The only thing that’s constant in life and business is change. And change is best exemplified in the information, communications and technology (ICT) industry which is constantly evolving for the better, with newer innovations to improve lives, and enable businesses to run more efficiently and productively.
Having been at Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) for more than three years thus far, after having spent my previous chapter at multinational companies such as Microsoft, Dell and HP, I have witnessed first-hand the power and magnitude of digital transformation that pave the way for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
I have always thought of innovation as being the intersection between invention and insight. And with innovation comes transformation that transcends government, business and society for the better.
However, there is one aspect of transformation that is equally important. And that’s cultural transformation which, done correctly, brings positive benefits and significant changes within a company.
Allow me to share the MDEC example.
MDEC’s mission is to champion Malaysia’s Digital Economy, and for this to happen, it must be rooted in our core values and we must hold ourselves accountable to the highest standard of integrity.
Visitors to the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) headquarters in Cyberjaya would inevitably see a statement of our core values on the ground floor. They are:
• We serve the nation, and are here to help bring meaningful impact to our country. And we do so with utmost integrity, sincerity and accountability.
• We are go-getters, and do things with passion, courage, agility and resilience.
• We are forward-thinkers, and constantly look towards the future, anticipate change, are not afraid to challenge the status-quo and connect the dots to maximise impact.
• We are collaborators, meaning we are approachable and respectful, and we believe in the power of partnerships and teamwork.
• We have fun… are adventurous, creative and we inject 'Wow (!)' into everything that we do.
As CEO of MDEC, I am very proud of these values and the MDEC team – because I see my MDEC team bringing them to life on a daily basis.
These core values represent 'our true north', because they are what makes the MDEC team a highly impactful and highly collaborative one.
Evidence of this is how the Digital Economy contributed some 18.2% to Malaysia’s GDP in 2015 and is expected to further increase in the years ahead.
However, corporate cultural transformation can be challenging.
At times, the MDEC leadership team and I have had to make some tough decisions to ensure that these core values and integrity continue to be at the heart of everything we do.
We have had to transform processes and to make them more transparent – and be seen as transparent.
I admire and respect MDEC Chairman Tan Sri Sidek Hassan’s position on 'Zero Tolerance' or 'ZeTo' on corruption.
It is a position MDEC as a company can relate to: MDEC has Zero Tolerance for any form of corruption.
Let me give you an example.
Through our audit process in 2016, we uncovered issues concerning Foreign Knowledge Workers (FKW) Approval Process and Governance.
This goes against the grain of what MDEC stands steadfastly for.
As a result, under the purview of the Board Audit Committee, we undertook an extensive audit and process transformation to drive transparency. This included:
(1) Engaging credible third-party consultants to undertake the Business Process Reengineering and an extensive forensic audit to validate issues that had been uncovered.
(2) The approval process was redesigned to make it a ‘committee-based’ approval system. Most of the changes came into effect in mid-2017. Since then, we continue to further fine tune and make improvements in the best interest of transparency.
(3) Issues that may have been discovered during this exercise would have been notified and reported to the relevant authorities.
Embarking on this clean-up exercise was no easy task. It required commitment, patience and most of all, courage – especially in the face of many obstacles and people who were against this positive change for a more transparent and fair process.
As one of the leading organisations in the nation, MDEC is also pursuing the Corruption-Free (also known as “IBR”) pledge with MACC. What this means is that MACC will have direct access to us and our people, myself included.
It pleases me to say that, when we announced this process, the MDEC Senior Leadership Team volunteered to be the first to go through this audit and to be checked.
It’s very heartening because it shows that core values and integrity are not just corporate statements, but that the team is leading by example even if such a process may be perceived to be inconvenient and tedious.
Another initiative that MDEC is implementing is developing our very own Code of Ethics and Business Conduct.
While such processes may be time-consuming and tedious, it is our commitment to our core values and integrity that would ensure MDEC continues serving Malaysia and helping our country realise our digital potential to its fullest. Failure to see through such commitment would mean that we have let down the country.
At the end of the day, though, integrity is what defines us as people and as professionals.
Yes, change is constant and transformation is important – but what’s equally or more important is integrity and the core values within us all to always do the right thing.
Datuk Yasmin Mahmood is CEO of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).