Gobind picks Malaysian based in US to be next MDEC CEO

  • Surprise choice Surina Shukri has banking background, advises on business transformation
  • Expectations will be high on next CEO to propel Malaysia into a leading digital economy

Gobind picks Malaysian based in US to be next MDEC CEO

SURINA Shukri, a Malaysian who has been living and working in New York City since 2001 has been tapped to be the next CEO of Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), DNA has reliably learnt. Surina will take over from Yasmin Mahmood who tendered her resignation last month and leaves her MDEC role in mid January.

A former banker with stints in Chase Commercial Bank and JP Morgan Chase & Co, Surina started her own venture in March 2018 with SheNovation Ventures, a company she describes as being a transformation and growth venture studio.

“We advise leaders on business transformation and culture change, startups on scaling and mid-career professionals on executing career pivots and launching entrepreneurial ventures,” says the company profile.

It is unclear why Surina has been picked and who else was being considered. Her selection by Minister of Communications and Multimedia, Gobind Singh Deo can be considered a big surprise due to her many years being away from Malaysia and her professional background which is not in technology. If confirmed, this will be an even bolder move by Gobind than the selection of Al-Ishsal Ishak as the chairman of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission in October 2018.

Some will see parallels with the 2014 appointment of Cheryl Yeoh as CEO of the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) who was based in New York and Silicon Valley before being chosen to lead MaGIC. Yet, it can be argued that Yeoh had the easier task as she was able to mould MaGIC in her image from scratch and it was all about building a startup ecosystem, something she was already immersed in.

MDEC on the other hand is a mature 450-strong organisation, tasked with leading Malaysia into not just becoming a digital economy, because that will happen organically. Rather MDEC has to lead and propel Malaysia into becoming one of the leading digital economies in the world. It is a big role with very high expectations and demands. Surina will have to work equally well with both the private and public sectors.

And she will have the indomitable Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s expectations to live up to as well. As the architect of Malaysia’s initial tech ambitions through the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) vision in 1996, Mahathir will expect strong progress in Malaysia’s digital economy ambitions, especially with 2020 approaching. Not to put any more pressure on her, though.

Malaysia’s ability to transition into a successful digital economy will depend heavily on MDEC successfully executing its various roles and responsibilities.

Interestingly, in her LinkedIn profile, Surina describes herself as someone who helps organisations build, enable, empower and execute. “I am committed to helping people and organisations achieve greatness and am energised by business transformation and innovation.”

She utilises a combination of R&D, execution and client skills to help her meet her goals. She further attributes her success to her passion and creative flair coupled with a dash of fun.

She will need to call on all those skills and more, in her MDEC role.

Her focus areas have been in digital transformation within financial services, blockchain for social change and in venture capital, specifically angel investing through an organisation called 37Angels that she has been involved in since February 2018.

On a personal level she describes possessing a belief system which pushes her to be a change agent, to bring her authentic and best self to work every day and wanting to inspire others to do the same.

Education-wise, Surina lists having studied at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, in the United States and attending The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania for a dual degree programme in Management & Technology.


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