“Be with us, otherwise we will rock you” is the slogan introduced by the visionary icon of Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri Malaysia (LHDNM), Kolonel (K) Tan Sri Datuk Wira Dr Hj Mohd Shukor Hj Mahfar when he was appointed as CEO in 2011.
Shukor joined LHDNM as an Assessment Officer. He was already working with a bank then, but curiosity got the better of him, so he went to the Internal Revenue Board’s (IRB) Headquarters at Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur to check out the offer. After enquiring about the position, he was told that as an Assessment Officer, the highest position that he could achieve was the position of Director General – and with that he left the bank and joined the IRB.
Shukor quickly rose through the ranks in IRB. His first posting was in Melaka, and three years later, he was appointed as one of the youngest Head of Section. He then pursued his Postgraduate Diploma in Computer Science at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UiTM) in 1984. Being a practical man and realizing that opportunities to grow and to climb the corporate ladder are way better at IRB’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, he requested for a transfer to Kuala Lumpur. At the headquarters, Shukor established a reputation as a champion of computerization on tax matters.
Showing great talent and leadership, Shukor was sent to Golden State University, USA to pursue a Master of Science in Taxation in 1987. Upon his return to Malaysia in 1988, he was hand-picked to join the Public Service Department’s program called the British Malaysia Industrial and Trainee Association Management Training Program (BMITA). Shukor was placed at Guinness Malaysia Berhad, which further increased his exposure to many ways of operating an organisation. He also had first-hand knowledge and experience on the differences in work culture between the public and private sectors.
Shukor was later sent to Golden Gate University for a second time, this time, to do his PhD in Public Administration in 1991. It was during his PhD studies that he learned and discovered various leadership theories which enlightened him with new perspectives on how to apply the theories effectively to matters pertaining to tax compliance and engagement with taxpayers.
The leadership qualities in Shukor really shone through and he was promoted to senior positions, which include Deputy Director General (Operation) in 2006, Deputy Director General (Compliance) in 2010 and finally as the CEO/DG of LHDNM on 8 January 2011.
Upon taking office, Shukor threw the challenge to 11,000 Hasilians (as LHDNM staff are fondly known) to break the psychological barrier of RM100 billion. Since LHDNM’s corporatization on 1 Mac 1996, revenue collected has increased year after year, but collection has never surpassed the two-digit figure. LHDNM achieved a major milestone in 2011, when its revenue collected hit RM109.67 billion – a 26.79 per cent increase from the RM86.5 billion collected in 2010. LHDNM’s collection continues to transcend the three-digit figure with RM124.99 billion collected in 2012, RM128.91 billion in 2013 and RM133.54 billion in 2014. In 2015, the collection was RM121.24 billion, because the amount of revenue collected was heavily affected by the downturn in oil prices and numerous tax reliefs implemented by the Government.
The success of LHDNM in maintaining its three-digit record was largely attributed to a series of changes that have been implemented, approved and accepted since 2011. Since taking over the leadership, Shukor initiated the transformation of LHDNM, and as its No. 1 Change Champion, he has successfully transformed the performance of and perceptions toward LHDNM for the better. Shukor emphasized on the balancing act between Corporate Governance and Human Governance, and firmly believes that business transformation is all about factoring humans in the transformation proses.
Shukor started by putting the house in order. He held monthly assemblies known as the Creative Showcase Program, as a platform to speak about his vision for LHDNM and the staffs’ involvement in achieving the vision. Ultimately, inviting Hasilians to be a part of the process and the team to transform LHDNM brought back the zeal in them and fired up their enthusiasm towards performing better when engaging in work-related activities.
Continuous engagement led to the creation of a ‘feel good factor at work’ – where Hasilians became more creative and offer suggestions to make a better working environment. The introduction of flexible working hours, half-day leave and the hugely applauded casual attire dress code created a more open, happier and inclusive corporate environment. Shukor firmly believes that happiness amongst the workforce leads to higher productivity and he is certainly right on this. Outstanding performers and diligent staff are rewarded with gold-coloured lanyards as recognition of their capabilities, hard work and talents and this provided a good catalyst to push the rest of the staff to improve on their performance.
Shukor slowly changed the old culture and replaced it with one that is more progressive, caring, trusting, and that which empowers Hasilians and gives them opportunities to excel in their career with prospects of promotion. Subsequently, Shukor managed to convince them of the need for change.
In the past, the tax department was the most feared department amongst many other government agencies, by Malaysians. Shukor changed that perception and created a friendlier image by introducing the Tagline ‘Your Feel Good Partner’ and renamed LHDNM’s Public Relations Officers to Customer Care Officers. These initiatives, among others, lifted the image of the LHDNM and improved its perception as an approachable, caring and trustworthy organization. By adopting these changes, taxpayers became more compliant and tend to pay their annual taxes voluntarily. Shukor’s strategies of assisting taxpayers with creative solutions on how to settle their payments rather than following the strict and rigid rules has helped LHDNM increase its revenue collection.
Shukor is a passionate and committed leader, the prime mover and a great motivator in transforming LHDNM to a new era – one that can adapt and survive in a dynamic environment and is able to make the quantum leap to loftier heights. LHDNM is also fuelled by the zeal, enthusiasm and the burning passion of 11,000 Hasilians that collectively believe ‘Nothing is Impossible, Impossible is Nothing’. He stresses that a good leader is one that is courageous in taking risks and innovate for the good of the organization. “As a leader, you must be firm and focused and not be swayed by those who are not in-line with his mission.”
Shukor is a people’s leader and this is reflected in his leadership that puts the interest of the organization above himself. Ever willing to give his subordinates an opportunity to excel, he set up the CEO’s Incubator Program to groom a pool of candidates that will eventually helm the organization. He said, “We must prepare and equip them for the position and it is my wish that every young Hasilian has the ambition to be a CEO and think like a CEO.” These are the resounding words of a true motivator.
His love for LHDNM is obvious – having spent the best days of his career with the organization, he continues to raise the bar, inspiring his staff to achieve the unthinkable. He has a strong desire and interest to touch base with all Hasilians, and according to his staff, is the first CEO to emphasize on HR matters. This made him well-received, loved and cherished by Hasilians who view Shukor as an excellent role model and icon.
Shukor is an impressive leader, recognized both nationally and internationally, receiving many accolades and awards through the years. Shukor was elected President of the Malaysian Association of Statutory Bodies and Chairman of The Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators (CATA). Shukor was also appointed the Adjunct Professor of UNITEN, UNITAR, UUM, UiTM and UniMAP and was awarded the CEO of The Year 2015 by The European Emerging Markets Awards and received the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award – Outstanding Contribution in Shaping People by The Asia HRD Award. Shukor dedicates these awards and honours to all Hasilians, who helped him became the strong and confident man he is, today.
Shukor also promotes achieving work-life balance to his staff. He stays fit and in shape by exercising daily and enjoys playing golf, a sport that he considers as good exercise.