Malaysia Airlines Berhad Group Chief Human Capital Officer Dato' Mohd Khalis Abdul Rahim joined the company at a pivotal time following its 2014 recovery plan that saw local talent taking the task of turning the national carrier’s fortune around after the premature departure of two of its foreign-sourced heads.
From his office, adjacent to the compounds of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Dato' Khalis – with over 25 years of human capital experience – sought to reassure young jobseekers as to whether the company they were aiming for was the right fit for them. He stated that there is no such thing as the perfect company. “You’ll never know if the company is a right fit for you until you join the company, but the more important question is to ask if you are a right fit for the company,” says Dato' Khalis.
According to him, one good way to establish this is by understanding your own value system and see if it aligns with the value system upheld by the company. That said, he reminds that as employees, we ought to add value to the company we are working with and it would be a waste of good talent for employees to change themselves too much to fit in and be on par with everyone else.
“My advice is be adaptable. It is OK if you want to follow your planned path but then again if you find the path is not open to you, take whatever path that is available and do your best. Be adaptable and stay positive,” says Dato' Khalis.
AN OPEN-MINDED APPROACH
Instead of meticulously planning a career trajectory and setting milestones for where one wants to be on the career ladder, it is more important to ask the bigger questions, says Dato' Khalis. “Rather than looking at it very methodically and wanting it to be perfect – which would only lead to frustration – always ask yourself what your greater purpose is: Why are you here and what is it that you are doing?”
While there is nothing wrong with having a plan, he argues that throughout his career he has witnessed many talent get discouraged very fast after joining the workforce, which he attributes to a strong sense of idealism inculcated while growing up that hits a speed bump when reality sets in.
Reflecting on Malaysia Airlines, he says the greater picture of working for the national carrier is that it is more than just a job and a pay cheque but also a duty in representing the country. “When you are working here, you are representing over 30 million Malaysians. A lot of people claim to represent Malaysia, but no, we are Malaysia Airlines, we are the real deal and it is a claim that comes with a heavy responsibility,” says Dato' Khalis.
“That’s why whatever shortfalls we have, Malaysians get very critical of us because they feel they own us.”
Instead of seeing that as a problem, Malaysia Airlines takes it as a matter of pride, knowing that they are placed on a different level and people care how they are doing especially since emerging from the turbulence of the last few years. “Tough times build characters,” says Dato' Khalis.
He speaks of a thank-you note he recently sent to his staff. In it, Dato' Khalis wrote: “You’ve sacrificed so much for the country, you love your country so much. You could do anything else but you chose to serve Malaysia. When you are working for Malaysia Airlines Group, you are actually working for Malaysia and our country is proud of you, so thank you for serving Malaysia every day.”
Which comes as no surprise when asked of his own motivation for work, Dato' Khalis has this to say: “I guess this is my small bit towards nation building.”
You’ll never know if the company is a right fit for you until you join the company, but more importantly is to ask yourself if you are a right fit for the company.