DATUK Mohd Fadzli Yusof, the chief executive officer of Takaful Malaysia Bhd, can be considered a rare breed, at least qualifications wise in an industry where credentials are everything for the top post.
The first takaful man started off as a school teacher, then a postal clerk, before becoming a radioman with the national broadcasting agency.
I was hosting the Siaran Sekolah-Sekolah and pursuing my Higher School Certificate at the same time, he said when relating his life story to StarBiz in an interview.
After obtaining the HSC, Fadzli was offered to do an economics degree course at the University of Malaya, and at the same time attended a Mara interview for an overseas scholarship.
Also, at about the same time, he came across an advertisement in the newspaper for a programming assistant post with the British Broadcasting Corporation in London.
It was for the Chinese section, but I still wrote to them, telling them my interest to do the Malay section, he said.
I got the reply, and went for the audition with my colleague who had also applied for the post. It was held at the Federal House in collaboration with Radio Malaysia.
Fadzli got the job (and was subsequently told when he was already in London that the winning factor was his radioman voice), putting him in a dilemma about the course of direction to take.
I was offered a place at the Fresno State University on a Mara scholarship. But I could already think at that time. If I take the scholarship, then I would have to serve the government.
If I take up the job in London, and I already knew that I was going to be there for six years, then I could pursue my studies on my own. Besides, being a broadcaster, I was only working two hours a day, and that left me all the time to concentrate on my studies, he rationalised.
Already married then, Fadzli left for London in 1970, drawing £800 a month salary that enabled him to buy a £18,000 house in the city. That was in 1974.
He completed his diploma in communications, advertising and marketing and came back to Malaysia in 1976 to join Bank Bumiputra Malaysia Bhd's marketing department.
Fadzli left Bank Bumiputra to join Malaysia National Insurance Bhd to have some exposure in the insurance sector, a position held until 1984.
During his days at Bank Bumiputra, Fadzli had met Datuk Dr Halim Ismail , the person instrumental in steering his career path towards the takaful industry.
Halim proposed my name to be a member of the task force to study the establishment of an Islamic insurance company in Malaysia. Between 1980 and 1981, the plan to start Bank Islam was already on the drawing board. So, there was a natural progression to start a takaful operation to have a complete Islamic financial set-up in the country, he said.
Fadzli said he did a lot of travelling during the early years, learning the various ways of doing takaful, and trying to formulate the best model for Malaysia.
That's when we decided to adopt the mudarabah model, a model we have used effectively since day one, he said.
In 1984, when Takaful Malaysia first started operation, Fadzli was made the chief executive officer, a position he has held until today.
He is still travelling extensively these days, but not in search of methods to construct a takaful model, but to impart his knowledge to other Islamic nations and funds around the world.
And the house he bought in London is worth £300,000 now, but I had sold it when I needed the money to buy a house in Kuala Lumpur back in 1976, Fadzli said.
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