Deep inside, Tan Sri Mohamad Salim Fateh Din knew that he was meant to be an entrepreneur even when he was serving passengers on board Malaysia Airlines (MAS) planes.
His experience as a flight attendant with MAS – where he held his first job – has provided him with some positive qualities that every good leader should possess especially in the context of discipline and decision-making.
Drawing many lessons from the airline industry Tan Sri Mohamad Salim has taken over the helm of government-linked property developer, Malaysian Resources Corporation Bhd (MRCB), since September 2013. And in this, his latest entrepreneurial mission, he has no intention of missing his flight.
It all started in earnest for him in 1991, when Tan Sri Mohamad Salim first set up Gapurna Sdn Bhd as his holding company and his entrepreneurship vehicle.
Through Gapurna he was involved in pioneering the ‘super store petrol station’ concept before embarking on designing the latest distributor centres for Giant hypermarket to improve its food- processing systems while reducing logistic costs and delivery turnaround time.
Tan Sri Salim learnt the development standards from Multinational Corporations such as Shell, British Petroleum, Exxon Mobil and Caltex. He applied the standards in his holding company in ensuring the solutions offered to the customers are of international standards.
Gapurna started off its business with small commercial projects comprising petrol stations, retail outlets and hypermarkets for Giant, Tesco and Carrefour. His relationship with MRCB dates
back to 2006 in a joint-venture via Gapurna to build 348 Sentral, which comprises an office tower block that was later renamed Menara Shell to serve as Shell’s regional headquarters, and the Ascott Sentral serviced residences.
MRCB had always been a choice developer even before he took the helm. It was an established brand but Tan Sri Mohamad Salim has thus far brought the company to a level beyond its brand name, while adding value to the GLC as a developer and contractor. As someone who hates to let opportunities fly by, he wasted no time in identifying challenges and finding remedies to business areas that have held back the company’s real potential to shine as a property developer.
The aim for him was to fast track MRCB’s ongoing projects before bidding for new ones, while embarking on some exciting property projects on existing land bank. Under Tan Sri Mohamad Salim’s helm, MRCB has been eyeing other choice lands in urban centres throughout the country to replicate its highly successful 28.8-hectare (72-acre) Kuala Lumpur Sentral Central Business District, which will complete in 2016 at a massive development value of RM15 billion.
With his skills and experience in property business, Tan Sri Mohamad Salim sees little turbulence in his quest to take MRCB to greater heights. Additionally, Tan Sri Mohamad Salim has set his sight on improving the state of human capital in the company to achieve his mission.
Though he holds 16.70% equity interest in MRCB, which makes him the second largest shareholder after the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) (which holds 38.87%), Tan Sri Mohamad Salim sees himself as both employee and shareholder.
He works closely with all existing staff and always aims to forge better relationships with them. He acclimatizes to MRCB’s existing corporate culture, as well as keeping pace with it, while steering it to greater efficiency and compliance. He believes in working with all his staff as a team in building the company success. He said the workplace is where you spend many hours of your life, so getting along and working productively with your colleagues is a very important aspect of achieving any of the company’s objectives.
Tan Sri Mohamad Salim’s hope is that with his leadership, MRCB will continue to be a strong brand, currently with more than RM30 billion worth of GDV, or Gross Development Value, in projects around the country.
The company has more Transport Oriented Developments (TODs) in the country than other developers, namely Kuala Lumpur Sentral CBD, PJ Sentral Garden City and Kwasa Sentral here in Klang Valley and in the north, Penang Sentral.
Other developments that will be launched in the near term by MRCB is The Grid in KLCC and Kota Semarak in Wangsa Maju, while the company has also acquired a new piece of land from the German Embassy in Jalan Kia Peng where a new development will commence next year. All these follow closely on the heels of MRCB’s premier new mixed residential/commercial development on Old Klang Road, the recently launched 9 Seputeh.
MRCB is a major player in the construction industry, with a recently completed first-ever unique transmission line project crossing the sea in Melaka, from Pantai Siring to Pulau Besar. The Eastern Dispersal Link (EDL) expressway in Johor Bahru is another solution offered by MRCB, providing a traffic solution to the southern city and users from Singapore, as the country’s first full private funded highway project. The company is also currently completing two LRT line extension projects, constructing several Giants hypermarts and other property projects.
MRCB is also a premier developer of environmental projects and has completed several rehabilitation and flood mitigation projects in Kuala Pahang, Sungai Perai in Penang, Pulau Tioman, Teluk Cempedak, Kuantan and Bagan Ajam Jetty in Penang.
Under the stewardship of Tan Sri Mohamad Salim, MRCB is aggressively pursuing other projects with an entrepreneurial spirit that will bring MRCB to the next level, while adding value to this GLC. He believes that it is important to keep this entrepreneur spirit alive because it keeps the whole organization `hungry’ for more challenges and opportunities.
Tan Sri Mohamad Salim’s advice to upcoming leaders among the younger generation, especially the die-hard entrepreneurs, is to first ask themselves whether they are hungry enough. This hunger, or a desire to fulfill business targets and achieve more successes is the driving force that drives the inner motivation of all people in business.
To him, the answer to this question is very important because if one is hungry, a bright future ahead is almost a certainty. However, Tan Sri Mohamad Salim reminds would-be entrepreneurs that this hunger for success, innovation and solutions in business and entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted. It will take one on a marathon that requires huge stamina and almost limitless energy to reach the finish line, again and again. And above all, one must have the dream and desire to succeed – all about being hungry. “At the same time, there must be no fear of failure. In fact, failure is the ticket to greater success. What you really need to fear is the failure to manage or control your success. If you cannot manage success, in no time you will be down the ladder,” adds Tan Sri Mohamad Salim in a cautionary tone for those who are on a journey to achieve mission – a journey that he had undertaken as a young entrepreneur and which today has brought him to helm MRCB.