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Profile - Idris Jala of MAS

CEO - MAS

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The name Idris Jala is not synonym in the Malaysia corporate world until he was unveiled as MAS' new Managing Director amid resignation of former Managing Director Datuk Ahmad Fuaad Dahalan. But his designation as the new MD for MAS did not come without controversy.

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In soccer world, the assignment Idris Jala as MAS' MD is very much similar to the appointment of Sven-Goran Eriksson as England's football team manager. There had been huge outcry across the English nation objecting the decision as Eriksson himself is not English. Similarly, many observers ruled that Idris Jala is not 'the guy' for MAS as his background in Shell Malaysia is nowhere near to what MAS was doing and he does not have what it takes to turn the ailing national carrier around.

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"It will be difficult for him. He is new to the airline industry and MAS needs someone who is well-versed in that industry," as one analyst said.

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The difference is, while Eriksson was hailed as 'svensational' after guiding the English team to 2002 World Cup in Japan, Idris is yet to make any significant impact since joining MAS in December 2005. His job will be very much tougher than expected as all his decisions and moves will be under scrutiny of all eyes, which include the Malaysian government, member of parliaments and press.

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Idris Jala, a 47-year old Kelabit from Sarawak, was previously the Executive Director of Shell Malaysia Ltd, Gas & Power prior to the appointment. He's been with Shell since 1982 after graduating from Universiti Sains Malaysia. He also holds a Master's Degree from University of Warwick, UK. He is one of the key persons who is responsible for Shell strong profits and his lost will definitely will be rued by Shell Group's top management.

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So far any major decisions made by Idris has been subject to heavy debate. These include his plan to sell off MAS' current building, their resorts in Langkawi as well as the VSS offering to MAS employees.  

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Idris is courageous enough to leave his comfort as Shell top executive with promising future to take this new challenge. He even indicated his desire to turn MAS around in the space of 2 years, failing which will result in his resignation from the current post.

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Only time will tell what Idris Jala brings about in about 2 years time.

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