Tan Sri Hamad Kama Piah bin Che Othman is currently the President and Group Chief Executive of Permodalan Nasional Berhad. A well-known corporate leader, his career spans 40 years in the fields of investment, corporate finance and unit trust management.
Under his leadership, PNB achieved a number of significant milestones. Tan Sri Hamad successfully steered PNB to grow its assets under management by almost seven-fold from RM41 billion to RM267 billion, spread across more than 12 million unit holders’ accounts, since he took over the helm of PNB more than 15 years ago at the height of the 1997/98 Asia Financial Crisis. Due to his vast experience in various facets of investment management and corporate finance, Tan Sri Hamad was instrumental in introducing investment strategies that further reinforced PNB’s long-term investment philosophy which facilitated PNB to weather through the crisis and emerged in a position to take advantage of the recovery that followed.Tan Sri Hamad also expanded PNB’s global footprint by opening international offices in major financial capitals such as London, Tokyo, Singapore and New York. Under Tan Sri Hamad’s leadership, PNB has also become a formidable real estate player on the global scene, with multi-billion Ringgit acquisitions of landmark commercial buildings in the United Kingdom and Australia.
Steering PNB through the past decades proved to be a demanding task, more so given the objectives and mandate that PNB carries in fulfilling the national objective of sharing the nation’s corporate wealth with the people, particularly from the lower income group so as to address the issue of income disparity between the different levels of society. With this in mind, the thinking and approach applied by Tan Sri Hamad in managing the organisation has been unique, whereby PNB has to meet more than just pure commercial motives, rather its bigger role is as a social entrepreneur. As the custodian of Bumiputera corporate wealth, PNB has to meet various social objectives, while at the same time expected to compete commercially within the required regulatory framework and give competitive returns to the unit holders.
This is where Tan Sri Hamad has created his own niche in running PNB, by subscribing to a management approach called the White Ocean strategy, whereby a company, despite the apparent challenges such as high marginal costs and administrative difficulties, is able to create its own market space with little competition and a huge potential for success and more crucially is socially desirable. By employing such a strategy, which seemingly defies conventional business wisdom as it has many difficulties and market distortions, PNB has grown tremendously under the leadership of Tan Sri Hamad. To borrow Bill Drayton’s quote, Tan Sri Hamad would explain his approach in leading PNB in the following terms: PNB has “given fish, taught how to fish and revolutionised the fishing industry” in one breath.Given the initial unfamiliarity of the Bumiputera community with the concept of investment, PNB introduced product features that are akin to savings product, namely by offering unit trust products with a very low minimum initial investment of RM10 and minimal fees, on-the-spot redemption and a wide distribution network across urban and rural areas. Combined with the consistently competitive returns over the past 35 years, PNB has been consistently “giving fish” to the unit holders. Such unconventional formula, which defies commercial logic, has set PNB apart from other commercial unit trust and fund managers. Until today, PNB has been able to strike the right balance between commercial viability and social objectives.
Tan Sri Hamad also realised that to create a sustainable solution for PNB’s mandates, Malaysians at large will need to be “taught how to fish”. This was done via various integrated financial planning education programmes, such as the Seminar Pelaburan 360 Hari 1Malaysia and Minggu Saham Amanah Malaysia, which have benefitted more than 3.9 million Malaysians. These initiatives have made knowledge on investments such as financial planning and the concept of risks and returns more accessible to the general public and inculcated a deeper appreciation among the population on the value being delivered by PNB via its unit trust schemes.
Finally, PNB has also “revolutionised the fishing industry” by providing opportunities to those with little capital to become owners of the nation’s largest corporations. In this way, PNB has given access to the masses to become effective and long-term corporate citizens and to share the pie of the nation’s corporate wealth, which otherwise, would have been concentrated in the hands of a few. By accumulating capital from millions of unit holders, PNB’s assets under management is equivalent to more than 15% of the total market capitalisation of Bursa Malaysia of RM1.6 trillion. This has enabled it to play the crucial role of being a cornerstone investor, liquidity provider and price stabiliser, and more importantly, capital provider to more than 300 listed and unlisted companies, helping to spur the growth of the capital market. To imagine that a small sum of RM10 would catalyse such a fundamental change in society would seem far-fetched, but such is the philosophy held closely by Tan Sri Hamad, which has indeed revolutionised the domestic capital market. It is with this approach, Tan Sri Hamad has nurtured PNB into a complete social enterprise with the profit orientation of a commercial organisation and the social consciousness of a welfare organisation.
“It’s about people. The money we are handling is all the people’s money”. These words were first mentioned by the first Chairman of PNB, the late Tun Ismail Mohamed Ali, more than three decades ago. The wisdom and message continues to resonate in the value system of PNB, under the stewardship of Tan Sri Hamad. It is in recognition of the sacred trust put by the people in PNB that the organisation has endeavoured to fulfil its fiduciary duty to the unit holders in safeguarding their life savings. In the early years, PNB had to go into small towns and kampungs, going up rivers and trekking through jungles to reach the inaccessible areas of the remote interior to spread the awareness on investing to the public.
Tan Sri Hamad holds an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Economics and Muamalat Administration from Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration from Universiti Tenaga Nasional, Malaysia, a Masters Degree from University of Swansea, United Kingdom and is a graduate of Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia. Tan Sri Hamad is also a Senior Fellow of the Financial Services Institute of Australasia (FINSIA), a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society of UK, and an Honorary Fellow of the Malaysian Financial Planning Council, as well as a Certified Financial Planner of the Financial Planning Association of Malaysia. Under his progressive and prudent management, PNB played an important role in various value-creating corporate exercises that have enabled the unit trust funds managed by PNB to distribute income and bonus totalling more than RM120 billion since 1998 out of a total of RM145 billion since its inception in 1981. These include the mega merger of Sime Darby, Golden Hope and Guthrie Group to form the largest listed palm oil producer in the world, Sime Darby Berhad. PNB has also been involved in various privatisation and rationalisation exercises that include companies such as Malayan Banking Berhad, S P Setia Berhad and Malaysian Industrial Development Finance Berhad.
For his leadership and achievements, Tan Sri Hamad has been honoured with various awards, among others: the Global Business Icon of the Year 2014 by Leaders Magazine; the Jewel of the Muslim World Award 2014 by OIC Today; the ‘Life Achievement Award 2014’ in conjunction with the 5th Middle East Business Leadership Awards 2014 by the Federation of GCC Chambers and American Leadership Development Association; the International Socrates Award 2012 in the category of economy and business by the Europe Business Assembly and the Business Person of The Year 2011 by Asian Academy of Management. In addition to the international recognitions, Tan Sri Hamad has also been honoured in Malaysia with the conferment of several awards that include ‘Lifetime Achievement Award 2015’ by Kumpulan Utusan, the Global CEO of the Year 2013 by the Malaysian Institute of Management, the BrandLaureate Corporate Leader of the Year 2013 and Most Eminent Brand Icon Leadership Award 2011 by the BrandLaureate and the Masterclass GLC CEO of The Year 2009 and 2010 by the Kuala Lumpur Malay Chamber of Commerce.
Currently, Tan Sri Hamad holds several directorships on the boards of PNB and its subsidiaries, namely Amanah Saham Nasional Berhad (ASNB), Amanah Mutual Berhad (AMB) and Pelaburan Hartanah Nasional Berhad (PHNB). On the international front, Tan Sri Hamad is currently Chairman of Singapore Unit Trust Limited and PNB Asset Management (Japan) Co Ltd, while also serving as member of the boards of PNB (UK) Limited, PNB-Wasserstein Holdings LLC and PNB-SBI Asean Gateway Investment Management Company Ltd. To draw upon his wide industry experience, several companies has Tan Sri Hamad as the Chairman of their boards, such as E-Lock Corporation Berhad, PNB Development Sdn Berhad, PNB Equity Resources Sdn Berhad, PNB Management Services Sdn Berhad, PNB Research Institute Sdn Berhad dan PNB Investment Institute Sdn Berhad.