone their writing skills.
The ELU would look at offering writing workshops for aspiring writers.
Gamuda Engineering General Manager, Tan Ek Khai noted many participants brought up the fact that sustainability is about changing human behaviours.
He urged to keep the writing simple and that ‘less is more’ when trying to present their ideas more effectively, which is a crucial skill at work.
Gamuda Parks Chief Operating Officer, Khariza Abdul Khalid stressed that while promoting sustainability is a long journey, writing is a great way to engage people’s interest, especially in the area of biodiversity.
ELU Manager, Pauline Teo, commended on the participants’ efforts as it takes tremendous courage to write for a contest.
She pointed out that it boils down to a lot of reading, researching and understanding of the topic before one could start writing.
Head of Project Information Management, Ronan Collins hoped some of the great ideas could be elaborated upon further. He expected to see a more detailed discussion on the pros and cons of an idea to sum up the written piece comprehensively.
Group Sustainability Manager, Venu Mahendra expressed the need for writing to generate a good first and last impression.
Before any writing commences, the thought process must be in place to ensure logic and consistency throughout the essay, while having a meaningful flow of points.
In summarising the key takeaways from the judges, Dr Ho reiterated the importance of writing to serve a purpose, with the reader in mind.
“In essence, an impactful writing piece should be cohesive, coherent and engaging,” she said.
“Great ideas will just remain as ideas unless they are communicated with impact. Having a good command of English gives us that edge,” she added.
by STANISLAUS ROSHAN ANTHONYSAMY
We spend more hours at our work places than at our homes; therefore, our contribution to sustainability should be relatively more when we are commuting to and from work, and when we are at work. The COVID-19 pandemic has awakened us to some realities that will become our new normal, and how we could contribute at a personal level, and as a business organisation.
The pandemic has prevented us from frequent ride-sharing or the use of public transport for fear of contracting the virus; therefore, unless we are absolutely required physically at our work locations, working from home remains a more sustainable solution. To those who work from the office or work sites, the use of web applications for remote meetings will now be increasingly utilised to engage all stakeholders; this eliminates the need to travel, minimises the need to be in close proximity, and contributes directly to lesser air pollution caused by commuting. In only just a few weeks of the movement control order around the world, our planet has begun to heal itself; heavy dense fogs that became part of the ‘normal’ in some cities due to excessive pollution from cars and factories have now disappeared, and polluted rivers and lakes which were said to be impossible to be cleaned have ‘cleaned’ themselves as man-made pollution has been drastically decreased the pandemic quarantine. The anxious request on every Earth Day Celebration for the past 50 years to implement one day in the world with no vehicles on the road has, unfortunately or fortunately, come to pass via a pandemic, and this has proven that we actually can make a difference to the environment if we had wanted to, by not driving or stopping the factories for a few days.
The pandemic has also opened our eyes to so many people who live hand to mouth and/or have lost their source of income as a result of the movement control order. These people are now suffering without being able to afford food while others throw away good food on a daily basis. Malaysia’s daily food waste is about 17,000 tonnes; this can feed approximately 12 million people three times a day. These staggering numbers should be an eye opener to us. Thus, it is comforting to know that many organisations in Malaysia such as Robin Food, Grub Cycle, Lost Food Project and the like have been formed by sustainability conscious founders to collect food that would otherwise have gone to waste to be redistributed to the needy. At a personal level, I am doing my part by ensuring that food consumption and raw food procurement in my house hold is limited to only what is required, and that we are conscious about those who are suffering to feed themselves and their families on a daily basis. I also believe in doing my part in reaching out and helping through these food collection agencies whenever there is food to spare; a simple phone call to any of these food collection organisations is all that it takes to make a difference in providing sustenance to a fellow human being.
As a company, Gamuda can contribute to sustainability through the use of a dashboard that shows us in Ringgit and Sen the daily usage of plastic for waste paper baskets, lights replaced, air conditioner power usage, water usage, stationary usage, printer paper usage, etc. When employees actually see the monetary value of the waste that they are contributing to, they will subconsciously help reduce this waste whenever and wherever they can. In addition, Gamuda can reach out to its employees during major celebrations of Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, Deepavali and Christmas to utilise the services of food collection agencies as food wastage during festivities is the highest. Having employees volunteer with these food collection agencies as part of Gamuda’s Corporate Social Responsibility activity can further instil the value of giving whatever extra we have.
Gamuda can further align with the UN’s Industry and Infrastructure sustainability goal by engaging with our Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to ensure that they provide products that require minimal maintenance i.e. a robust design and mechanics utilising ethically sourced parts and sustainable consumables. This will ensure end products that are profitable in every way to our clients. Sustainable innovation like the innovation in battery technology that is increasingly being improved to harness power and to disperse it economically has the potential to be developed further to power vehicles, households, trains, train stations, and E&M systems like lifts and escalators. The world is moving away from dependence on finite fossil fuels towards cleaner and healthier alternatives.
I believe that there are more than enough resources in this world to provide for each and every person and animal in this world. It is due to our excesses that resources are not equally distributed or are not protected. There is still not enough practical education on the subject of “sustainability” in schools and in institutions of higher learning. A paradigm shift in the way that we see our country, home and office like Norway’s ban on deforestation, Japan’s recycling programme and Finland’s renewable energy programme are examples of what is needed for us to respect what we take for granted, and to spark the fire of innovation in our young adults to continue to seek new ways to live a better and sustainable life.