Insights on BASF

By Samyak Jain

Experience+ is a series of online learning journeys and industry visits that give students the chance to virtually visit workplaces, speak directly with working professionals, and learn about organisations that they aspire to join.

On 21 April 2023, Advisory hosted Experience+: BASF, where participants had the opportunity to network with professionals within the chemical industry and hear directly from them about their experience working at BASF. We were privileged to have heard and gathered insights from:

  • Ang Chek Kuan, Site Asset Manager (Performance Chemicals)
  • Annie Tan, Head, Human Resources (Singapore)
  • Chng Loi Siang, Head, Planning & Operational Controlling (Performance Materials)
  • Evelyn Shen, Vice President, Business Management (Surface Treatment)
  • Lee Lian Na, Quality Control Analyst (Performance Chemicals)
  • Lincoln Lee, Regional Product Manager (Pharma Solutions)

Our selected participants included students from various education levels and institutions with a shared passion for the chemical industry, and a common interest to position themselves for available opportunities at BASF and in the industry.

Below are some key points shared during the session:

BASF is one of the largest chemical companies in the world. Our purpose is to create chemistry for a sustainable future. We do so via input from various divisions and engagement with local communities. 

The company has over 111,000 employees worldwide and 82,000 customers from various sectors in almost every country. We are combined into six different segments: Chemicals, Materials, Industrial Solutions, Surface Technologies, Nutrition & Care and Agricultural Solutions. 

BASF has been present in Singapore since 1978. Currently, we have over 500 employees in the country, which is also one of our regional bases in Asia. Locally, we operate from six different locations including our head office, four production sites and the Human Nutrition Application Lab located at Singapore Polytechnic. Our production footprint comprises of Agricultural Solutions and Electronic Materials at Tuas, Performance Chemicals at Jurong Island and Surface Treatment at Changi.

A chemical plant is made up of numerous moving parts. A typical routine task as operations engineers, we gather a lot of information to prepare their production reports. We will then conduct our routine morning inspection. If an error is discovered during the inspection, the field team will check with the control room to better understand the nature of the problem. With that, we will proceed to isolate the error and stop the processing unit if needed.

After all of that is done, various teams will play their part in troubleshooting the problem. The Environment, Health & Safety team will evaluate the potential causes and hazards of the error detected. The Maintenance Support team will attempt to resolve the error. The Quality team will obtain samples from the error to troubleshoot. 

As seen above, the smooth management of a chemical plant requires many teams to come together and perform their jobs competently. Therefore, cross-function team collaboration and the ability to solve problems under pressure are important skills if you are considering this line of work.

Here’s an introduction to our Performance Chemicals site at Jurong Island:

A product manager makes strategic decisions on marketing. Customers in different regions and industries have varying needs. Thus, the marketing approaches are tailored accordingly. 

On the strategic level, three principles are used – volumes, prices and defending market share. We have to make decisions around these principles. Firstly, we determine the volumes of products which are pushed to different markets. Secondly, we decide what the prices of the products should be based on the development level of the markets. Lastly, we come up with the optimal method to compete with other companies providing similar services. 

We also work with supply chain managers to ensure that there is sufficient stock in various warehouses to provide customers with their desired products. It is important for product managers to reach out to various teams across different countries to understand their markets and to communicate with them. This will ensure that the best strategic decision can be made for the company. 

Account Managers, or sales managers as we are otherwise known, are front-facing employees who go into the markets and approach customers to understand their needs. If customers face any problems, we will be their first point of contact to help come up with solutions and provide BASF products. 

As account managers, we need to have stellar interpersonal communication to help customers while understanding their priorities. This is so that we can align BASF products with the company’s desired goals.

BASF is a large organization with 11 divisions bearing operational responsibility. Thus, the roles at our company go beyond those that require a background in chemistry. An example of such is controlling where one would not need to have a degree in Chemistry. There are different types of controlling functions to support varying corporate needs at BASF, which are site controlling, regional business controlling, operating division controlling and corporate controlling. 

In the country offices of BASF there are also roles where educational background of other disciplines are required. For example, finance, communications, and human resource roles do not necessarily need to be educated in Chemistry. The company provides many internal opportunities for employees to explore different facets of the business and join different teams. BASF values individuals with different backgrounds as diversity allows everyone to draw on their own perspectives to best grow the company.

BASF offers a talent development programme for the Asia Pacific region known as the Leadership Excellence Asia Pacific (LEADx) programme. The LEADx programme aims to strengthen its leadership pipeline in the Asia Pacific region by targeting employees with the potential to take up leadership roles in the future. Employees can co-create their own development plan with a wide variety of training programmes including mentoring and coaching.