When it comes to stories of success, Azran Osman-Rani is someone we at GRADUAN® often refer to. We’ve interviewed him numerous times to get his take on the topic; with him in different industries and positions (Senior Director, Business Development, Astro All Asia Networks plc; CEO, AirAsia X Berhad and now, COO of iflix Group and CEO of iflix Malaysia) but still creating headlines each time with his leadership and forward-thinking ways. He’s humble though – when asked during this interview to share with our readers his experience as a mover and shaker, he candidly says: “Sure but why talk to me? I am still young, I am still making lots of mistakes, and I am still figuring it out.”
In fact, making mistakes – says Azran – is really part of the process of discovering your strengths that will eventually give you the guidance you need to be successful. “There is no way you can go through life without making any mistakes. Making mistakes is not a big deal. So you make a wrong choice. You’ll learn that this path is wrong so move on. The faster you make decisions, the faster you will learn which paths are right. The worst thing you can do for yourself is not to make a decision,” says Azran.
“The secret to success is not too much of it being a secret but more about doing something,” explains Azran. “Most people are so fixated on what will happen when they make the wrong choice. Look – if it is not A, then switch to B. The rate at how fast things are moving these days, I believe that it doesn’t really matter what choice you make as long as you make a choice. Unfortunately, the fear of failing is what holds a lot of people back. That is why we are not willing to try something new, and we rather do something safe. Their parents want them to be something common as opposed to discovering something new. I truly believe that failures are actually lessons in life. Failures give you new insight into new ideas.”
“THERE ARE A WHOLE LOT OF SIMILARITIES IN DIFFERENT JOBS AND INDUSTRIES THAN PEOPLE THINK. WHAT ’S IMPORTANT INSTEAD OF THE ART OF LEARNING.”
To expand on his thoughts, Azran shares with GRADUAN® what he calls his life and work philosophies that have helped him achieved the milestones he’s had.
There is no doubt that Azran has had his fill of being part of different industries – finance, media & entertainment, and aviation. And at each industry, he has proven himself not only a leader but someone who is apt in adapting to the different requirements and needs. “Specialists may think that they are special but the reality is business is business across the board,” says Azran. “Take away the jargon and context, and things really are a lot more similar.”
To Azran, it is not about containing yourself within a specific role. Instead, he believes what is important is to learn and keep getting better at it. “You should learn what it takes to absorb and digest new information faster and faster. Have access to information. Find out how to put it all together so that you can come up with conclusions. Learning is an art form, a practice that you will get better at time,” he says.
“LEARN TO COMMUNICATE BETTER.”
This goes beyond talking. Sure being able to articulate yourself well is important but in this aspect, it is about interaction, says Azran. “You need to learn how to present your ideas and perceptions while interacting with others. It is also about how to have discussions, writing well and being able to put your thoughts in order so that you can present them well.”
"YOUR ABILITY TO WORK WELL WITH PEOPLE."
Let’s face it – every day, you will be dealing with all sorts of people and their quirks, whether on a professional level or a personal front. Which is why knowing exactly how to deal with different individuals will give you a major advantage, says Azran. “You need to understand different individuals and how it works in terms of team dynamics. We don’t live in a world where you can hide in one corner and not interact with anyone at all.
“These skill sets will come across in all industries. Do them well and you will do well in all situations. Take for example my time in AirAsia X. The aviation industry is extremely regulated where you can hardly differentiate one from the other. But by applying different philosophies and mindset, you can revolutionise it like we did at AirAsia X. Same for iflix. When the founders pitched the business idea, I immediately latched on. It is a revolutionary way to transform how we consume entertainment. This is the future. Why are we still being made to pay RM100 a month for TV channels with lots of advertisements? At iflix, we want to introduce a simple and radical way to lower the price as well as shape people’s lives,” says Azran. His advice on how to make yourself more relevant in today’s quick-pace world? “It really doesn’t matter what you study in university. Whatever you’ve read in your textbooks, your projects and assignments, I can guarantee you that they are all outdated. It doesn’t count for much. Which is a good thing because that means there is no restriction to learning. The world is changing so fast. What roles or job titles you have doesn’t matter anymore. What you should be focusing on instead is to do something that is really exciting, to give you the energy to always want to learn something new. The day you slow down and not learn something new is the day you should leave. The day people you work with don’t allow you to grow is when you should leave. Find something new and different every day.”
Azran Osman-Rani isn’t just preaching about the whole concept of putting your mind to it; he’s proof that you can really achieve your goals when you are serious about it! The CEO is an avid triathlete who has participated numerous times in one of the world’s toughest triathlon, the Ironman. “I started doing 10km runs after seeing how grandmothers would do 42km marathons. I signed up for a 15km race; I fainted at the end! But I went back to the drawing board to learn how to improve myself. In time, I started doing marathons and each time, I learnt how to improve myself by finishing under five hours, four hours, three hours.
“Then I decided to transition from running to doing triathlons. Problem was I didn’t know how to swim. So at the age of 40, I said to myself that I was going to learn how to swim. So I learnt – with five-year-old kids! A year later, I decided I was ready for my first triathlon. Unfortunately, I panicked in the water twice and had to pull out of the race. So back I went again to the drawing board. A year after that, I completed my first Ironman in 2013 – 12 hours and 43 minutes. Since then, I’ve done a few. You know, just because you have no idea how to do something now doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You just need to really want to do it!”