“I like to visualise my success before I start,” Mohamad Fahmi Abdul Rahim, Head of The People Matters Department (PMD) at The Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) explained in an exclusive interview with GRADUAN when asked about keys to success.
And success he has reached, but there’s always more to achieve as Fahmi strives to reach new heights in his career. “Every career decision that I’ve made, the steep learning curve makes the journey meaningful and worthwhile,” he said to kick-start the conversation.
It all began in 1995 after Fahmi graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, he worked at a local production house where he was a marketing executive. After a near two-year stint at the company, he received an offer to join EPF. His first position at the organisation was in the Corporate Communications Department where he oversaw the above-the-line and below-the-line of EPF publications and promotion.
It was during this time that he too, pursued a Master’s in Corporate Communication from Universiti Putra Malaysia. “It was important for me to pursue my studies to have a deeper understanding in the knowledge field - it contributed to my productivity level, as I was learning on-the-job as well. I had a conversation with my supervisor at the start to explain about my class schedules and made an agreement to never compromise my quality of work. Creating that bond of trust was crucial”.
He admitted that the journey was not easy - “I’d known from the beginning that I will need to make sacrifices but there is a huge sense of responsibility as I had to provide for my family at the end of the day. Therefore, managing time and having a strong sense of discipline were really important because I knew that I will reap the rewards later on in life.”
Upon completing his Master’s one year later, he was tasked with being the Special Officer to EPF’s Chairman and CEO. This was when he had the privilege of a bird’s eye view to watch, learn and receive one-to-one coaching from the Chairman and CEO, respectively. “Learning how they connect and engage with various stakeholders, as well as asking the right questions to get the right answers were among the valuable lessons that I’ve picked up along the way”, Fahmi said. Among the many pieces of advice that he continues to keep close to his heart until today is, “No matter how far you’ve grown in you career, there will always be something new that you can learn from just about anyone, across all walks of life”, he shared.
This advice was most evident when he assumed the role as the Regional Liaison Officer, South East Asia for the International Social Security Association in 2010. In this role, Fahmi was tasked to network and engage with various stakeholders from across the region to communicate information and updates about the Association and facilitate events, among other tasks. “In this regional role, the key lesson that I learned was despite our differences - such as backgrounds, language and beliefs, as human beings, we will have the same basic needs and there is so much that we can learn from one another”.
When asked what was the most memorable experience he has had in his 24 years working at EPF, he shared that nothing can beat the experience of working at the EPF branch. “It was satisfying to connect, understand and help our members in our own special way. This experience was so meaningful to me.”
The wellbeing of the over 5,800 strong EPF workforce is a responsibility that Fahmi proudly takes care of as Head of PMD. “One of the most meaningful milestones achieved by the organisation was when we introduced the flexi-work arrangement in 2018. At the start, the biggest hurdle faced was to change the mindset of our people who were accustomed to the traditional 9 to 5. Engaging with stakeholders across the organisation, understanding their concerns and addressing the issues were critical,”
“This initiative has been instrumental in preparing us for COVID-19 when it first hit the world in 2020. If it wasn’t for the processes, infrastructure and people’s readiness that were already in place, we would have not been able to adapt to the unprecedented change that occurred, especially in the new ways of working,”
“It is important that the initiatives to be embarked on today, are to prepare us for tomorrow and accelerate the organisation’s growth in the long-term,” said Fahmi.
Speaking exclusively to GRADUAN, we find out what makes Mohamad Fahmi tick and some of his secrets to success.
What are some traits necessary for success?
If you’re looking to succeed, you need to be prepared to face challenges head on. There are no easy tasks so you’ll need to always face your fears because it will enable you to improve and perform better.
It’s also essential to have a good network. Don’t be shy to speak up and ask questions, mingle with peers because this will broaden your network. You’ll never know who you may need or who will need you when the time comes.
Never limit yourself to your job scope and be too comfortable with the status quo. Phrases like ‘that’s not my job’ is taboo as you’ll need to know that helping your organisation grow will always have its benefits. Be proactive in your approach to work where you are constantly looking to improve things around you. If you see something that needs to be changed, speak up about it. You’ll never know the impact it can have.
Words of advice for the youth?
Firstly, something many young talent have heard before: Avoid being choosy in your career path, don’t limit yourself by your education background. Grab all opportunities that come your way as they do not necessarily have to be in the exact scope of your education. These opportunities can open up many more opportunities!
Find your passion. Before going into a job, conduct thorough research about it but always keep in mind that every job has its own set of challenges and you should never quit because of disagreements or problems at work. You can always get through these problems and develop new skills in the process. Lastly, differentiate yourself. Identify what makes you stand out against the rest of the pack. Two things are important in the corporate world. Your know-how and your know-who. Work on these and you will succeed.
Follow in the footsteps of Fahmi Rahim by taking your first step at EPF! Meet friendly representatives from EPF at GRADUAN Aspire this 9 to 12 July!