Dato’ Abdul Wahid Omar

Dato’ Abdul Wahid Omar was appointed the TM Group’s (formerly Telekom Malaysia) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) on 1 July 2004 and is mostly known for his role in the rebranding and rejuvenation of TM. Prior to the appointment, he was the CEO/Managing Director of the UEM Group in 2001. His other leadership roles also include in United Engineers (Malaysia) and PLUS Expressway Berhad. In early 2007, Wahid, together with DiGi Communication’s CEO were named joint-winners of the Malaysia’s CEO of the Year Award 2006.

Wahid pursued his higher education in the professional accounting under the scholarship of MARA. He is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), United Kingdom and a member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA). Wahid, who comes from a large family of 11, is married to Datin Kay Roserina.

One of the earliest corporate moves undertaken by Wahid after joining TM was announcing a corporate Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS). Basically VSS or Voluntary Separation Scheme is an exercise of reducing the number of workforce by means of offering compensation, often in cash. Usually, VSS practice is driven by financial consideration and business needs of the company. On a first sight, this doesn’t seem to make much sense because VSS always means spending millions (or even billions) of money to compensate people, but on further look this can help the company to achieve its business objectives in the long run, including profitability.

In 2006, TM underwent the 2nd phase of corporate re-organization with the creation of Malaysia Business, TM Ventures, Group Programme Management Office (PMO) and Group Regulatory, Legal and Compliance. TM also made a few major acquisitions in Indonesia, Pakistan and Singapore in order to stamp their presence in the Asia Pacific market.

In the same year, Wahid’s move to initiate the in-sourcing (an activity where a company outsources part of the business operation to a company within its Group) exercise, where the TM Retail contact center operation was moved to VADS Berhad (a company that is 67% owned by TM), did not bode well with a certain group of employees. In the exercise, close to 900 TM employees (permanent and contractual staff) were given letters of offer for continued employment by VADS Contact Center Services Sdn Bhd.

In other words, those employees affected will become employees of VADS instead of the main group, TM. The move was initially rejected by the Kesatuan Kebangsaan Pekerja Pekerja Telekomunikasi Semenanjung Malaysia (NUTE), Kesatuan Pekerja Telekom Malaysia Berhad Sabah (SUTE) and Kesatuan Pekerja Telekom Malaysia Berhad Sarawak (UTES) with the main concern lingering on the welfare of the employees affected. Wahid responded with an explanation that the affected employees were to be receiving the same terms, recognition and benefits.

Frankly speaking, after seeing the changes TM has gone through, in terms of branding, service and financial performance, it is only fair to say that Wahid has done a tremendous job. In terms of the retail service, the TM Point today is nowhere near the Kedai Telekom we frequented 10 years ago. I remember this well because I was once a Telekom Malaysia scholar during my A-Level time and I had a short stint of working in a Kedai Telekom as a trainee, sitting together with the Customer Service Officers and shadowing their job.

I can’t describe the level of service the staff were giving – they hardly smile, customer’s inquiries and complaints were responded in cynical manner, and the most typical of all, the rate of service is damn too slow. Today it is very much improved (well, it is not perfect – especially when the TM Net Streamyx is concerned, but still… it deserves credit for much of the improvement). I would go to the extend to say that if any Government-Linked Corporation (GLC) were to make their re-branding exercise a success, then Wahid’s leadership at TM needs to be their benchmark.

Also, one of the important elements overlooked by most people in the VSS exercise initiated by Wahid is the ability of the company to reduce negative people. These negative people often refer to the group of employees who provide most resistance to new culture. You see, when Wahid stepped up into his new role as the TM boss, one of his goals is to create a competitive workforce in his organization. As public, most of us know how pathetic the work culture in the government, government agencies and government-linked companies can be and this is the perception and culture Wahid intended to change.

However, he knew he would have to face with a large number of non-competitive minded people, especially those who have been serving the company way too long. In a way, announcing the VSS was like killing two birds with a stone – returning the company into profitability, and creating a fresh, new culture. At the same time, it is a win-win solution because the employees who accepted the VSS got away with handsome cash they can enjoy, albeit for a few years.

In the most recent, confirmed news, Datuk Abdul Wahid will be replacing Datuk Amirsham Aziz as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Maybank Group effective on 1 July 2008. Amirsham, 57, retires after serving Maybank for more than 30 years. Only time will tell how well Wahid will perform in Maybank.

2 Replies to “Dato’ Abdul Wahid Omar”

  1. Wahid must have approved your scholarship so you find the lives of 900 Malaysians who were outsourced from their company after years of service a good transformation for Telekom. Did you investigate the impact of this exercise on the workers.

  2. VSS is modern day “dismissal”. If you dismiss and the employee wins the case in the Industrial Court, the Industrial Court does not reinstate employees anymore. Instead employers will have to pay compensation in lieu of reinstatement. So dismiss and pay later. VSS is where the employer pays first then dismisses. So, I am very dissapointed and sad that the author thinks VSS is a good way of getting rid of negative employees. Bare in mind not all changes introduced by employers are good changes….so why are employees who challenge a particular change categorised as negative…why cant they be far sighted, cautious etc.

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