Category Archives: Perspectives

Decisions

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Decisions As we approach the final surfactants conference, in Singapore, in our 2017 series, I want to write a bit about our central theme for this year, that is decisions. We like to say that our conferences will help attendees be more effective business leaders by making better decisions. So I’d like to explore the nature and complexity of decision-making here – as I do in this year’s conference opening remarks, thereby teeing up some issues for our speakers to talk about in the ensuing one and a half days. As is customary, we start with a video. This time it’s Iron Maiden from their 2011 tour in Santiago, Chile The song is “The Trooper” and it is about one of those curious events in British history when a tragic failure, a defeat, a rout, is somehow held up and celebrated as a great victory, throughout the ages. Every English schoolboy knows the story and while, it is not clear if the Chilean schoolboys at this concert would be familiar with the details, they are more than happy to sing along with gusto. This particular event took place on the Crimean peninsula in the 19th Century and involved a British struggle…

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2016 Retrospective

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2016 Retrospective Division This is not the December 2016 Surfactant Review. That is in a separate post, at this link. This post here consists of some of my thoughts about 2016 and the near future, interspersed with topical music video mostly from my youth. By reading this post, you will likely not learn much, if anything, about surfactants. So, if it is surfactants news and analysis you are after, go to this link for our December 2016 Surfactants Monthly. End of disclaimer. 2016 was characterized as one of “division” and much popular opinion deemed it therefore a bad year and one to be dismissed with “good riddance”. In fact, just today (December 28th), a 2016 good riddance party was held in New York. Of course it seems that division is the worst characterization of all that can be made of any situation and divisiveness is right up there with the sloth, gluttony et al in the popular firmament of modern sins. In any event, 2016 is being branded the year of division for reasons which I understand but into which I think we should dig a little deeper. Looking back in even recent history, one sees much greater division and…

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The Future of Oleochemicals – Neil Burns at PIPOC 2015

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As I said in the previous post, it was a great honour to talk in front of 2,500 people at this year’s International Palm Oil Conference (PIPOC), produced by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board. Here’s a video of the talk. If you are expecting an exposition of Angelina Jolie, that’s not me, it’s Carl Bek-Nielsen of United Plantations (a superb talk and speaker). In my talk, however, you will get a story around little packets of salt and a hugely abbreviated history of oleochemicals from the time of the “big bang” to the present day. If you like some of the themes explored here and the manner in which I explore them, I encourage you to join me for a day and a half in Singapore, November 19 – 20th (Thursday and Friday) for our Fifth Asian Surfactants Conference.

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Malaysian Palm Oil Board’s PIPOC 2015 – Review

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Notes on MPOB’s PIPOC in Malaysia October 6 – 8th, 2015 The excellent MPOB’s international palm oil congress (PIPOC) attracted about 8,000 to the KLCC in central Kuala Lumpur this month. I was honoured to be asked to speak again after my last appearance there in 2011. This being Malaysia and Palm Oil, the event was a big deal. Oil palm represents about 6% of Malaysian GDP, over 60% of exports and an employer of over 600,000 people. The industry is a key driver of the country’s ongoing transition to beyond emerging market status. The event was attended and opened by the Minister of Planation Industries and Commodities, Malaysia, YB Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas. Numerous members of government and ambassadors to Malaysia attended the opening ceremony. The six plenary lectures in the opening session set the tone for the entire event and took place in front of an attentive crowd of around 2,500. Here a few comments and my take on each:” Carl Bek-Nielsen, CEO of United Plantations Berhad opened with a talk on sustainability in the oil palm business. A remark which has stayed with me is the following “Like it or not, the proboscis monkey and the…

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