The son of two university professors, Azran recalls that he was always eager to try and experience different things as a child. His parents would often encourage him to read as many books as he wanted, take up music classes or try different types of sports.
In the evenings, his parents would often invite their colleagues from different faculties home for dinner. Azran never shied away from engaging them in conversation, learning about different fields of study as they tucked into a delicious meal.
He graduated with a degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University but enrolled in seemingly unrelated subjects like history, psychology and economics. “I saw that there were a lot of dots that connected between different subjects,” he explains excitedly about his time in California. “Even though the problems seemed different, the way to solve them was similar. That’s how I got fascinated with business management.”
Insatiably curious, Azran says he remains guided by his purpose. “It is important to know your ‘why’ to ensure you are heading in the right direction,” he says, smiling. He admits that he has never been the type of leader that draws out long 5 to 10-year business plans. In his opinion, though plans are important, they sometimes limit your vision and you may miss things happening in the periphery.
Azran takes the same approach in his personal life as well. “In life, you’ve got to know your purpose which will never change. Even though your job, industry or team may change, whatever happens, your purpose will remain the same.”
These are the principles Azran practices whenever he builds a new business from the ground up. “I always ask myself ‘what is my support structure and plan?’” he says. “I’m always learning and looking at all the different ways I can make incremental improvements to enhance my performance as a triathlete and the way I run my business.”
A STORIED CAREER
Azran began his career as a management consultant where he was tasked with helping corporate clients develop strategies and address tough financial issues. He later oversaw business development at Astro and subsequently was brought in by Tan Sri Tony Fernandes to act as the founding chief executive officer for AirAsia X, leading the fledgling long-haul low-cost airline from a startup to IPO within six years. He later served as the chief executive officer for video-on-demand service iflix in Malaysia, growing it beyond our borders to reach millions of users across Southeast Asia as well as the Middle East and Africa in its first two years of operation.
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