Friday, November 22, 2013

Men are from Mars, Women from Venus...or is it? hmmm...

Remember that book "Men are from Mars, Women from Venus' by Dr Gray published about a decade ago? I read somewhere it sold 50 million copies and translated into 40 languages. 

I was a panelist with two ladies Hani Bohlender and Wendy Mackey Jones of the European Professional Women's Network from the UK and moderated by Munirah Looi a former Citibanker and now President /CEO of Brandt International at the 'Women Extraordinaire Forum 2013'. This forum, hosted in Hong Kong and elsewhere, is for the first time, being hosted or organized here in Malaysia. Tan Sri Rafidah, Aziz Minister of the Ministry for Women, CEO of SME, Politician Datuk Azalina, Iron Lady Datuk Maznah Hamid, Datuk Hazimah of Hyrax, Datuk Dr Norraesah, Sharifah Maria Alfah and other powerful or who's who women in both the corporate and the public sector, were among the many speakers. Why me? haha I guess they wanted to hear views from the men too. I must admit at the outset, that my views were strictly mine and those of my favorite management guru, Tom Peters hehehe.

I accepted to be panelist with a certain degree of fear and trepidation. Fear that I may be hurled with rotten tomatoes or rottens eggs if my remarks were politically incorrect or offensive and intimidating at best haha or someone captures me on her smartphone, uploads it onto youtube, it went viral and next thing you know, I am dead meat. hahaha... Seriously, I had to be very very careful about what I was going to say.

Then I remembered Lord Armstrong, the Cabinet Secretary during Lady Margaret Thatcher days, when he was accused of lying. His Lordship went up to the rostrum at the House of Lords and said.. 'No, I did not lie. I was merely being economical with the truth!' hehehe

But, me being me...when the microphone was in my hand...I was rambling away 'mulots takde insurans' like there was no tomorrow...hahaha.

The topic of discussion was 'women in the new century- women in leadership  and whether or not there were differences in leadership styles between men and women'. Wow, berat tuh..(heavy stuff) haha. And based on recent IMD research there are 3 paradigms (gender blind views, gender conscious view and perception is reality view). And I started off by declaring that I am of the first paradigm (gender blind view). In my last blogpost I promised not to write heavy stuff hehehe. I shall leave it at that ok? But if you like further details, go visit

The momento I received (photo above) caught my attention. It is figurine of Dewi Shinta. In the Ramayana Epic, she (Dewi Shinta) is the wife of Sri Rama that was kidnapped by Rahwana. Go google the rest of the story. Good night folks and TGIF...hehehe

Monday, November 18, 2013

CSM-ACE 2013 or Cyber Security Malaysia:Awards-Conference-Exhibition...

CSM-ACE 2012 Doubletree Hilton Kuala Lumpur where I first moderated...

I have been asked to chair or moderate many conferences over the years.. across disciplines and industries. There was one time recently I moderated a O&G 2013 conference at JW Marriott, Kuala Lumpur, where the panelists and delegates thought that I must have had years of exposure in the oil and gas industry as I spoke about the new unconventional Gas opportunities with authority hahaha. The guy who asked me was from Frost&Sullivan. See the organiser/delegate feedback on my linkedIn. hahaha. Of course, I had to read up and know as much as I can before I can carry out my duty as a good moderateur, ask the right questions and engage both the speakers/panelists and delegates/participants…eh hello..not an easy thing to do ok?

Last week 13th November, I was again chairing a panel discussion of the above conference (CSM-ACE 2013) at Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur. The track was : Governance & Risk Management and the Topic: Cyber Security as a Proxy for Trade Protection. We were to discuss and deliberate current issues and the formulation and implementation of cyber security policies that are vital to our national security and economic prosperity, on the premise that coherent cyber security policies can ensure a secure, resilient and trusted digital operating environment that best serves the interests of the nation through effective domestic and collaborative international cyber security measures.

The  distinguished panelists and experts in their own right were Thaib Mustafa, VP IT Strategy Telekom Malaysia, Pierre Noel, Chief Security Officer & Adviser, Asia, Microsoft and Megat Mohammad Faisal Khir Johari, Director of Risk Consulting , Deloitte Enterprise Risk Services Sdn Bhd. Noel of Microsoft failed to turn up…hmmm I wonder why..but was told that MH had cancelled that day's flight from Singapore…hmmm. he was swiftly replaced with Iskandar Brown (who just got married 2 weeks ago haha), executive director at BDO. Megat apparently was also at the Inaugural ASEAN Corporate Governance Summit at Langkawi 6/7 Nov and he said he saw me co-chair then…hehehe. 

As usual, I try to avoid typical malaysian-style where, chairmen, moderators speak more than panelists hahaha. I said hello..and Salam 1CyberSecurity..which I realised afterwards that that's about the only thing delegates remember hahaha. It is always a challenge speaking or moderating in the afternoon ok? Anyway, started off with my usual 'Men have been swindling other men on several occasions. In the Autumn of 1929 men succeeded in swindling themselves' - John Kenneth Gailbraith. Then I went on to give the definition of Proxy - authority given to someone to vote or kill others on their behalf hahaha and proxy server….go google it ok?. and I alluded all to go take a look at one of the recent issues of The Economist where there was a special report on the state of the world economy (The Gated Globe)…and why cyber security is really a proxy for trade protection…the interesting debate and deliberations ensued from the distinguished panel of experts…. 

Wow…quite a mouthful and heavy stuff isn't it? I promise my next blogpost won't be so heavy…hahaha.. promise, promise..ok? hehehe. Have a great week ahead now y'all...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Inaugural ASEAN Corporate Governance Summit 2013 Langkawi...

I have been  occasionally chairing, moderating and panelists at the Malaysian Institute of Corporate Governance (MICG) conferences and seminars for quite sometime now. I also represent MICG at one of the modules (Internal Controls and Risk Management) for the Certificate of Integrity (CeoI) program of Institut Integriti Malaysia conducted at the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) Academy. 3 cohorts have listened to or oh well, endured or survived the 2 hour ordeal with me hahaha. One of the participants who is with Tekun Nasional came to me and said 'Prof, I was in the second group that you lectured' haha. Very nice of him to come to me. I felt very humbled by that gesture but I also felt bad because I faintly remembered. adoi...

Anyway, I was asked to co-chair this Inaugural ASEAN Corporate Governance Summit 2013 at the Pelangi Meritus Resort & Spa, Pantai Cenang, Langkawi Island, Malaysia...the island that former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamed had envisioned to give Bali a run for their money..a Bali wannabe sort of hehehe. I was last here at this Pelangi Resort in 2004 when I attended the LID or The Langkawi International Dailogue.

The other 2 chairperson was my good old compadre or fellow retired or pensioned off corporate secretaries hahaha. He was until recently the group legal and secretarial honcho of  the global FMCG company, Nestle and the other one, a UniKL don. Mohd Shah Hashim the Nestle guy, was very good, articulate and disciplined. And very dominant too! hahaha. Sorry Shah, hehehe. He only let me summaries the proceedings of the second day of the summit, at the end just after the final panel session and before the tokens of appreciation were given out hahaha. Shah is a very close friend.  We spoke at the Middle East Company Secretaries Conference in Manama, Bahrain, in 2009. He does great bargains too, that somehow made me buy 2 lovely kashmir carpets at prices you definitely cannot get in Kuala Lumpur. Thanks Shah hehe.

Respectable delegate representation from Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and many company and GLC directors and company secretaries from Malaysia. Good lineup of papers and speakers, regulators included, and there were always lively debates considering that corporate governance is not something fashionable or flavor of the month sort of thingy. It is a calling ( a term used in the movie 'Angels & Demons' to describe the swiss guards protecting the Pope at the Vatican..haha) to both the public and private sectors that in order to attract  investors, and enhance capital markets, and be an engine of a nation's economic growth, ethical and transparent behavior is imperative. I am not about to give a lecture on corporate governance ok? hahaha. You can alway google it or check Youtube. Plenty of stuff there. Omg, its past midnite,and I have my MBA class to teach tomorrow. Good night folks. Have a great weekend...

Saturday, November 09, 2013

of The Asia HRD Awards ( and stale practices...

Not many people know I was one of the recipient of the 2013 Asia HRD Awards (contribution to the HR Community Category). Some would be excited to know, some would congratulate immediately, others might say 'aah who cares' or 'so what?' huhuhu. We should expect that. I, of all people, should expect that too hehehe. 

Which reminds me of when I was director of the Malayan Railways Training School where one day I told my MD.."Dato', if you think that all the 7500 employees love you, it would just be an illusion ok? I went on to say, that while some would take a bullet for you, some would not hesitate to stab u in the chest right in front of everybody else." He laughed and agreed with me.  Upon reflection, I thought he was going to sack me..hahaha.

I just wanted to humbly thank everyone who were part of the process that enabled me to receive that award last June at the Ritz-Carlton, Jakarta, Indonesia. Thank you very much. A last feather on my cap, after 36 years of corporate life.

I like to share what Peter Cappelli, George  W Taylor Professor of Management at the Wharton School wrote in the October 2013 Harvard Business Review. He highlighted 3 stale practices of HR (succession planning, high-potential programs and workforce planning). He said that many talent management practices developed in the post-World War II era targeted problems that no longer exist or cannot be solved in the same ways they once were (Einstein said something similar to that effect..hehe).

Succession planning - intended to identify the right person to fill a given job years in the future. a failed succession plan can be worse that no plan at all, he contends

High-potential programs - designed to quickly move postwar college graduates (initially engineers) with new skills in running manufacturing operations into leadership ranks, because at the time, few executives had college degrees. But most companies have poor track record when it comes to assessing potential, (tell me abaurit..hehe), so the right people don't always end up in the programs

Workforce planning - many HR departments create detailed estimates of their future talent needs. But if you are uncertain about where your business will be and what kind of turnover you'll experience, no workforce plan will be right. As with succession plans, a failed workforce plan wastes the time and energy spent creating it. It can also lock you in a path that is difficult to change...

Go pick up the October 2013 issue of HBR and read the details...Professor Cappelli is author of Why Good people Can't Get Jobs: The Skill Gap and What Companies Can Do About It (Wharton Digital Press, 2012)

Monday, November 04, 2013

of global HRD trends, good governance and ASEAN Community 2015...

I was in Surabaya, Indonesia last month (23/24 october) on the invitation of the East Java Training & Development  Board (Badan DIKLAT JATIM). They asked me to speak for about two and a half to three hours to 200 participants who are senior government officials from all over indonesia (from Aceh right down to Papua). The last time I was invited to speak to a similar audience was on January 16, 2006. It was a whole day affair at what was then Surabaya Hilton. PIM II Angkatan X or Eselon II. This second invite is for Eselon II & III. They are attending a month-long training program  at Diklat Jatim (much like our Institut Tadbiran Awam Negara or INTAN) preparing them for higher leadership roles in government departments back at their provinces. 

First, I was to give them an overview of latest global trends in HRM/HRD, what other countries around the region are doing and how are these trends assisting the governance process in Indonesia. Then I was also asked to touch on the impending ASEAN Community initiative (much like the European Community, EU) that has been scheduled to take off in 2015 and to what extent will the bureaucratic process enhances or impedes Indonesia's competitiveness when the ASEAN community really becomes like EU.

Oh c'mon, you guys really want me to talk about all these? hehehe. Just google them up ok? Plenty of material available online hehe. Anyway, seyesly (the language of the millennial generation hik3x) to mean, seriously, haha..some are of the view that as business forge ahead looking for newer growth avenues in a sluggish economy, leaders are increasingly banking on talent to achieve this growth so it seems (which personally my reaction would be..ya right! I have been quite vocal and cynical about these talent management buzzword  bla3x...bandied around by HR consultants and practitioners alike hehehe much to the disgust of some of my frens in the HR fraternity..erkk). While business demands, margin pressures, declining budgets, HR Technology, social media, data and analytics are all reshaping the contours of HRM/HRD, what is noteworthy as some are propagating, is the visible rise in HR's focus on these aspects and traditional ways of doing things are being re-examined as HR leaders look at more effective ways of managing and aligning talent with the new business objectives. 

And I quoted from my google search the top 5 HRM/HRD trends namely: Rise of HR Business Partners (nothing new bah..Ulrich has been saying that for  over a decade now..hehehe); One World, One HR (macam 1Malaysia jek? hehe); Enhanced Employee Engagement (which reminds me of Tarita Lubis's presentation/paper at 2008 ARTDO Conference in Bali, when she was with DDI Indonesia); HR and Technology (this I have always accused the IT guys of a clever scheme of making HRM/HRD seem strategic when all they care about is the sale of their software and hardware that only huge multinationals or government-owned companies could afford...oops sorry guys..heheh); and finally, HR Data and Analytics (now this is serious, I repeat, serious serious business because whether you like it or not, the next five years is the era of data scientists..there will be a great demand for these species. Just look at the amount of data we are producing. You tell me. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google and everything else).

Then I moved on to Governance or Kepemerintahan (in Bahasa Indonesia). The difference between governance in the public sector and the private sector and I shared the paper  I presented also at the ARTDO International Conference in Bali in 2008. It was entitled 'HRM and Corporate Governance: Strange Bedfellows?' 

Finally I moved to the ASEAN Community 2015 and shared a very recent research (Guido Benny & Kamarulnizam Abdullah) that was published in the Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs 1/2011:39-67 which summarily suggests that the major criticism of the ASEAN Community (AC) idea is its elitist approach and that it lacks the most crucial components that have brought about the success of other similar regional organizations such as the European Community (EU). The study also found that despite Indonesian respondents' relative lack of knowledge of the AC, they are indeed supportive of the idea under its three core pillars: Security, Economic and Socio-cultural Community.

Phew, that was quite a mouthful isn't it? I then had to take on questions from the 200 participants. Thanks to the moderateur Bpk Dr Ir H Djony Harijanto, it was restricted to 15 oh my God (OMG), toughest questions on earth...hahaha. Oh ya, my slides (very few indeed, were in English) but the 3 hours I delivered in Bahasa Indonesia ok? wink2 dot3x

MMB or Monday Management Babble...hehehe

Not Monday Morning Blues (MMB) ok...hahahaha. Gotcha! Am still springkleening haha. I have this bad habit of jotting down or writing it somewhere, whenever I come across some interesting quotes especially on management and/or leadership.

The first one is by Mr Pfeffer
Managers frequently misunderstood the sources of corporate success according to Pfeffer. Contrary to conventional wisdom, he observes, there is nothing magical about being in the 'right' industry, about being large, about being global or even having a barrier to competition in the form of some technological edge or brand equity he rambles on (please take note of this o ye my MBA strategic management students past and present...hehehe). With the right attitude to people, you can be successfully small, local and 'low tech' says Pfeffer, which I couldn't agree more, kind Sir!

The next one is from Charles F Kettering:

"I don't want people of experience working for me. The experienced person is always telling me why something can't be done. He/she is smart; intelligent;he/she thinks he/she knows the answers. The fellow who has not had any experience is so dumb he/she doesn't know a thing can't be done - and he/she goes ahead and does it."

The last one is from Tun Daim, extracted from a forward he wrote in his daughter's first book:

"My greatest satisfaction is to see young entrepreneurs emerge in this complex corporate world. My mind switches swiftly to the tough days of yore when I was struggling to make a mark in the business world, just after i retire from the civil service. The essentials remain unchanged, today, tomorrow, like yesterday, you need to: study, see, seize, strategize, scrutinize, slog away. One must be able to think on your feet and make quick decisions. Yet have the patience to build and not be lured by get-rich-quick dreams."

That's it. Have a great week ahead fellas. Many I suspect would be away from the office today as tomorrow is Awal Muharram holidays,  the first day of the new year in the muslim calendar and last night Pahang won the football match at Shah Alam stadium..hehehe.  I am off to Pelangi Meritus Langkawi Resort tomorrow morning until November 7, to  co-chair the Inaugural ASEAN Corporate Governance Summit 2013...

Saturday, November 02, 2013

of SSDDs, rhinos and phyllostachys vivax...

I am still coping with my retirement oh well, I have actually retired mandatorily in 2010. But the 3 year extension by contract in a way, spoilt me haha. I am still springkleening my old documents to make way for some newer paraphernalia that I hadn't brought home from my office. A collection of no less than 15 years of service...hmmm my last employment and the longest. Its either I was too loyal or I was lazy to move on to another organization..hehehe. Same old wine in  a new bottle as some would say, or rearranging the same old furniture in the same old room, or SSDD as some might have it. Same Shit Different Day hahaha. 

As I was going through folder by folder, I came across a newsletter we did way back in March, 2003, when I was Chief Operating Officer (COO) of MRC Malaysia..whatever that means haha. And I thought it would be nice to have it here in my blog, for posterity, if you may, hehe. Here goes:

From the Chief Operating Officer...It has become fashionable to snicker about the foolish mass hallucination of the New Economy. Everyone so it seems, is making references  every now and then, to the dotcom bust. In the current brutal global economy, business pages continue to report and advise everyone to get back to basics. Some are of the view that as the economy become more interconnected, it is characterized by more structural change and less by cyclical change. And in this increasingly boundary less world, where companies, industries and the larger economy constitute one seamless system, continual exploration and adaptation is often a preferred strategy. From another perspective, the world's best performing companies are responding to the increasing pressure placed on them by employees, customers, shareholders, the media and other stakeholders. They realized that business success is no longer measured by the narrow parameters of the auditor's report. They know that their potential impact is huge. That business is not separate from the rest of society and they actively seek to balance their responsibilities in a way that brings mutual benefit to both business and society.

At MRC, we too are under increasing pressure placed on us by employees, shareholders and other stakeholders. Our fundamental mission will continue to be to reduce subjectivity in motor claims estimation. The consciousness of the need to ensure that vehicles damaged in a collision are safely put back on the road will also continue to be MRC's paramount social responsibility. These can only be achieved through concerted efforts by the industry players as a whole. To that end, I am pleased to report  that much progress had taken place. I like to place on record our utmost appreciation to the untiring support and direction of the Central Bank (BNM) insurance regulation team under the present leadership and PIAM's serving management committee for finally coming to terms and meeting us (MRC) halfway as a way forward for the motor insurance and automotive repair industry. We will continue to  build the replacement parts database and to ensure that it is also timely and updated.

There were times my team and I felt like rhinos on a really hot savannah grassland, charging all over the place trying to put out little bush fires. However, I must also put on record, our sincere terima kasih for the very encouraging support from other stakeholders throughout the value and supply chain. MRC-certified front-end estimating system software houses, vehicle manufacturers,,repairers/bodyshops and adjusters and especially those who were part of the initial pilot program, who had enabled MRC to see light and the end of the tunnel. However, as the saying goes, we are not 'out of the woods' yet!

The sudden upsurge in the usage of our centralized database for repair estimation reminds me of a type of timber bamboo with the scientific name phyllostachys vivax. You plant the bamboo and in the first year it produces a one inch shoot. A year later the shoot is still only one-inch tall. You begin to worry. "Does it have enough sunshine? Has there been enough rain?" In the third year, the shoot is still only one-inch tall. The fourth year its the same! You wonder, did I buy a genetically deficient bamboo?" In the fifth year the bamboo grows 90% in just six weeks. The question is: did the timber bamboo take six weeks or five years to grow 90 feet? The answer is five years.

Most of the time was spent laying the root system that would support the stumping growth. I would like to think if at all, this parable (that I stumbled upon while reading 'The learning Paradox', Jim Harris, 2001) had any similarity with our organization, but I hasten to add that we have had other problems as well like putting out little fires here and there as I have mentioned earlier. But I think in our minds, we were quite focused on winning the war and was quite prepared to lose a few battles here and there without compromising our efforts at bridging the local motor vehicle repair industry! A win-win-win situation was always preferred. I believe this approach should continue to be our guiding light.

I'd like to conclude by sharing with you, Richard Dawking's classic book "The selfish Gene" which contends that species are only important as survival mechanisms for their genes. If a chicken is just one egg's way of making another egg, then, following Dawking's argument, one might say that a company is just an idea's way of making another idea. In the fourth wave learning economy, its not the company that's important, it's the people and the ideas in it that must go forward and reproduce."