01 Mar 2013
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Oil Rigs and Ripe Fruit


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With 40,000 employees, Singapore-based Keppel Corporation is one of the world's largest manufacturers of offshore oil rigs, both floating deep-water semisubmersibles that anchor to the seabed and "jack-up" rigs that stand on legs on the ocean floor in shallower depths. In an article in the Financial Times (November 5, 2012), Keppel CEO Choo Chiau Beng (PMD 44, 1982) discussed how the global nature of the oil industry requires a nuanced knowledge of how to do business in a variety of different cultures. As an example, Choo cited a negotiating exercise from his PMD days at HBS.

While the Americans in the group were often eager to settle, Choo said, "the Japanese guys and I and another guy from Singapore, we were very patient, and we always got the best deal." But as an acting chief executive, he noted, "I think you must be both. You must be impatient because you want to get things done, but you must be patient enough to allow the fruit to ripen."

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