Meet The CEO

Zafar I. Anjum, Group CEO, ABAC Center of Excellence 5 NOV 2021

ABAC Center of Excellence (ABAC®) is a subject specialist Accredited Certification Body by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service UKAS, Emirates International Accreditation Center EIAC and Department of Standard Malaysia (ABAC completed initial accreditation assessment). We believe that UKAS accredited certification isn’t only a globally acceptable endorsement to demonstrate “adequate procedure” and ascertain the highest level of the corruption risk assessment process, but also determines the benefits of ISO 37001 Anti-Bribery Management System globally acceptable best practices.

What are some of your organisation’s proudest moments/milestones in Malaysia?

ABAC®‘s proudest moments in Malaysia include being able to permeate the different industries and market. Malaysia favours localness, so it was an honour for us when we were able to expand our client base to include UDA Holdings Berhad, the largest property and asset management group, for both commercial and residential purposes in Malaysia; Mudajaya Group Berhad, a Malaysia conglomerate with construction, property, manufacturing, trading, and asset management businesses; and RM Leopad Sdn Bhd, a Malaysian-based group offering corrosion protection services for the energy industry, as well as ATS, a Malaysian company actively involved in the Oil & Gas, Petrochemicals, Refineries, Offshore, Maritime and Power Plant industries. This shows that risk management is making a significant breakthrough in Malaysia’s corporate culture, and we at ABAC® were happy to have a role in that.

Describe your operations and total investments in Malaysia (value, staff strength, etc.) to date.

ABAC® is looking to provide training and certifications across all markets and industries in Malaysia, so a higher level of investment is necessary. So far, we have established an office in Kuala Lumpur and have a team of experts with years of hands-on and corporate experience. Each of our employees was recruited with different backgrounds and experiences as a means of expanding the organisation’s knowledge as a whole and providing tailored advice and guidance along a wider spectrum. Still, they bring something new to the table and help each other develop to become stronger experts in their fields. Our team in Malaysia has also become well acquainted with our teams in other countries, including Pakistan and the UK – this has strengthened the organisation’s networking skills and taught us to be mindful and adaptable to the different working cultures.

Based on your experience operating in Malaysia, what are the 3 most important criteria for achieving business success in Malaysia?

One of the most important criteria we know as a global team is to understand the cultural barriers. The business operates differently across the globe with different rules and regulations in place, sometimes from district to district. It is important to go into business understanding the rules and regulations of the land and how they typically conduct business in the nation. Do they have different working days and hours? Is there a possibility of a language barrier? What do they consider respectable versus disrespectful in the corporate culture? All these elements are important to bear in mind when looking to achieve success in a country foreign to your own. It has also proven important to understand the market. It is a good idea to run a test case offering one product or service at a time in a new country. This is a better way of examining your progress which can aid in making better decisions in expanding your business according to what the market needs instead of launching all your services and products into an already oversaturated market. The businesses in Malaysia do tend to favour Malaysian-owned services/local services, so a test case is a good way to understand how the market will respond to what you have to offer.

And lastly, in an international market, the talent pool can vary significantly in skills, availability, and culture. It is crucial to spend time looking at several specialists to compare them based on their abilities and knowledge. This, of course, will require market research, but we believe it is worth finding a country that has an abundance of professionals who are ideal as your personnel.

How has your business evolved during this pandemic, especially in terms of optimising human and technology resources?

The pandemic has been an incredibly trying time for all industries. With many job losses and business failures, ABAC® found success in its webinars as a means of educating current clients as well as budding clients on the importance of anti-bribery, risk, and compliance management. It is no secret that digital development was on the rise during the pandemic, with many roles adjusting to the work from home culture and online meetings, so we think we adapted well and accordingly to this. All our resources have been made available online – whether further information on courses and certifications or playbooks on the different risks an organisation can experience. And of course, working with such a global team means that our human resources have also adapted and changed given the situation and have broadened their knowledge on the best solutions for each of our clients during these trying times.

How do you see your business growth and prospects in Malaysia now?

As previously mentioned, we considered permeating the Malaysian market as a milestone. As with all prospects, having your foot in the door can only mean the potential for growth and development. Considering that our client base consists of predominantly significant industries across the globe, ABAC® is hopeful of our future in Malaysia and can see our client base expanding across more industries and organisations of varied sizes. We are doing more work to learn how to better cater to Malaysia and find ways of further incorporating the Malaysian work culture and ethics into our Kuala Lumpur branch as a means of enhancing our progress, so we remain hopeful for now.

What are the top 3 reasons for your organisation joining the BMCC?

The BMCC’s mission statement is one that is very much in line with ours; ‘to act as the facilitator’ between the two nations is a key component of why ABAC® is adamant in educating and equipping organisations with the right tools to moderate the core and peripheral risks connected with functioning in multi-jurisdiction and multi-cultural environments. That’s not to say that we do not need guidance because ABAC® likes to provide the right tools at times. We believe that the BMCC can guide us with ease into our plans of expansion within Malaysia – with their understanding of the British-Malaysian trade, we believe that we can utilise the guidance they provide as a means of strengthening the existing trade while also widening our perspective of a wider market reach within Malaysia itself.

And last but certainly not least, ABAC® is looking to elevate our enterprise as a whole to the next level. The wide variety of resources and networks that the BMCC has acquired over the years most definitely aids us in doing so. It is clear to see that membership with the BMCC has many benefits. Still, we strongly believe that the skills and knowledge that we obtain from such a membership can be transferable and valuable to ABAC®‘s interior and exterior growth.

What is the top value you see for yourself or your organisation in being a member of the BMCC?

The guidance which the BMCC provides through its trade services, industry advocacy and networking events is what we consider crucial in our permeation of the Malaysian markets. The industry advocacy is most definitely of value, because through our market research, we have found there is most definitely a gap between the government and industry that we would like to understand further and learn how to navigate in hopes of facilitating both the BMCC’s mission statement as well as our own. Being a member of the BMCC means further knowledge for ABAC®, which is always an objective for our organisation.

In one sentence, how would you describe your own experience or your organisation’s experience as a member of the BMCC?

ABAC®‘s experience as a member of the BMCC has been educational; it is clear that the BMCC acquired their knowledge, resources and networks over the many years since its establishment, and our experience has been nothing short of enlightening.