How Jal Rashid Went From Vincent Tan’s Successor to Government Advisor

Jal Rashid has one of the most impressive resumes, serving as CEO roles at various major companies by his late 20s. However, his journey has been marked by unexpected turns, guided by his desire to drive change.

Leadership Journey

Rashid started his career as a fund manager at Abedine Asset Management. By age 26, he helped set up an Islamic finance entity within the firm, eventually becoming its CEO.

Seeking new challenges, Rashid later moved to Singapore as CEO of Investco Asia, overseeing investments and operations across South Asia.

However, in 2018, Rashid received a compelling opportunity – to serve as CEO of Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB), one of Malaysia’s largest fund management companies. This role represented the pinnacle of public service in Malaysia.

Pay Cut for Nation Building

The offer from PNB represented a major turning point for Rashid. He took a drastic 90% pay cut, forfeiting bonuses and other benefits.

However, Rashid was enticed by the prospect of shaping policies and driving change on a national level. He signed a 3-year contract, aiming to contribute to Malaysia’s growth before seeking opportunities abroad again.

Revamping PNB’s Strategy

During his tenure, Rashid introduced sweeping reforms at PNB to upgrade its investment strategy.

Some key changes include:

  • Rebalancing asset allocation towards higher overseas investments
  • Setting up a treasury desk to manage currency risks
  • Using leverage for private equity and real estate deals
  • Streamlining decision-making through decentralized committees
  • Increasing wages across all levels, beyond minimum wage requirements
  • Enhancing benefits like EPF contributions and loan subsidies

Rashid shook up the organizational culture at PNB within 12 months. However, his term was cut short amidst political changes in Malaysia.

Understanding Malaysia’s Context

Rashid highlights Malaysia’s progress over the past 5 years, noting there is still room for improvement. He explains the intertwined nature of business and politics in emerging markets.

While government-linked companies aim to professionalize, there remains an inherent perception that leaders are political appointees. Rashid hopes this mindset will continue evolving with political maturity in Malaysia.

Navigating Baya Group’s Complexity

After PNB, Rashid joined Baya Group as the first non-family CEO. He was attracted by the opportunity to drive change in a more fluid, entrepreneurial environment.

Rashid modernized Baya Group’s structure over 18 months into distinct verticals. However, he faced challenges like COVID-driven restraints and traditional company culture.

Overall, Rashid succeeded in cutting costs and reducing debt while avoiding job losses. He exercised different leadership muscles in an ambiguous, family business context.

Strategic Government Advisory

Currently, Rashid serves as Managing Director at the Tony Blair Institute, advising presidents and prime ministers on economic policies.

He helps world leaders diagnose priorities, design effective policies and support practical implementation. Rashid now applies his diverse leadership experience to enrich livelihoods globally through good governance.