Ekuinas CEO Syed Yasir Arafat Syed Abd Kadir shares his thoughts on talent development.

We like individuals from different backgrounds and demographics to ensure there is diversity in terms of thinking and decision-making.

As the Chief Executive Officer at Ekuiti Nasional Berhad (Ekuinas), Syed Yasir Arafat Syed Abd Kadir graduated in Accounting and Financial Management from the University of Essex, UK. He started his career in merchant banking at Aseambankers Malaysia Berhad in 1994, after which he moved to CIMB.

Before he took on the role of Ekuinas’s Managing Partner (investment), Syed Yasir spent 10 years in ING Barings Malaysia in the Corporate Finance department and eventually became Country Manager.

When Ekuinas was established in September 2009, he joined the private equity fund manager as a Managing Partner, a path that eventually led him to his current portfolio.

“Each career path gave me the opportunity to gain different kinds of experiences and re-focus in terms of perspective and views. It also enabled me to analyse my approaches from different angles,” he says.

Syed Yasir appreciates the need for diversity in talent acquisition and makes it a practice to hire people from different backgrounds.

“We don’t want to create an organisation where everyone has similar views. We like individuals from different backgrounds and demographics to ensure there is diversity in terms of thinking and decision-making. For example, in the investment department, we have people who have previously worked in investment banks, accounting firms and consulting firms. Each individual is able to bring a different perspective to the table,” says Syed Yasir.

In line with this, Ekuinas’ talent development programme is tailored to an individual’s needs.

“We send our employees for various training development programmes. As they climb the corporate ladder and take on more responsibilities, they need to develop certain qualities. For this, we send them for specific courses to sharpen their skills. But I believe that on-the-job training is the best training,” he adds.

Ekuinas offers on-the-job training in different industries, thanks to its mixed investment portfolio, and provides competitive packages benchmarked against leading private equity firms. At the end of the day, every Ekuinas employee possesses three fundamental qualities according to Syed Yasir, which are smart, diligent, and determined.

The company is also proud of its strong spirit of camaraderie and healthy work environment. But while many of today’s graduates seek out “fun corporate cultures” to be part of, Syed Yasir clarifies that they should be realistic in their expectations.

“It really depends on the industry you are working for. If you are in the finance industry, there is still a certain mould that you need to fit into.

“You should seek an organisation that gives you the best experience and exposure because that is what will carry you through to the next phase of your career. You may have a lot of fun but not learn anything, which would not be useful to your career development. Compensation, while important, should be secondary. Set your overall career goals and decide which organisation will allow you to achieve these.”

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