Mike Warren back at MDeC after 3mths at Fujitsu
By A. Asohan January 7, 2014
- Felt role was not strategic enough, too much time spent chasing revenue numbers
- Wants to go back to where he can help nation’s transformation agenda
INDUSTRY veteran Michael Warren (pic) has gone back to his original role at national ICT custodian Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) after a three-month stint heading Fujitsu Ltd’s Malaysian operations.
He will reprise his role as vice president looking after the Shared Services and Outsourcing (SSO) Cluster of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC Malaysia) project, which MDeC manages.
He began work on Jan 2, after quitting as country president of Fujitsu Malaysia in December 2013, after officially taking on that role last September. He had quit MDeC after 18 months there, where he was credited with driving many aspects of the national IT agenda related to the SSO cluster.
Warren’s move to the Japanese multinational raised eyebrows at the time, with many questioning whether the 25-year industry veteran would be able to make the switch back to chasing revenue figures in the private sector, after being part of a team that had pushed a national transformation agenda.
Industry sources with ties to the Japanese tech giant said that Warren may have been taken aback by how much of the country president’s role involved operational matters, with very little of the strategic thinking that had marked his career in the industry.
“Country head roles are more operational these days, compared with even a few years ago,” said one industry source. “They’re expected to chase numbers and are accountable for sales, more so than in the old days.”
In an email to Digital News Asia (DNA), Warren’s response concurred with the source. He said he had first joined MDeC because he felt that he could play a role in Malaysia’s national ICT transformation agenda.
“MDeC provided me a lovely platform to interact with the overall industry and watch the needle move with the programmes we were implementing,” he said.
When the opportunity at Fujitsu Malaysia arose, he went in with a view towards helping Malaysia around Japan-Malaysia relations. “This seemed consistent with the intent that the board of Fujitsu had for long-term strategic relations between the two countries,” he said.
However, the reality was a lot of different. When asked why he left Fujitsu, Warren said part of the reason was that he soon found out that he was “doing nothing strategic within the company.”
Like many global companies, Fujitsu is trying to find a balance between “long-term aspirations and short-term deliverables,” he said. “Within a couple of months I discovered that … I was merely focused on chasing to close revenues and profits, collecting overdue payments and sorting out a range of legal matters.
“There is nothing wrong with that, as I am sure almost all multinationals need to focus there – however there was no time to work on any national transformation agenda, nor did I see things changing for quite a while.
“I decided to leave after three months to continue in a role with the Government,” he added.
A sort of homecoming
In an official statement to DNA, MDeC chief executive officer Badlisham Ghazali (pic) said that “Michael [Warren] was, and still remains, a natural fit for MDeC, as his strong credentials and industry track record makes him the right leader to continue expanding the nation’s footprint in the global SSO industry.
“I look forward to working closely with Michael in driving the country’s national agenda while continuing to further advance and uplift businesses, government and our citizens,” he added.
It was Badlisham who first recruited Warren, with the latter joining MDeC on a part-time basis in October, 2011 as a senior international representative (SIR) for the outsourcing industry while he was running his own consultancy company called Commerce Circle Pte Ltd out of Singapore.
The MDeC chief convinced the Malaysian-born Warren to return to his home country to take on a more permanent role within the SSO Cluster, and in April, 2013, he also took over as head of the cluster.
“Badlisham and the board of MDeC were very supportive around my decision [to return], and coming back to MDeC has been a great homecoming to a family of lovely, supportive colleagues,” Warren told DNA of his comeback.
“I have picked up immediately from where I left off, and am involved in MDeC’s business planning processes for the next few years.
“Supporting the integration of MSC Malaysia into Digital Malaysia is an important function we are all working through as we go along,” he added.
MDeC is also the lead agency for the Government’s Digital Malaysia programme, which seeks to transform the nation into a digital economy.
Warren said other areas he will be looking at include enhancing national talent programmes, supporting both domestic and international SSO companies through upcoming AFTA (Asean Free Trade Area) programmes, and getting Malaysian SSO companies involved in national projects related to the Economic Transformation Programme or ETP.
When asked what his three months at Fujitsu taught him, Warren said that the Malaysian ICT partners that multinationals engage with “have to be a lot more prudent and disciplined when it comes to a number of areas such as programme management, legal contract structuring, and commercial negotiations.”
“There are still a number of Malaysian companies which continue to act as fronts for multinationals in the local market, while providing little value-add – which is really sad as this sends out a poor professional image of Malaysia to the global market.
“I must however say that the learning experience [at Fujitsu], albeit brief, was a great refresher on the challenges and potential of the other side of the industry, which MDeC continues to try hard to help,” he added.
MDeC vice-president Michael Warren quits to lead Fujitsu Malaysia
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