Yasmin Mahmood
Dato’ Yasmin is a true and loyal Malaysian at heart, and one with a strong global mindset

Women in Boardroom: Coffee with Dato’ Yasmin Mahmood, CEO of MDeC

Features Technology

Last August, Dato’ Yasmin Mahmood was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) after having left positive impact in previous leadership positions – as executive director of YTL e-Solutions, managing director of Microsoft Malaysia, regional manager of Dell Asia Pacific and general manager of HP Sales Malaysia.

Throughout her career, she has also played active roles in various organisations such as the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Consortium of Services Malaysia and the Women Development Panel of SME Corp Malaysia. She was also recognised as PIKOM (Association of Computer and Multimedia Industry Malaysia)’s ICT “Personality of the Year” in 2009 for her leadership qualities and her tireless efforts to promote Malaysia to the global ICT community at large (pic).

“Those who know Yasmin well will know that she is a true and loyal Malaysian at heart, and one with a strong global mindset. She is also a risk taker – albeit a calculated one – and brings a lot of energy and optimism into what she believes in,” said a close friend to Business Circle.

“I know she would be equally comfortable in talking with global tech players from Silicon Valley on their investment opportunities in Malaysia, just as she would be as inspirational in educating the ‘makcik and pakcik’ on the benefits of ICT,” he added.

Computerworld Malaysia had the good fortune of catching up with her recently in a chance meeting and excerpts are as follows.

Question: You are known as an industry veteran. Throughout your career, you have been with the private sector with the most recent being with Microsoft Malaysia and YTL. How does it feel to be on the public sector side now, and what excites you about working for the further good of the country?

Dato’ Yasmin: I am extremely honoured to have been given the responsibility of steering MDeC and to do national service for our beloved country, Malaysia. It is a huge responsibility and I see myself as being the fourth runner who’s just been passed the baton after all the great work done by my predecessors. I am building upon the great foundation that they’ve laid and it’s now my turn to take it towards 2020 and beyond. When I wake up in the mornings, I fully appreciate that this is a very important period for Malaysia as we move toward the fulfilment of our country as a high income economy.

On the personal side of things, I was a young woman when the vision of MSC and Malaysia being a knowledge-based economy was set (back in 1996) with the ICT industry being a key enabler in this journey. I was there when the first brick was laid in Cyberjaya.

Since then, and on a personal level, I have also lived this vision, and I have made it my personal aim to do all that is within my power to help our country move to the next level. I have always been passionate in multiple areas and see ICT as a strategic national enabler.

I am also a strong supporter of women empowerment, education, digital inclusion for rural folks, and with this appointment (as CEO of MDeC), I feel blessed that my passion is now my job! Furthermore, after so long being in the industry and experiencing the business side of the ecosystem, being on the government side now gives me such deep and enlightening new perspectives. I still have so many things to learn.

Over the years, Malaysia has embarked on a multi-path journey towards a stronger economy. These paths traverse vital areas such as a green economy, a bio economy. These are obviously exciting areas, but I still see the ICT space as most exciting. In my mind, digital economy still leads. The quantum and pace of innovation, the new s- curves it produces, is still the most exciting.

We still have so much room to deepen our presence in existing areas of focus areas that we are already have a strong foundation in, such as SSO, where we are among the top three in the world. Our challenge is an exciting one, and along the way we also explore new areas that we can leverage on to be a global leader. We must discover more areas that we can be aggressive, and smart in, then make strategic moves to envelop them in our thriving ecosystem.

At the same time, we see new, exciting, and game-changing fields such as Big Data. During the visit to New York last week, my team and I met with a few Big Data Analytics (BDA) players that are doing innovative, high impact things with BDA. On the domestic front, I know we have a few BDA players, both local and foreign companies that are also doing some great work. But the key in BDA play remain the people, or ‘data scientists’. This is a key ingredient. There is a sense of urgency for us to ‘land’ BDA in the country in an aggressive, high impact, and sustainable way.

Of course, the picture is not complete without two key enablers: talent and technopreneurship development. On the latter, I know MDEC has done a lot in the past. And with the forming of MaGIC [Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre], and especially Cheryl Yeoh at its helm as chief executive officer, I think we can create a new game changing impact to the tech startup scene. MDeC will collaborate and support MaGIC, so the sum of the whole is incrementally greater than the sum of each. Cheryl brings the youthful energy of Silicon Valley and I hope to bring the wisdom of a veteran. I joke with Cheryl that two generations of women are driving this agenda!

Another exciting area, and one which is close to my heart, is the Digital Transformation Plan, or Digital Malaysia (DM) that MDEC has been given the mandate to drive, along with other ministries and stakeholders. This part of what we do, which in some ways parallels what PEMANDU [Performance Management Delivery Unit, attached to the PM’s Office] does, but am more specific towards driving digital economy.

For the full interview, click here.

Dato’ Yasmin (far right) listening to Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak (second from left) with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Tan Sri Muhyiddin bin Yassin (far left) together with Communications and Multimedia Minister Dato’ Sri Ahmad Shabery Cheek at the 26th MSC Malaysia Implementation Council


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