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2017 | Quarter 2

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The newly-crowned MMC Group’s CEO of The Year, Dato’ Azman Shah Mohd Yusof is more upbeat than ever to drive Northport to greater heights. His enthusiasm is evident in Northport’s breakthrough 3.22 Million TEUs in 2016, (second highest volume in 116th years of Northport’s operations) along with several initiatives and other accomplishments that led to his recognition as MMC Group’s CEO of The year.

ENCOURAGING CREATIVE THINKING AND

NURTURING HIGH-PERFORMANCE CULTURE

Last year, Dato’ Azman revamped Northport’s core values to INCITE - Integrity, Customer Focus, Innovation, Teamwork and Excellence. These values reflect MMC’s core values Integrity, Innovation, Teamwork, Excellence, Commitment (INTEC).


He elaborated that these values are currently being cascaded to employees at all levels in Northport. To build on the momentum, Dato’ Azman has also introduced an icon/mentor for each core value comprising of HODs. The icons are tasked to take the lead and gather ideas to further promote the assigned value on the ground.


Following this, the INCITE Awards have also been introduced every quarterly for employees to nominate any colleagues who strongly demonstrates any of the core values to the respective icons. The selected nominees will stand a chance to be rewarded for the quarter. “The first INCITE Awards was successfully held in the last quarter and now everyone is looking forward to the next one,” shared Dato’ Azman.


RECOGNITION

The Outstanding Performance Awards under the Port Category in conjunction with the Malaysia World Maritime Day 2016 came on the heels of Northport’s growth in throughput.


“It was a pleasant surprise and I believe it’s a testimony of Northport’s capabilities, long history and expertise.” However, Dato’ Azman also added that “Awards mean nothing if there is no integrity, customer focus or innovation, especially if there’s no improvement or teamwork. Any award would be meaningless if you don’t have any of these criteria. An award should be built upon our core values. Therefore, we need to do more to achieve excellence and maintain that consistently.”


INSPIRATION

Dato’ Azman shared that there are several individuals that he really looked up to. His former bosses in Bank Negara, to name a few – Dr. Awang Adek Hussin (former Minister and an ex-Ambassador to US) who taught him to be a people-oriented person; the late Dr. Zainal Aznam Yusof who was very meticulous and research-oriented; and Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz who is very passionate about her work and taught him speech-writing and mind mapping.


Apart from the above mentioned, Dato’ Azman also looked up to his mentor Tan Sri Azman Yahya for his wit and wisdom and his time-management skills.


QUALITIES FOR LEADERS

To be a good leader, Dato’ Azman opined that “Every leader should be a problem solver in a macro way and nurture their second liners to grow.”


He added that every leader should also be a forward-looking person and a big-picture thinker and have a strong vision for the future. “Leave behind a legacy. If you want to be remembered, be remembered by the fact that you have built or contributed to a company that’s going to last the test of time,” said Dato’ Azman.


QUOTES TO LIVE BY

Among the quotes that Dato’ Azman hold on to is the Latin expression “Carpe diem” which means seize the day. He is also inspired by Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar’s humility, “Apa yang kita ada bukan kita punya, apa yang kita buat, itu kita punya.” Another quote that has been an inspiration to him since his Bank Negara days was, “A blind man is not one who cannot see, but one who has no vision.”


HOPES AND PLANS FOR NORTHPORT

In the coming years, Dato’ Azman hopeS that Northport will continue to grow, ‘kembali gemilang’ and ‘terus gemilang’ for another 116 years.


“The best thing that happened to Northport is being acquired by MMC. Northport is the missing piece of MMC’s puzzle, and being the youngest in the family, we want to be a consistent performer for the MMC Group.”


On MMC Ports, he said that, “The beauty of being involved in MMC Ports is that everybody brings something to the table.” He elaborated that although MMC Ports is still gearing towards full integration, the group has benefited from several improvements in terms of group strategic procurement and technical know-how. “When we get together, we get to share experiences and technical expertise. In a couple of years, we can create a brand that is worthy of the nation to be proud of.”


FAVOURITE PASTIME

Dato’ Azman used to enjoy playing Scrabble competitively and participated in tournaments during his youth. He was once ranked 20th in the country before retiring from the game. Nowadays, he enjoys listening to his all-time favourite band, U2 (a fan since 1984) and watching his favourite football team play. “I have been a Chelsea fan since 2001 when they were the underdogs and it’s always good to see them win.”

BACKGROUND

A Bachelor of Economics graduate from the London School of Economics, United Kingdom, Dato’ Azman Shah was a Bank Negara Malaysia scholar and joined the organisation as an Economist in August 1992.


After a five-year stint in Bank Negara, Dato’ Azman went on to pursue a career as an investment analyst in a French investment bank before serving the Government again, holding various positions in Pengurusan Danaharta Nasional Berhad and Corporate Debt Restructuring Committee under the leadership of Tan Sri Azman Yahya.


Subsequently, Dato’ Azman ventured into entrepreneurship by setting up a corporate advisory firm where he gained exposure in numerous industries i.e. printing, oil and gas, agriculture, real estate development and hotel management, and more. Interestingly, he was one of the founders of Malaysia’s English radio station, FlyFM, before exiting through Media Prima.


Dato’ Azman’s last position before joining the MMC Group in 2016 was Chief Executive Officer of Integrax Berhad, which owns and operates Lumut Port.


WORKING STYLE

Speaking about his working style, Dato’ Azman shared that his approach is generally firm but fair. He puts his emphasis on professionalism and corporate governance, “You must do the right thing, the right way all the time.”


“I always opt for a balanced-approached and try to infuse humour whenever I can to diffuse any heated situations,” added Dato Azman.


More often than not, Dato’ Azman regards his job as a project that needs to be accomplished. Dato’ Azman then elaborated that the industry itself is not the main criteria that appeals him when pursuing a job, “If it is challenging enough and know that I can contribute, I will go for it.”


“There’s a lot that can be done with Northport. It is challenging and there’s a lot of strategy involved and potential for asset optimisation. We are not anywhere near the capacity that we be operating at and this is a good challenge to have.”


‘NORTHPORT KEMBALI GEMILANG’

“Northport is an unpolished gem,” said Dato’ Azman. In 2016, he introduced the catch phrase ‘Northport Kembali Gemilang’ with the sole purpose of boosting the employees’ spirit. “Being one of two ports in Port Klang, we are always being compared to our bigger neighbour, Westports. My first year objective was to help Northport get its mojo back.”


Dato’ Azman also applauded Northport’s strong team spirit, with most of its employees hailing from the vicinity of Klang. He strongly believed that with a little bit of strategy, leadership and enculturation, Northport is well on its way to achieve even greater heights. “With that tagline, people (in Northport) will believe in themselves again.” The initiatives have since produced positive results for Northport.


THE EVOLUTION OF PORT INDUSTRY IN MALAYSIA

When it comes to the local port industry, Dato’ Azman shared that although the global industry has witnessed changes over the years, there are certain things that have not changed in the local context. “The ports in Malaysia are privately-owned and always taken for granted.” Dato’ Azman explained that there is a common misconception that port management is a high-profit business. Therefore, there were no specific plans in place to work towards elevating the industry to where it should be in comparison to Singapore, where the Government has continued to nurture and finance the industry since day one. In addition to that, the technology utilised within the port industry has since evolved. One notable example is that modern ports nowadays are either automated or semi-automated.


The shipping industry on the other hand, has also gone through some changes over the years. Shipping lines now work in alliances and these alliances will determine their preferred destinations. Port operators today, must engage with the alliances instead of just the individual liners. “As for Northport, we are re-aligning our strategies to gear towards the changes in the shipping industry. The way forward is integrated logistics and with focus on regional distribution centres to take advantage of Malaysia’s location and cost advantage,” added Dato’ Azman.


Recognising the industry’s potential and the competition that the country is facing from Singapore, the Government has recently established the National Logistics Task Force under the supervision of the Minister of Transport. They are responsible for designing, implementing and monitoring the action plans as stated in the Logistics and Trade Facilitation Master Plan.


ADVANTAGES

“Northport has a strategic location and is well connected to seven major expressways in the country. We have industrial areas nearby providing cargo and we have a rail link that comes through our port.”


“In terms of competition, no one can compete effectively with MMC Ports. We are the only group in the country that can offer road, rail, sea and air logistics. We can provide end-to-end services for logistics.” Dato’ Azman also added that through the larger Al-Bukhary group, there is a lot of group synergy that can be tapped on.