For Benjamin Nair, the ocean has always been his calling. Sea water runs through his blood as his childhood days were spent accompanying his father who was a seafarer on board ships. “The sea and ships have a special place in my heart and have always been a source of great interest and passion for me,” says the effervescent young man who pursued a Bachelor of Science in Maritime Business and Management.
His vast experience in the maritime industry has landed him the current role of executive director at KASI Malaysia, founded by his father Datuk Captain Walter Nair. His role requires him to be involved in all company areas, juggling between human resource management, project management and also marketing while handling commercial communications for the business. A large part of his day is usually spent in the office leading client discussions or project meetings.
“Sabah is a unique state geographically as it has a long coastline and surrounded by the sea. We have several ports to cater for the main cities and towns. As such, ports have played an important role by allowing for the state economy to benefit from the timber and primary goods export industry as well as allowing for passengers to move around the state and overseas,” Benjamin explains in regards to how the maritime industry has shaped Sabah’s development.
However, he acknowledges that the maritime industry in Sabah faces a cargo throughput challenge and the need for a robust manufacturing and export industry. “Government incentives and assistance to develop these key areas would go a long way in expanding Sabah’s maritime industry,” he says.
Outside of work, Benjamin is also an avid rugby player ever since he discovered the sport back in boarding school in Australia. “Our house master was a Queenslander so it was compulsory for all boarders to play,” says the athletic player who also played club rugby in Melbourne and the UK. Looking back, Benjamin has no qualms about taking up the sport as it has changed his life for the better. “I decided to support rugby development in schools located in the west coast of Sabah by providing sponsorship from KASI as well as coaches, equipment and international tours. Giving back to the community and the sport has been rewarding especially when I see the smiles on the youths who are given the opportunity to play and experience the game as I had,” he shares.
Benjamin also believes that the sport unites Sabahans regardless of race and religion, which is why he has established the Sabah OSCA Warriors Rugby Club (SOWRC) in his quest for supporting rugby development. “Overall, rugby teaches a lot of values such as respect, humility and teamwork.”