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The Most Admired Corporate Leaders in Malaysia

Corporate leaders are shining examples of what individuals with sound management skills, dynamic leadership and vision could do in driving companies to become multimillion ringgit powerhouses. All of them have led their respective organizations to become symbols of Malaysian corporate success.

Top 10 of Malaysia salutes these corporate greats in a survey that recognizes the top 10 leaders in the country today. These vibrant personalities are inspiring icons indeed and their beautiful success stories are exemplary of what great heights can be achieved when one dares to dream big.

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Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Tony Fernandes

As the Group CEO of AirAsia Bhd, Tan Sri Tony is probably Malaysia’s most recognizable corporate figure with his trademark baseball cap. Tan Sri Tony began his career in the music industry with Warner Music. Soon he decided to leave the music industry to pursue his childhood dream of setting up Malaysia’s first low-cost airline. He mortgaged his house and pooled all his savings to acquire a failing government airline that had a fleet of only two ageing Boeing 737-300 planes and RM40 million worth of debt. The company soon grew from two planes in 2002 to a fleet of more than 86 aircraft flying more than 30 million people around the world. Tan Sri Tony’s vision in transforming an ailing airline company to become the world’s best low-cost carrier (awarded by Skytrax) is a testament to the Malaysia Boleh spirit.


Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Robert Kuok Hock Nien

Born on 6 October 1923 in Johor Bahru and educated at the prestigious Raffles Institution in Singapore, Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Kuok made his money in sugar, palm oil, shipping and property. Also known as the “Sugar King”, his Kuok Group boasts of a huge network of companies under three main holding companies in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. He also controls South China Morning Post, once the world’s most profitable daily newspaper. His biggest source of wealth is his stake in Wilmar, the world’s largest listed palm oil company. According to Forbes magazine in March 2011, Tan Sri Kuok’s assets are worth an incredible USD12.5 billion, making him the richest man in Malaysia.


Ananda Krishnan

Ananda Krishnan began building his multimedia empire in the early 1990s and today he owns two major telecommunication companies – Maxis Communications and Astro All Asia Network - apart from having three communication satellites circumnavigating the earth. He also owns stakes in public listed Tanjong Public Limited Company, an investment holding company with subsidiaries in power generation, gaming, leisure and property. Krishnan has a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard University and is worth USD9.5 billion (Forbes magazine, March 2011), making him the second richest man in Malaysia. Now a major philanthropist, Krishnan focuses on developing Malaysia’s talent pool by funding scholarships and school programs.


Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Yeoh Tiong Lay

He is the founder of YTL Corporation, Malaysia’s biggest and most successful conglomerate with businesses in construction, utilities, hotels, property development and technology. It is one of the largest companies listed on Bursa Malaysia with a combined market capitalization of about RM33.5 billion (as at 31 July 2011). YTL Corporation became the first Asian non-Japanese company to be listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange since 1996. In January 2008, Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Yeoh was conferred the prestigious Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon by the Emperor of Japan for his efforts in promoting bilateral relations between Malaysia and Japan.


Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun

Born in 1952 in Batu Pahat, Johor, Tan Sri Vincent Tan is the Chairman of Berjaya Corporation Berhad. He is a businessman and entrepreneur with a suite of interests in property development and investment, gaming, stockbroking, manufacturing, trading, hospitality, internet-related businesses, utilities, media, telecommunications, insurance and education. According to Forbes 2010 Billionaire List, Tan Sri Vincent Tan’s assets are worth USD1.2 billion. In February this year, he pledged to donate half of his wealth to charity, starting with RM20 million this year. This came about because of his decision to join “The Giving Pledge” that was initiated by Bill & Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr Teh Hong Piow

Founder of Public Bank, Tan Sri Teh is currently the Chairman of the Public Bank Group, apart from holding leadership positions in various organizations in Malaysia and Singapore. He began his banking career in 1950 as a bank clerk in Overseas-Chinese Banking Corporation Ltd. In 1960 he joined Malayan Banking Berhad as Manager and was promoted to General Manager at a relatively young age of 34. Tan Sri Teh then left Malayan Banking in 1966 to set up Public Bank. He has since then been the driving force behind the bank’s evolution into a modern and integrated financial powerhouse.

Tan Sri Datuk Hj Mustapha Kamal

Currently the Executive Chairman of MK Land Holdings Berhad, Tan Sri Datuk Mustapha is also co-founder of MK Land Group of Companies. The Group is noted for developing the Damansara Perdana township in Selangor. Tan Sri Mustapha graduated from University of Malaya and started his career in 1970 as an Assistant District Officer and later rose to become the Deputy Commissioner of Lands & Mines for the Selangor State Government. It was his move to Shah Alam Properties Sdn Bhd as Managing Director that provided him with the opportunity to harness necessary skills and knowledge in property development. In 1983, Tan Sri Mustapha formed the EMKAY Group of Companies.

Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Jeffrey Cheah

An accountant by training, Tan Sri Jeffrey is the Founder and Chairman of the Sunway Group. The Group is one of the most widely diversified conglomerates in Malaysia with core businesses in education, healthcare, civil engineering and construction, property development and investment, and many more. It is known for its flagship development, the Sunway Integrated Resort City in Petaling Jaya. Tan Sri Jeffrey is passionately involved in governmental and non-governmental organizations. His passion to improve the lives of bright Malaysian students was inspired by English clergyman John Harvard who donated his entire library of books and half his wealth to an educational institution which is known today as the prestigious Harvard University.

Tan Sri Azman Hashim

Tan Sri Azman Hashim is a well-known corporate figure in Malaysia. He is the Chairman of the AmBank Group, a position he has held since 1982. His professional experience began in Perth, Australia in the 1950s when he was employed by Messrs O.L. Haines & Co (Chartered Accountants). He then joined Bank Negara Malaysia and by 1964 he left to start his own accountancy practice. Then he joined Malayan Banking Berhad as its Executive Director. In 1980 he was appointed Chairman of Kwong Yik Bank Berhad and went on to become Chairman of the AmBank Group in 1982 till to date. Tan Sri Azman has a passion for golf and water sports like powerboats and scuba diving. He is blessed with two sons, three daughters and ten grandchildren.

Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Liew Kee Sin

Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Liew Kee Sin is the President and Chief Executive Officer of SP Setia Berhad, a public listed property developer. Under the leadership of Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Liew, the Group’s profit after tax rose by 163% and its dividend payout ratio grew 100%, all within a short span of five years between 2001 and 2006. Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Liew began his career with a local merchant bank in 1981 after graduating from University of Malaya with an Honours Degree in Economics. After five years in the banking industry, he decided to venture into property development and developed his first project called Bukit Indah in Ampang, Selangor.