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Compounding Change

In Focus
NAME:Arnel Santos
COMPANY:JG Summit Olefins Corporation
POSITION:CEO & President
LOCATION:Pasig City, Philippines
With over three decades of experience in the petrochemicals industry, CEO Arnel Santos is on a mission to transform JG Summit Olefins Corporation as it grows from strength to strength.

According to Arnel Santos, the single most important thing he can do as President and CEO of JG Summit Olefins Corporation, a supplier of petrochemical products and solutions, is to ensure that the working conditions at his company make his employees feel safe.

“I’ve learned over time that as a leader, I am the steward of the life of the people that happen to work with me,” he tells The CEO Magazine. “By that, I mean that I feel very strongly about creating an environment that people feel safe in – physically, mentally, emotionally. That’s fundamental. And that way people can develop into the best that they can be.”

“I feel very strongly about creating an environment that people feel safe in – physically, mentally, emotionally.”

Moreover, Santos also believes that it is his role and responsibility as the captain to create value at the same time as eradicating waste.

“I am all about creating value for the shareholders, stakeholders and my employees,” he says. “This in turn helps me support the local communities, as well as our growth going forward. And because of that focus on value, I am always also very particular about eliminating value leakage.”

Intrinsic Ambition

Santos credits his humble beginnings as the root of this predilection, but emphasizes that any company can benefit from this mentality.

“I know what it’s like when you’re growing up to not have enough,” he says of his childhood in the Philippines. “And so I have a very visceral reaction when I see waste that we should be controlling. I want to create a sustainable organizational capability that will sustain and make the business thrive on its own.”

JG Summit Olefins pioneered the chemical industry in the Philippines, beginning as a joint venture in 1994 with Japan-based Marubeni Corporation. The venture initially focused on polyethylene and polypropylene products, which were marketed under the EVALENE® brand and eventually entered export markets. Today, having undergone several iterations, the company is proud to be not only the largest, but the clear market leader for the supply of petrochemical products and solutions in the Philippines.

Apex Energy

Santos stepped into the role of CEO of JG Summit Olefins in August 2023. Drawing on his background as a chemical process engineer and 25 years of working with oil and gas giant Shell, he has set about implementing a new strategy that will see the next 15 months accelerate transformation of the business.

“There are three pillars: accelerated commercial excellence, disciplined operational excellence, and the last piece of the puzzle is an integrated people plan,” he explains.

“These three pillars are aimed at removing the value gap between our current performance and the inherent potential of the business within the market. From the beginnings of JG Summit Olefins in the early nineties to where it is today, the owners have invested progressively. So now it’s all about thriving, not just surviving,” he says.

Necessary Innovation

One significant challenge, as well as an opportunity for the business, is focusing on the local market in the Philippines.

“That’s where we need innovation, with a sustainability mindset and an examination of our capability for the kinds of products we make,” Santos says.

“So that we can make headway into maximizing our domestic market as opposed to exporting products. We set the benchmark for reliability, safety, performance and product quality, and we’re doing all of that with a competitive cost base. But it’s about making sure that we don’t leave any stone unturned when it comes to transforming the business into the most reliable, efficient version of itself.”

In its dealings with suppliers, JG Summit Olefins always prioritizes an open and honest approach and has built trust with partners such as Apex Energy International, which has demonstrated time and time again that these relationships can create immense value for all parties involved.

“I have a very visceral reaction when I see waste that we should be controlling.”

“There’s a sweet spot I find with transparency and collaboration, and that’s the way we’ve created a good foundation with the multitude of suppliers we have in our ecosystem,” Santos says.

“There’s so much to leverage with those relationships going forward, from innovation on the product side of things to the way we do maintenance in the field. We can truly mutually benefit each other – we know exactly the criticality of that relationship, and that it’s essential the relationship is nurtured both ways.”

Above all else, the aim is to be actively sought after by customers, community partners, local governments and suppliers, Santos says.

“We depend on partners in supplying chemicals, stocks, materials, catalysts, and we need those services to support the plant’s safe, reliable operation.”

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