"Be of use and serve the country you’re living and working in. Find yourself a position to deliver value to someone and someone will see the value in what you do. Then you will go far in your career.” This is the sound advice from Badlisyah Abdul Ghani, President of the Chartered Institute of Islamic Finance Professionals (CIIF), to young talent entering the workforce. He continues, “You want a space where you can be of use, for the betterment of the organisation, yourself and the country you’re working in. Young graduates must have focus and perseverance, be passionate about the work they do, and deliver it to the best of their abilities in order to succeed.”
When asked what the challenge for the Islamic finance industry was in hiring and grooming young talent, Badlisyah says it is how many of them want to do big things instantly upon joining. “Fresh graduates presume they are entitled to good pay and high position but they forget they lack the necessary work experience and skill set to fit into the work environment,” says the CIIF President. “They want to do things their way instead of how the organisation wants it done. Before they are entitled to those benefits, they will have to deal with those shortcomings and balance their perspective with that of the organisation.”
Another challenge is fresh graduates expect everything such as a room, company handphone and other perks to be ready for them when they start work instead of making do with what is available. “That’s why some companies give fresh graduates the bare essentials, to test how they would cope with the bare minimum.”
"You will succeed in your career if you aspire to serve and do things with passion.
If you focus mainly on money, you tend to be selfish and do just enough for yourself."
On his thought about Gen Z that is currently entering the workforce, Badlisyah is of the opinion that the new generation has a broader perspective of the world as they are educated differently and even more IT-savvy. Gen Z is pretty down to earth and generally responsible but they are still new to the job market for us to have a good feel about their characteristics. Meanwhile, Gen Y is very team oriented, have high expectations and achievement centric but prone to job hopping.
Badlisyah explains that CIIF’s role is to set the standards for talent in the Islamic financial industry. “CIIF helps to enhance their professional credibility and spur continuous learning on certain industry standards throughout their careers. Working closely with education providers, trainers and industry players, CIIF acts as a bridge between the academia and those in the industry. We want to produce more professional talent and implement best practices for the Islamic finance industry. Our scope is also international as we want to ensure a certain level of parity in the industry, and enhance it by bringing and adapting the set standards and best practices to other countries as well.”
He says graduates who are members of professional bodies like ICAEW, CPA and ACCA are perceived as being more valuable as they are in a group subjected to strict standards and quality benchmarks set by those professional bodies. “They are seen as disciplined and governed by a set of rules and ethical code of conduct. Such professional qualification will definitely boost the employability of graduates as they are recognised by employers as being a few levels up and are remunerated better than those who are not.”
According to Badlisyah, both the conventional and Islamic finance industries want talent with the right attitude. “Beyond conventional banking and financial systems, you need to know the shariah but it’s something you can acquire. As a law graduate, I didn’t have the necessary shariah knowledge so I worked quickly to find the key subjects I needed to know. Then I read, did research and learned about shariah laws from books and those in the know to enhance my knowledge about Islamic finance.”
CREATE AND DELIVER VALUE
As a new kid on the financial block, the Islamic finance industry is developing and expanding fast in Malaysia. Badlisyah says, “Young talent have lots of opportunities to be productive and grow, with more freedom to start things from scratch. Conventional finance processes are there already but talent can delve deeper, learning to build up the business as opposed to merely doing the business. That’s the advantage the Islamic finance industry offers in the war for talent.”
He advises fresh grads to create opportunities for themselves. “Enter the industry and find ways to create and deliver value as part of the new organisation. Whether it’s Islamic finance or whatever you do, you will succeed in your career if you aspire to serve and do things with passion. If you focus mainly on money, you tend to be selfish and do just enough for yourself.”