The PEAK Malaysia

Situational Awareness

Capt Izham Ismail, CEO and Managing Director of Malaysia Airlines, tells Michael oh the challenges of running the country’s national airlines.

Looking back, what do you consider the defining moments in your first 100 days in this position?

I was apprehensive, in the beginning, about taking on this daunting task. However, there was a point when I realised there was no reason to be afraid because I have a strong team who are as determined as I am to make the company a success. Everywhere I went, I was reassured of their support and it gave me the confidence to be frank about the company’s situation and challenges, and how I needed them to get out of their comfort zone and work harder in ensuring we achieve our goal of becoming profitable. I also landed on my number one purpose, which was to champion the welfare and growth of my people, besides, of course, taking our customer experience to another level while driving revenue for the company.

What do you regard as the crucial factors for you to stay on top of your game?

There are too many to mention. It’s a bit like the airline industry – so many moving parts that it would be hard to just single out a few. I would say agility is extremely important – the ability to react quickly to any surprises while remaining focused on the job at hand. The airline business is extremely challenging: launching one flight, for example, involves more than a thousand processes and any breakage in between can be really costly and cause unnecessary strains on the business. It’s important to stay focused b

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