Write-up: YCM Special Session : Keeran Sivarajah, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Teach for Malaysia
YCM Special Session : Keeran Sivarajah, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Teach for Malaysia
Writing credits: Chen Chow Yeoh
This is the posting of live blogging of the Young Corporate Malaysians Special Session. Today, we have Teach for Malaysia with us.
Keeran Sivarajah, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Teach for Malaysia would be speaking tonight. He met Dzameer at PricewaterhouseCoopers and they worked together to start up TFM. He would be speaking today with Yong Su En.
The statistics shown was 1 out of 4 people do not have required level of numerical skills. 4 out of 5 working Malaysians only have education up to SPM. 3 out of 5 head of poor households only have education up to primary schools or less.
There are 9 Million people between age 7 and 17 and there are 400,000 who never go to school. For those from Orang Asli, only 6% finished high school. (Hope that I got the stats correct.)
Keeran shared on his experience visiting a school in Klang. It is March and one parent just brought the kid to school, and the kid missed two months of school, because he didn’t have money to buy school uniform.
Keeran shared on another experience yesterday in Gemas, where a parent wanted to take the 16-year-old kid out of school, because he has lost faith in the schooling system. He felt that even though the kid goes to university, the kid might still be unemployed. So, the kid might as well started working now and helped to earn a living.
These kids breathe the same air as all of us. They eat the same food as us. A lot of these kids do not believe that they can achieve big things.
Keeran shared on his experience attending the 4th Young Corporate Malaysians CEO Series of Talk and the speaker was Seelan Singham, Managing Partner of McKinsey & Co for Malaysia. Seelan said that everyone should have a scary dream, and that scary dream of him makes him to dream big. Seelan stressed that being idealistic is good and once we lost that idealism, especially after we worked for 18 hours a day and busy to go on dating/marriage, as well as paying for mortgage, we might look back and see “what the hell has happened to my dream/idealism”. Seelan shared that it is important to have a sense of purpose.
Keeran shared this dream of Seelan and he sees the dream of getting there for Teach for Malaysia. TFM was incubated by a company called Khazanah Nasional Berhad. They wanted to find 50 most eligible Malaysian youths, who want to make a difference in Malaysia. They want to build a movement of people, where people can make a difference to the community.
TFM is recruiting heavily in universities and young professionals. They are looking for people who want to make transformations in high needs schools. These people would be having the mandate to transform the outcomes of the kids, after going through the training.
TFM get their fellows to lead in classroom and community. These two years would be most exciting and rewarding tothese people’s lives.
Keeran shared on the exciting bit of him quiting his job. This program started with Teach for America 20 years ago, and by now, Teach for American has 18,000 alumni who are now in various sectors to solve this huge challenge of providing opportunities to attainan excellent educationfor all children.
Teach First is now the 5th most popular recruiter in UK, even ahead of KPMG. They are the top recruiter in Oxford and Cambridge. They also reject a lot of people from Oxford and Cambridge.
Malaysia is the number 3 in Asia, after India and China. Pakistan just joined the network recently. Malaysia is the first in South East Asia to join the network. There are another 20 countries that would join this network within the next 2 years.
54 years after independence, not every Malaysian kids have the access to quality education. Teach for Malaysia hopes to build the next layer of leaders, who could one day be a minister, Prime Minister or any other leaders, who would have a mission to solve this education issue.
Teach for Malaysia hopes to look for the best 50 in the country to join this year. The first deadline would be in two weeks’ time. This group would be the founding cohort for Teach for Malaysia.
Su En just took over the rostrum. Su En studied Economics at LSE and her favourite class was developmental economics. She did a lot of case studies on how initiatives that can transform the world. While those are fascinating, those were just theory. She went into management consulting in UK for 3 years, and decided to come back to Malaysia to serve the mission of developing the nation.
She initially found that there wasn’t a lot of initiatives from grassroot in Malaysia, especially compared to developed nations. She also spent time in China to help with migrant kids. She was then introduced to Dzameer and Keeran through a mutual program. She had known about Teach First back when she was in UK.
She came on board to join Teach for Malaysia in October 2010. She hoped to recruit the best and brightest among Malaysians to join this movement.
This is going to be the most challenging experience for TFM joiner. They would have to engage with 40 disenchanted teenagers and having to engage their attention. TFM required its fellow to go into the school and change the mindset of the students. The fellows would need to have huge confidence and solid teaching skills.
The Teach for Malaysia Leadership Academy would have an 8-week experiential, residential training in end-October 2011. These trainings are developed in collaboration with Teach for All, corporate partners and Minister of Education. They would practically be applying teaching, learning and leadership theories, based on the Teaching as Leadership framework. The trainers would be from Teach for All. This would adopt the methodof Teaching as Leadership, by Steven Farr from Teach for America. The TFM fellow would have the opportunityto practice teaching, live in a real classroom.
There would be ongoing support and training. There would be Leadership Development Officer, providing personal coaching, resources and guidance. There would be mentor, who would be senior teacher in the same school. There would be Business Coach, who would be senior manager from one of TFM’s corporate partners. There would be workshoips by training partners to share innovative teaching methods and best practices. There would be seminars by corporate partners on a wide rangeof transferable skills. They would also be getting Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching after first year of teaching, as well as earning credits towards Master’s degree.
The role of TFM Fellow is to make a difference in the classroom. They are expected tolead students towards academic achievements that defies traditional expectations, and they would be engaging, teaching and challenging students inside and outside the classroom. They would also work collaboratively with other teachers and school staff to build skills, share knowledge and obtain resources for the classroom. The fellow would lead by example and be inspirational role model to give the students the courage to dream big.
Scott Thomas, Teach for America Corp member shared on his proudest accomplishment was starting an after-school tutoring program. They had 8th graders tutoring 6th graders, who were struggling in Mathematics. It was a fantastic experience watching the older students play this mature role, not only being academic stars, but also developing patience and empathy.
Su En shared on the kids that she had mentored back in UK, where a lot of kids might not have the perspective beyond their backyard. They hoped to do something that is better than their parents, but they might not have the visibility to know of any potential beyond that.
TFM Fellow is expected to impact the wider community. The role would provide unique opportunity to design, implement and manage a sustainable, transformational project in the school or community in which you serve, with the help of your Business Coach and community leaders. They are expected to develop a deep understanding of the many barriers to achievement and complex problems associated with achieving equity in education.
Zeenia Anwar, Teach First Ambassador shared on “If you want to stretch yourself and become a person you never thought you could in your wildest dreams, do it, apply for it. You’ll have the two best years of your life.”
TFM would also provide professional development opportunities. In Malaysia, TFM aimed to help on internship and employment opportunities with top-tier organizations in Malaysia. BCG, McKinsey & Co, PwC have helped tremendously in this early stage of TFM. There would be professional development workshops run by corporate leaders. There would be exclusive networking events with senior figures in private and public sector firms. There would be Business Coach as well.
TFM has gotten approval from the following programmes to do deferral, including Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Management, Harvard Law School etc.
There are five stages of admission process. It would start with online application, and then phone interview, and then a 30-minute long online assessment, with a full-day assessment including a group case study, a mock classroom activity and a one-to-one interview and then would be final offers.
The first round of deadline would be 21st March, and the second round of deadline would be 27th June. TFM practices rolling admission. So, do start apply now at Teach For Malaysia . Please help to spread the words to others too.
The starting pay for teachers would be between RM2,300-RM2,700, which is similar to the starting pay that Keeran had when he was with PwC.
TFM Fellow would also engage the community and keep abreast with the parents. There are a lot of opportunities for TFM Fellow to reach out to the parents and community, but it would be up to the creativity of TFM Fellow and the TFM would be supporting the Fellow.
Keeran related on a case from Teach for America, where a parent wanted to take the kid out of school, as the kid doesn’t seem to learn anything. The Teach for America Fellow asked the parent to give him/her a month to transform the kid. The Fellow put in efforts to educate the kids and keep the parents updated from time to time, and after a month, the kid can read a full page.
After the stint in Teach for Malaysia, the Fellow is flexible to do whichever route that they would want to explore. This TFM program aims to develop leaders and it would be up to the Fellow to chart their pathway. During the two years, there would be a lot of developmental support to help shape the leader. What is needed from this Fellow is that after the two years, they would be asked to support this TFM mission whereever they are. They would be alumni network too, that would support their mission.
One of the Teach for America Fellows said that if he is still not convinced that his children can get quality education in any school in America, then his job is not over. There is still a lot of work to be done.
TFM Fellow would be assuming full-time teaching positions in secondary schools, where they would be teaching English or Mathematics/Science-related subjects. What is important is not to change the curriculum, but the TFM Fellow would go in and set high academic and non-academic goals, to mould and guide the students. TFM is looking into Educational Impact Evaluation and they are looking at partnering universities or Teach for All on this area. TFM is working hard on this, to be able to quantify more objectively on the performance of the TFM Fellows.
One of the attendees highlighted that there might be possibility of putting the students at risk, if the Fellow is not able to perform up to expectation. Keeran and Su En reiterated that the Fellows would be getting continuous training beyond the 8 weeks, and there would be full-time staff who would meet with the Fellows continuously to guide them. There would be mentor within the school too, to guide the TFM Fellow.
For the first year, the 50 TFM Fellows would be placed in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan, so that more monitoring can be done. TFM would be investing a lot in training and building a leadership movement. TFM would be investing to develop the leaders.
TFM selection process would be very rigorous to select new joiners who have strong competencies in leadership, as well as their capacity to handle situations.
TFM Fellows would be fully responsible for their class and they would be expected to teach the normal school syllabus. For TFM, they are also interviewing the schools and the school heads, so that they would get the support needed.
Ministry of Education and Management Consulting firm ranked all the schools in the country, and they are looking into those 70 schools within KL, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan which fell into the grading of Band 6 and 7. TFM would be visiting most of these 70 schools and eventually select 17 schools, where they would be putting 3-4 TFM Fellows in each school. It is very important that those schools selected would have supportive leaders there.
TFM applicants would also be subjected to Subject Audit Test during the application process, so that those TFM Fellows selected would have working knowledge in the subject and they would be getting help from more senior teachers on subject matter issues.
There is a suggestion from the audience where those who are not selected for TFM, could be put into a mailing list, and they could be put to good use by helping others in the community, for example teaching at orphanage etc.
Another audience shared on the practical training of being in real classroom would shape the teachers, no matter how much training is provided. He also shared on teaching students how to fish, instead of giving them the fish. He suggested on potential opportunities to partner with other organizations, to help the students and Fellows.
One of the big responsibilities for TFM Fellows would be to ensure that all students in the class are taken care of. There would be collaborations with various parties on this.
Finally, don’t forget to apply for Teach for Malaysia. Please help to spread the words too. Lets make a difference, by providing every kid in Malaysia with the opportunity to attain an excellent education.
YCM CEO Series 28: Ahmad Izham Omar, Executive Director of 8TV
Writing credits: Chen Chow Yeoh
Live blogging for the 28th CEO Series of Talk for Young Corporate Malaysians – Ahmad Izham Omar, Executive Director of 8TV.
You can follow Ahmad Izham Omar at http://www.twitter.com/ahmadizhamomar and Young Corporate Malaysians at http://www.twitter.com/ycms . The hash tag for tonight is #ycm. There would be live tweeting there as well.
8TV broke even in a record of 18 months. Izham became the COO of 8TV, before being CEO of 8TV. Recently, he was promoted as Executive Director of 8TV. He is also the CEO for Radio Network.
Izham’s main theme is “Making a Difference”. He now works in TV, Radio, New Media and Music. He would be sharing a story about his journey.
Back in 1998, when he was 28 years old. He was in charge of a company, called Positive Tone. He wanted to grow the artists in his company, and EMI heard of his problem of funding, so EMI wanted to own the company 100%. It is a company that is part of Izham. The EMI people are very professional and have done extensive studies on Positive Tone.
The EMI people talked about Net Present Value, due diligence, cash flow of Positive Tone and EMI, and it really overwhelmed Izham. They told Izham that they loved him, because he was different.
Music/content comes first and then comes marketing/communications. Without great music, nothing else moves. Usually if lack of sales, it is due to bad product, and not due to bad promotion.
Back in 1995, he was hanging out with a 31-year-old guy, Tony Fernandes outside Dynasty Hotel. Tony Fernandes shared with him that “if you have one million dollars, but if you have bad music, it won’t sell.” So, product/service comes first, then comes marketing/communications.
The first P of Marketing Mix is Product. So, that is the most important thing.
The typical record industry infrastructure back in early 1990s are divided into Malay songs, Chinese songs, International/English songs. The TV, Radio, Press, Retailers, Record Companies all do the same, where they have different divisions/departments for it. The Mostpit said that the infrastructure is wrong.
In the 1970s/1980s, people start to gradually move into urban area, and move beyond their parents’ generation. They are the urban group, who tend to be more racial blind. The urban people tend to have aspirational values. They tend to aspire to move up the value.
Then they produce OAG, which is different from the typical records. They were laughed by the infrastructure back then. Izham brought the album to MCA (which is now Universal), BMG etc. However, people can’t see the value of this music.
Izham brought the song to a music shop, where the owner told Izham that he didn’t know where to put the cassette. It is neither Malay songs, nor Chinese songs, nor English/International songs. People can’t appreciate this different form of music.
So, at that time, Izham decided to go straight into the urban market. He decided to go straight to the indie market. This was the time he worked the hardest. He had to make flyers, distribute flyers outside the mall. He even went into toilets to stick flyer of buying OAG.
There was a time when Izham did not have money, so he even had to go back to his mother to ask for money. He finally found a distributor, who was a pirate, and it became into triple platinum. It even outsold Sharifah Aini and KRU.
However, in the end he had to turn down the distributorship, as it was a pirate.
He shared on his newsletter back in 2002. The database grew to 20,000 in a year, and then 70,000 after 3 years. He replied to all emails that he got. Izham shared that most marketers missed the main ingredient of it. Marketers today rely on others to win over their customers. Marketers often felt surprised that Izham won over his customer one by one. Izham shared that often those marketers would filter the information that is supposed to reach the top management, so all those information has been “scanned and filtered”.
Izham shared that his biggest success of music industry is to transform the infrastructure of music industry. He managed to urbanize the market.
People often said Positive Tone is an innovator. Izham said that it is not original, but copied from other companies, like Motown, which has artists like Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross etc. They made Black music for White People.
Do look for clues from around the world. Learn from around the world, but not just fight within Malaysia.
Izham eventually sold Positive Tone entirely to EMI. He became EMI staff and took charge of artists like Sharifah Aini.
One day, he received a call from Abdul Rahman Ahmad, which he didn’t know who he was. He found that he was CEO/Group Managing Director of MRCB. He brought along Sharifah Aini and KRU CDs when he went to meet Abdul Rahman Ahmad at Crown Princess Hotel. He was not intimidated by him, as Izham had more hair.
First thing Abdul Rahmad Ahmad said to Izham is “Dude, are you interested to start a new free TV Station”. Izham’s reaction “Are you mad? Are you nut?” Abdul Rahman Ahmad said that he wanted Izham because he didn’t know anything in the field, so won’t make the same mistake as others in the industry. The mission is to start a new, cool, free terrestrial TV for the urban young adults.
Abdul Rahman Ahmad told him to do the same thing as he did for Positive Tone, but on TV. Izham stayed cool when in front of Abdul Rahman Ahmad.
Immediately after that, he called out his friends in TV Industry. Everyone said that he won’t succeed. There won’t be money in it. He remembered his moshpit’s days, and he asked those people who are crazy of TV, and they were excited. He took the offer.
He created a free TV, never like this before. At that time, Astro’s penetration was 25%. So, he showed MTV for the first time to the remaining people who were not on Astro. He used the content strategy, and show the best shows from around the world. He got Grammy Awards, Oscars, F1, Euro 2004. He went to Hollywood a week before to get the shows, and created innovative local content, like Quickie, So you think you can dance etc.
Izham went on the street to get the publicity. In the Star youth 2 Cool Pool 2005, 8TV won 40% of the votes, and AXN was the 2nd channel at about 18%.
Izham let the young people run the show, and he stayed aside to let them make the difference. 8TV was the no.1 station for the target music, and broke even in 18 months.
Abdul Rahman suggested to start a couple of radio stations. Izham went to see his friends at Hitz, Era, Red etc. They all told him that there was no money. The moshpit told him to go ahead. Infrastructure said no and people said yes, so he decided to go ahead. He launched Hot FM in 2006 and became no.1 radio station for age below 35. Fly FM became the no. 2 English radio channel. In 2009, he started OneFM.
He wanted to keep on making music, so he started Monkey Bone. Then, Abdul Rahman Ahmad asked him to go and do digital. He was asked to take charge of Alt Media.
Today’s audience has many options. People now watch things in all sort of media. Malaysia is no.3 in the world for the number of people spending over 20 hours a week on streamed/downloaded contents. Malaysia is the world no.1 for online advertising click-throughs. Malaysia are digital media junkies. He didn’t need research data to tell.
He shared on his family trip, where his brother-in-law was going online next to swimming pool. Even older people are online, and of course the youngs. He introduced Catch-Up TV, where people watch online exclusive contents, online contests and make it mobile portable. He believed in an amazing, engaging, interactive future for media.
Recently, they launched TonTon in 2010, where it is world-class, intelligent and all about video. The Catch-Up TV has 1.8 million registered users. No. 1 show on TV has 4 million viewers, but the show online has 64 million video views online, and we don’t even have 64 million population. He shared on people watching it during lunch time. People can chat on it, and have nice interface. There are 30,000 hours of archive video.
All those old TV programs are now on TonTon for free, and by January 2011, everyone can create their own channel. Tonton sat on intelligent media platform, and it would recommend content you like and it would serves advertising relevant to you. It would focus on showing the right advertising to the right people at the right time.
You can never imagine what wondrous things await you until you start moving.
He shared on the most important thing to making a difference is having a solid team. When he interviewed people, he looked at whether people have done something crazy. He would be observing on whether you would die for the mission.
George Bernard Shaw said “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
When you have the right amount of unreasonable people around you, you can do the impossible.
He shared on his lessons learnt in making a difference.
a) Do it from the heart – The type of things that you would be excited to do when waking up at 5am.
b) There is always a new way to do something.
c) Product/Service Comes First – Google hardly do any ads.
d) Roll up your sleeves and jump into the moshpit. – hang out with the crowd
e) Look for clues from around the world
f) Leading the market is better than being a slave to it – The best way to predict the future is to make it. Give them what they don’t know they want.
(Henry Ford said that people would want a faster horse, but he created car.)
g) Win your consumer one by one.
h) Have a team that will die for the mission. Surround yourself with a team that is smarter than you.
i) A little naivety goes a long way. – Izham was naive, so he was lucky. He was young and foolish and thought that he could control the world, he went and do it. He would throw people into the deep end of the pool, and see whether they can swim.
j) Have the balls to try it. If not going to try it, it would never get done.
Elvis said that he would play the black man blues. He shared on how people really go out and do it.
You can’t hit a home run unless you step up to the plate.
Izham shared on William Hung, and William Hung didn’t know he can’t be a star. He went on to do it anyway, and he sold more than 1 Million and he went on to become a platinum in Singapore.
Izham shared that for those who are age between 0 to 12, 80% of influence would be by parents and 20% by media. But by age of 13, mentality would have get stuck already. So, if people are racist by age of 13, then it would be the influence from age 0 to 12.
In his media, there would be children watch it as well, so they would get influenced. For Malaysian movies, often we don’t lead them to some positive conclusion, but usually internationally, there would be such a lead into positive message.
Izham shared on his future would be on content. When he was in music, it was content. For TV, it was partially content, but not all contents are owned by him. He is looking into going into making content. He believed that he could make an internationally-known content maker company.
Izham’s main goal in life is to make the Pak Guard at TV3 to love the things that he do. If that succeeded, he would have influenced the mass. He wanted the whole of Malaysia to like it. He remembered his first day at work, when the guard was listening to the song of – Anak Ayam, a Too Phat’s song.
Izham shared that people have to open the eyes, and then the luck would swim by you. If people close the eyes, then you would not see the opportunities, even if opportunites come by you.
The higher you go up, the tougher it is for luck to reach you. So, make sure you build up your foundation – education and experience. The more you build you luck, the closer it would get by you.
Some people who have good education and luck went by them, yet they don’t sense it.
Izham that he had a degree and master. He did Bachelor of Music, Music Production & Engineering at Berklee College of Music in 1988-1991, and then MBA at Suffolk University in 1992-1994. He did Executive Education at Harvard Business School.
Izham always went down to the street, to know what really happened at the ground. All the management team would wear 8TV’s vest at least once in a quarter to go down with the troop to learn what’s happening at the ground. And also go to Tweetdeck to listen to what people are saying, although those tend to be peole who have a lot to say. What needed to hear are those who might go out and tell.
Izham really enjoyed the hardship. He enjoyed the experience of having 40 cents to go to the toll. He learned from the failures. There was once, when he turned back when Jaclyn Victor won the Malaysian Idol, the crowd is 1Malaysia. He was very touched with it, and that was the highlight of his life! Usually, in entertainment area in Malaysia, people tend to be one race. In that occasion, he felt like in stadium watching badminton, where all races cheer for Malaysia.
There would always be people buying piracy, so for Tonton would provide it for free and have nice interface, so people would use it. And there is a platform for advertisers.
In TonTon, it would show relevant ads, example when the show has rice being shown, there could be advertisement of rice by a hypermarket, or when the artist wears a jacket, there could be an advertisement to buy that particular jacket. There is a lot of potential for it.
For those piracy, Izham shared that only 6% of people would be using stuff like bittorrent, but the mass would still not be exposed to it.
Izham would lead by example and do things that are beneficial for the community and the target market. He would only take advertisements that are credible.
As of now, Tonton is only available for Malaysians, due to the bandwidth issue, but hopefully by end of the year, it would be available for the rest of the world.
Work life balance can be achieved over time. Izham started work in 1994, and he got married in 1996. He cannot rest until he got things solved. He would solve the problems, whether it is portal or transmitter. He tried to control himself now.
When he first started, his wife didn’t get to see him much. Now, Izham went to work late and came home early, so he would spend time to have breakfast at home. He can now rely on his talented and capable staff to make things done. He would have time to think through.
Now, he is CEO for 3 companies, but he is more relaxed than he was a manager at Positive Tone. He shared that many bosses tend not to let go. He shared that he tries to make him redundant. He shared that he only go for 1 meeting at 8TV every fortnight and responded to some emails for Shouts Award. Swee Kim handled the things and perhaps checked with him when necessary.
Principal of business, you must suffer for four years. Izham learned a lesson, one has to either becoming a millionaire or bankrupt, then one hasn’t tried hard enough.
One very important thing is to hire the right people.
Both Media Prima and Astro have both invested a lot more into local content. Internet is giving them a lot of competition and it kept them always on the toes. It is not just the channels.
Izham shared that one has to make money to do good stuff. Izham has to roll the profits that he makes. Izham used to tell Too Phat to make profit, so that can make better albums. To increase everyone’s talent and creativity, then one has to make profit. ONe has to weigh between social good and profit, and balance it. The problem is that people with no ethics take care of companies. The main problem is that people doing CSR due to tax credits. Eventually, the stock market would look at the financial number. So, it has to be a balance. And what matters is goes with your heart.
Izham wants to see them selling Malaysian contents to the world. Izham is only 20% of where he really wanted to be.
For YCM CEO Series 28, we have the privilege of hosting Ahmad Izham Omar, Executive Director of 8TV.
ith a mission to always produce something new, exciting and different, Ahmad Izham Omar has ignited the different industries that he has launched businesses in.
In 8TV he created a strong Malaysian TV brand. Breaking-even in a record 18 months, 8TV continues to create impact with innovative productions, even receiving global recognition for creative excellence. He now holds the post of Executive Director of 8TV, after serving as CEO.
As Media Prima’s Head Of Radio, he also launched Malaysia’s top radio stations Hot FM, Fly FM and One FM, three household names in the radio industry.
Well-known for his music ventures, Izham started his career with the legendary multiple award-winning Positive Tone record label in 1994, producing boundary-breaking music that captured the imagination of the nation and creating superstars like Too Phat, Innuendo and OAG. He sold the label to EMI, becoming EMI Malaysia’s A&R Director as well as being the Managing Director of Positive Tone. In 2009, he launched a new record label called Monkey Bone, housing some of the nation’s biggest stars like Faizal Tahir.
A multi award-winning music producer, arranger, songwriter and musician, Izham has worked on albums from artists including Faizal Tahir, Jaclyn Victor, Innuendo, Siti Nurhaliza, Ferhad, Poetic Ammo, Too Phat, Malique and Camelia. He has won multiple AIM and Anugerah Juara Lagu awards. Izham has also worked with artists from around the world, including an album released in the UK by the group Relish.
In 2009, Izham was given additional responsibilities as CEO of Alt Media, leading the broadcasting industry’s foray into new media. He launched a world-class video portal called tonton. The portal sits on a leading-edge Intelligent Media Platform, heralded as a breakthrough by the global industry.
Izham has been awarded Most Promising Entrepreneur Award by Enterprise Asia and was also accepted to be a delegate in the prestigious Asia Society Asia 21 Young Leader’s Summit. Izham was also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by VIMA (Voice of Independent Music Awards) for his contribution to music.
Izham is currently on the Board of Trustees for the Asian Television Awards and is a Trustee of Yayasan 1Malaysia. He is also currently Vice Chairperson of MACP, a music performing-rights collection society. Izham was also once Chairman of the AIM awards and a council member of the Malaysian Music Academy.
A regular speaker on the entertainment, broadcasting and marketing seminar circuit, Izham has also lectured Music Business Operations and Management courses at the International College Of Music (ICOM).
He currently writes a monthly column in The New Straits Times called “For The Record” where he talks about all things music and creativity. He also writes on “Off The Record” located in www.8tv.com.my, his Facebook pages and on his Twitter account at @AhmadIzhamOmar.
Date: Wednesday, 10th November 2010
Time: 7.30pm – 9.30pm
Dress Code: Just turn up in your working clothes
Venue: Dahlia Conference Room, Nikko Hotel, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur
Light food and beverages will be provided, FOC!
Badlisyah Abdul Ghani, a Malaysian, aged 36, was appointed Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of CIMB Islamic Bank Berhad, CIMB Group’s Islamic banking flagship on 28 February 2006.
He is also a Director of CIMB Islamic Investment House BSC (C), Bahrain and CIMB Islamic Funds DCC Limited, Brunei. Prior to CIMB Group, he was attached to an offshore banking subsidiary of a premier Malaysia Islamic financial group in structured finance, capital market and syndications.
For YCM’s CEO Series 26, we have the privilege of hosting En Badlisyah Abdul Ghani, CEO of CIMB Islamic.
He chairs the Islamic Capital Market Committee of the Malaysian Investment Banking Association and sits in various other industry committees including the Listing Committee of the Labuan International Financial Exchange, Exchange Committee of the Labuan International Financial Exchange, Islamic Capital Market Consultative Committee, Bursa Malaysia and the Working Group on Islamic Accounting Standards, Malaysian Accounting Standards Board.
Badlisyah is recognised as a leader in Islamic finance globally. Amongst his notable accomplishments includes the introductions of the world’s first Sukuk al Ijarah, the world’s first Istisna’ Sukuk and the world’s first Musyarakah ABS/ RMBS. In 2004, at the age of 31, Euromoney named him one of “Global Top 20 Pioneers in Islamic Finance”. In 2007, he was voted “Islamic Banker of the Year” at the Islamic Business and Finance Awards, Dubai and awarded the “Best Individual Islamic Banker in 2007” by Islamic Finance News. Recently, he was named the sole recipient of “The Asian Banker Promising Young Banker Award for Malaysia 2007” in The Asian Banker Achievement Awards 2007 programme.
He is a lifetime member of ANSARA Taiping and was the founding Vice- Chairman of the United Kingdom and Eire Council for Malaysian Students (UKEC). He holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Leeds, United Kingdom.
YCM CEO Series 25: Yusli Yusoff, CEO of BURSA Malaysia
Writing credits: Chen Chow Yeoh
Dato’ Yusli was born in Bangsar Hospital. His late father was army officer, so he used to travel a lot. However, his late father passed away when he was about 40. At that time, Dato’ Yusli was 8. His mother brought them up. At that time, they were living at MINDEF at Gurney/Semarak.
YCM CEO Series 24: Arlida Ariff, CEO of Iskandar Investment Bhd
Writing credits: Chen Chow Yeoh
Writing credits: Chen Chow Yeoh
He started his venture into music industry when he was 18 years old. So, he is now close to 20 years in the business, with his age at 37 years old.
CEO Series 22 – Jason Lo, CEO, Tune Talk
Writing credits: Chen Chow Yeoh
Jason was born in Kuching in 1975. He was a sheltered kids in Kuching, just like other Kuching kids. When Kuching had its first flyover, everyone jammed up to take a look at it.
Jason has always been on stage since young, and he really found the world when he studied together with Khairy in Singapore.
When he went to University of Hull to study, he made 3-hour trip every weekend to London. He always tried to get musical deals there, but it was tough. He was very used to get rejection.
Then, he tried to stay longer in UK, and he told his father that he is doing MBA there, as Malaysian Chinese people would want their kids to do courses like business.
Eventually he came back to Malaysia, he started to produce his album.
He joined EMI at the start. Back then, it was tough to get songs to go on radio. He has always been begging around. Hitz gave him a break, when they initially put up his song at 4am, and after he begged for it, they played it at 6pm.
Jason always focused on his fan, and even went off stage to meet the fans.
His partner, Nik ran the business, whereas Jason produced the album.
Once, he spent $100,000 and the revenue was $4,800. That was not really working. And at one point, the debt was $200+K.
Jason had to read the book on how to editing, and throughout the process, he was humiliated many times, from people of Datin class to other people.
He would have to contact supplier last minute, to get the drum sets, as sometimes organizer didn’t have the sets ready, and he had to tape the wires sometimes.
Jason started to get calls, from landlord and suppliers, especially to ask for money. So, time was tough.
Fat Boy was having a tough time, and the phone line was cut and the salary of the staff was not yet paid. Jason asked Zaid to go and convert his guitar which was signed by top star. The cost was RM5,000, and thought that he could sell for RM10K, but eventually it was RM900. Jason cried in the car, as he asked Zaid to go in again to convert the guitar. It was tough time, especially he took a lot of efforts to get the guitar autographed by top star.
With the RM900, Jason used RM200 to pay for phone bill, RM200 for electricity, RM300 for Zaid and RM200 for buffet in Subang. Jason said that when things get very tough, go to buffet. It would be worth it.
Jason that when he was CEO of Fat Boy, it was as tough as being CEO of a telco.
Then, Jason went to do Latte 8 at midnight, and the show ended at 1am, and by the time, he left was 2am and went to bed at 3am. Then, at 5am, he had to wake up for his show at Hitz.
Jason also talked about once he fell asleep in the studio, when Ralph Marshall brought some investors around.
Jason also talked about how he called up Khairy one day, and brought up idea of MyTeam. It was great seeing the kampung boys took their first flight to UK, and drew 0-0 against Manchester United Reserve Team. MyTeam also played against National Team and scored first, before losing 1-2.
Before Tony Fernandes started Air Asia, he did ask Jason on what he thought about airline business, and Jason thought back now that he should have jumped on it back then in 2000 to invest on it. Jason was also asked before Izham went into TV station.
When Tony Fernandes started, he asked Mark Lankester to join, but he refused, as he felt comfortable. But when Tony started his hotel, Mark jumped on it, to be CEO of TuneHotels.com .
Jason even went on knee in boardrooms to ask for support for local artists, but Malaysians often just supported foreigners, especially Westerners.
When Tony Fernandes asked Jason Lo to join telco, and Jason eventually invested a bit on it to have some stake. Jason relied on wikipedia to learn, and during his initial business meetings, he learned his way to learn the key terms.
Jason shared about how his dream of people, when they are in Singapore, they could call back to Malaysia on local call rates and on same number. After that, it would be expansion to Indonesia. It would ride on the Air Asia’s network
Jason talked about how Tony Fernandes warned him before hand that the dealers would hold him to ransom, but Jason thought that it won’t happen. But it did happen. Jason said that Tony was always spot on things.
Jason was sharing on various tricks that telcos use to make money from the customers. Telcos are like commodities of this century. For Tune Talk, it was a flat rate of RM0.16 per minute (flat rate).
Jason talked about how his RM0.5 Million went down to drain, when the incumbents forced the dealers to take out their posters.
Jason said that he is now working on his 4th album, after putting his children and wife to bed. Jason advised that we should always do creative and innovative things everyday.
Jason shared that Star Trek really showed things way in advance. Example, back in 1950s, handphone was there already, and “iPad” type of notebooks were used there too.
Jason hoped that he would achieve the following before he died.
a) Made 20 albums
b) Played at Wembley
c) Went on top of BillBoard
Part 8 [Final]
He said that we should always work very hard to achieve our dream.
As of now, he is making his 4th albums. He had played to 35,000 people in Sungai Petani, hearing them singing his song.
Jason talked about how we could set up platform and went off the ground, and went up bit by bit.
Jason loved wikipedia, and he felt that everything is there. He also felt that dare to fail is important and we could learn from mistakes. Entrepreneurs all dare to fail, and if you do that, then your learning curve would be steeper. When fail, learn from it.
Don’t close yourself off when you are learning, and always go to talk to people, and learn from people. It is very important to learn from everyone. Even a beggar can make us learn from it. Make it a point for us to always learn.
Jason has a management style, which is full transparency. All the staff know everything that is happening, and all the team discussed together for everything, example the company’s marketing plan.
Jason also talked about “Chinese whisper”. He hated it very much, if people do it. Communications would get distorted, if people whispered.
Jason said that it is very important that people don’t have temper. People should be having fun at work. He tried to be very approachable too.
Sometimes his staff would go to him and ask him to make decision, but Jason always wanted the team to discuss and decide. This would empower the staff, and no decision is made without the knowledge of everyone.
Sometimes, Jason might get voted out by his staff, when they all voted for a certain decision. Of course, sometimes wrong decision could be made, but that is unavoidable.
It is very important for Jason that when his staff left, they moved up. Sometimes, he would try to make it very clear to his staff who wanted to leave, if they are not moving to a more established roles elsewhere. He would do his best to convince them to stay back.
Tony Fernandes chose Jason Lo based on his strength and weakness, and he was not from telco background. Jason has also started a company before.
Jason said that a lot of things that happened today, he didn’t plan for it. But when opportunities come, he seized it. Tony, Jason and Mark Lankester all came from music background.
It is very important to communicate with the staff, and have a laugh at things. Jason said that we should be more laughing at ourselves, and not be as touchy on things. It would break the ice and have more fun.
Jason shared his phone number and email address with the audience, and he said that as the bosses, one should be very approachable. One can’t do great things, if one is not approachable.
Malaysia should be do a lot more, but often we are scared to fail, and we don’t reach our potential.
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.
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.
We are honored to have for our 19 series Roshan Thiran, CEO of Leaderonomics Sdn Bhd speaking.
Roshan Thiran, CEO of Leaderonomics Sdn Bhd, an organization which specializes on developing young capable leaders by constantly setting new goals to challenge, and transforming the minds and hearts of leaders to create a just, free and caring society. Simultaneously, Leaderonomics runs workshops and camps for children and youths.To learn more about Leaderonomics, go to www.leaderonomics.com
He has a passion for helping people fulfil their potential and purpose and believes there is a science to developing leaders. He spent the past 15 years working for General Electric and Johnson & Johnson across the US, Europe and Asia. He is also much sought out for his expertise in talent management and leadership development.
He strives to help world’s leaders – of all ages, classes and ethnicities – to adapt and meet dramatic changes in our natural and synthetic environments and to help them continuously grow and develop as leaders.
Young Corporate Malaysians now brings to you Roshan Thiran, an avid writer and also speaker, to share his thoughts and experiences in creating the best leaders in town!
Date:Thursday, 12th November 2009
Time: 7.30pm – 9.30pm
Dress Code: Just turn up in your working clothes
Venue: Menara Integriti
Persiaran Duta, Off Jalan Duta
Light food and beverages will be provided, all these at no charge to you so please come!