June 5, 2009

The philosophy of an airline CEO

The man himself briefing and answering questions before playing the guitar (that picture can be seen here)

If you have read my post 2 days ago, it was more about a personal overview of this guy, by the name of Idris Jala who turned around the fortune of Malaysia national airline, called Malaysia Airline System or MAS. MAS was long in existence before there was THAT other airline, which now seems to compete with MAS, by the name of AirAsia. I was one of the many audience 2 days ago who wanted to ask his thoughts on his closest rival. It was the elephant in the room which was brought forward by this one guy before I had the chance to ask it. The person who post the question did try to be tactful but Idris himself named names. So, it was quite candid.

Basically for that question, he tactfully said that they should work together on certain matters and compete on certain matters. He brought forward an analogy on how he did the same thing when he worked for Shell in Sri Lanka in which one of the place he was managing was so small that the Shell and a rival company shared a storage tank but compete once the oil in it was send to each other's station. This was just one of the example in which he compared his tenure with MAS to his old job.

Some of the other thing that he told us was about what philosophy he holds dear such as telling everyone how one should always try to do the impossible. And do not hide the fact from anyone else. When enough people say that it is impossible, try to do it. If you did not succeed, it is okay as it was impossible in the first place. If you succeed, you have managed to attain a place in doing the impossible. He also quoted 2 books which everyone should read. One is a book by somebody called -something- Goss (a lady) which is where he got the idea about doing the impossible and one is by Paulo Cuelho, the Alchemist which is known throughout the world. I can relate to the Alchemist as I believe in what that book tries to tell (which I should blog about another day).

The question and answer session went on for nearly an hour as they were letting anyone answered anything and he gracefully tried to answer each one of it.

The Q&A session, with him sitting on a stool

All the senior management of MAS were there which I knew a few of them by reputation or through the mass media. It was rare to see senior management coming to an event in which their CEO is speaking. I think it was more due to the event being held by MAS itself and they did invite the airline's Facebook group, among others. There were college students and bloggers. 

However, although he did show his soft side and everything, I saw the look in all his staff which shows that he is quite tough on them. He did say, he believe in keeping his staff on their toe all the time and he did this by buying 10 Blackberry on the first day he was in office. He also said he is the most dangerous when he was on holiday as he will be shooting 'sharp' email all day long (and night).

I believe, to be a good CEO, you must be a taskmaster no matter how people hate you and if they managed to love you, then that is a bonus. If you work well, then you will get your bonus. He did pointed out that the share of MAS has risen from RM2++ when he came in to nearly RM6++ recently (which is quite decent by Malaysian standard). I bet a lot of the employees who are eleigible for their ESOS had managed to gain some money out of it. If not that, I hope they did get some bonus.


Lisalicious said...

shooting sharp emails and etc

that reminds me so much of my previous company's MD, a datuk who shoot very sharp remarks / emails / stick it notes to his employees


Ratty said...

I would bet that his employees that do well at their job love this man. From what I have seen, men like this usually appreciate excellence in others.

kruel74 said...

Lisa - Usually CEOs are like that

Ratty - They are but not easily understood

Anonymous said...

i wish i was there...


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