Monday, January 30, 2023

Interview with Datuk Jamaludin Ibrahim

Here is an interview between Starbiz and Datuk Jamaludin Ibrahim.

StarBiz: Why quit when Maxis is headed for some very exciting times ahead?

Jamaludin: Business-wise, Maxis has achieved a lot and made inroads into Indonesia and India and is positioned for its next growth phase. Due to that there is a need to change the management team as this calls for a new era and a new leader to take charge.

A decade is a bit too long to lead a company and I need to pass the baton. It is timely and fortunate that Maxis has recruited Sandip Das, who is a good CEO and some other good people at Maxis to drive it through.

On the personal side, after 10 years in Maxis and a total 26 years of working life, it can be very tough and challenging, especially after 40 quarters. I tell myself I need a break but I’d rather call it sabbatical leave. I want to have some time for my family and myself. I want to breathe fresh air and perhaps return at some point to the corporate sector.

StarBiz: Has it to do with the privatisation of Maxis?

Jamaludin: The timing is quite coincidental as I had been thinking of leaving Maxis since last year. I am leaving the company in good shape; it also has a good partner in Saudi Telecom Co (which is taking up a 25% stake in Binariang); so what more can you ask for?

StarBiz: Your plan to retire came so soon after the privatisation of Maxis and this gave rise to speculation that you may have been asked to leave. Can you please comment?

Jamaludin: I do not think the shareholders would ever ask me (to leave); otherwise, why offer me a directorship at Binariang? It is a privilege to represent Binariang.

StarBiz: So what’s in store after Maxis?

Jamaludin: I have no immediate plans but during my last 10 years a lot of people have approached me to do business with them. But then I had no interest and did not want to distract myself from building up Maxis. With no such pressure now, I will look into it but the current thinking is to take a rest for three to six months. The funny thing in all this is that I am still a director of Maxis and Binariang; although I am quitting, I am still here.

Given the many challenges Maxis would be facing in the future, I may be dragged in to be involved in my non-executive position in some way. Hopefully, it would not disturb the management team and remain at the strategic level as that is what I had originally intended.

StarBiz: What would you say is the highlight of your 10 years in Maxis?

Jamaludin: There are a few but it was satisfying to see Maxis becoming the number one player in revenue and subscriber numbers in 2000.

StarBiz: Given the chance, would you have done things differently at Maxis?

Jamaludin: On hindsight, we should have gone regional much earlier.

If we had started a year earlier, we could have gotten assets much cheaper and there could have been other possible acquisitions.

The second area involves people, something dear to my heart, we could have done better in developing our people and bringing in more talent in the marketing and technical areas, and even at the top management and other areas in the organisation.

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Kugan is the co-founder of MalaysianWireless. He has been observing the mobile industry since 2003. Connect with him on Twitter: @scamboy

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