Mohamad Azahar Saat

“Served with a challenge to work in a foreign land far from home, Mohamad Azahar proved that a winning mindset is a requisite to overcome obstacles and excel. Be inspired by Azahar’s story here.”

Mohamad Azahar Saat
Operations Manager of Guadalcanal Plains Palm Oil Limited (GPPOL), Solomon Islands
Rising to a New Challenge at GPPOL, Solomon Islands
Being assigned to a faraway location may sound daunting to some, but for planters (and millers), it has become part and parcel of their career. For former mill manager, Mohamad Azahar Saat, his faraway relocation came in February 2016 when he was assigned to manage the Tetere Palm Oil Mill under the Guadalcanal Plains Palm Oil Limited (GPPOL) in Solomon Islands – a foreign land which he now calls his second home.
In a recent interview, Azahar admitted to having mixed feelings about his transfer initially. He was overwhelmed with nervousness, sadness, happiness, and excitement all at the same time. But a week was all it took for him to settle in and get straight to work.
According to Azahar, his penchant for challenge, adventure, and doing things differently to push his potential were some of the “things” he brought to his new home, plus a positive and winning mindset which always proved to be helpful. “This is a new chapter in my career. I had previously managed mills, constructed and commissioned new mills and even closed down a mill (during his secondment to the Engineering Department), and now I’m at GPPOL in Solomon Islands.”
His passion and enthusiasm were definitely noticed when he was given bigger roles and responsibilities as Operations Manager in-charge of the whole GPPOL operations beginning April last year.
“At GPPOL, I am lucky to have a very good team working with me led by the General Manager, Craig Gibsone, and previously his predecessor who was also my mentor - the late Andrew Kerr. Team work among employees is very good. They are ready to give their best and very supportive of each other,” said Azahar who has 23 years of experience in the plantation industry and was brought up in an oil palm plantation environment.
“Although we are a small operating unit, we are doing very well. In fact we are one of the companies that make good contribution to NBPOL’s profit for FY16/17,” he said proudly as he reminded us of Tetere’s success in winning the ‘Best Global Operation” and “Best Performance Company in PNG/Solomon Islands” at the recent 2017 Annual Awards. “We also won Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) “Large Business of the Year” award,” he said, adding that all the awards were proof of the team’s hard work.
When asked who his biggest inspiration is, Azahar said, “My family is my biggest inspiration. They are very supportive of my career and they are my biggest motivator.” He also took comfort in knowing that Allah the Almighty is present wherever he goes.
Azahar believes that almost nothing is impossible. “The word ‘impossible’ to me also means “I M POSSIBLE” therefore I will ‘Just Do It’,” he quipped, borrowing the famous Nike tagline.
He also believes that by inspiring and motivating people, they will be able to perform to their fullest potential and work as a team to overcome challenges. “Taking ownership helps create passion and commitment towards ensuring everything is in place.” “I also like to teach and motivate others because when we motivate others, we will also get motivated.” Any progress is considered a success no matter how small they are. “Even the smallest improvement, like Kaizen, has to be appreciated because I believe in continuous improvement,” he said.
As Operations Manager, he is responsible for all GPPOL Operating Units namely three plantations, a palm oil mill/kernel crushing mill, the Centralised Workshop & Transport Department, Technical Service Department, CPO/PKO bulking terminal and overseas oil shipments. “The learning and new experience gets me excited. I like to challenge myself because I can gain a lot of experience from it. Being here, we need to be creative and think out of the box as there’s very limited resources. ”
Whilst busy at work, Azahar made sure he has the time to enjoy the boundless beauty of the Solomon Islands. But natural beauty is not the only attraction as there are also many traces of history on this island nation such as the World War II relics, the famed Battle of Guadalcanal and also an abundance of fresh seafood to savour!
Azahar also keeps himself occupied during his free time with golfing, jogging or football. And because of his passion for football, he was appointed as President of the GPPOL Football Union. “We recently completed our second season of GPPOL Super League (GSL), and we aim to eventually form a GPPOL football team that is strong enough to compete in any competition,” he said adding that GPPOL had also formed its very own GPPOL Touch Rugby Club to add variety to recreational activities for the employees. Besides keeping the employees healthy, the sports activities also help improve workers’ outturn which is currently at more than 90% on most days.
Thank you Azahar for sharing and we wish you the very best of success in your stint at GPPOL, Solomon Islands.
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