Monday, March 27, 2023

Morten Lundal’s final email to DiGi’s staff

Here’s an email last sent from Morten Lundal, ex-CEO of DiGi to the staffs of DiGi.

Time to Change

Well, this time the Time To Change slogan applies to me. This is the last thing I write as CEO of DiGi. I will send this as an email, close this PC, pick up my very few personal things and leave this adorable building. Oh, and I will remember to hand back the yellow access tag. A strange moment indeed, so allow me to look a bit back for a moment.

It’s been nearly 4 years. Is that possible? When I look at the number, 4, it looks so big. 4 years is long time, even in a life’s perspective. But it feels like such a short period, like an 18 months project.

Oh, I’ve enjoyed it. I enjoyed every bit of it.

First the big picture: I like Asia (and therefore also Malaysia, you know, truly Asia and all that). The brand “Asia” represents so many positive attributes to me. It’s about tomorrow more than yesterday. It’s about vibrant colors more than a palette of grey. It’s about smiles and service mindset instead of “cold execution of mass market processes”. It’s about simple food in unpretentious settings, instead of pretentious food in complex settings. It’s the relevance of (even the extended) family, the struggle for (new) identity, the (slow) mass transformations of businesses and government systems, the epidemic adoption of mobiles and internet, the difficult preservation of unique heritage and nature, and the ongoing strive to secure progress versus the previous generation and at the same time the struggle of dealing with the consequences of that same progress. I know this is a gross generalization, but I do see most of these attributes in all of the 10 south Asian countries I’ve visited the last few years. It all adds up to my very strong overall positive feel for this thing called “Asia”. It’s captivating. Positive.

And then; Malaysia. If I were to come to Asia again, and I could freely choose country, I would choose Malaysia again. It is not that one thing stands out about Malaysia, but it is the positive balance of it all. The combination of the modern with the traditional, the very urban and the very rural, the hyper shopping and the isolated beaches, the widely used English language and the multi-racial composition, the generally low cost and the good quality, the protection from natural catastrophes, the climate, the relative economic and political stability. It’s all here in Malaysia. We enjoyed the stunning under-water life by Sipadan island, the unspoiled Cherating beach, the low key luxury of Langkawi, the history of Penang, the exotic KK, the view from Mount Kinabalu, the trekking in Taman Negara, and so on and so on. Such a privilege to have been here.

In most surveys, Norway is ranked as having the highest quality of life in the world. Not bad. But that is defined in cold, academic, quantitative United Nation well-being terms. If you as a Norwegian live in a country like Malaysia, you discover that quality of life has many dimensions, and Malaysia can in many ways compete with Norway and any other country in having a rich balance of quality of life to offer to the curious soul.

And then: DiGi. What a company. I’ve enjoyed it so much. I’ve enjoyed seeing the transformation from what we were to what we are. I’ve enjoyed seeing the results improve steadily, quarter by quarter, the end-results of all our collected efforts. I’ve enjoyed seeing our enthusiasm for our values and progress spread to people outside the company. I’ve been energized by the many meetings we’ve had where I observe DiGi values in full force, the open-mindedness, the commitment and the mutual respect. I truly enjoyed our CSR program, Amazing Malaysians, both the purpose and the execution of the program, but also the places it took us and the people we got to meet. I have enjoyed the intellectually challenging debates about what’s the best next step, but I’ve also enjoyed all the jokes, the gotcha moments and the laughter. And, yes, I enjoyed our parties (some now legendary) both in KL and in the regions – I bring with me photos that prove that it all actually did happen.

The kids have fought against this move. Maybe all kids will fight all moves, but at least my two kids did. They adore their superb school and are of course unhappy to lose their good friends. But they have also liked so much the warm air, the cooling pool, the monkeys on our terrace, the frequent dining out and our exotic travels (you know, any travel in Asia is exotic for us). Mandius said, “I was born in Norway” (actually, he was born in Switzerland), “but I grew up in Malaysia”. And grow up they have done in this period, it’s shocking to look at their before and after pictures. That’s a big transformation in itself.

I don’t know if I am doing the right thing, there is a lot of uncertainty in the choice we and I have made. But several factors entice me. I like that we will be a short plane ride from our respective aging parents. I like that the boys will (continue to) go to a great school. I like that we can live 25 minutes from one of the real cultural centers of the world, but still live where we are surrounded by greenery and where we can finally take our dog for long (wet…) walks again. And I like that I have to sharpen all my senses in order to establish myself in a totally new setting, in this big thing called Vodafone. It’s going to be different, in many ways life will be tougher and less attractive for us, but again, I see many reasons for why we will continue to grow as a family and individuals in London, and personal growth is maybe on top of our lists right now.

DiGi is work in progress, it always will be. So there are many things on the to-do list, also when I leave. I am happy that Johan came back to start on the next phase in DiGi’s life, and I am convinced that he and DMT will take this company to new and even better places in the future. I look forward to following it, this time from afar.

Life is a series of small and long projects. Now we are closing the (great) chapter called DiGi and Malaysia, and we are opening up the first page to an all-empty chapter in our life. I promise you I will often look back at my previous life in Malaysia, and I will smile when thinking about the happy moments and I will be sad thinking about the relationships that were real and daily that now just are bound to be occasional and electronic. Thank you for making this the best period in my life, and I wish you all from the deepest of my heart Good Luck going forward. Whatever is ahead, I will always be a DiGizen.



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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