Are You a Leader or a Boss?
The ICLIF Leadership Centre CEO Rajeev Peshawaria is determined to build leaders – not bosses.
Rajeev Peshawaria likes asking executives how many good leaders they have encountered among all the bosses they have had in their careers. Invariably, the number given is very low.
“I’ve never found a room anywhere in the world, in any industry, where the answer isn’t between zero and two,” says Mr. Rajeev Peshawaria, Chief Executive Officer of the Kuala Lumpur based The ICLIF Leadership Centre. “Every year, about US$60 billion is spent on leadership programs; countless books on leadership are written, and still I get this response. It’s absolutely astonishing.”
Mr. Peshawaria joined ICLIF in April. Prior to this he spent 22 years with well-regarded companies such as American Express, HSBC, Goldman Sachs and The Coca-Cola Company. His last role before ICLIF was Chief Learning Officer and Head of Talent Management at Morgan Stanley, based in the firm’s New York City headquarters.
ICLIF is in the business of what Mr. Peshawaria describes as “usable leadership development,” or leadership skills that are 100% useful in the work and lives of the executives with which ICLIF works. ICLIF imparts these skills through open-enrollment course for executives, customized leadership programs for organizations, advisory services for leadership teams and individual executive coaching.
The recently concluded ICLIF Leading Leaders program was very well attended. All the participants were in agreement that they would definitely use their new skills.
Too Many Bosses, Too Few Leaders
By Rajeev Peshawaria
Simon & Schuster; 256 pages; US$26
In May 2011, Mr. Rajeev Peshawaria’s book, Too Many Bosses, Too Few Leaders, will hit bookstores. The leadership expert who trained the top brass at companies such as American Express, Morgan Stanley and Coca-Cola, and who has worked closely with some of today’s most renowned business leaders, shares his unique insights and experiences for achieving consistent leadership excellence.
“People should come to our programs only if they want to challenge themselves,” says Mr. Peshawaria. “We don’t provide run-of-the-mill content about management efficiency. We get people deeply in touch with themselves. Clarity, purpose and values are what give people the energy to be leaders.”
Mr. Peshawaria himself exemplifies these values. Calm and reserved, he launches into impassioned speech when discussing leaders and leadership. The lack of true leadership he sees in many organizations clearly perplexes him.
Throughout his career, Mr. Peshawaria has noticed that companies in the same industry, dealing with the same challenges, often end up with wildly different results. Rival companies can have exactly the same sort of executives and similar products, yet one will prosper while the other struggles. The difference is leadership.
He also is dubious about the majority of leadership training strategies, which he feels focus too much on “look-back competency models.” Companies look at the type of leader that made them successful in the last ten years, and then set this as their leadership template for the future. All too often institutes condense the leadership qualities of a great military, political or business leader into easy-to-understand formulas.
“The last time I looked in the dictionary, this sort of thing was followership, not leadership,” he says. “True leadership is about people finding their own energy, finding their team’s energy, and then galvanizing the organization. It’s about positive change and sustainable growth.”
From its base in Kuala Lumpur, The ICLIF Leadership Centre is poised to be a unique influence in the current and future generations of leadership in Asia. In addition, Mr. Peshawaria, who originally came from India, is putting together a faculty with international experience. It sees opportunities for growth in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
“Leadership is not about competency models, catchy formulas and copycat role-plays, but about energy,” says Mr. Peshawaria. “Leadership is the art of harnessing human energy for the creation of a better future.”
“Clarity, purpose and values are what give people the energy to be leaders.”
Mah Sing Group
Profiting by Design
Strategic locations, iconic architecture and superb quality set Mah Sing apart from other developers.
Mah Sing Group head Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Leong Hoy Kum likes looking out the window. Sitting at his desk in Kuala Lumpur, his office overlooks one of his company’s many developments, which is taking shape just across the street. While he likes to watch the work progressing, his ambitions and imagination spread much, much further.
Over the last 16 years, few developers have risen in stature as fast as Mah Sing Group. The brand is well known among both homeowners and property investors. Billed as a premier lifestyle developer, Tan Sri Leong’s creation has made a mark with its landed residential properties, condominiums, retail investment-grade commercial developments and industrial lots.
A dedicated research team studies market needs, allowing Mah Sing to identify and set new trends. In the residential segment, for example, the team identified the appeal of semi-D and bungalow developments in a gated and guarded environment. In the commercial space, they popularized the en bloc sales of grade-A offices and commercial (office and retail) blocks in the primary market. For the industrial segment, the company identified the opportunity for niche semi-D industrial properties in the Klang Valley.
“We’re constantly soliciting feedback from the market, which influences the work of our product development team,” says Tan Sri Leong. “We have made continuous improvements to our developments over the years. For example, our Legenda (high-end, semi-D and bungalows), Residence (medium-high to high-end) and Perdana (township) series have all evolved to what we call the second-generation products.”
The main difference between the first and second generation is better eco-friendliness, quality certifications, layout designs and also updated façades. There is also a marked improvement in the finishes and materials used, as Mah Sing is building a high-quality lifestyle brand. It will introduce third-generation concepts in upcoming projects.
Mah Sing’s care for detail and attention to the market has not gone unnoticed. Among the company’s 26 international and Malaysian awards, many are for development concepts and quality. Projects that have won awards include the Southbay (Penang) and One Legenda (Cheras) residential projects as well as The Icon Jalan Tun Razak and Southgate (both in Kuala Lumpur) commercial projects. Indeed, this is especially impressive, given that Mah Sing has gone from just four projects in 2004 to 30 today. These projects are located in property hotspots such as Kuala Lumpur, Iskandar Malaysia and Penang.
Building Value for Investors
Mah Sing Group continuously improves its property developments with new concepts and design features. The company has won numerous awards for both projects and corporate performance, and is seen as a pioneer in new themes and design concepts in Malaysia. Mah Sing is uniquely positioned to appeal to international and sophisticated local investors.
Mah Sing builds value in a number of ways:
The Mah Sing Vision
A great deal of the company’s success stems from Mah Sing’s pioneering approach, which involves a fast turnaround business model coupled with quick launches in multiple locations. Aggressive land banking also is crucial. The company enjoys brisk sales, with oversubscription common for new launches. This requires the company to adopt a fast turnaround strategy for its niche projects in multiple locations. In the medium term, Mah Sing will buy large tracts of strategic land. A strong balance sheet and low net gearing make this strategy possible. Longer term, Mah Sing aspires to be a world-class developer with a presence in high-growth countries like China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and Australia. The company’s first overseas foray occurred in December 2009, with a letter of intent for a mixed-development project in Changzhou, located in China’s Wujin district.
“China offers a big opportunity for property developers, given its robust economic growth, rising consumer purchasing power and growing population,” says Tan Sri Leong. “Our project in China will be a prime property development comprising medium- to medium-high-end residential and commercial components that suit the local market. Nonetheless, it is crucial that we stay nimble. The real secret to our success is reacting quickly to market conditions.”
Mah Sing’s agility recently was exemplified at the launch of its Garden Residence in Cyberjaya. The popularity of the project resulted in a long waiting list.
“Before the launch, we conducted in-depth research to ensure the project would do well, but the response exceeded our expectations,” says Tan Sri Leong. “I got the team together, and we discussed our options. Before long we decided to bring forward the launch of some of the semi-detached units. Aside from meeting market demand, we also managed to enhance the development value of the project. It was win-win for everyone.”
This agility has complemented the company’s strategy, which – in addition to building its land bank – is to remain a reputable, award-winning developer with a good track record in delivering high-quality projects on time.
“A key element in our strategy is being a trendsetter in innovative concepts, iconic designs and eco-friendly themes,” says Tan Sri Leong. “Our properties are good investment choices with proven high-capital appreciation and attractive rental yield. Why? Because we put high-quality developments in excellent locations.”
This philosophy is reflected in Mah Sing’s upcoming launches: Icon Residence Mont’ Kiara, M Suites@Jalan Ampang, Icon City at Petaling Jaya and Legenda@Southbay on Penang island.
Designed by international architects, Icon Residence Mont’ Kiara comprises serviced residences whose modular design was influenced by the famous terraced homes on the Greek island of Santorini. Icon Residence Mont’ Kiara boasts ample landscapes and water features, and each unit is a corner unit with beautiful views, practical layouts and quality finishes. Located in Greater Kuala Lumpur’s most sought after expatriate enclave, it is also a niche project with only 260 units available.
M Suites@Jalan Ampang, near the Kuala Lumpur city center, offers semi-furnished service residences starting at 500 square feet, comprising studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. The units are designed for those who seek a middle- to upper-range apartment near the city and are expected to provide a strong rental yield.
Icon City in the central commercial area of Petaling Jaya in the Klang Valley is situated at the crossroads of the Klang Valley’s two busiest expressways. The strategic location makes it highly visible and creates an important alternative option to Kuala Lumpur for office space in a modern environment and taps into the rapidly growing commercial market of Petaling Jaya. The gated and guarded Legenda@Southbay in Penang island will consists of 76 three- and four-story bungalows to be built on elevated land which overlooks the sea.
It’s All About Quality
The company has also adopted best international practices in ensuring quality. Mah Sing sought the CONQUAS (Construction Quality Assessment System) certification by BCA Singapore (Building and Construction Authority) for all of its new residential projects. Mah Sing is the first and only developer accorded the CONQUAS award for an office building in Malaysia: the Icon Jalan Tun Razak, a grade-A office completed in 2009.
“Malaysia will increasingly be in the radar screen of international property buyers,” says Tan Sri Leong. “The key to our success in the past has been quality, and I am determined that this will always be the case. Location, design and quality are key.”
Maxis Gears Up to Be a Leading
The innovative culture of telecom company Maxis will serve it well as it strives to add value in the broadband market.
Maxis Chief Executive Officer Mr. Sandip Das recently visited a household that had upgraded to high-speed broadband service. The father said he was happy with basic internet functions performing at super-fast speed. On the way to the door, however, the father mentioned that his son loved the upgrade the most because he was hosting games for 25 kids all over Asia.
“That’s just one 16-year-old kid,” says Mr. Das. “Imagine the future. There is a large population of young people in Asia who will be massive users when it comes to data. Maxis intends to offer customers products and services that will transform the family dimension, turning their homes into safe and enjoyable hubs from which they can experience next-generation broadband, IPTV and family-oriented voice and data packages. The home unit will give customers a full suite of seamlessly connected services and content that allow families to share experiences from inside the home to anywhere they roam.”
This anecdote sums up the vision of Maxis: to provide advanced communications services that enrich consumers’ lives and businesses in a manner that is simple and personalized, while harnessing leading technology and a high level of reliability.
The business has made great strides since its founding in 1995. It is Malaysia’s leading integrated communications provider with 12.7 million subscriptions and provides a full suite of communication services on multiple platforms. Its clients range from teenagers to blue-chip corporations. The company has led Malaysia’s mobile industry since 2000. Additionally, it is a great place to work, having recently won an award for being the “Best Employer in Asia” from Singapore’s Employer Branding Institute.
Maxis was the first telecom company to launch 3G services in Malaysia in 2005, and it upgraded its 3G network in both 2006 and 2009. It was also the first to introduce both the BlackBerry and Apple iPhone to Malaysia, and is a leader in introducing contact-less card technologies.
“Our network modernization, IT transformation, international team, and device and content alliances all combine to create a complete ecosystem,” says Mr. Das. “Together, all of these elements are worth far more than the sum of their parts.”
The company’s track record has earned it considerable accolades, including the Readers Digest Trusted Brand Award (Gold) for Phone Service (Fixed-Line or Mobile) and the Putra Brand Awards 2010 (Gold) for a communications network.
Maxis’ success was reflected in its 2009 IPO, which raised US$3.5 billion and was the largest ever in Southeast Asia. The IPO was awarded “Deal of the Year,” “Best Malaysia Deal” and “Best Equity Deal” for 2009 by Finance Asia. Notably, Maxis has a strong EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of around 50%, significantly above competitors.
“The IPO was very successful,” says Mr. Das. “We followed it with a number of initiatives, including payment partnerships with PayPal and Western Union, as well as some major sponsorships to further raise the brand profile.”
Maxis is in the process of transforming itself from a leading mobile communications services provider to a leading integrated communications service provider, so as to provide higher-value services to its customers. The company is well placed to capitalize on fast-growing broadband and data opportunities. Since 50% of Malaysia’s population is under 25 years of age, there is a huge opportunity for growth in broadband and mobile data services.
Indeed, 34.8% of Maxis’s mobile revenues come from non-voice services, making Maxis the leader in the provision of mobile data services. “To support our non-voice and mobile broadband business, we’ve created a strong product development engine to deliver smart applications across mass-market phones as well as sophisticated high-end devices,” says Mr. Das.
The company’s success will continue to reside in financial discipline coupled with a stable, experienced management team. The company also works hard to attract and develop the best possible talent. Maxis has earned consistent margins over the years, and this, coupled with prudent investments, has resulted in strong cash flows. The company is growing and has successful sister companies in India and Indonesia.
Maxis’ major shareholder, Maxis Communications Berhad, also owns Aircel in India which has over 42 million GSM (global system for mobile communications) subscribers. Aircel has a strategic position in India’s 3G and broadband spectrums. Out of India’s 22 telecom circles, Aircel has 3G spectrums in 13 and broadband Wireless Access (BWA) in 8. The new spectrums will allow Aircel to migrate to LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology, a standard of the 4G evolution in mobile communications, when it is commercially available in the next two to three years. Aircel is India’s sixth largest telecom operator and has a pan-India footprint. Its ownership of 2G, 3G and BWA spectrums in core territories means it is uniquely well positioned in a market of 1.2 billion with mobile penetration of just over 50%.
Maxis Communication Berhad also holds a strategic stake in Indonesia’s PT Natrindo Telepon Seluler (NTS).
“We want to be the region’s most respected integrated communications player,” says Mr. Das.
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