Dato’ Mohammad Faiz Azmi

Executive Chairman

BA, Durham University, 1984; Council for Legal Education, 1985

Professional association memberships Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW); Malaysian Institute of Certified Public Accountants (MICPA); Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA); Association of Chartered Islamic Financial Professionals (ACIFP)

Getting started
I pursued law in Durham and finished as a barrister at Lincoln Inn. A chance encounter with one of my father’s friends opened my eyes to the world of business and I decided to become a chartered accountant. My first job was at Touche Ross & Co. in London in a manufacturing audit group, and later I moved on to financial services. I moved onto Pricewaterhouse Malaysia in 1993 as a senior manager in the financial services group and was made Partner at the age of 33.

The turning point
I owe my success to hard work, a supportive wife, my guardian’s intervention, some luck, and various mentors. To complement the above,I believe it’s important to persevere. A career has its ups and downs and it’s important to keep battling through. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Career highlights
My biggest achievement so far has to be becoming Executive Chairman of PwC Malaysia! I was the leader for PwC’s Global Islamic Finance Team from 2007 to 2012 and was also previously Financial Services Leader for Malaysia. In my career, I have also been the joint leader of the Malaysian Assurance practice and led specialist units in financial risk areas and Islamic Finance. I currently have 28 years of experience in audit, business advisory and a number of consulting projects.

Advice for graduates
Having mentors is crucial as it helps in your development and gives you the opportunity to bounce-off ideas with a senior while having someone to watch your back. I also believe in finishing what you start, giving it your all and trying everything once. I notice the younger employees are choosy about their assigned tasks but in my experience, you learn more from difficult assignments than easy ones. Finally, I also believe in being ethical no matter how difficult. It is so hard to gain a reputation and it is so easy to lose it.

Key skills for future leaders
Communication skills are key and it’s a common misconception that accountants only need to be good at numbers. In this profession, the ability to communicate, to influence, to negotiate and to deliver is vital! I would also think business acumen or the awareness of how businesses work needs to be developed much earlier in your career. Accounts and the company finances don’t exist in a vacuum. Take the opportunity to learn as much about the business as you can. Even the worst jobs have something to teach you.