by Avanti Kumar

MDEC 2018: What lies ahead for Digital Malaysia’s re-domiciling initiative?

Jan 09, 2018
Technology Industry

As more tech-industry companies arise within or move to Malaysia, they want to know the talent they need is there and how to find it.

Talent compass pointing to the most highly skilled jobs hiring
Credit: Thinkstock

Jan Lambrechts, the CXS chief executive officer, says, “Our ambition is to be a critical part of driving the workforces of the future. The massive disruption to job sectors we are going to see in the coming years due to technology means that individuals, companies and government need to be ready. Our solutions are focused on helping government, employers and educators prepare future-ready talent.”

“As more tech-industry companies arise within or move to Malaysia, they want to know the talent they need is there and how to find it, both now and in the long term. This is where CXS comes in,” he said.

Workplace and talent analytics is combined with alignment concepts such as Ikigai, which all point to a developing a meaningful existence, Lambrechts explained. “Using the theories of Holland, MyersBriggs, Salutogenic and so on, we have an organisational and individual profiling tool for engagement and self mastery.”

“Workplace and Talent Analytics are now vital management tools in defining human capital as they are used to increase business productivity and performance,” SEDANI Innovator’s Founder and Managing Director, Datuk Azrin Mohd. Noor said during the official signing with CXS. “The Sedania VIP24 platform, which now offers CXS services, will ensure businesses will get the very best out of their talents.”

Cultural concerns

Discussing some of the adjustments needed during the re-domiciling project, Lambrechts pointed out the balanced support received from government agencies.

When CXS first contacted the Malaysian government, we were imvited to pitch and within three months we set up a company in Malaysia, he said. Now, the company is operational in 34 countries with a significant pipeline.

“When I first arrived in Malaysia, I thought I could enjoy a more laid-back working lifestyle, but I found that people in Malaysia—even the government officials—work harder and longer than anyone I know elsewhere in the world! Joking aside, the short-term benefits of domiciling in Malaysia are a much lower cost of operations, a tech-ready landscape to drive our operations and access to affordable but high quality local talent,” Lambrechts continued. “To me, Malaysia is a true country of opportunity. The standard of living is reasonable in Malaysia and it also helps that the food is incredible.” 

On a business note, he added: “[MDEC] They challenged us! They gave us a big challenge and we were crazy enough to go for it. They have opened doors for us and brought us lots of business opportunities. They’ve also profiled us and backed us as a potential Malaysian unicorn.” 

Dos and don’ts

What advice does the CXS CEO have for other business leaders contemplating an expansion in Asia?

“If you do decide to move your base to Asia, you have to do it all in,” Lambrechts said. “That’s the decision I took after a few months when I moved here with my family. With so many things always ongoing it’s been invaluable to be able to be here and part of it every day.”

“As I said before, I can’t think of any other country in this region where we could get similar levels of support and commitment from government and business to help us realise this ambition,” he emphasised.

“I think the key thing to keep in mind is that while there are opportunities in Malaysia, you have to be prepared to grab them for yourself,” Lambrechts continued. “The Malaysian government provides a great platform but it’s really up to you to make the most of it. If you’re prepared to work for things by yourself, you will be rewarded.”

“Research your location here,” he added. “Different locations offer advantages depending on your industry, for example, Penang or Johor for logistics, Penang for manufacturing. Find out in advance where you need to be. The new Digital Free Trade Zone offers unprecedented opportunities for businesses dealing with eCommerce.”

 Turning to importance of engagement, Lambrechts, said, “Engage and network whenever and wherever you can. Relationship is important in Malaysia as it is in many parts of Asia. However, compared to some other countries in Asia, people in Malaysia are very easy going. It’s easy to connect with people. Make the most of it and opportunities will arise.” 

 “Stay relevant,” he warned. “Malaysia is a very dynamic country and change happens fast. Be flexible. Understand the opportunities and be ready to adapt to meet them.” 

“Doing business in Malaysia feels natural to me,” Lambrechts concluded. “I come from an environment where the answer ‘no’ is hardly an option, just like in Malaysia. Everything is possible. Malaysia Boleh!”  

What lies ahead in 2018?

Delving into the re-domiciling drive into 2018, MDEC’s vice president of Growth Ecosystem Development, Norhizam Kadir pointed out that the initiative was far more than just a local play.

Speaking on a panel during a summit in Singapore in October, Norhizam pointed to Malaysia’s strengths powered by industry-government collaboration, an increasingly strong digital ecosystem, as well as a body of enthusiastic venture capital and startup ecosystem players.

“Malaysia is doing pretty well as compared to other markets in Southeast Asia,” he said. “We are about 32 million people compared to Indonesia which is 10x more, so it is going to be quite difficult to compare on market consumption, but, when you come to digital ecosystem, the landscape is pretty robust here.”

He added that 75 per cent of the Malaysian population is now regularly are online.  Both the drive to innovate and implement more effectively is increasing. “If we look at the tech IPO exits in the Southeast Asia market in the last 15 years, seven out of 14 companies were from Malaysia.”

“The arrival of companies such as CXS is of course very warmly welcomed,” Norhizam added, during an interview in December 2017. “And when compared to other countries in the region, Malaysia’s value proposition—powered by a business friendly government and its policies; more cost-effective ways of doing business; talent availability; as well as being a great testbed into the ASEAN region—means that we will be seeing many more companies interested in moving here.”

“We have started to seeing huge interest in innovative companies looking for presence in Asia,” he said. “Although, we cannot of course disclose numbers, we can say there is now substantial ‘funnelling’ in place.”

As a takeaway, how does this initiative sit in the bigger picture?  “To grow the ecosystem, the domiciling strategy is crucial to further amplify the ecosystem strength,” said Norhizam. “This will benefit Malaysia both economically and socially in what promises to an exciting 2018 with growing cross-sector opportunities in the country.”