Sunday, December 30, 2007

As I wonder..Profesor Datuk Ibrahim Ahmad Bajunid

About four (4) hours ago I attended the wedding of the son of a dear friend, Professor Datuk Ibrahim Ahmad Bajunid, held at the TTDI Community Centre, Kuala Lumpur. Spotted, was, Chairman of Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Tan Sri Zainul (who was until recently, also Chairman of Bank Pembangunan), Tan Sri Wan Zahid (former Education DG), Ibrahim Hassan (former Petronas Management Training Institute (PERMATA), executive director), Datuk Professor Kamaruddin Kacar (former Deputy VC, UPM), two former Presidents & CEOs of Universiti Tun Abdul Razak or better known as UNITAR (Datuk Dr Syed Othman Alhabshi and his syed cousin), Datuk Shaik (former Shell Public Affairs chieftain), Datuk Hjh Aishah (Malaysian Automotive Association, MAA President) and oh well... so many others too including an old friend from my publishing days, Ahmad Zaki, tauke of the religious book publisher DarulFikir who waited to park his car as I drove out...heheh. Apart from the usual name-dropping above (I better say it before you do! hahaha). Sorrylah, I had to say it out loud, even though its true really! ( I didn't pick it up from no where, or pluck it from the sky and hmmm far from being ' syiok sendiri' (private personal orgasm) ok?..... hahahaha. Ya, ya... apart from that, the unique thing about this wedding is, as you were about to leave, you were given a 24 page booklet entitled 'Down Memory Lane' (dalam kenangan in malay) that captures the literary essence of the Bajunid clan. It was dedicated to the Kelawai and Pulai Pinang (Penang) community anyway. I find it exhilirating, refreshing, and something really innovative whilst propagating the culture of continuous learning and lifelong education that my friend Datuk Professor Ibrahim Bajunid is so passionate about. The 24-page booklet captures in print, taking the wedding as a platform and an opportunity, to bagi nasihat (give fatherly advise) to the bride & groom, with selected articles that Datuk had written and published in the NST in his column I wonder... some of which includes: 'The Efforts and Will to Becoming a Person'; Acquiring a Culture of Continuous Improvement and Self-Improvement Thinking'; 'Towards an Aesthetical Hygienic Society'; 'Lessons from the World of Cats' and 'On Dying and Death: The Appreciation of Human Moments'. Also included, was an extract of a book written by Datuk's late dad Allahyarham Ustaz Sheikh Ahmad Osman Bajunid entitled: 'Fikiran Positif Kaedah Mujarab' and some news cuttings in memory of him. Well done YBhg Datuk Professor Ibrahim, for the unique ways in which you capture & treasure memories and friendships. Thank you very much for the priviledge of sharing those precious moments in your family's life!

meeting of like minds....

This is indeed a rare shot...hahaha. In the company of intellectuals. Beside me is Datuk Professor Zawawi Ismail former (founding) Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) now Chairman of INTI University College and a board member of CIMBBank among others. Next to him is Professor Rajah Rasiah of the Economics Faculty Universiti Malaya (former colleague of Datuk at UNIMAS). He is a global professor, having served at Universitet Maastricht & other EC uiversities and is a consultant to UNIDO, UNESCO, the World Bank and other outfit under the United Nations bag. He just got back from Europe, South America, Africa and most recent text message to me was from Cambodia...hahaha. He was the one who texted me to say that...hey..Datuk Prof Zawawi wants to catch up with us at Starbucks One BangsarVillge at 5pm today...heheh. Next to him is Prof Adin, A Cambridge Scholar (who has been away from this country for 25 years!) who is now Silterra's Chairman, and beside him is Kwang, CEO of a Singapore-based company, his (Adin's) associate. Time: 6 pm, Venue: Starbucks OneBangsarVillage Date: 29 December 2007. The discussions? hahahaha ranging from the ideas, concepts, philosophies and politics too heheh but ahem...we do exercise strict self-censorship hahaha. Not preclude, were notes on Ivy League universities in the likes of Harvard, Wharton, Yale, MIT, universiti malaya(?) heheh.... etcetera etcetera, emerging new hyped labels like innopreneurs (signaling the demise of technopreneurs?), collegiality, local physics mafioso, student gradings, venture capital bla, bla, bla...and the list goes on and on hahaha... and you wouldn't believe it that at some point too, it even degenerated into some 80s nostalgia at USM when a pig-filled cane-container fell onto the front bonnet of a pink volkswagen (thank gawd VW's engines were placed at the rear...hahaha) of Professor Wan Manan hahaha... and when professor Rajah Rasiah's exhaust pipe fell off his car in a busy Penang Street! hahahaha. By the way, it was Prof Rajah's 50th birthday today! Happy Birthday and Many Happy Returns of the Day my friend! I became very close to Prof Rajah Rasiah after we both gave a keynote address at the International Borneo Business Conference (IBBC), the biannual economic conference jointly organised by UNIMAS & UMS, in december 2006. Thanks to the co-chairmen of IBBC the then Economics Dept Head at UNIMAS Mdm Dayang Affizah Awang Marikan (who is currently pursuing her PhD at Southampton University, UK) for inviting me to give that keynote address. Oh ya, I just remembered...Dr Roselina Ahmad Saufi of UMS had just been elevated to full Professorship! Congratulations Prof Dr Ros! Hmmm a saturday afternoon in the company of intellectuals?...not a bad pastime eh? and who says professors are a boring lot? you will be absolutely pleasantly surprised...I can tell you that!!! hahaha

Friday, December 28, 2007

of alien vs predator & old town white coffee...

No, I have not gone to see I am Legend (Wil Smith) as planned but went to see AVP2 instead, yesterday at One Utama. The crowd was amazing but we were lucky to not have to wait for a much later screening time... heheh. Yes, Alien vs Predator 2. I went wif my son but he could not see it, sowee...only above 18s are allowed hahaha. So he ended up seeing National Treasures 2 (Nicolas Cage) instead. I am dissapointed wif AVP2. Must be a budget movie. Hahaha, cos I saw the same GMC cars used in Transformers heheh. There was only one Predator sent down to save earth! while the Aliens were multiplying like nobody's business...hahaha. The setting was rather dull, dark, very the-american-kampong-like atmosphere. Not sure if they were the same producers of tranformers though, cos it somehow had the same color tones. I still love AVP1...great cinematography, great sound system. and of course excellent animation. The production was superb. Crystal clear and I would watch it time and again on my small VAIO notebook widescreen.
Awhile ago I had curry mee, nanyang black coffee, kaya and butter toasts, with my 15 year old second gurl and my son, at the new Old Town White Coffee joint just beside the Kelana Jaya Giant hypermarket and in front of UNITAR. Chatted wif this friendly chappy Jason who was wif his family. Very pleasant fellow. Started taking about how good or how bad our E90s were...hahaha and we ended up exchanging business cards ...well, he gave his. I was out of mine but immediately texted him my contact details hahaha. Am sure we will bump into each other again.
This was the 2nd time I visited Old Town KJ. I must say it was beautifully done. Cosy, warm, perfect for any occasion, wether to entertain clients, meet up with old frens or just a quickie notti date...hahaha. And free wi-fi connections too...hahaha. what more could one ask for? The menu is simple. straight forward, no nonsensical fusion stuff hahaha... Enjoy the coming weekend fellas!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

chronicles of narnia, terminator 3 & wil smith's I am legend...

I don't watch TV much actually unless I feel like relaxing.. and switch to National Geographic or some other documentary channels and oh ya CCTV9 or the new china international TV station...heheh. I like that station even though the accent and pronunciation leaves much to be desired...hahaha...but what do you expect right? So long as the message gets across, who cares!! I saw two full length movies on ASTRO which I like to comment.
The first one is the Chronicles of Narnia. Set during the German air raid over london, and the mummy sends away her four kids (2 boys and 2 girls) to a faraway place on an old beautiful steam engine train, with breathtaking views, only to be met with the usual strict, disciplinarian, headmistress type, madame of the manor where a sort of absent-minded professor lives. The kids bumped into a cupboard that led into this world called Narnia where their adventures began. Well, much like Harry Potter's series and that other american movie that starred robbie williams, which I forgot the title. Anyway, I notice, movies that are British based, like Harry Potter, Narnia etc attempts to instil powerful value systems that is subtly embedded. Notions of creativity, the thirst for knowledge, discipline, honesty and integrity, standing up for what is right and of course, the age-old notions of good and evil, fairy tales & demons and the maximising or optimising rather...of the positive side of magic! Disneyworld has for decades now made billions through movies, the very thing people the world over, continue to be fascinated with...MAGIC...heheh.
Ok, the second is Terminator 3, now this is sooo American...something is soo familiar in american blockbuster see them in Spiderman, Batman, Transformers etc....they always have a teenage couple , an american boy and girl...trying to safe the world. Listen to the script of these movies, they all send out messages, to millions of boys and girls and adults throughout the world who watch the movies, that eventually its them who save the world kunon.... yey yey the Japanese have their Ultraman and the Malaysians have their Cicakman...hahahaha. No, but seriously, these movies are a great moral booster and keeping their patriotism flying high, among the Americans. I mean, we need to acknowledge that. They are damn good at spin jobs and that sort of stuff! That's why mahathir wanted to establish or set up an animation studio dulu (in Cyberjaya...but what happened to that village? heheh).
Ok ok..what about I Am Legend? Wil Smith? I have not seen that movie yet hahaha but I read a not-so-nice review about that movie... I just might go see it for myself in the comforts of the new signature theatre at midvalley this evening perhaps? Wil Smith is one of my favourite stars anyway.....hahahaha...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

of lazy sunday afternoons...(the mamas & the papas, a 60s hit song)

The book above, was one of those selected in the review of the Best Business Books 2007 by a team of commentators of the strategy+business issue 49, Winter 2007

What?!!writing a blogpost on a sunday evening 2 days before christmas? when almost everyone that I know is either in London, or leaving for Phuket tomorrow, or has left for Penang yesterday and probably contributed to the 10-hour crawl on the Penang Bridge? heheh. The gawds must be crazy as depicted by some savetheworld cartoon characters! hahaha. My sadness triggered this urge to write it down and post it on my blog. First sad story: I am sad because suddenly you find you are no longer in communicado with someone fairly close & dear to you. The lines just went poof. I sent a few text messages, there was no response, then a couple of blank received no response too. I stopped sending anymore messages, kang orang kate tak reti base plax. The 2nd sad story is knowing that a close associate is going through a very difficult time of his life. Sort of a crisis, if you may. I hope everything turns out well for him,before the year is out. Me? hah...I am still struggling to get rid of old documents, springkleening as we all call it. Still very much so at it..hahaha albeit at a much slower pace..hahaha. Finally, a feel-bad story: I felt bad for another dear friend for not being able to help her out to give an hour or two, peptalk to freshies, on investmentbanks or general investment from the CEO/business perspective. It was last minute just the night before and I didn't have the confidence to do it. These days I need some time to prepare even though I could do it off the cuff. But that's only for subject areas or disciplines I am at home with. The last time I gave a public lecture on investment was the inaugural executive lecture series of bankislam in 1997 when I was still at PNB heheh... hmmm enuf of sad stories on an otherwise humid sunday evening..hihi

Friday, December 21, 2007

of travel,shutterbugs & sun-tzu art of war...

tis a season for reflection, forgiveness and more of giving than taking and absolutely a season that credit card companies love, and also, not forgetting, and most importantly, a season where dads experience tear-less cries when their families scream for that 'quality-time away' (as some smart mums would have liked it phrased...hahaha) and wondering if at all there is going to be year-end bonuses to wrap off the year that was. Hmmm...fat chance bro, but the slightly brighter side is that school books are free!! yey...but hey...wait a minute...just when you thought you could spend that money on that so-called much needed (well, nice-to-have) breakaway...your kids show you the 'optional' booklist...hahaha. I shall not discuss that. Very sensitive issue. Let the powers-that-be handle the situation with schools, parents et al etcetera...heheh.

Now, the fotos above...the first one was taken from a brochure enticing IIA (Institute of Internal Auditors) members to attend their global meeting in Amsterdam in June this year. The remaining four (4) fotos (venice, an excavation site in california, a stone house in Ireland and a cityscape architectural photography) were borrowed from an old publication entitled: travel photography: how to see and take better pictures (by the editors of consumer guide, published in 1982 by Publications International, Ltd, Illinois. The book began with 'Travel is a time of special experiences, which photographs can keep fresh and new long after you've returned home. Through your pictures you can relive those good times, and share them with your family and friends. Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates them. Pictures I mean. Khoo Kheng Hor, author of 'Without Fighting' has a contradictory opinion. He says, according to Sun-Tzu's Art of War, people are interested in themselves, as such, when he visited friends, many just couldn't wait to screen movies of their birthdays, vacation or wedding or whatever, for them to watch while others would dump countless foto albums of photographs of themselves or their loved ones for them to peruse. That's why he (Khoo) and his wife avoid photo-taking as they don't wish to impose such 'tortures' on their friends or relatives...hahaha.
So, my friends, there are two(2) schools of thought here. You choose them. If you are travelling, the photos above can give you a guide on how to take better pictures! heheh. Enjoy the holiday season, travel smart and safe....bon voyage!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

dragons at the gate.....

howdy do folks! I know, I know...I shouldn't. Not heavy stuff on a raya day! heheh. Just a watercolour splash of oscar wilde and hmmm...I just couldn't resist wanting to share the article below that I came across from the SHRM website. There's this old corporate adage: 'when the going gets tough, the tough gets going'. Looks like everyone is in a holiday I shall not spoil it...but then again, reading the article below won't do you any harm anyway, in fact it would be good so you would always be mindful that nothing lasts forever and that at least you can welcome the new year...with some trepidation...or be at least prepared for a worst-case scenario and take the necessary action...well options rather, if you have lah! that you tak tekezot berok!!!... enjoy the read....hihi

The Correct Spelling of M&A Begins with HR
Degree of HR participation directly linked to success in mergers and acquisitions, a finding that opens new doors for the profession at a critical time
By Jeffrey A. Schmidt
[ Determining what drove the deal Clearing the hurdlesGetting in at the beginning A look at the futureWinning a seat at the table]
Order the book "Making Mergers Work".
A recent, extensive survey on merger or acquisition activity shows that there is a direct correlation between HR involvement and M&A success. It further suggests that the earlier HR is involved in the process, the greater likelihood of success.
The survey was sponsored by the SHRM Foundation and conducted by my firm, Towers Perrin, a worldwide consulting organization with a strong HR orientation.
The survey, which involved about 450 senior HR executives at major corporations, focused on several key issues:
the degree to which the desired synergies driving the mergers or acquisitions had actually been achieved
the major obstacles to their achievement
the ideal levels of HR involvement at every stage in the M&A process
the individual HR competencies needed for the ideal involvement
Most people who study M&A's divide these transactions into four distinct phases: pre-deal (selecting the target); due diligence; integration planning; and implementation. Our survey showed that HR involvement was heaviest in the two later phases.
In addition, the survey explored the best practices for HR professionals in M&A's. Our purpose was to provide a descriptive framework for successful transactions and the ways in which HR can and should participate in the process.
In determining success, we asked the respondents to list the five major synergies that had driven a particular transaction. A score of 4.0 or more on a five-point scale would indicate success. A score of 3.2 to 3.9 would translate into partial success. And a lower score would indicate some degree of failure. Based on those criteria, 43% of our respondents reported success, 33% achieved partial success, and 24% of the mergers or acquisitions were failures.
In addition to showing the direct correlation between HR involvement and M&A success, the survey surfaces an implicit finding that is, in my opinion, equally important. At a time when many trends are having an adverse impact upon the more transactional aspects of the corporate human resource function, mergers and acquisitions present a superb opportunity for HR to demonstrate its strategic value to the company. If HR people are able to demonstrate that their unique set of skills can make the difference between success and failure in mergers and acquisitions (and this survey strongly suggests that they can) the profession will occupy a stronger position than ever.
Determining what drove the dealAs noted earlier, success in an M&A is determined by the achievement of the desired synergies. What are those synergies? Growth in market share was the primary motive for 82% of respondent companies. Leadership in industry consolidation was second, cited by 68%. Enhanced brand strength and reputation was ranked third, noted by 55%. Reducing overhead/operating costs was the fourth most important synergy (46%).
How close did our corporate sample come to achieving those synergies? In order to answer that question, we conducted a "gap" analysis, quantifying the difference between aspiration and achievement. For instance, among the companies for which growth in market share was the determining factor (82% of our respondents), only 49% of those organizations actually achieved that objective — a gap of 33%. For those that intended to achieve leadership in a consolidating industry, the gap was 21%. And for the companies focusing on enhanced brand strength and reputation, the gap was 22%.
These sizeable gaps were the result of failure to overcome key obstacles. Our respondents told us that the major roadblocks on the route to M&A success were inability to sustain financial performance (64%), loss of productivity (62%), incompatible cultures (56%), loss of key talent (53%) and clash of management styles (also 53%). It should be noted that three of these five are clearly HR issues. And they all come into play during the two latest stages of a merger or acquisition — integration planning and implementation.
There was near unanimity among our respondents as to the powerfully negative effects of a failure to achieve cultural compatibility. A VP at a telecom company told us: "So far as our senior management is concerned, culture simply isn't on the map." And a senior VP at a financial services organization said, "HR needs to grab the moral authority over cultural issues, ahead of the merger, by preaching to executives the importance of those issues."
Our survey suggests that one reason for the inability of so many acquirers to overcome those obstacles is insufficient planning. Companies that reported failure in the achievement of their desired synergies tended to underestimate those obstacles when developing their M&A strategies. As that former electronics executive put it. "When it comes to people issues, most mergers and acquisitions are incredibly poorly planned by the chief executives."
Clearing the hurdlesWe asked our sample of HR executives to list the core capabilities needed to overcome those obstacles to M&A success. The five cited most often were:
the ability to evaluate another company quickly (89%)
M&A (and general business) literacy and integration know-how (87%)
providing advice as to employee sensitivities and attitudes (86%)
motivating and retaining critically needed talent (83%)
planning and leading complex integration projects (82%)
Commenting upon the importance of quick and accurate evaluation, an HR executive at an energy company told us, "Speed is crucial. We try to get the first three stages of the deal done in 30 days — the pre-deal, the due diligence and the integration planning."
As to the need for M&A and business literacy, that former electronics executive offered this comment: "One reason HR executives have trouble getting their recommendations through senior executives and boards of directors is the lack of business breadth that's typically characteristic of people in HR."
We also used "gap analysis" to determine the difference between aspiration and achievement. Overall, only half of our respondents believe that their HR organizations possess the capabilities needed to play a strategic M&A role. The largest gaps were the ability to evaluate another company (32%) and M&A (and general business) literacy and integration know-how (31%).
Most respondents cited the importance of the same capabilities, but those at successful firms came closer to achieving those capabilities.
How can HR people attain business literacy and the other core capabilities needed to achieve full partnership in the M&A process? On-the-job training is certainly important. The more deals you're involved in, the more skills you'll develop. But a strong educational background is at least equally valuable. The SHRM certification programs cover all of the capabilities that came to light in our survey, and those programs are available to all members on a regular basis.
Getting in at the beginningOur survey bears out the well-known and (among HR people) widely lamented fact that their involvement in mergers and acquisitions is limited, for the most part, to the two phases at the back end of the deal: integration planning and implementation. In the opinion of our respondents, they should be involved in all four stages.
One of our interviewees, a human resource executive at an energy company, put it this way: "Typically, our company invites HR to sit at the table very early in the process. We have a lot of credibility because of the number of deals we have done and the value that HR has put forward during those deals."
In the pre-deal phase, HR people were involved 21% of the time in successful M&A transactions. That's not a very high percentage, but it compares quite favorably with the 12% figure reported by the HR people whose companies were unsuccessful in M&A's.
A senior VP at a retailing organization described an acquisition about which she had major reservations: "The head of the operating division that was championing this deal was annoyed at my attitude and did his best to keep me out of all the meetings to plan the deal. In most cases, I wasn't even notified. But I wouldn't let up. I walked into those meetings unannounced, and I set forth my reservations. I told them about the risks involved, but rather than taking a negative attitude, I said, 'let's figure out right now how to deal with those problems during the integration process.' My persistency — and the important points I made that nobody else had noticed — earned me a seat at the table as a full and value-adding member of the deal-making team."
During the due diligence stage, HR people were involved in 72% of the successful deals and only 39% of those that failed. One of our respondents told us about a potential transaction in which the chairman was surprised to learn that at the organization they were about to acquire, the ratio of retirees to active employees was 7 to 1. And those retirees were all drawing benefits. "Management clearly hadn't thought through the pension funding implications of those demographics," our interviewee said. "The moral here is that HR can help to do critically focused due diligence."
The vice president of a plastics company offered this formula for success: "To be an effective part of the due diligence team, you need to understand your own business very well, both the overall business strategy and the specific HR issues. You need to understand why your company does things the way it does, and then you need to learn why the target company does things the way they do. This give you the complete picture."
In integration planning, HR participation among the successful dealmakers was 85%, compared to 53% for the unsuccessful companies. In this, as in all other phases, there is no single formula that works for all companies, but here is an approach that a VP of HR at a manufacturing company recommends: "I've learned from my experience in M&A that it's important to interview senior management of the acquired company as soon as possible, to establish a sense of their leadership. In addition, it's a good idea to make a list of the other company's best practices and your own, and then compare the lists for similarities, differences or things that the other company might be doing better."
In the implementation phase, successful companies reported 87% HR involvement, compared to 73% for those that failed. One HR professional told us about an approach he finds particularly useful: "Most changes should be spaced out evenly, but takeaways should all be done at once, if possible."
A look at the futureThe good expect to get better. Eight out of ten respondents (81%) employed by companies with success in M&A's told us that top management is confident that their HR function is fully prepared to support successful integration. For companies in unsuccessful mergers and acquisitions, management's confidence level in HR's ability to deal successfully with M&A integration issues is only 50%.
The professionals we interviewed offered some ideas about HR priorities for future M&A activity. Everybody agreed that the most important task is defining the integration philosophy, process and timeline at the earliest possible date. Other important priorities cited were optimizing the impact of communications, mapping cultural differences, aligning HR policies, securing resources, resolving organizational issues at the outset, and defining a rewards strategy.
Everyone agreed that the most appropriate role for HR is as a strategic business partner. "But in order to accomplish this," said a senior vice president with an aircraft manufacturer, "HR professionals need to spend more time talking with operating management than they do with each other."
Another key role mentioned by many respondents was serving as an adviser to executive management. The integration manager at a software company told us, "The best way for HR to contribute to M&A is to be viewed as an internal consultant."

Winning a seat at the tableOur survey — and everything else I've experienced or heard on the subject — makes it clear that most mergers, acquisitions and other corporate transformations do not achieve the desired level of success. The survey also bears out what many HR professionals have always believed: there is a direct correlation between the level of HR involvement and M&A success.
Therefore, HR needs to win a seat at the table in all M&A deals. This involvement should cover all phases, including the first two — pre-deal and due diligence. In the words of the compliance and integration manager at a technology company, "I codified and standardized methods and procedures for HR due diligence. This demonstrated that I was a value-added contributor and got me a seat at the deal table."
HR especially needs to get involved in overcoming the obstacles of incompatible cultures, low productivity and the inability to manage and implement change. But — again as our respondents told us — HR must develop broader capabilities in order to win that coveted place at the deal table.
The most important of those capabilities is business literacy. As that SVP of the aircraft company told us, "HR must understand M&A economics and know how to dig out the information necessary to analyze whether there are significant people issues that could compromise those economics. If HR demonstrates competencies of that kind, executive and operating management will knock down their door to get them involved throughout all stages of the M&A process."
The survey also tells us that there is a direct link between capabilities and obstacles. The most robust M&A capabilities are those that address the most important obstacles.
Those are the major conclusions that can be drawn from the survey. I want to close with some conclusions of my own, based on the survey and on my firm's considerable experience with mergers and acquisitions and other issues confronting human resource professionals.
HR is currently at a crossroads. Several trends — web-based technology, the growth of HR outsourcing and the consolidation of major industries — are threatening the future of the traditional transaction-driven HR function. These trends make it vitally necessary for HR to seek new, more strategic opportunities for performing the people-related functions that are the profession's birthright and its very reason for being.
At this critical juncture, M&A's can provide a superb opportunity. For instance, one of the adverse trends I just noted — the consolidation of major industries — can prove to be an advantage to corporate HR departments that have demonstrated skills in M&A's.
For almost any corporation, a merger or acquisition is a major gamble — sometimes with the company's entire future at stake. If HR can demonstrate its value in this high-stakes game, the entire profession will be strengthened. HR professionals will move up in the management structure, occupying key positions as advisers to the people who make the vital decisions.
Because of economic changes, there is a developing convergence among strategic planning, financial strategy and people management. With a strengthened position resulting from successful participation in M&A's, HR can play a bigger role in all three areas.
But in order to achieve any of those goals, HR must assert itself, demanding a role from the very beginning of every M&A deal.
As the vice president of a manufacturing firm told us, "To get a seat at that table, HR professionals need to be more aggressive. They need to have a grasp of the business they're in, and they need to show that their skills are necessary for a successful transaction. They have to demonstrate that HR is vitally necessary throughout the M&A process."
Order the book "
Making Mergers Work".
Jeff Schmidt is a managing director at Towers Perrin, a worldwide consulting firm that focuses upon both M&A and HR issues. Survey results were collated and analyzed by Jessica Saban-Francis, the firm's director of research.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

birds do it, bees do it...

And corporate secretaries do it...

in style.

inhouse or outsourced.

with attention to detail.

transparent, in governance.

recto and verso.

with an eye on the clock.

for independent directors.

with black ink.

for circular resolution.

behind close doors.

in the gutter.

bursa ready.

with ball points.

spaced out.

on clean sheets.

in attendance.

globally and regionally.

with their directors.


with executive summary.

with full secrecy.

in softcopy.


adapted and modified from Anon in another world, & the foto is borrowed from tompeter's blog...heheh

Saturday, December 15, 2007

of tarbuses and bale-bale....hahaha

last night Vantagepoint Consulting (HTP's associate company) celebrated their 10th anniversary at the former Regent Hotel at Bintang Walk. The hotel has been refurbished, changed hands, now known as the Grand Millennium. The theme of the night was Malaysian 60s and the band they invited, to entertain us was called BALE-BALE...a group of pot-bellied ancient men & women (mostly javanese of Kuala Selangor...hahaha) rendering numbers that brought nostalgia to times when I was in school in the early 60s hahaha. Their dressing in batik, kain batik with terompah...hmm I cud have sworn, my first impression...i thought they were fishermen of kuala selangor! hahaha. The group of talented 10 musicians reminded me too of a group that my late father had sponsored when I was a child at Kg Jawa, Kuantan and it was called Jawa Putera Orkestra. I scanned some of those ole pix but cud not locate it hahaha (getting old myself!). It could be in one my mobile harddrives. Anyway, back to Vantage, I was there to lend support to Rahim, the CEO. I used to be secretary of vantagepoint at one time and could not be more than familiar with the tides of their progress. Congratulations brother rahim ! Kudos for the promise of a better future for you and your team. Yezzzeh, he is the tarbus (not to be mistaken for targus.....your preferred notbook backpacker heheh) guy alias tom cruise....hihi.
One parting note though...I was, as usual, punctual, on the dot at functions these days, just enjoying how malaysians make the hosts wait, making others they trot into the hall shamelessly...hahahaha. If that wasn't bad enuf? hmmm what about when you say you are coming but you didn't show up....and you didn't have the bloody courtesy to ring up or send a text message to ...erm at least apologise? is that what is meant by first class infrastructure and third class mentality? hmmm. Jangan mare bang....siapaen yang mangan cili dong, biaren sendiri yang rasaen pedas loh! hahaha...have a great weekend folks!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

talismans of high intellectual standards....

I was updating my CV and came across some old conference papers, keynote addresses that I had contributed (in crafting...heheh) for quite a few important people over the last 20 years, at least. This particular one was interesting and unique. Two people drafted it and the challenge was in converging the ideas and the messages behind it...heehee. It was a citation, acceptance speech sort of, like a public lecture of sorts, in conjunction with the Conferment of the Degree of Laws (honoris causa) by the University of Wales, at Lampeter on Thursday, 6th April, 1995 at 7.00 PM, in the Seddon Room, Old College, University of Wales, Aberystwyth.... here's the part that I contributed...heheh (the last 2 pages):

....Like Professor (now Lord) Morgan, I felt then as soon as I got here, as I certainly feel now, that this mood of pessimism, some of it deliberate, was absurd, that Aberystwyth had a very strong future, a very strong future indeed, stronger even than its past. The university has been audited and assessed to death, but not once have been found wanting; their administration, financial and other management has always been found to be impeccable in spite of the vagaries of government policy and an uncertain funding context. Well, universities, have had their problems too, problems of funding, problems about graduate employment. I should know pretty well, especially in our own country, as I sit in the University of Malaya Council and Chairman of the Finance Committee as well.
I note in the Principal's address that one or two new universities in the UK have not always been models in their academic or financial or managerial activities and yet on the whole, british universities have gone against the trend, so it seems. I cannot help but agree with Professor Morgan that the University of Wales, Aberystwyth has maintained public esteem, maintained her presence and has remained honoured across the world as talismans of high quality and of high intellectual and cultural standards. it is, above all a tribute to the quality of the people within them, to the way in which they operate the cannons of civilisation in which they believe.
Universities are special, universities are the unacknowledged legislators of humankind. They have the potential and the energy to be change agents. The University of Wales at Aberystwyth is a precious jewel in this crown and her contributions to the development of Malaysia thoughout its recent history will line the pages of our history books.....

Monday, December 10, 2007

bodyshopnewsAsia volume 1-number 2 (forthcoming)...

You know what...if you are not in the mood for can look blanklessly onto your notebook or PC screen wherever you are...and nothing...absolutely nothing comes out of your brain. Sometimes, well, most of the time, pressure does have its merits...hahaha. Michel emailed and texted me profusely, from Sydney, Australia, chasing after my 2nd article for his BodyshopnewsAsia industry magazine. And here's the result of that pressure...hahaha...

A Continual Balancing Act…

I just finished reading the international bestseller ‘Freakanomics’ by Steven D Levitt & Stephen J Dubner, dubbed as rogue economists exploring the hidden side of everything. Telling us to assume nothing, question everything. It’s at the heart of everything we do and the things that affect us daily, from sex to crime, parenting to politics, fat to cheating, fear to traffic jams and it’s all about using information about the world around us to get to the heart of what’s really happening under the surface of everyday life! What immediately comes to my mind, is always trying to relate what I read and making sense of it within the context of our own industry. Where are the commonalities? For example: what do insurance agents and the Klu Klux Klan have in common? Why do parts dealers live with their mothers? How can the car you drive affect (not reflect) how well you do in your life?

The automotive industry (according to accounts for almost 11% of the developed world economy. It is complex, heavily politicised and riven with economic contradictions. It also faces unprecedented environmental challenges, to which it is not responding as well as it should. Investors, governments and even those running businesses in it often have difficulty making sense of it or of where it should be headed. In another report, John Wormald said that half of the profits in the auto industry in Europe comes from the sale of spare parts. Although they represent less than 10% of industry turnover in the region (Europe), the sector is now critical to the survival of many car and component suppliers. Selling parts and servicing cars is what keeps franchised dealers alive. This, according to the report, means that the aftermarket massively cross-subsidises new vehicle sales. (I mentioned something to that effect in my previous article, taking place in our markets as well.) What caught my further attention about that report is that, it seems that ‘the aftermarket is ill-documented because it is so complex and that has made it easy for the industry to hide behind it’. The report also said it is the ‘Cinderella of the Industry’ and yet it can make or break the economics of the sector. It is also the front line in the relationship with consumers. I suspect some of the salient features highlighted in that report is probably prevalent in developing economies in these parts of the world. Autopolis, according to their website, together with Ethos Consulting of Kuala Lumpur, also wrote a policy-oriented report which ultimately became the new National Automotive Policy (NAP) for Malaysia in 2006.

Which brings me to Proton our national carmaker. The impending partnership with a foreign strategic partner, it seems, is now off. It stirred the market, there was a great debate, with fund managers & analysts, as usual, making their analysis about how and why major decisions should be made in public-listed companies, especially government-owned or linked companies, like Proton for example. The media was again adorned with reasons given by the government as to why the negotiations were aborted for now. Conventional wisdom was the order of the day, which I shall not bore you with the details as you probably, had already read online. I suspect freakanomics wasn’t taken into consideration in the decisions of the powers-that-be, but the consolation was that, Proton’s options were kept open for negotiations with interested foreign or local parties again at some future date, perhaps.

We at Motordata Research Consortium (MRC) in partnership with THATCHAM (The Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre, funded by the Association of British Insurers), being the custodian of the Malaysian national centralised database for repair estimation, continue to build bridges, setting standards, encouraging enhancement of skills in all related sectors (general insurance especially the claims department, bodyshops, adjusting firms, auto manufacturers etc etc), in short, continuously encouraging lifelong learning besides our core responsibility of containing cost of claims for the general insurance industry. Similar to other like-minded research outfits elsewhere in the world, we are also members of the global Research Council for Automobile Repairs (RCAR – . The recent RCAR annual conference was held at Salvador, Brasil (hosted by CESVI Brasil) and the forthcoming 2008 RCAR annual conference will be hosted by CESVI FRANCE. HeiTech Padu Berhad ( , a homegrown IT main board public-listed company in Kuala Lumpur, owns 60 % of MRC while the remaining 40 % is owned by Malaysian Reinsurance Berhad (
My colleague, Andrew Miller, Director of Research at THATCHAM-our partner, wrote to me recently to remind us of the fact that All of us involved in the automotive industry recognise the fact that the car is changing – fast.

This change is driven by vehicle manufacturers who have to answer many questions when they launch a new design; it must be attractive to the motorist, whilst addressing environmental issues and the consumer’s requirement for advanced occupant safety as promoted by Euro NCAP.

These demands pose huge challenges for today’s automotive engineers who respond to them with creativity and flair, and who are increasingly specifying new and innovative materials and joining technologies into vehicle body design. This development will present new challenges to the bodyshop industry in our part of the world. Hopefully ‘the new blood’ (which I described in my inaugural article) will be able to adapt, adopt and adept, accordingly to reflect their entrepreneurial – management flair, savvy if you like, balancing the act to survive.
With vehicle designs becoming more complex, model specific repair methods are seen as vital if cars are to be repaired back to pre-accident condition with the original construction integrity and safety features reinstated and ready to protect occupants in the event of a second accident says Andrew.

Following closely after the launch of the BSI Kitemark standard for Crash Repair and the pioneering work of PAS 125, Thatcham has announced their intention to formulate a standard for crash repair methods. Currently repair methods are produced in a variety of formats, and many lack instructions for standard repairs. The lack of a common distribution channel and approach also diminishes their effectiveness. MRC, in reasonant with Thatcham’s thinking, therefore believes that a better approach would be for these repair methods to be formulated according to one recognised industry standard, encompassing all aspects of crash repair whether cosmetic or structural.

Finally, the inter-relatedness of the automotive, bodyshop (not to be confused with the vanity aspects of the human body), assessors and the general insurance industries must never be understated. While we pay attention to technical details, we must never lose sight of the underlying forces that ultimately drive every entrepreneurial endeavour. At the end of the day, consumer preference is determined by how their options are presented. Wishing everyone happy holidays, drive safely and a prosperous new year.

(The writer, Khaeruddin Sudharmin, Managing Director & Chief Executive of Motordata Research Consortium Malaysia was a keynote speaker at IBIS2006, Montreux, Switzerland)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

of brainstorms and 16th century french village...

MRC had a brainstorming session at colmar tropicale berjaya hills, pahang last friday. All 15 of us. We just drove down back to KL today sunday the 9th, after lunch. I shall not bore you fotos or details of the serious presentations and sessions (that's our secret and competitive advantage...and perhaps material and price-sensitive information too...hihi). Suffice to just show you the wannabe place (a 16th century french village? hmmm more like the typical errrr... would be great if the maintenance was beefed up but then's supposed to look and feel or one is supposed to feel like being in the 16th century right? hahaha). Just to make you fellas jealous a little bit...just a little I hope...I uploaded that rare shot that made my 2 staff mumtaz and zarina all excited...heheh...Yezzehh... a pose with non other than the current hot singapore malay singer imran ajmain....with his seribu tahun hit or as they say in malay...meletop song....hahaha.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

MIM National Management Conference 2007

I attended a full day conference today...a national management conference at the Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur. Organised by the Malaysian Institute of Management (MIM). The star or the focus of the day was basically Robert J Herbold and his book Seduced by Success. He was COO of microsoft before forming his own outfit. Another addition to the already crowded management/leadership and business books space...hahaha. Well, he has some interesting observations but on browsing his book, I could not help noticing that he had picked up alot of material from the FORTUNE magazine...heheh. When he started talking and began his comments on SONY...hmmm it sounded familiar as I had read a similar inteesting write up about sony from the fortune magazine....I think we should give the welshman a chance at turning around sony...hahaha. I saw a few familiar faces at the national conference, supiah suid divisional director, CIMA Malaysia, Hashim of BTP, my hostel mate at KGV in the early 70s who is now at MAMPU and a few long lost friends...heheh. I always get bit irked when malaysians prefer to listen to 'matsalehs' rather than their fellow malaysians...and were willing to pay much more but negotiate profusely when engaging a local fellow consultant! hahaha. People from other countries were more willing to listen to us then our fellow citizens! hmmmmm. I changed my mind about having a foto taken with herbold as wadi had already done so...hahaha. don't want to be seen as competing with him...heheh...go checkout his blog (on my links...chevening scholar...heehee).

Corporate Secretary Forum 2007, Le Meridien Singapore Dec 3-4

I chaired the forum on tuesday 4th (2nd day session)and presented my paper at about 3 pm. Since I was chairman, I made sure I took full control of the proceedings and 'abused' my powers (hahaha) to push the papers earlier. The 2nd day session finished an hour earlier so that delegates can do last minute shopping in spore or pack-up and rush to the airport. I took the 7pm flight back to KL. When I flew into spore on sunday dec 2nd, the Sultan of Perak Tuanku Raja Azlan Shah sat right in front of me. Oh my, 20 years ago (1987) his royal highness was also on the same flight with me to Frankfurt. As we walked out of the aircraft at Frankfurt airport we chatted and told him that we were there for the annual frankfurt book fair, the mecca of the publishing industry. Then on my fight back, another strange thing...well sort of...guess who was seated next to me? a long lost friend Mei Koon, married and migrated to Australia 3 years ago...heheh.

THe Forum...yezzzezz ...the forum, had 70 delegates from Fiji, HongKong, Dubai, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, India and a few other countries. During the last 2 sessions we still had about 45 delegates diligently and faithfully listening to the presentations although they were already experiencing information overload! i think.. hahaha...I like the term Francis Jezelera, group general counsel & secretary of San Miguel Corporation of the Philippines...used, that our role (corporate secretaries) is, as information gatekeepers! hahaha. Mohd Shah Hashim of Nestle, Simon of Jumeira, Dubai...were equally usual, my approach will always be in a lighter vein and an attempting to place humour in our profession...albeit to defuse the otherwise obnoxiously straight-faced hardnosed looking banker-types accountants and lawyers!!! bloody serious...and scary looking...hihi

of Leadership Management Incorporated (LMI)...November 21, 2007

Last Nov 21, 2007, tuesday nite, I was invited by Juliana of Institut Bank Bank Malaysia (IBBM) to attend a special dinner hosted by LMI (Leadership Management Incorporated) at Sheraton Subang. Dr Kamal CEO of IBBM was recognised that nite together with a few others. Tan Sri Anwar former Armed Forces chief of staff gave a keynote address together with Datuk Dr James Ongkili, Minister in the PM's dept. Also at the do, was Datuk Alimuddin (New Director-General of Education), Ishak Hashim, Ismail Nordin and others from the T&D fraternity. Photo above captures my discussive moment with Tan Sri Hasmy Agam (former Ambassador & Msia Permanent Delegate to the United Nations). He is now executive chairman of Institut diplomasi & halehwal luar (ministry of foreign affairs). I was last with Tan Sri Hasmy when he was our adviser during a mock UN Security Council Session where I was (konon) an ambassador representing Zimbabwe at the UN Security Council way back in 1992...heheh. It was a fantastic experience for me then.

Friday, November 30, 2007

of aber IGP public lecture....

The IGP public lecture was part of the malaysian Aber Week. Held at PJ Hilton. Food wuz great. Great turnout too. Spotted, were long lost aber syawal, akbar (emcee), the injured NASH (see his right 30 stictches i was told, bandaged eye..heheh), sharil my double had to leave for a meeting with JJ (his minister heheh), Ubai. others were datuk & datin yeow, tuan mazlan, CID chief bukit aman, tan sri arshad & puan sri, datuk zawiyah & spouse, soffian, amin and the rest of the young aber set. of course my old friend prof john williams former dean of the law faculty was also around, prof harding and pro-VC prof aled. Tan Sri IGP was a liitle late as he had a prior meeting with PM at Putrajaya. On my table was Datuk Mary Lim, Commissioner Law Revision & Law Reform at the AG's Chambers, Prof Khaw (New Deputy Vice Chancellor Development Universiti Malaya who told me that she is very close to my classmate Professor Chan Swee Peng, one of the nation's foremost authority on diabetes...heheh. I shall not bore you with the details of Tan Sri Inspector-General of Police's lecture. You must have read some of the salient and pertinent issues, facts and figures he said, in today's The Star...hahaha... Kudos to the organisers. One needs passion and commitment to run an alumni. It's a thankless job most times and at times...hmmm you need to fork out from your own pockets too. But, the networking, the camaraderie...can be satisfying and who knows...come in the later part of one's life. Unfortunately...not many graduates in malaysia are into alumni activities....(i do stand corrected tho' heheh)

daddy's gurl....

last wednesday evening I accompanied my good friend Nasser, secretary-general Malaysian Takaful Association, to visit an exhibition of the works of final year students of the faculty of art & design, UiTM, shahalam. It was to visit his daughter's work (nastassia)on exhibit. I was told that during that exhibition, the student's final year grades will be made. Nasser's daughter has been a consistent dean's list gurl and I told him that he shud send his gurl to New York to further polish her talents. It's heartening to note that alot of our boys and girls are talented, creative and with commercial value. Their exhibits are a manisfestation of the quality of work they produced and are capable of producing even better ones...which I'd imagine wud give LimKokWing Creative University a run for their money as well...heheh. Ermmm perhaps, I may be wrong. UiTM may feel insulted to the comparison I just made...they could be perhaps compared to some other ivy league institutions...heheh.

another award meh? heheh....

Yezzehhh...HeiTech Padu Berhad created history again...we got a hattrick. Winning for the 3rd consecutive year, Merit Award of the National Annual Corporate Report Award (NACRA) at a ceremony last night November 29th, 2007 at Sime Convention Centre, Kuala Lumpur. Well, as usual, as the first named group company secretary (until otherwise...heheh) , I received the award on behalf of our public-listed homegrown bumiputera ICT powerhouse..hihi. The rest of the details may be read at our website: Well done Wadi and the team, you guys did a great job....sorilah...I yang naik stage...glamer and geligeleman....hahaha

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

of long service awards...heheh

Time do flies...hmmm I didn't realise that I have stayed at HeiTech this long..hihi 10 years? The longest in my previous job was with oxford university press (9 years) heheh. Long Service Awards remind me of my late dad. he spent 34 years with Shell Malaysia. First in Kuantan rolling oil drums, then a peon and then as a management driver at Shell House, Kuala Lumpur. I remember how during weekends when I was in primary 4 and we were staying at 77 lorong kanak-kanak gombak setia then, we wud take a joy ride in that huge Australian Holden. That was also the first time Japan had their Toyota (Toyopet) in Malaysia and it costs only RM6000 at that time (1964). Then when my dad moved to PD in 1965 he was the first batch of the Shell Refining Company Port Dickson bulk LPG lorry driver. He would show me a gold tie pin of his long service awards and I would always look forward to the year end Shell Christmas party where I would always compete with the other Shell children at the musical go round game. Companies like Shell leave indelible marks not only to their employees but to the families of their employees as well. The company culture permeates and transcends the whole family. Much of my worldview today has been carved, indirectly by Shell. That same cultural transformation can take place at HeiTech, if properly done.
I was walking with dato' EC at sunway lagoon and casually told him that earlier that day i told my staff i am getting a 10 year long service award. it can only mean 2 things: either i am so loyal to dato' or that nobody wants me out there....hahaha. actually i am, the loyal type. if my boz tells me to harakiri...i would actually ...heheh. During his speech he related what i had said to him earlier and while he said that only i know the real reasons...heheh. he used that story for positive re-enforcement...hihi. i guess because i am retiring pretty soon, the thought of moving must have taken a back seat, not that i did not have any offers! hahaha.

aber malaysia alumni family day, morib...