How would you describe yourself?
I consider myself practical and realistic when planning for the future. I am also a firm believer in hard work and am always prepared for all eventualities.
Why did you pursue a career in finance?
I’ve always been fascinated by science and technology, and I eventually obtained a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Computing. However, I decided on a career in finance because the industry amazed me in terms of its reach and influence in everything that we do. To put it simply, no one can run away from finance in business.
I started as an Equity Research Analyst in the Investment Division of Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB), then spent several years as an Investment Analyst in the CEO’s Office of PNB working on mergers and acquisitions. Afterwards, I became Head of Analysts in the International Fund Management Department, before I joined MMC Corporation Berhad. Today, I am responsible for strategic business decisions such as investments, business development, capital expenditure, and cost and resource management.
I chose the CFA® Program because I needed to prove my capability as a finance and investment professional, and therefore only the most respected credential would do. I enrolled in the CFA Program early in my career, so could spend much of my after-work hours studying, even late into the night. As time passed, this became more of a challenge as family commitments came into the picture. However, I persevered as learnings from the curriculum helped me do better as an investment analyst. That was as important to me as obtaining the CFA® designation. Even today, the knowledge is still relevant to my work.
My advice to CFA® Program candidates: enroll in the CFA Program as early as possible so you can build your career on a strong foundation.
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Have you faced any ethical dilemmas in your career?
I have encountered instances where parts of the business are no longer sustainable and the hard decision to close these down has to be considered. This usually involves laying off employees. As leaders of a company, we have a duty to protect the interest of the shareholders. However, dealing with people affected by these corporate decisions sometimes put me in difficult situations. But at the end of the day, my conscience is clear as long as proper due diligence has been undertaken when discharging those duties.
What is your work or life motto? What gives meaning and purpose to your life?
Go the extra mile — I believe in delivering above and beyond what is required. My work deals a lot with building and operating infrastructures that touch the lives of many Malaysians. This gives me the satisfaction of knowing I have made someone’s life better every day.
Which book do you think every investment professional should read?
I don’t have one. But my all-time favorites are Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson and Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. I have learnt a lot from both books about navigating corporate life and also use them as a source of inspiration for much-needed entrepreneurial spirit from time to time.
What is the favorite part of your job? What is the most challenging?
My favorite part is witnessing the manifestation of the business plan into physical structures; projects usually start with a concept proposal, followed by detailed analysis and financial modeling, and finally, we build the project.
The most challenging part of my job is the availability of data to make a complete evaluation. This is vital for me to make the final investment decision, and yet all the work beforehand has to be very discreet to make sure we have the advantage of being the first to market.
Tell us your proudest moment to date.
It was when I was awarded the scholarship to pursue my first degree in Imperial College which I would have never been able to afford — this changed my life forever.
You have been in the financial industry for many years. What is your advice for young professionals embarking on their career journeys? What skills or attributes would you like to see more of in millennials?
Pursue something you are passionate about. This is crucial as you will spend a major part of your life working, so it has to be something you enjoy. At the same time, you have to invest in yourself, build the right skills and knowledge so that you will be great at the job that you enjoy doing.
If you were not in this industry, what would have been your alternative career?
A programmer. In hindsight, maybe I should have been one. I could have founded my own billion-dollar technology start-up.
Disclaimer: The content was written in March 2019. Information, views, opinions, and recommendations expressed belong to the interviewees thereof. They do not necessarily reflect the views of CFA Society Malaysia. In no event shall CFA Society Malaysia be liable for any damages resulting from their opinions.