"I overran yesterday," says Datuk Faris Yahaya, the youthful looking, newly installed Group CEO for Orangebeam Berhad.
By overran, the 50-year-old who holds a finance and accounting background was referring to the overexertion running the evening before at the Putrajaya Lake. A fitness fanatic, Faris is known to leave his car at home and run to his office in the mornings.
He was highly animated during the interview at Astro AWANI, bubbling with energy as he outlines his aspirations to disrupt the construction industry through Orangebeam, formerly known as Perdana Builders Berhad.
The positive side of this energy is to be channeled into running the organisation
As he adjusted himself in his seat facing the lights and camera, Faris shares his enthusiasm toward running and how it all started in 2009, gradually entering marathons and later picking up cycling and swimming along the way. These days, clocking in close to 50km a week of running, Faris believes that it’s very important to keep ‘moving’.
“I do not like to sit still. Running gives me time to do my thinking and planning, and I find that my mind is clearer when I’m running, and it helps especially when I’m trying to solve a problem.
“People tell me I am full of energy, and whenever I am in that element, it shows. So what better way to channel this energy into something productive. This excess energy that I have, will burn when I’m running and all.
“But the positive side of this energy is to be channeled into running the organisation, and reflecting that, onto my colleagues. So they can basically feel the energy being dispensed by their group CEO. I hope that this energy of mine is a positive energy so that they themselves are energised by this,” says Faris with a smile.
The endorphins rush he gets from running would no doubt spur his staff of 380 people into fulfilling his newfound vision.
After being appointed as group CEO in August 2018, Faris has made a bold decision to rename and reposition the 30-year-old, well-established company that has delivered over RM13 billion worth of projects.
“Some people has told me, Orangebeam sounds so hipster, sounds like a dotcom company. So I took the opportunity to tell them, Orangebeam is a combination of two words, it’s orange and beam."
“Orange is a colour of the future, a colour that reflects innovation, that reflects boldness and it epitomises our intention to disrupt."
Orange is a colour of the future, a colour that reflects innovation
“Beam! It’s a fundamental structure than withstands the force and the weight, and it distributes these force and weight horizontally into vertical forces. It’s a combination of two-words which I thought was apt and the right description that reflects our intent in moving forward,” says Faris.
The idea of repositioning the company, according to Faris, is due to his believe that it is time that the brick and mortar construction industry evolve to be more digitised. His vision is to disrupt the industry.
“There was a report by McKinsey back in 2015/2016, saying that the construction industry is the second least digitised in the whole world. As you can see now, there has been some infusion of technology. For example, the Industrialised Building System (IBS). So, this is the right time for a change."
“We have a bold blueprint, we want to disrupt and develop the future, combining with Orangebeam’s sector expertise, we want to be able to offer highly specialised and technical projects and services.
“It also means, disrupting intentionally to give impact to the three things: human, economy and environment. We want to make sure we leverage the existing strength and attributes that we have,” says Faris.
Orangebeam’s expertise includes commercial, residential and maritime sectors, including green and sustainable buildings. The company is also involved in port projects, highways, bridges, dams, pipelines, terminal reservoirs and other civil engineering works.
Among one of the most impactful projects that Faris is proud of is Westports.
“With a total wharf length measuring 5.8 kilometres, our builders constructed Container Terminal (CT) wharfs 5 to 9 - except CT 8-1 - measuring 2.7 kilometres. The total cost is more than RM1 billion."
“If you were to stand on the terminal, you can actually appreciate the strength that the terminal needs to withstand,” says Faris proudly.
When asked about how Orangebeam will take its role on sustainability and environment, Faris is confident that under the company’s green and sustainable sector expertise, Orangebeam is able to play a significant role in helping its clients' reduce their carbon footprint.
“Adopting green technology will definitely give a direct improvement in our lives. Not only that, it helps us economically as well. We should be cognisant to the fact that we have this responsibility as a citizen of this world to make sure that we take charge and we take care of the environment."
“One of our successful development in the green and sustainable sector is the Diamond Building, which is the headquarters for the Malaysia Energy Commision in Putrajaya. It is the first office building in Malaysia to obtain the Green Building Index platinum rating, and the first outside of Singapore to obtain the Green Mark platinum rating."
“That Diamond Building is equipped with Variable Air Volume (VAV) controller, energy-efficient lighting controls powered by sensor technologies, and automated blinds and Tannenbaum reflector panels that optimise daylight. This has resulted great energy efficiency, and saves nearly RM1 million in electricity bills!” says Faris.
Acknowledging that the company has received awards for many of its projects, Faris believes it is time that Orangebeam can become ambassadors for other countries which may be looking at championing the green agenda as well.
Apart from Orangebeam’s focus in the construction industry, it has another subsidiary that focuses on properties and developments under Senandung Budiman Sdn Bhd.
Recognising consumers' shift towards a digital lifestyle, Faris wants to build smart homes that are affordable.
“We are in the process of launching our latest project in Precinct 16, Putrajaya. It is a hillside development. I’m not just interested to push products that can sell, I’m interested with the features that is going to benefit the house buyers as well."
“Smart homes, smart features are something we talk about. I want these features to be incorporated into our products without an increase in cost. It should be part and parcel of the existing price points for the products,” says Faris.
This year, Faris has an ambitious target. He wants to ramp up the order book to an additional of RM1.5 billion.
“I know it’s a tall order. However, I’m not interested at just numbers. I want this RM1.5 billion to be represented by impactful projects that can showcase our ability and strength in our quest to digitise the industry."
“At least, the construction industry may move up a few notches from the second least digitised industry into something more palatable,” he says.
As we approach the end of the interview, Faris reassures his commitment in building a better future and hopes that his team of 380 people share the same aspiration as well.
“I think it’s very important for us to keep on moving because, like cycling, once you stop pedaling, you will fall. This life is an ongoing journey, we should always be moving until the day when we call it quits, and that day is not today,” he says with much enthusiasm.
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