Be Curious

By Jean Lee

Senior Client Partner & Country Leader of Cognizant Malaysia Effendi Azmi Hashim shares his thoughts on the changing IT industry and how you should adapt to grow with it.

With more than 15 years in business consultancy, it was with pure accident that Effendi Azmi Hashim got involved in technology consulting. After completing his masters in International and Comparative Corporate Law in London, he had to make the decision to distinguish himself from the rest, which eventually led him to pursue a career in IT.

“I was a lawyer who fell into technology! With the recession back then, I had to learn to stand out and be employable as much as possible,” Effendi explains. He started his career at Andersen Consulting where he was involved in strategy and business consulting, exposing him further to strategy and IT. He then went on to become a Consultant to Accenture and iPerintis (PETRONAS) where he drove the outsourcing of IT functions and the migration of certain operations. Following that, he joined Mesiniaga, which saw the organisation grow under his direction.

In 2013, Effendi became the Senior Client Partner & Country Leader of Cognizant Malaysia where he focuses on continuously bringing Cognizant’s excellence in consulting and service delivery to Malaysia through close collaboration with offshore experts and specialists. “I have a great passion for building things, and I don’t intend to stop now,” says the assertive head.

In charge of the strategic and operational direction to build, grow and manage the business, Effendi is responsible for the entire business of Cognizant Malaysia, overseeing the welfare of his 700-plus employees as well as branding, operations, image and identity of the company and profitability across all offices and project sites.

The US-based global firm has established itself as one of the world’s leading professional services companies, transforming clients’ business, operation and technology models for the digital era. Established in Malaysia 10 years ago, Cognizant has two offices in Malaysia, namely Cyberjaya and Kuala Lumpur.

Having lived in the UK for 27 years, settling back in Malaysia during the recession was an arduous task for Effendi as he had to quickly adapt and acclimatise himself to the local culture of Malaysia, both personally and professionally. He says, “The transition to a multinational company, getting accustomed to the organisation in Malaysia with the different dynamics, protocol and hierarchy was quite challenging!”

Despite those challenges, the lessons he learnt outweighed all that he faced. It taught him to appreciate ever more the importance of knowledge, dedication, time and the need to constantly engage with others.

Looking back, a defining moment for Effendi was when he was taken out of his comfort zone while working in Korea for two years. The change in management, communication and diversity led to his project success and shaped his career development. Another milestone was when he won Malaysian Institute of Management (MIM)’s prestigious Manager of the Year Award for excellence in management and leadership.

"Read! The benefits of constantly adding to one's knowledge are endless. Information is empowering.”

It is an exciting time in IT right now marked by analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI). “It’s an industry that keeps you young, up to date with current trends, and in an environment of a flourishing younger workforce,” Effendi comments.

As the saying goes: It’s the people who make the organisation. This holds steadily true at Cognizant as it is reflected in its diverse employees. “It’s a flexible organisation made up of collaborative vibrant, young, energetic and buzzing teams working alongside each other,” points out Effendi.

In Malaysia, the company keeps busy with large ERP and digital projects, software support and data analytics. Ambitious candidates with the right qualifications, looking to build their future in the fast evolving digital era while equipping themselves with skills and abilities to ceaselessly grow and stand out, are what Cognizant looks for.

“Do you have the ambition to learn, innovate and grow? Are you savvy with digital technologies and trends? Do you possess good communication skills? These are the expected attributes," explains Effendi on the types of candidates they aim to recruit.

Apart from these, soft skills are also an important trait to master. He stresses on three main points: “Communication – understand to be understood; Discipline – time management, seamless work delivery, trustworthiness and dependability; and Empathy – the ability to constantly think of others.”

He shares some methods to upskill and encourage such self-development: “Engage in social welfare, sports and outdoor activities as these foster collaboration and empathy. Lastly, read! The benefits of constantly adding to one's knowledge are endless. Information is empowering.”

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