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Man of Wisdom: Datuk Wira (Dr.) Haji Ameer Ali Mydin

Datuk Wira (Dr.) Haji Ameer Ali Mydin is the managing director of Mydin Mohamed Holdings Berhad, a Malaysian hypermarket company. He is the son of Mr Mydin Mohamed Bin Mydin Ghulam, the brand’s founder, who launched the company in 1957.

Mydin began as a tiny shop in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, in 1988 and has now expanded to become a national hypermarket chain with locations around the country. The extraordinary expansion over the last three decades speaks for itself. The Mydin organisation now has over 300 locations. Datuk Wira Ameer exclaimed with happiness, “I am very sure at the beginning, we were doing business amounting to RM1 million or RM2 million a year, but now we are having a turnover of over RM3 billion dollars a year. So I think if you look at the numbers, from 2 shops to 300 shops. From RM2 million sales to RM3 billion dollar sales. But those are just numbers and numbers are relatively less important to us.”

Datuk Wira has worked at his father’s store since he was a boy, where his father taught him to be more disciplined and economical. It turns out that his attitude has become a guiding factor in both his personal and professional life.

“We are already paying for the livelihood of 40,000 people and I think that is quite an achievement. But the bigger achievement is what good can we do to the community. You must have heard of a lot of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibilities) projects that we do. We have not been actively publicising our CSR efforts. We don’t hand over any mock cheques to the beneficiaries, but we do everything from the heart for the community. We don’t do it for the publicity because the objective of the CSR is giving back to the community,” says Datuk Wira.

Mydin Mohamed Holdings is a Malaysian retailer with outlets in practically every state. Its business concepts include hypermarkets, micro markets, emporiums, bazaars, Mydin Mart, MyMart, and Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia (KR1M).

In addition, Mydin Mohamed Holdings has worked with the Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) to provide additional help to Malaysia’s wholesale, retail, and distribution sectors. MRCA is Malaysia’s largest retail association, representing over 200 chain retail stores and franchisors with approximately 10,000 units across the country. MRCA aims to develop 100,000 jobs with such a large network.

Love Your Work

When it comes to work-life balance, Datuk Wira believes that there is no such thing as a perfect equilibrium. “You cannot have two things in your life. You can’t say, I want to spend a lot of time with my family, I want to travel around the world, yet I also want to be very rich. I think if you ask those who have grown their business the hard way, or even people like me, we had to work hard and come up slowly. I did not have a balance in life. Nowadays we see a lot of online entrepreneurs and Facebook entrepreneurs, who are going from rags to riches in 3 to 5 years. I hope and pray that they can keep their riches.

It is very nice at a young age if you can spend time with your family, travel extensively or go back home early. But I couldn’t do this 10 or 20 years ago. If you want to seriously succeed in life, you really have to work hard. There is no such thing as a 9 to 5 job. We work every day and more importantly, of course you must like your work. When people asked me back then when I have my holidays, my answer would be, my work is my holiday. If I enjoy it, it is not work. If I don’t enjoy it, it is work. So if you treat your work as a holiday, then you are a very happy person, and I think that is how we grow our career,” Datuk Wira elaborated on his attitude towards career advancement.

Datuk Wira humbly stated that he did not consider himself a leader when asked about his leadership and management abilities.. “But if you do your homework, and look at the meaning of the word Ameer in Arabic, it actually stands for leader. So maybe my parents know what name to give. I think if you say you are a good leader, at the end of the day a good leader must have people following you, and theoretically speaking, willing to sacrifice their life for you.

A leader is someone who can lead the people to do the things that he thinks is right. It doesn’t matter what the world thinks. My hope is that all leaders are good people. That they will not hurt people, that their philosophy will always be to help people. To grow the community, to grow the country, to create wealth for people and help those who are underprivileged,” says Datuk Wira.

When it comes to management style, every leader is likely to have his or her own. Datuk Wira, for example, may be seen downstairs in the hypermarket checking the pricing and moping the floor in the mornings since he is a micro-managing boss. “Micro managing is something that I do quite well. A lot of chief executives, a lot of managing directors don’t mop the floor, because they don’t have to, but I like to know on what is really happening down there. So mopping the floor is something that I actually enjoy, because I can listen to the staffs, and the staffs actually know what is sellable and what is not. It is not necessary that your manager might know, so it is best to hear it from the source,” exclaims Datuk Wira.

Tough Market Ahead

When it comes to facing the challenges ahead amidst the economy downturn, Datuk Wira shares that while the economy is not doing very well, everything depends on the perspective. “For example, who are we comparing the economy to?”

As someone who travels a lot to scout for good buys, Datuk Wira has noticed that our shopping mall are busier than malls in Thailand or for the matter in Singapore and Indonesia. “But while there are more people out here buying, they are not buying as much as before, which is happening everywhere in the world, because the whole world is affected by appreciation of US Dollar. So when foreign currency appreciates, cost of goods goes up, but your salary does not go up as fast as your cost of goods. The general cost of living is said to have increased by 17%, but many people have not seen their salary increased by the same rate over the last 1 and a half years. Most people’s salary goes up 5%, 7% maybe 10% but cost goes up 17% and purchasing power goes down, hence people have less disposable income, and when you have less money, you buy less and spend less at hypermarkets. It’s a cycle. So generally the world economy is at a slowdown.

But I think if you compare yourself to Europe, we are so much better. Of course if you compare yourself to what is happening in Thailand and Indonesia, their growth is higher than ours. So it all depends on who and what you are comparing to. But from the business perspective of course, none of us are happy and we hope that the government can focus more on what is happening in the country, to help the businesses and the people,” concludes Datuk Wira.

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