PEOPLE | Contributed Content, Singapore
Ashley Kelly

Manpower strategies for the ASEAN power market


It’s no secret that the power installation market is heating up in Southeast Asia.

As the countries of Southeast Asia progress from emerging to developed status, building out electricity infrastructure is a key ambition of both government and business leaders.

While many organizations publicly profess that they want to be part of the expansion, when it comes to executing a profitable strategy professional service companies soon find conditions quite challenging.

For many companies trying to capture this market, project delays are the biggest risk. Company thought leaders must recognize the uniqueness of the area.

This region is less transparent with hidden complications in financial and business cultural protocol which often cause unpredictable project delays.

Since Southeast Asia is not as developed as other markets (such as Europe, Japan and North America), first movers are not rewarded with the same kind of success. Companies ought to show restraint, being careful not to take on too much overhead in anticipation of upcoming projects.

Of course, keeping a core group of field engineers is recommended, but supplementing personnel with regional manpower allows companies the flexibility to ramp up or down as needed. Partnering with an established staffing firm can be a strategic move in this case, removing some or all of the risk.

Utilizing an adaptive labor model, companies are able to ride out the inherent construction cycles. While outsourcing some personnel needs does slightly impact your cost leverage, the advantages of a flexible labor pool certainly outweigh the negatives.

Secondly, taking advantage of a “risk free trial” is another unique benefit offered by many manpower supply firms. Employment probationary periods are common in Asia.

Most companies, however, don’t have a proven methodology for weeding out less experienced candidates, and realize too late that a poor hiring decision has been made.

Regional manpower supply partners are able to offer flexibility, giving companies more time to decide if an employee is the right fit. Manpower supply firms pre-screen all applicants, so only the best are presented for final selection. This process ensures that only quality workers are assigned to projects.

Finally, there is something refreshing about the honesty of using contracted personnel. The employees understand that they are hired for one project and will not be disappointed when the company releases them after their work is done.

This openness allows for a more productive working relationship and eliminates some of the inherent politics that can occur on the job site.

Project delays are an unavoidable part of the power industry, and the uncertainty of working in an emerging market like Southeast Asia can teach painful lessons. Experienced and disciplined companies expect and plan for project delays and know not to over leverage themselves in anticipation of work.

To ensure that your company doesn’t make unnecessary mistakes, partner with a local and established manpower supplier. This partnership will help you stay flexible and ensure the right people are on your side.

Ashley Kelly, PIC Asia Pacific Sdn. Bhd.

PIC Asia Pacific Sdn. Bhd. is a leader in supplying Professional Staffing Services to the global power industry. With offices in Kuala Lumpur and Manila, PIC Asia Pacific (a subsidiary of U.S. based PIC Group, Inc.) has supported Asia’s power generation business since 1994. For more information about PIC Asia Pacific, visit  

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Asian Power. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Ashley Kelly

Ashley Kelly

Ashley Kelly is the General Manager at PIC Asia Pacific Sdn. Bhd.

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