Catching Up

54 Days Into The Job, MDEC CEO Surina Hints At What M’sian Entrepreneurs Can Expect In 2019

  • MaGIC has just launched the Innovation Week event that runs throughout March 11-15.
  • The Innovation Week event will see speakers from different industries providing insights and tips into entrepreneurship, starting with new MDEC CEO Surina Shukri.

After former CEO of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) Datuk Yasmin Mahmood resigned on Dec 7 last year, there were plenty of rumors as to who would take over the role.

It was then announced by Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo that Surina Shukri would be the CEO of MDEC, effective January 16, 2019.

Surina moved out of Malaysia to New York in 2001 and has lived there until she took up the role of MDEC CEO. She has accumulated around 20 years of experience working in multinational companies like JPMorgan Chase & Co and startups in industries such as finance, natural resource, energy and technology.

After being in office for a little less than two months, Surina Shukri visited Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) for their Innovation Week event as one of the speakers.

The Innovation Week event will see speakers and guests coming from different industries providing insights into entrepreneurship, with Surina Shukri kicking it off.

Life Is Full Of Surprises

With the crowd that comprised of mostly entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs, Surina began by explaining that as an entrepreneur herself, she understands the hardships of being one.

Surina founded SheNovation Ventures in 2018 which was based in New York, SheNovation Ventures focuses heavily on the blockchain sector and in addition to providing capital, also advocates and provides education and insights into using the technology for social good.

“The entrepreneurial journey is not an easy journey, it is very hard but very exciting and rewarding at the same time,” she said.

She was also diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. As a survivor, she has then become an advocate for breast cancer awareness and emphasised to the crowd to make every second count.

“Life is short, family is important, your health is important, you yourself is important, be true to yourself.”

What Makes An Entrepreneur?

As for advice when it comes to entrepreneurship, she said it comes down to 5 things when you run a company.

  1. Always have the right team with you.
  2. Solving problems and creating an experience that’s better, faster and cheaper versus your competitors.
  3. Thinking creatively and “entrepreneurial-y”.
  4. Understand your core strength and focus on it.
  5. Be honest about things that you need to change.

According to Surina, the best founders are the ones who have vision and a really strong “Why”.

“If your why is not strong, you’re not purpose driven, mission driven, then you’re not going to be very successful and you will have trouble with most challenges,” she explained.

As she just spent a whole week at a new economic workshop in China, she had the chance to visit one of the largest Chinese conglomerates headquarters—Alibaba. Founded in 1999 by Jack Ma, she was amazed to see how the company has grown in the span of 20 years.

Alibaba has operations in over 200 countries and is the world’s largest retailer, e-commerce company with Taobao and Tmall, one of the largest Internet and AI companies, one of the biggest venture capital firms, and one of the biggest investment corporations in the world.

“What was profound was that the founder had a clear vision of what he wanted to build, in this case he wanted to build a company that the world will be proud of and stuck to it.”

And finally, she touched upon on the government’s and MDEC’s role in helping local entrepreneurs grow further.

Where Does The Government Come In?

Surina Shukri at MaGIC’s Innovation Week.

Surina provided an example of how the government works like a company: it’s all about delivering a good experience and solving problems for clients and customers.

“At the end of the day, ‘how can we make things easier for the people in our ecosystem?’ is the question that the government and MDEC strives to solve for entrepreneurs.”

She also added that they’ve been looking at liberalising certain laws and acts that have actually been in place since the 1950s and 1960s.

“Of course there’s an opportunity to relook at them to make sure that its consistent with how we are doing things today,” she explained, touching on outdated laws and regulations that may stifle entrepreneurship.

“For example we do a lot of work with drones. A few drone companies have highlighted that there are certain rules that makes it hard to operate,” she said. “We’re taking note of that and going back to figure out how we can make that easier.”

“Our role is to make sure we don’t stifle innovation, that’s our biggest responsibility as the government.”

We’ve reached out to Surina Shukri to find out more details about MDEC’s plans and will work on an update piece when we get a reply.

  • If you would like to learn more about Surina Shukri, you can check out our previous coverage on her.

 

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