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After Group CEO of Cradle, Nazrin Hassan’s tragic death in 2018 that was deeply mourned by Malaysia’s startup community, COO Razif Abdul Aziz took on the role of acting Group CEO.

On May 18, it was announced that Cradle had appointed Rafiza Ghazali as the new Group CEO with effect from June 1, 2020.

According to Chairman of Cradle, Datuk Yvonne Chia, Rafiza will lead the group with an immediate priority to enable Malaysian startups and tech entrepreneurs navigate the challenges and evolve with the changing landscape in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

“This search for the CEO role has gone through an extensive process, working closely with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) and the Ministry of Finance (MOF),” she added.

Following Rafiza’s appointment, Razif Abdul Aziz will resume his role as the COO from June 1, 2020.

A lot of attention has now been given to Rafiza’s background, particularly on her current role as CFO at Velesto Energy Berhad, and people are wondering whether she’s the right fit to head the early-stage startup influencer.

Thus, we took a closer look at the background of Rafiza, who will also be taking over Nazrin’s 12-year legacy.

1. An Extensive Education In Finance

After graduating from Clydebank College in the UK, Rafiza went on to acquire a Bsc Economics in Accounting and Finance at The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance and Investment with a major in Corporate Finance at Securities Institute of Australia.

In 1998, she became a Fellow Member of the Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand (CAANZ), making her a Chartered Accountant, and she’s also a member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants.

In 2019, she completed her Post Graduate Diploma in Strategy & Innovation at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.

With her extensive educational history centred around finance, it was no wonder that she went on to further pursue various careers pertaining to the financial industry.

2. Background In Finance

Rafiza has over 26 years of professional experience in Malaysia and Australia within the financial industry, starting with her role in Arthur Andersen & Co. in Australia where she performed statutory financial audits of financial institutions, property development firms, Victorian government agencies, and more.

She went on to hold senior roles in several other leading organisations, with notable roles including being the CFO at RHB Investment Bank Berhad for over 5 years, the Finance Director at Bank Negara Malaysia, and Head Islamic Finance, Asia at Thomson Reuters.

At Cagamas Berhad she held the role of CFO and Senior Vice President of Finance and Corporate Strategy, and currently she is the CFO at Velesto Energy Berhad.

3. Experience In Corporate Planning

Rafiza was a pioneer staff at Malaysia’s national asset management company, Danaharta, as a corporate planning executive where she was tasked with taking over non-performing loans from banking institutions that arose from the 1998 financial crisis.

At Nikkei Pacific Corporate Advisors, she specialised in corporate advisory majoring in debt restructuring and debt capital market as an Associate Director.

When she was with Sime Darby, she was responsible for group innovation, innovation portfolio management and business performance management.

Based on what we can observe, she appears to lack involvement with startups, dealing mostly with corporate planning and strategy in the past, so it would be interesting to see what she’ll bring to the table for Cradle come June.

4. An Experienced Speaker

She’s been a speaker, moderator, and panel member across various forums and panels, including at 2011 IFN Asia Forum, 2011 MIFC Istanbul Roadshow, 2011 Islamic Financial Intelligence Summit by Financial Times, 2012 WIBC Asia Singapore, and 2012 SC’s Islamic Market Programme.

Rafiza was also a speaker at the Global Competitiveness Forum 2014 (SAGIA) on Women Stimulating Economic Development, Euromoney Saudi Arabia Conference 2013, and IFN Asia 2013.


As mentioned earlier, Rafiza doesn’t appear to have involved herself much in the startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem in Malaysia, having leaned more towards the corporate side of things.

Therefore, all eyes would be on her to see how she’ll handle Cradle’s focus on early-stage startups, and what changes she might bring to the company.

Rafiza’s appointment also follows the trend of female CEOs being appointed to Malaysia’s startup and tech development agencies.

In 2019, Surina Shukri was appointed CEO of MDEC, and later, Dzuleira Abu Bakar was appointed CEO of MaGIC.

It seems that female leaders are on the rise in Malaysian organisations, which is a great development to witness, and one that we would hope to see more of in the near future.

  • You can read more on what we’ve written about Cradle here.

Featured Image Credit: Velesto / Cradle

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)