CEO Series 21 – Wing K. Lee, CEO, YTL Communications
Writing credits: Chen Chow Yeoh
Wing was born and raised in Hong Kong. Grew up alone with mother. Mother was small print shop owner, and she went to see clients and Wing would go together. In 1980s, the clients would have a computer, and it is more of showing off.
Back then, his mother bought an Apple for Wing, and what Wing did was playing games. And after approached by his mother, Wing then started to use computer for actual learning. That was in Form 4 in Hong Kong.
In Form 6 in Hong Kong, his mother asked what he wanted to study, and Wing said photography, and just like any Chinese mum, his mother said that he had to pay on his own. So, eventually he went on 2nd choice of Computer Science.
Wing chose the colleges in US, which offer computer science curriculum. University of Texas, Austin was one of the top programs. He applied for University of California, Berkeley, Brown, University of Minnesota and University of Washington, besides Texas, Austin. He got acceptance to all 5 of the universities. Brown, Minnesota and Washington are not his choice due to weather. Then, he was left with 2 options.
Choosing between Texas and Berkeley, and he heard that big earthquake would happen in San Francisco, so he dropped Berkeley and chose Texas, Austin. That was such his frank sharing on how he actually chose his universities.
Back then, his first job was janitor. And today, Wing really respected the janitors. He learned hard and always reminded himself to be humble and learn the value of money. Later on, he was promoted to lab assistant job, and then took up teaching assistant job.
He worked very hard, and carried 18 to 20 credit hours per semester. Nevertheless, the tough time was also the memorable time.
He graduated in 1989. When one goes for US visa interview and the question of whether you would stay in US is being asked, the answer is always no, or else you won’t get your visa. And Wing back then did truthfully answered no, when he was asked back in 1986.
In June 1989, when Wing was hiking in Canadian Rocky mountains, and on 4th June 1989, Tiananmen Square incident happened, and Wing’s mother asked him to find ways to stay in US.
Wing’s mother lost her father due to communist and Wing’s mother had to be refugee in Hong Kong. So, she advised Wing to stay in US, so that he could have better life and eventually, Wing decided to stay in US.
Wing then picked up his 2nd degree in Business Management, and when he is done, it was recession in US. Fortunately, Wing managed to get 20+ interviews and he was given 4 offers. He chose 1, JC Penney, which is the largest retailer in US.
One of the offers is Tandem Computers, another is Mobil Oil and Halliburton. Halliburton asked Wing to build a Computer-based training. Mobil Oil asked to help on building system. Tandem Computers was mainly used in financial institution and Wing was asked to help in operating system.
In 1989, US has this new “strip malls”, where it is row of shops along a mall, and it grabbed market share from bigger players. For retailers, having scale is one thing, but fast reaction is important. Thought that he can helped a company to restructure, so Wing joined JC Penney as management trainee.
Back then, he has to learn a new programming language – COBOL, and he realized that university education teaches him to be adaptive and able to learn something fast. He was able to help JC Penney to launch JCL within 20 months of joining. A lesson learned from here is that a company always needs to learn to reinvent itself.
If you deliver on business promise, people will reward you, but people may not continue to reward you all the time. So, you have to reinvent.
2 years later, Wing approached the HR of the company to apply for Green Card. But they can’t, as they have to advertise in 1,500 outlets, and to show that no American is qualified. So, Wing had to look elsewhere, although his supervisors there were very supportive of Wing. Wing has delivered a lot of value to his computer, so they valued his contribution.
Wing spent 15 years at Sprint. He chose to get into Sprint, as it was looking to reinvent itself. Sprint was the first to launch the fiber optic network. Wing was tapped for his skill in distributed network and messaging system. This time, he got them to put in offer letter to help him to get green card.
Back then, when Sprint got problem, they would called Accenture (management consulting company). So, when Wing joined Sprint, 80 people in the office were from Andersen Consulting. So, Wing was asked to report to Accenture guy too, and back then, there was an Andersen Consulting partner in the board of directors too.
A good architect is someone who knows the whole landscape. Back then, there was a lot of hierarchy too in Sprint. Wing lives the notion of life of always ask “What can I do”. Wing has a list of task list, and he gets it done quickly and at high quality, and then he offers help to others. People would reciprocate, and help him too. So, whenever Wing puts his name on anything, it has better be very good. So, he would always make sure that it is the best thing that he can deliver.
Started out as Software Engineer 2, and within 2 years, he became Manager of the team. Wing became Director of Sprint at age of 29, and was the youngest director there.
Wing has 9 patents, and they were filed in late 1990s and early 2000s, and he still had 20+ in the pipeline. The entire process of getting patents would take about 5 years in US. Patent system is also quite abused, where a lot of people file it, just to provide defensive or offensive mechanism. So, there is something wrong about it. Wing only filed a patent, when he managed to solve a real problem.
Wing used to spend a lot of money to call home, during his time at University of Texas, Austin. So, when he got the chance to move to Sprint’s headquarter, he took the opportunity, as he was charged to work on wireless network.
In 2001, high speed internet means 80 kilo bit per second, so back then, to stream the picture, is still very slow. And it cost USD2 billion worth of investment, and the picture is still look pixelized. Wireless network can never compete with wired line, purely on speed, so have to fight on other competitive landscape. That was a turning point.
Back then, he made pilgrimage trip to Japan, as it was still the technology hub. In Japan, people started take photo and made it into wallpaper. So, Wing found an area to look into using wireless network to move picture.
Wing they all went to the guy who wrote Turbo C++ and Turbo Pascal, Philippe Kahn. Philippe has sold off Borland, and became millionaire. And he had a baby. Philippe has built a prototype of transferring photo, and Sprint wanted to commercialize it. So, the value that wireless can provide is that one can take a photo and then send across the network within seconds. Picture Mail product charged USD5 per month and need data plan which cost USD10 per month. It was the biggest phenomenal success of the company.
So, the breakthrough paradigm is to cross-link two different fields and bring value. Software brings life to things. The company was growing very fast then, and the fastest growth in wireless history.
Sprint was the first one to launch J2ME game in mobile device. Mobile video was launched too.
Through these exercises, Wing was asked to head the innovation team. So, he went from infrastructure, and then architecture and then innovation. This was the first 3 of the 5 jobs in Sprint.
Wing led the innovation team of Sprint for 5 years, and it was very satisfactory.
Sprint looked at various technologies post 3G. And that’s how Sprint launched his career into Wimax. Next generation CDMA upgrade definitely makes sense, but Sprint made the bold decision of not upgrading to CDMA. The royalty of CDMA is quite high, and Sprint’s goal is to democratize internet. What got them excited about Wimax is the ecosystem, and it is the IEEE technology. When a technology is an IEEE technology, it can scale easily. That’s how people can do plug and play, and cost will go down and people will pick up.
Sprint then merged with Nextel, and a big mistake is that they didn’t take good care of the customers of the acquired entity. Sprint lost their mindshare, and they started to churn, and then people started to cut cost.
So, Wimax operation has to be scaled back due to operations issue. Wing was leading the product development team of Wimax. Sprint has to spinoff Wimax business and merged with Clearwire, and then go into clearwire company.
Andy Rubin started Android, and he loved robotics, so he created Android, using his name and his love of robotics for the company name. He went into Google to ask them to invest in his company, and Eric Schmidt heard the pitch and offered to buy at a cost of about USD80 Million.
Andy Rubin had the blank check from Google, and he invested hundreds of millions to buy the best applications. Wing was doing the due diligence on Android and brings Sprint on board.
On why WiMAX was chosen as the platform to deliver Malaysia’s mobile network, Wing highlighted that it is the only technology that can deliver it at the right cost. LTE is not yet a matured technology and yet the royalty is very high, and hence, it might be difficult to deliver in the right price.
Wing was instrumental in delivering the 1st 4G network on Android at Clearwire.
In Summer 2008, the government of China created Thousand Talents program, where it tried to attract top talents to ensure that China’s state-owned enterprise, universities, research laboratories and space programs can be world class and compete globally.
Wing was then headhunted to lead the Innovation Team at China Mobile, which has 500 Million subscribers (even more than total US population), and Wing has this opportunity to change the experience of 500 Million people.
Then, he got a call from YTL Director, and he came to visit Malaysia. He found it very interesting, where the country has very poor connectivity, and yet YTL is a company with strong resources and determination.
Wing had a hard time deciding on whether to go to China or Malaysia, and the book “Clock Speed” influenced him. In that book, it talked about how fast things are changing, and Wing believed that being at YTLe would enable him to bring fast transformation to large group of people and improve people lives faster.
In Malaysia, only 25% of people are connected to internet, yet the average age is 26. The people here know the power of internet, but can’t really enjoy the connection experience. So, Wing sees this opportunity to make impact at national scale immediately, and improving people’s lives.
For Clearwire, it won’t be able to launch nationwide in less than 2 years in US and to launch for whole of US would cost more than USD5 billion, but Wing can do that in Malaysia in shorter time and also at a cost of USD850 Million. Wing lamented on the very slow uploading speed of 60 kbps that many people experience here in Malaysia.
The WiMAX experience is not just to connect people with internet, but to enable people to have applications that satisfy their social needs.
For this WiMAX, YTLe is working with 3 world top player in it. For IP Backbone, it is working with Cisco. For wireless network, it is working with Samsung. For WiMAX chipset, it is with GCT, and YTLe just made a commitment order of 1 million devices and it is the largest acquisition in the world, and with this economy of scale, it would drive down the prices.
On expansion to other countries, Wing planned to do it very well at its homeground in Malaysia, before looking to expand it elsewhere. Talking about internet, it is really about getting developers to make it happen. With internet, it is equal opportunity for everyone, and to really make it possible, especially with mobile internet.
Wing also introduced mYprize, which offers USD1 Million as prizes for incentives of 4G applications, devices or ideas. It offers USD120,000 prize money for Malaysians anywhere in the world too. So, hopefully, this can tap on the talents of Malaysians globally, as well as other talents to get involved.
The soft launch of YTLe WiMAX would be in Q3 2010, and nationwide commercial launch would be in Q4 2010.
Wing promised that YTLe WiMAX would be a new experience and customers would reciprocate with the support. While Wing did not disclose the pricing or package of WiMAX, he promised that there would be surplus value for the users. He talked about the 20 Mbps network that he had in US, and hopefully soon, Malaysians can enjoy similar or even better network.
Wing shared on Clayton’s book of “Innovators’ Dilemma” and “Innovators’ Solution”, and he said that it is good that YTLe is brand new, so there won’t be legacy issue behind. With legacy, there might be inertia to move. And to make it work, it needs disruptive innovation. He cited Intel Centrino as a way for Intel to reinvent itself. It created a lower cost low-end product, that undercut itself, but it allows Intel to grow market share.
One of the issues of 3G was that the network was used to cater for voice and data, but for 4G, it would be packet based and used to carry data.
While AT&T enjoyed a great exclusive partnership with iPhone, the huge amount of data that iPhone used took a toll on AT&T network, which affected the call quality.
Wing shared a few tips with the audience, where he talked about working very hard and always producing the best. He talked about having mentors and also reading a lot. One good resources would be iTunes applications, where a lot of top universities resources are available. He talked about ability to have platform to bring idea to the world, and among the largest developers’ network are Microsoft, Java and Adobe Flash.
He ended with 4 key components to innovation, which is having original idea, building and applying idea, being financed by someone and have a platform to distribute.
It was a great 140 minutes of talk non-stop by Wing. Really engaging and it attracted the largest crowd of Young Corporate Malaysians CEO Series of Talk, with more than 150 people turned up, and it was reduced to standing room only.
After the talk, a large group of attendees surrounded Wing, and he attended the questions till well past 11pm, and at that time, he hasn’t even had dinner. That speaks volume of his dedication and passion to share with the youth!
On behalf of Young Corporate Malaysians, great thanks to Wing for sharing with us, and to all those who attended, hope that you manage to learn from Wing.
Wing K. Lee is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of YTL Communications Sdn Bhd, the communications arm of YTL Corporation Berhad. The company envisions a modern broadband nation enhanced by the Internet and supports technological innovation. In November 2009, it created the YTL 4G Innovation Network and opened a testing centre at Sentul Park. In January 2010, it launched USD1 million ‘mYprize’, a global competition aimed at challenging developers to create original applications and devices for its world’s first nationwide 4G Network set to be commercially launched later this year which will leapfrog Malaysia into an innovation-led economy as envisioned by the Prime Minister.
Young Corporate Malaysians CSR visit to Rumah Nur Salam
Writing Credits: Alia Sidek
The Young Corporate Malaysians (YCM) with its encore belief and effort to give back to the society has held its very first CSR Program at Rumah Nur Salam on the 10th of January 2010. Rumah Nur Salam, situated in Chow Kit, Kuala Lumpur is a shelter home for all children in Chow Kit providing a safe environment, food, as well as various educational, health and recreational programmes. Rumah Nur Salam receives about 50 to 100 children on daily basis ranging from toddlers up to 13 year old of whom either have been trafficked, refugees, children from one-parent homes, or children of sex worker and/or drug addicts.
The YCM during its flagship event, the YCM Summit in December 2009, has collected RM 1 for every seat that was taken up to be donated to the Yayasan Salam, the foundation that is behind the Chowkids initiative. About 10 of the YCM CSR Team went down to Chow Kit for the 2 hours (12 pm – 2 pm) session with the children of Rumah Nur Salam. Having waited eagerly, the children of Rumah Nur Salam were treated with a lunch feast that was slightly unusual and special than their daily ‘lunch pack’. The YCM CSR Team was also privileged to be taken on a visit to the classrooms, dorms, IT room and staff office of Rumah Nur Salam by Capt Asiah. After lunch and mingling with the children, YCM CSR Team led by Siti Kamariah presented a cheque of RM 1000 along with baby products, food, clothes and stationeries to Rumah Nur Salam.
Moving forward, YCM in collaboration with Yayasan Salam is advertising the ChowKids volunteer program to our membership base. We are in a thorough discussion with Yayasan Salam on identifying gaps that can be filled by YCM particularly in teaching for subjects such as IT, Mathematics and English. Some of which have been identified as below.
What Volunteers Can Do At Nur Salam:
Pusat Aktiviti Kanak-Kanak Chowkit For children under 12 years old:
Nur Salam’s Weekend Activities for Volunteers: volunteers can do story telling with 10-15 kids (6-8 years old). Story telling in BM @ Rumah Nur Salam for 1 hour, between 10am – 2pm
Volunteers to teach the kids IT skills (basic Microsoft, internet, etc): small group of 12 kids (7-12 years old) @ Rumah Nur Salam. Classes held on Monday – Friday @ Time flexible.
Tuition classes for Nur Salam kids: One class of 10 kids – Primary school. We need volunteers to help our kids with their tuition @ Rumah Nur Salam. Everyday after 2pm.
Playroom: have great FUN with Nur Salam 10 kids @ Nur Salam playroom, from 10am EVERYDAY. Kids are below 13 years old.
Teen Hub, a Nur Salam programme that aims to all youth (13-21 years), provides empowerment via recreational, counseling services and educational programmes. It’s based in Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, KL.
Volunteers needed for tuition & IT classes, sports activities, music sessions, arts and craft classes, and volunteers are also needed for:
1) Library – Anyone who has any experience with library or who like books and interacting with youths. Someone needed to come in by shift to help oversee the library.
2) Programmes – Anyone who wants to run programmes with youths during the school holidays.
3) Looking sponsor for cafe programme. Sponsor for teen meals everyday.
BM speaking, committed, strong work ethics, people skills and willing to work with young people.
Person to contact: Siti Kamariah – email@example.com
Wednesday, 10th February 2010
Dewan Murni, Menara Integriti
Persiaran Duta, Off Jalan Duta
7.30pm to 9.30pm
Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=256711123601&ref=ts
Jumaatun Azmi is the founder and Managing Director of KasehDia Sdn Bhd, a niche communication and consultancy firm focused on the application of
Under Jumaatun’s leadership, the company has created world renowned events and publications and consulted the government on Halal matters. KasehDia Consultancy was involved in the drafting of the Halal Chapter of Malaysia’s 3rd Industrial Master Plan after being appointed as consultant by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry in 2006. It also developed the initial framework of the Halal Industry Development Corporation for the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Office.
Jumaatun is the Editor of The Halal Journal, a trade publication on the Halal industry currently distributed in over 35 countries. She also founded the award
winning Halal Food Guide series which to date has covered eight countries. Jumaatun’s other accomplishments in the Halal industry include the creation of
The World Halal Forum, Halal Journal TV, Halal Journal Award, Halal RestaurantAwards and the Halal Journal Workshop Series.
Due to her prolific and cutting edge work, Jumaatun has been featured in various international mainstream media including the Asia Wall Street Journal,
The New York Times, International Herald Tribune and Bloomberg. She holds a degree in Communication (Honours) from the University of
Hartford, Connecticut, USA.
1st Ambassador Series – His Excellency Boyd McCleary, UK High Commissioner to Malaysia
Writing credits: Chen Chow Yeoh
High Commissioner started by saying that it is great to see many young faces here, despite the fasting month. High Commissioners explained that High Commissioners are those diplomats sent to Commonwealth countries, whereas Ambassadors are those diplomats sent to other countries.
If we look back at colonial period, it was not trade that brought Britishs to come over to Malaya back then. It was trade that brought them here. “Trade goes before the flag”.
It all started in 1592, when the first Englishman landed his ship on Penang and loaded it with pepper. Penang was the first of the Straits Settlement, where treaty with the Sultan of Kedah was signed in 1791. Then, Singapore was established by Raffles in 1819 and then finally Malacca exchanged for Bencoolen in Sumatra in 1824.
The main initial driver for Penang was spices. The treaty was singed not with the British Government, but with the East India Company, and later other forms of commercial agriculture.
The other driver was the need to secure ports to protect British shipping lanes between India and China.
In 1860s/1870s, initially British was looking for more opportunities for agriculture, but later on tin, and hence British turned to Perak. There was 1874 Treaty of Pangkor, where a British Resident was appointed in Perak, followed later by Selangor, Johore and Sungai Ujong (Negeri Sembilan).
In 1896, Federated Malay States (FMS) was started with the seat of Government in Kuala Lumpur. For other states, there were less commercial interest and less interest, and those states were “unfederated”.
Commercial agriculture in Federated Malay States expanded first into coffee, sugar, pineapples and gutta percha. However, the most significant development for British Malaya was the invention of the pneumatic tyre in 1899, which led to rapid expansion of rubber.
By 1929, almost half of all cultivated land was planted in rubber. And then came the development of oil palm, again with British investors, including a Mr. Sime and a Mr. Darby).
To make oil palm working in Sabah, they actually had to go to Africa to get a certain insect, to make the growing of palm oil working.
Right through the colonial period, the British saw Malaya primarily as a key source of raw materials. So, it was scarcely surprising that it was the (predominantly British) planters who were the target of the Communists during the Emergency (when one in ten planters were killed by insurgents).
At independence, Malaya was the world’s largest exporter of natural rubber, tin and palm oil. Agricultural production accounted for 40% of the country’s GDP. And the main destination for good exported was the UK.
While it is absolutely fair to note that the development of British Malaya’s economy was in the interests of the “mother country”, we should perhaps not forget that the bulk of the technology, much of the finance and the investment itself was from the UK.
Another major positive legacy of the colonial period was the rule of law, that has initially been established primarily to enable the trade to flourish.
At independence, the following British companies were already well-established in Malaya: Unilever, Shell, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Sime Darby, Harrison & Crossfield, Boh Tea, Boustead, Jardines, Level Brothers (later on Unilever), Commercial Union Insurance Co, Castrol and GEC.
But the investment did not stop at Independence. Examples from the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s.
Glaxo became the first company in Malaysia to open a factory for the local manufacture of pharmaceuticals in 1959. Shell’s investmnet in Sarawak in exploration for oil and gas. Shell is the biggest employer in Sarawak, and Shell has developed a number of corporate leaders, including Datuk Seri Idris Jala and Tan Sri Zarinah Anwar.
Inchcape began the manufacture of cosmetics, pharmaceutical products and timber mouldings. Harrisons and Crossfields and Guthries (both in the plantation business) set up companies to manufacture rubber goods and edible oils. Lever Brothers began making soaps, cooking fats, ice cream etc.
Blue circle’s investment in cement. ICI became involved in the promotion of plastic products and set up a plant to manufacture titanium dioxide pigment for paint.
Guinness (first brought to Malaya on sailing ships) established a brewery on the site of an old tin mine in Sungai Way in Selangor. GEC became the first company to be involved in the manufacture of consumer electronic products. Coats Viyella set up a factory in Prai to produce silk thread.
And over the past 10-20 years, investment hasn’t stopped. BP investmnets in petrochemicals and Shell in exploration, LNG/distillates. British Telecom established an ICT research center in KL. Alphabilogics in Penang and Spirit Aerospace in Subang on high value manufacturing.
In financial services, Prudential and Friends Provident, HSBC and StanChart has invested in Islamic Finance.
In back office processing, one third of the jobs in Cyberjaya are provided by UK Firms.
In retailing, Jardines invest through Giant, Cold Storage and Guardian, as well as Tesco invests heavily in Malaysia too.
In education, University of Nottingham are based in Semenyih, and Newcastle University is building a campus in Malaysia.
There is no clear indication of how much is the true investment by UK.
Some questions to ask, include what nationality is an investment. For example Shell is it a Dutch company, but it is incorporated in British. How do you count an investment? Is it the financial figure invested or jobs created or some other values?
When did the investments take place and what about disinvestment? Management buy-out, take-overs, nationalizations etc. For example, BP Petrol Stations, ICI, Sime Darby and Unilever.
In other examples, how to differentiate trade and investment. For example, BAe System, CTRM and Airbus.
If we look into the future, then there might not be much investment in the manufacturing, especially in the low end manufacturing. However, investment in the service sector, especially education and training would remain strong. There is growth in the business processing centers too. It is the UK hope that UK can play a part in supporting Malaysia’s Prime Minister’s hope to bring Malaysia out of the middle income trap.
UK does not just belong to EU and Commonwealth, but also including NATO etc. EU is a great organization, where a lot of people wanted to become member. EU is a good thing for British and for Europe.
Not many Malaysians know exactly on what Commonwealth does. Last month, UK just launched Commonwealth Conversations. There is a plan to have a Commonwealth Conversations in KL in 2nd half of October 2009, to get young Malaysians to talk on Commonwealth. It is the hope to get Commonwealth to do fewer things, but to do it better, and get it delivered.
Commonwealth is not as popular in attracting new members, compared to EU. Mozambique who is a Portugese colony, just joined Commonwealth not too long ago. And Rwanda also just applied to join Commonwealth.
On HE Boyd McCleary’s personal view, he is very impressed by the way that the new Prime Minister stimulates demand. Malaysia is a country which heavily depends on exports. Malaysia has been able to maintain the high domestic demand.
Another thing that HE impressed about our new Prime Minister is that Malaysia is moving towards open economy, and not moving towards protectism. The biggest problem that Najib that might faced would be that he has to get all those promises delivered.
Most countries have some form of immigration control. It exists in every country, including US, Australia etc. UK is now introducing new system, where it is a point system. Australia had a point system for some time already.
For Tier 2 visa, which is a highly skilled staff, it needs to show that the particular skill is not highly available in UK, and the applications would need to apply online.
For student visas, if one has a valid offer from UK Universities and also show proof of their financial status, they will get the 40 points needed. And they need to apply online.
In terms of foreign exchange, it is moving quite volatile. For Pound Sterling vs Ringgit, it is now RM5.80 to 1 Pound, but compared to 1 year ago, it was RM4.80 to 1 Pound.
When Euro was first introduced, Pound has grown quite a lot, but recently Euro has strengthened and it is getting closer to 1 Euro to 1 Pound.
If we look at the economy of the last 10 years, UK economy has grown by 30%, whereas German economy has grown by 10%. So, the correlation between currency and economic growth is not that solid.
The quality of Malaysian English is actually somewhere in the middle, where it is not too good, and yet not too bad.
High Commissioner also commented that most of the committee members of Young Corporate Malaysians are UK graduates and these are important links back here.
And looking at Malaysia’s competitiveness, then Malaysia’s population of 26 million could be much smaller than countries like Indonesia. So, those could be areas that Malaysia may not have the upside.
However, there are a number of companies that set up operations here and have a lot of investment at stake here.
Mobility of investments need to be there, to impress the investors. The government bureaucracy and tax regime are also considered. Malaysia’s government is getting some of those right, and some are working on it through Pemudah. And setting of KPI is a good step.
Malaysia has the best cost quality balance ratio currently. However, if it is not moving forward fast enough, then it might get caught up by others.
UK was in similar situations some time back, where UK was previously good at attracting foreign investments, but at one point, investments were leaving UK. But UK managed to turn around and today, it is an important destination of foreign investment. What UK has done is that it is very agile.
Malaysia has to focus on the high end education, and grow on it. UK has been inventive and adaptive.
Most of the investments look at medium to long term. At current term, there is no investor in Malaysia pulling out, but there are some who have pulled up from Thailand.
There are some funds for Small Medium Companies to do research and development. From the Trade Commissioner of UK’s view point, there are a number of funds in Malaysia, including from MOSTI.
The crucial element for Malaysia over the next 1 year would be the direction of the National Economic Action Panel. Prime Minister Najib has appointed a number of top people from all over the world to help to chart the direction of Malaysia’s economy.
CEO Series 10 – Ibrahim Nasir, CEO of Societe-Generale Investment Bank
Writing credits: Chen Chow Yeoh
On Thursday, January 8th 2009, I went for the 10th CEO Series of Talks. It was a talk by Ibrahim Nasir, CEO of Societe-Generale Investment Bank for Malaysia and LOFSA.
Ibrahim shared with us on the company’s business, where they were looking at financing for aircraft/oil & gas, hedging for planes/ships etc.
He has an illustrious career working for 6 companies, spanning over 20 years, with 3 international banks (Soc-Gen, Deutsche, Bank of America, Bank Bumiputra, Bank Islam and one more that I can’t recall).
He first spoke of various regulators in Malaysia, eg: Ministry of Finance, Central Bank, Security Commission, LOFSA, Bursa Malaysia, Companies Commission.
Some of the ideas that he talked about:-
1. Since 1998, most of our banking setup are similar to Europe & US, where we have huge holding banks.
2. Most of the problems of banks now are due to Investment Bank, where shareholders’ fund drops and there is a need to inject more capital.
3. Soc-Gen fraud of 5 Billion Euro in 2007, due to derivative trader who created fictitious buyer and seller. The trader was formerly with 5 years of experience at back office, so he knew a work around.
4. He spoke of US Interest Rate fluctuality, where it is now lowest for 70 years, whereas a short while ago, it was the highest in 20 years.
5. Just a few months’ back, people were more worry about inflation, with crude oil and other commodity prices very high.
6. He spoke of high cost for deep sea off shore oil production and at current price, there is no incentive to produce more oil.
7. Financial system was vulnerable, as Investment Banking product were intricate and highly leveraged.
8. A lot of domino effects, where if one counterparty is affected, its other counterparty is also dragged in and this spreaded.
9. For Malaysia, we are expecting slower growth in 2009, and that could be a cause of concern, as we are developing nation with solid population growth etc. So, the GDP needs to grow healthily, for all of us to be happy.
10. Some analysts are predicting that Malaysian government might issue a USD-bond soon.
11. Ibrahim’s advice to aspirant Investment Bankers to join international banks for 7 to 10 years to gain experience, before coming back to join more senior positions in local banks. And hopefully, would have real reporting, where reporting goes to the people who work in the same function and know about it, rather than matrix reporting.