Name of Recipient:
Mr. Syed Ahmad bin Abdul Rahman
Geotechnical engineering is a highly specialized field, which involves performing laboratory tests to determine the physical properties of soils and rock. It is a prerequisite step for construction firms to understand soil conditions and behavior before laying the foundations for any structure. This is because the type of soil can have a significant impact on the methods and equipment used in any infrastructure development and is used for costings for the potential project.
SA Geolab International Pte Ltd is a leading soil laboratory company in South East Asia providing a full range of lab analysis services from classification to index, strength and volume change tests. Led by Mr. Syed Ahmad, the company is proficient at testing both onshore and offshore soil samples with a stellar track record of servicing high profile clients from all over the world. SA Geolab’s site labs are accredited by the Singapore Laboratory Accreditation Scheme (SINGLAS).
Prior to setting up his business, Syed worked under McClelland Engineers for 10 years. He was in charge of managing their lab before moving on to fulfill a contract with Hyundai for the Changi reclamation project. However, his dislike for remaining idle during the downtime between contracts pushed him to start his own company. He was confident that his background in the oil and gas industry would give him the experience and contacts needed to succeed.
Like many other start-ups, Syed faced the challenge of hiring staff when he first went into business. Due to the niche of geotechnical engineering, new employees would be lacking in experience and might be unwilling to work with a small firm. Additionally, the initial capital expenditure for doing business was also high due to the need to acquire lab equipment. He also shares that recent competition from other businesses has become stiffer due to the lack of work to sustain increasing overheads, leading to prices within the industry being slashed in order to secure jobs. To overcome this, Syed made the calculated decision for his company to take a high-tech approach in their operations.
However, although going high-tech differentiates SA Geolab from its competitors, it also requires a proficient well-trained workforce to take advantage of sophisticated equipment. Syed utilizes his connections within the oil and gas industry to send his technicians as well as engineers overseas to work on offshore vessels. This gives his employees a unique opportunity and builds up their experience and capabilities, which can be translated over to the local industry.
When asked for some of his proudest achievements to date, Syed cites the clinching of the contract from Dredging International Asia Pacific for the Jurong Island Westward Extension (JIWE) project as one of them. He regards the lucrative deals with European companies for long-term projects as one of the signs of his company being recognized for its quality. Another moment was when a National University of Singapore (NUS) professor who was an assessor for SINGLAS recommended the services of SA Geolab to a consulting group from the UK because of how impressed he was with their facilities.
Syed foresees a rapid expansion for SA Geolab in the next 5 years due to upcoming projects from Tuas reclamation works and potentially Pulau Tekong and Changi East as well. Besides upcoming local projects, he is also looking forward to overseas opportunities in Indonesia with dredging companies engaging their services and a lab in Jakarta due to be set up. As a result of these upcoming projects, SA Geolab have started a recruitment drive in order to meet the growing demand for staff at their branch laboratories.
For Syed, entrepreneurship means working to achieve your potential and pushing limits to grow as a person. He takes pride in the growth of his company, as well as providing people with gainful employment. Embodying the entrepreneurial spirit, Syed takes satisfaction in coming up with pioneering techniques that became recognized by his industry peers and consultants.
However, Syed finds himself most motivated by being a pioneer and role model for the Malay-Muslim community. He is driven by SA Geolab being the first Malay-Muslim company in Singapore to attain the recognition and success they have achieved over the years and hopes to be recognized by the community and industry for their work in the technology field.
Sharing the qualities that have driven his business forward, Syed maintains that one needs to ensure capability and honesty; capability to attract clients and honesty to inculcate trust and credibility in order to establish repeat clients. He advises to guard oneself against complacency and keep a self-analytical mind to find ways to progress. By adapting these qualities into his business, Syed has forged SA Geolab into a leading company highly respected and preferred amongst industry movers and shakers.
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