This CIO’s Job Motto Will Help You Get To The Top!

By Sharmila Valli Narayanan

It’s all about having passion for your job.

When you love the work that you do, it doesn’t become work anymore – it becomes a hobby for which you are paid!

Nik Amlizan Mohamed is one of the top women in Malaysia’s finance industry. The Chief Investment Officer (CIO) of the country’s pension fund Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (Diperbadankan) or KWAP has a proven formula for her success.

“When you love the work that you do, it doesn’t become work anymore – it becomes a hobby for which you are paid! You will always aim to do better because you like it so much!” she says.

While studying for her degree in Economics/Accounting from Claremont McKenna College, United States, she took a class on stock market and fund management – a core to the investment industry – which immediately captured her interest.

Upon her return to Malaysia in 1993, she began her profession in the accounting line, and she quickly realised that her passion lies elsewhere.

She then began carving the next step for her career. She started sending her CVs to numerous companies. She was determined. She believed. She kept looking. And she did not give up. “I sent out about 40 CVs before I got what I wanted,” she says.

Her determination paid off. The opportunity came knocking. But not without a price: A job in an investment company but with a 25 per cent pay cut. Nik Amlizan took it up without second thoughts.

This change of career proved to be the best move she made as she thrived in the investment industry. So much so she was offered the role as the CIO when she was only in her 30s.

However, she turned down the offer, citing that she needed more experience to be a good CIO. “I felt I was not ready or matured enough in my 30s for the job. I felt there was much more for me to learn,” she says. “If you’re not ready for the responsibilities that come with the job, don’t accept it.”

In 2007, Nik Amlizan joined KWAP. “A group of us built the company from scratch – there was no Human Resource Department. We had to start one! There was so much to do and so much to learn; I loved it and that’s why I stayed on,” recalls Nik Amlizan.

The opportunity to be CIO came once more in 2014, at KWAP. This time, Nik Amlizan was ready to take on the challenges. She’s never looked back since. Especially in her a role she loves and embraces. “My job requires me to read a lot, which I love! Every day is a learning day,” says Nik Amlizan. “The biggest challenge I’ve faced in my career was trying to have it all,” she confesses. Most people could not believe their ears when they hear that she is a mother of six children, aged 15 to 24.

Juggling her high-flying career and family is a constant challenge, and she credits it to good time management, proper planning, and self-discipline in having the best of both worlds. “I had two maids. When the children were younger, half of my salary went to the maids,” she laughs.

The adage of doing what you love and loving what you do had indeed proven to be the foundation for success for Nik Amlizan. While she has mastered the art of work-life balance, her passion is the fuel of her achievements, both personally and professionally.

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