Axiata’s workforce has always been imperative to its regional expansion. The vision was to inspire people to build a successful company, while developing their professional strengths. This is reflected in Axiata’s hiring practices, Board selection and the Axiata Young Talent Programme (AYTP).
With diversity as the foundation of Axiata’s development, cultural exchange and knowledge-sharing has only prompted new ways of working.SCROLL TO READ THEIR STORIES
There was no doubt in my mind that the newly de-merged company would be shepherded by a Board dedicated to ensuring the highest standards of good governance and operational efficiency.
Apart from its impressive financial strides over the last eleven years, Axiata has also carved out an enduring reputation for its management professionalism, long-term commitment to employee career development, and contribution to the national development agenda.
The experience of being an Axiata Board member has been one of continuous learning, in every aspect of the duties and responsibilities of the role, particularly with the rapidly evolving industry cycles and continuous re-invention of Axiata over the years.
Tan Sri Jamal has built a formidable team who cut their teeth through both good and trying times, a battle-tested force ready to face any surprises. My optimism is grounded firmly on the demonstrated strength of our band of diverse identities that make up the stellar Axiata team.
Dialog began with a singular vision to make mobile communications affordable and available to every Sri Lankan. During my first decade at Dialog, it evolved into a quad-play telecommunications giant, and I grew from a fresh graduate into a business leader. In Bangladesh we transformed Robi into a strong number-two player through a challenging merger with Airtel.
Two decades ago, critics were vocal about Dialog’s business viability, and its focus on technology leadership as a sustainable strategy.
We are now at the forefront of building a digital Sri Lanka through affordable yet world-class connectivity solutions. I have grown so much alongside Dialog and Axiata, owing to our passion for enriching Sri Lankan lives and enterprises.
Adventure is a big part of my memories - and the sense that we are here to help nations.
I consider myself very lucky to be a part of four experiences, each one unique, in my time here. Corporate Centre, Dialog, Celcom and now finally edotco. Perhaps, the best part for me has been the ability to help create and establish edotco. Many of us have had opportunities like this at Axiata.
While I joined for the opportunity to create an Asian champion and have been privileged to be able to do that twice, with Axiata and edotco, the true take-away is the passion of all the people I have worked, and continue to work with.
Through it all, the constant has been Tan Sri Jamal’s calm and unflappable style, while continuing to hold us to high standards. I hope when the history of Axiata is settled, this will be the way we all remember him best.
I was really taken aback at the last Axiata AGM when a shareholder pointed out that I have remained on Axiata’s board for too many years.
In the early days, Axiata grew very fast. Our Chairman then, Tan Sri Azman, always reminded us not to be complacent when times are good. He insisted on us thinking about “What are the 10 things that could go wrong?” and to prepare for hard times to hit.
The most important lesson I learnt was that, it is important to create a safe atmosphere so that staff do not feel afraid to report bad news quickly, not after we have lost 40% of our sales.
These days, with the speed of digitalisation and the increasing risk of cybersecurity attacks (something we never spoke about 10 years ago), we have no choice but to move faster through project implementation by a central development team, drawing on best resources and ideas from all operating companies.
This sharing is also a big driver in reducing our operating costs, something every company must address in view of the current trend of flat or negative revenue growth.
At the end of my first day at Axiata, the first few words to my wife when I returned home were, ‘Very nice biryani in Bangladesh. Superb. But I doubt if I made the right choice to move out of banking.’
More than eight years and two contracts later (hopefully with the third on its way), hundreds of proposals reviewed, successful closure of multiple acquisitions, mergers and disposal of assets, I have enjoyed every single minute of my time spent here.
I am now able to tell my wife, ‘I have made the right choice.’ The past ten years have been great with their ups and downs.
Axiata must be brave enough to meet the constant changes and challenging disruptions that’ll keep coming its way. Hence, it is only appropriate that the culture and vision of this company continue to change. The only way to do so is through nurturing and maintaining the best talent pool.
During my tenure in Axiata, the key point from my observation is the tremendous focus on people and talent.
My greatest satisfaction has been seeing one of Malaysia’s jewel GLCs operating to its capacity, for me to be able to contribute to its tremendous growth and, most importantly, give our people the opportunity to be successful.
A typical conversation from 10 years ago would go...
“Where are you working now? TMI? That’s Telekom, right?”
“No, I am working in TM International.”
Today, a conversation would go...
“Where are you working now?”
“I am working in Axiata.”
“Wow! That’s a great company! One of the top 10 in Bursa Malaysia. Axiata runs the famous AYTP – Axiata Young Talent Programme. Axiata is one great homegrown Malaysian MNC…” (no sigh)
Over ten years is short, timeline-wise, yet for many of us it has been a long journey.
The recognition we receive today makes it worth all the effort.
Over the years at Axiata, I learnt many key lessons, including mutual respect, humility and teamwork, empowerment and focus on sustainability.
Some of my most memorable events were the acquisition of Smart Cambodia and rebranding it from ‘Hello’ to ‘Smart’, the creation of Axiata Procurement Center (APC), leading to the development of the first-ever Global Price Book (GPB), and putting together the Network Vision 2020 document.
I fondly remember the town halls, the Diwali Bhangra performances, dragon dances for Chinese New Year and Hari Raya open houses, where all of us came together to celebrate the spirit of one team. From my colleagues, I have learnt many things like slang phrases - especially during Teh Tarik sessions - and numerous thought-up excuses.
Throughout my time here in Axiata, three things struck me.
The first was how talented, smart and diversified the Axiata team was. Their motivation and enthusiasm to help build Axiata as a leading telco organisation was palpable and infectious.
Secondly, I realised how challenging the telco industry proved to be. The speed of change within the industry is immense, the capital investment required is highly significant and necessary for survival and the difficulty of managing different countries at certain times, appeared insurmountable.
The dream of being one of the very few Malaysian corporations to build a globally competitive business regionally remained central throughout the organisation, from the Board of Directors and senior management to the typical Axiata talent.
And that is the essence of Axiata.
All businesses compete for success and the leading benchmark is maintaining high global standards. This inevitably requires honesty, ambition, change and – most importantly – humility and good values. As a Board member, and given my human capital focus, I have had the privilege to observe and contribute to this.
Axiata’s senior management development programmes, in particular, are world-class as is the encouraged mobility of talent into relevant roles to groom them.
On a lighter note, the standard of local kueh snacks was equally high and the ability of my male colleagues to joget at an Indonesian offsite was memorable!
When I first heard of Axiata’s tagline, “Advancing Asia”, I thought to myself that they had probably picked the wrong continent to advance. But, as I started my journey with Axiata, I realised that the company is sincere about its promise.
I was inducted into the Group Accelerated Development Programme and given a clear career pathway. Many top corporations cut their training budget but not Axiata.
The best part of this company is that it is still hungry to grow and has the right vision, strategy and – most importantly – the people in place to make it happen.
It was hard in the beginning, starting from ground zero as a new Group. For a while there was a clear distinction between the ‘old/classic TMI’ employees and new ones click-clacking in our heels on the wooden floors of
Circa March 2009 TMI found its new identity: Axiata Group Berhad. That same year, we found a home in KL Sentral. ‘Advancing Asia’ became our tagline.
As a Group operating in a competitive and challenging environment in many different jurisdictions, this University of Life called Axiata offered many opportunities to experience the whole roller coaster corporate ride. There certainly is never a dull moment!