Ready for the Future

By Jean Lee

Managing Director and CEO of RHB Islamic Bank Dato’ Adissadikin bin Ali deliberates current industry demands and shares pointers on how to prepare for them.

Self-discipline takes you far! It is about one’s outlook, willingness and ability, and how it’s used from there on. Never forget the importance of respecting people, your relations and connectivity with others – you reap what you sow.

Malaysia’s Islamic Finance industry is one of the world’s most advanced, having evolved and matured rapidly since its introduction. In the thick of it all is Dato’ Adissadikin Bin Ali, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of RHB Islamic Bank, with more than 20 years of experience in the financial services sector. Currently four years into his position, Dato’ Adi’s role covers leading, managing and growing RHB Banking Group’s Shariah business, in addition to exploring opportunities for regional growth.

It is interesting that Dato’ Adi began his studies as a science student. Midway through his university studies, he decided to make the leap into finance – and never looked back. “I did a lot of soul searching, questioning myself and everything around. I believed that if I can’t touch it, I won’t believe it!” he says. Since money (finance) is something tangible and applicable to everyone, he felt that he was moving in the right direction.

Dato’ Adi graduated from Monash University in Australia with a Bachelor of Business (Banking & Finance) degree and subsequently, obtained a Master of Business Administration (Finance) from Universiti Malaya. He is also a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Programme. From the very beginning of his career, Dato’ Adi set his mind on succeeding, no matter what. “I always knew from Day 1 that I wanted to be a CEO some day!” he admits.

He didn’t just rely on his education to get to the top, explaining that a degree is rudimentary. He believes that studies alone don’t carry much weight; what is more important is having the right approach to your studies.

“I wasn’t top of my class but what differentiated me was my ability to connect the dots. Set your sights on who you want to be, and then, be prepared for the hard work required to achieve this and do it well,” he says. Talking about working in the finance industry, Dato’ Adi stressed that it is important to instil the willingness to do what it takes to overcome challenges and obstacles through training and self-development.

“Self-discipline will take you far! It is about one’s outlook, willingness and ability, and how it’s used from there on,” says Dato’ Adi.

Dato’ Adi also shared his thoughts on the Islamic Banking sector. Whilst it is still relatively new compared to conventional banking, Dato’ Adi is of the opinion that as a growing and developing industry, there will be plenty of opportunities for the future.

“Islamic finance (as an ethical business) can most definitely compete with conventional banking. It currently has a 35 per cent market share in the Malaysian banking industry and the offering is as competitive as the conventional,” he explains.

To be a resilient leader like Dato’ Adi, Emotional Quotient or EQ, is an important quality to acquire. “Without it, you lose respect. It is about sustainability. EQ isn’t something you’re born with but you need to be aware and build on it by seizing every opportunity to do so,” he says.

Then there is the need for self-improvement while learning, growing and developing. On top of all of these, always be humble. “It doesn’t matter where you graduated from; it’s how you treat others, how you show respect, your relationships and connections with people. That’s what distinguishes you,” says Dato’ Adi.

Finally, to really stand out in the workplace, genuine quality is often desired. For Dato’ Adi’s, this must include the willingness to learn, to strive for excellence, the initiative invested in one’s capabilities, and the right attitude to push through adversities. “The world doesn’t owe you anything; you need to seize opportunities and have the drive to excel,” says Dato’ Adi.

Share this article: