Your 10 questions


  • Business
  • Saturday, 07 Feb 2009

Tengku Zafrul Aziz answers your 10 questions.

1 What are the traits in you that have made it so easy to find a new job after leaving Tune Money (unlike me!)? - Azeman Saarin, Banting

I guess I am lucky to be at the right place at the right time. Planning the next step is never an easy decision. I took a break and thought long and hard. You must know what you want, and that isn’t easy. But the best starting point is reviewing your strengths and weaknesses. I finally chose a job that I know I can excel in and a place which will appreciate my contributions. It is equally important to find a company that needs you. There must be chemistry between the company and yourself, as both parties must benefit. Only then will it make sense. And don’t be too influenced by those around you – only you know who you are, what you want and what’s best.

2 If there are TWO things that you could have changed when you were at Tune Money, what would they be? What are the two things you’ve learnt from Tune Money about how not to do businesses? -Syahrir, Putra Heights

I should have changed a few of my shareholders, but of course I couldn’t, and I should have taken myself out of the company’s advertisements. I looked like I needed more makeover!

On a serious note, the two things that I could have changed, which unfortunately I didn’t because I couldn’t – (i) we shouldn’t have delayed the launch of the unit trust products as we were ready and (at that point) so was the market; and (ii) we should have spent more on marketing.

The two things I learnt – first, always have a long-term view on the fundamentals of the company (there is no such thing as flipping to make a quick buck in an honest venture), so we need to be committed for the challenging long haul. Second, it’s important to get partners who not only share the vision but also believe in the potential of the business. Only then can we overcome any challenges and obstacles that come our way.

3 You come from a wealthy family, and your professional experience prior to Tune Money was primarily in investment banking, and it seems that you have a penchant for glamour and self-promotion. Do you think that your personal and professional background, and the fame and attention, were a factor that distracted/hindered you from achieving what you set out to do in Tune Money? -Tirmizi Yew

Actually, I don’t come from a wealthy family. My mother was a civil servant and my father is an engineer. Both were professionals. My upbringing was typical of a middle class family. I went to local government schools and earned a scholarship to study abroad to further my studies.

Anyway, I don’t think my personal and professional background had much to do with what happened at Tune Money. I will not bore you with the details...

4 What do you do to de-stress from your hectic life? And in your free time, what do you do for fun/leisure? - Annika Leighton, Kuala Lumpur

I run. And when I’m not running, I cycle. In my free time, I compete in triathlons and play squash regularly. Sometimes I play futsal. But what I enjoy most in my free time (and I wish I had more) is playing with my five-year-old daughter Zahra, my “de-stressor”. Somehow, she knows how to make me smile and laugh.

5 Do you want to be an investment banker all your life? Now that your experiment with entrepreneurship (Tune Money) is over, is there something else you wish to do apart from IB? - Angel, KL

I am now convinced that I want to be an investment banker all my life and also, in my after life!

Actually, I would like to be a professional triathlete – full-time. Unfortunately, I don’t have the stamina and the talent to be one. So the next best alternative is to get involved in managing investments. Together with close friends, I have a stake in a few small enterprises. All of us enjoy being involved together to see our companies and team succeed.

6 You own restaurants as well as an IT company. What is the primary motivation of investing in such businesses - is it merely to network, to keep up the image or a hobby as I can’t imagine them being solely profit motivated? - Shahiman, Terengganu

It is definitely profit motivated. But I would be lying if I said I don’t enjoy the networking. What I enjoy most is getting involved in ventures with like-minded friends. I’m afraid it has nothing to do with image or hobby. My hobby now is to update my facebook and my blog (www.tengkuzafrul.com). Image? Do I have one?

7 What traits do you think are necessary to make it in this sometimes ruthless world of business? - JD, Johor

I always like to believe that I’m firm but fair. At the same time I’m open to criticism and I’m a good listener, as long as I can air my views too. Some friends say I am not shrewd or ruthless enough. At the end of the day, everyone has their own style of getting things done. There are many ways to skin a cat. I believe what goes around comes around, so be fair and be honest. Never give up and don’t surrender a fight that you believe in and stand for.

8 From an equity analyst, you have come a long way in charting a sound career path. Some even say, you managed to do that in too short a period because you know the right people and have friends in high places. Please comment. - Alan, Bangsar

I will not deny that I know many people. I will also not deny that I know the right and wrong people and I have friends in low as well as high places. But at the end of the day, success still depends on hard work and passion. There are so many people out there who know the same people you know. To survive in the ultra competitive world, it is not just about who you know, but what you know.

9 Which personality (local or foreign) do you admire most in the corporate stage and why? Given your social milieu of long-time established players in Malaysia’s corporate sector, do you ever get impatient or feel like a young man in a hurry? If not, how do you avoid feeling that way? - Nicole, Perlis

The personality I admire most is probably Warren Buffett and it’s obvious why.

And yes, I am a young man in a hurry. I put in 100% effort to achieve my goals. But I enjoy what I do and this makes working fun. Of course, at times, I ask myself why the hurry. But it’s not easy to go down a gear when you are already in the fast lane. I may slow down and be patient when there’s a car in front of me, but at the right time, I will overtake the car and shift gears again. My motto – don’t look back, look forward.

10 What is your dream car and who is your favourite designer? Also, who is the single biggest motivating factor in your life? - G, KL.

My dream car is a white Toyota Camry (imported version). And I am happy that I am a proud owner of one, although technically the bank still owns 50%. My favourite designer is Bernard Chandran. I have never seen any of his designs, but he competes in the triathlon with me! And he’s very good at it.

I admire my grandfather the most. He is extremely hard working, honest, focused and disciplined. I would be happy if I could be even a bit like him. That’s enough to motivate me.

NEXT

Do you have a burning question you’d like to ask high-profile and interesting personalities? Then, this is your chance. Our next interviewee is socialite and fashion maven Datuk Farah Khan, President of the Melium Group Please e-mail questions to 10questions@thestar.com.my

QUIRKY QUOTES

»Confidence grows at the rate a coconut tree grows, It falls at the rate a coconut falls.« - DR MONTEK S AHLUWALIA, DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF INDIA’S PLANNING COMMISSION, AT THE WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM, DAVOS, ON HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO REGAIN LOST CONFIDENCE

»The right people don’t need to be managed. If you need to tightly manage someone, you’ve made a hiring mistake.« - MANAGEMENT GURU JIM COLLINS HAS MADE A CAREER OUT OF UNDERSTANDING WHY COMPANIES SUCCEED (SOURCE: FORTUNE)

»It’s not because the richest countries are in a mess that we should forget our commitments to the developing countries.« - INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND’S MANAGING DIRECTOR DOMINIQUE STRAUSS-KAHN URGES RICH DONOR NATIONS TO RESIST TEMPTATION TO SLASH AID TO POORER COUNTRIES BECAUSE OF THE CRISIS

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