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ALMU: Laying the foundation for a sustainable future

Tan Pai KokThe first meeting of the newly elected ALMU Council took place on 17 June 2020. As the incoming Council maps a path for the upcoming two-year term, we spoke with new ALMU Chairman, Mr. Pai Kok Tan, about his priorities for the forthcoming term. Facing a myriad of challenges that include Covid-19 and the perils of climate change, Pai Kok highlighted the importance of building an organisation that is more flexible in responding to change.

Pai Kok holds an impressive 40 years’ experience in the Petroleum industry after beginning his career at Esso Singapore. The University of Nottingham graduate joined integrated oil and gas company Total in 1996, where he is currently Vice President Lubricants Operations , Asia Pacific & Middle East Zone. In a distinguished career at the French multinational, he has demonstrated an ability to react quickly. Overseeing the commissioning of Total’s impressive Singapore plant in 2015 is one such example. The 310,000 metric tonnes capacity project was completed in about two years and is Total’s largest lube blending plant globally.

Pai Kok has been involved with ALMU since its 2018 launch following an introduction by a former colleague, and Industry Liaison Advisor to ALMU, Mr. Charles Champion. He reiterated the importance of combining the passion for lubricants of Asian lubricant manufacturers with a greater level of governance. Now at the helm, Pai Kok will play an influential role in the direction of this burgeoning industry organisation.

The ALMU Chairman identified three priorities for the upcoming term; continuing the growth of the ALMU membership; improving technical competency; and laying the foundation for a sustainable future – to tackle the imminent threat of climate change. On top of these business objectives, he noted the urgency of supporting ALMU members through the continuing Covid-19 global pandemic.

Covid-19 has taken a heavy toll on some ALMU members with many refocusing their energy and resources to navigate the crisis. Uncertainty around Covid-19 has proven the need for contingency plans, the importance of speed of response, and the value of technology. To remain relevant, ALMU must continue to gather pace and employ technology as much as possible, says Pai Kok. China’s rebound from the virus has been impressive, offering a beacon of hope for other Asian countries battling the virus, he says.

Climate change has the potential to be “another Covid-19”, says Pai Kok. The impacts of a shift to electric vehicles and zero-carbon economies could be equally disruptive for lubricant manufacturers. Lubricant manufacturers do not have the luxury of waiting out the Covid-19 storm or placing sustainability on the back burner. ALMU members need to begin to address the climate emergency now or they will suffer even more. Now is the time for ALMU to lay the foundation for our industry’s climate change response, says Pai Kok.

ALMU plays a vital role as an environmentally and socially responsible collective, and is focused on driving awareness and is investing in its sustainability response. The organisation is in the final stages of engaging a consultant to assist in defining the association’s climate response, developing guiding principles, and prioritising solutions. The ALMU Chairman reiterated the importance of a change in mindset across the lubricant industry. Efforts to drive the industry forward must consider profit alongside responsibility, he says. You can view ALMU’s sustainability statement here.

The ALMU membership currently consists of 130 companies including ordinary, associate and affiliate members. Pai Kok outlined a target of 200 members during his leadership term. At the heart of this growth strategy is an effort to improve the value proposition for existing and new ALMU members. Insight gathered from a 2019 members’ survey will play a central role in aligning its activities with the needs of members, says Pai Kok.

To support current members during this challenging Covid-19 period, ALMU has extended the membership of all existing members by six months. New members can avail of the association’s benefits courtesy of a three-month trial period. The organisation is also introducing a new member referral program to reward members who encourage new companies to join. Details will be revealed during the ALMU Virtual Town Hall Meeting on September 29.

There is no denying that Covid-19-related travel restrictions have introduced barriers to the delivery of ALMU’s technical program. The organisation will continue to provide access to a broad range of knowledge-based services including technical papers, white papers, and educational resources. The organisation will continue to make more of its technical and education courses available online, says Pai Kok. The organisation is also looking to extend the reach of the ALMU technical program throughout key Asian markets, including China.

Growing the ALMU membership to over 200, a more comprehensive program for ALMU members to increase their technical knowledge, and ensuring the climate doctrine is well understood. Achieve these objectives and he will have accomplished a significant amount in his two-year term as chairman.

At some point, he believes it may be appropriate to consider whether ALMU should expand its membership profile. ALMU currently represents lubricant manufacturers. To achieve our objectives, we cannot work in isolation, says Pai Kok. We may need to cast our net wider to include not just lubricants manufacturers but the entire lubricants ecosystem, he says.

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