Our People: Rob Walker, Group Sales Director – Asia

Severn Glocon Group employs around 1,000 people worldwide. Each of them plays an important role in the ongoing success of the business. Our People is an opportunity to get to know some of them a little better. Today, we’re talking with Rob Walker, Group Sales Director – Asia. Rob joined the Group in 2013, initially working across the subsea divisions before taking on a Group-wide role. He recently relocated to Malaysia to support the Group’s five APAC offices and build relationships with clients in the region. We asked him about the rationale behind the move and what his new responsibilities entail.

Why have you relocated to Kuala Lumpur?
Now that my role is focused on the APAC region, it makes sense on many levels for me to be based here permanently. Having a presence on the ground enables me to get a better handle on the nuances of business in different countries and the specific challenges of our target industries. I can reach our offices in China, Japan, Korea and Australia within four to six hours. And operating in a closer time zone to our APAC employees, customers and agents brings major advantages. On a practical level, my proximity to the key APAC markets brings travel costs down significantly.

Can you tell us about your new role?
I represent a wide range of Group products and services across a broad industry spectrum. My portfolio encompasses the Group’s advanced control and choke valve offerings for new projects and established plant, as well as our stock and supply businesses Severn Ball Valves and Severn Utilities Valves. I’m also responsible for the promotion of highly-engineered solutions such as HIPPS. The sectors I work with range from oil and gas to LNG, power, renewables and utilities as well as general processing industries.

Many operators in the region work with frame agreements, so much of my time is dedicated to demonstrating our competences to purchasing decision makers. Negotiating a place for Group companies on approved vendor lists is another key area of focus. Some of our smaller businesses, such as Severn Drives & Energy, don’t yet have an established presence in the APAC region, but they have much to offer. It’s my job to ensure the right people know about relevant Group businesses and how they can help operators enhance performance and productivity.

Do you work closely with the manufacturing teams?
Absolutely! This is a critical part of what I do. My job doesn’t stop once a contract is signed; I continue as a liaison point between the client and our factories. It’s down to me to ensure the engineers understand exactly what is required and iron out any misunderstandings at an early stage so they don’t escalate. This is crucial to ensure we deliver on the engineering excellence that is so fundamental to the Group’s reputation.

What are some of your main priorities at the moment?
One area I’m exploring is how to maximise synergies and opportunities for the Group with partner organisations. I’m also focusing on established plant in the region. There is an immense installed base of valves that haven’t been touched for 20 to 30 years. Severn Unival’s advanced valve engineering services can bring significant advantages for operators that want to optimise or expand the production of existing assets.

What challenges do you face?
The biggest challenge is maintaining momentum across the Group’s diverse spectrum of businesses. At the start of each year I set out with a target list of projects and forecasts, and each month I assess our progress to determine actions and priorities. As the year progresses, there is a natural ebb and flow. Some projects get put on hold, new projects emerge. I have to keep on top of this and ensure we use our time and resources as effectively as possible.

What helps you perform well in your role?
I could talk about planning skills, tenaciousness, resilience and all the usual things. But the reality is that my first job as a shop floor apprentice remains my key driver to this day. I understand how it feels to be at the mercy of the health of an organisation’s order book when you have no control over it. I feel personally responsible for seizing opportunities and representing the Group powerfully and honestly to maximise our success rates for new and repeat business.