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Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Transforming the company into a heavyweight, sharing his love

Tee (left) and Ooi chatting with Mazlin.

Transforming Daya into a heavyweight

Contributed by Tee Lin Say

YOU have to meet Daya Materials Bhd executive vice-chairman Datuk Mazlin Junid in person to understand why he appeals to people at large.

The first thing you notice is how witty and direct he is. So, no superficial talk on “how your day was” or whether “the coffee tastes okay”.

Mazlin tells you things as it is, so don’t ask if you aren’t prepared. That, however, is his charm. What you see is really what you get.

Physically, Mazlin is good looking. Despite the Prada loafers and 7 for all mankind jeans, there is an almost Neanderthal-like quality about him. In the band of brotherhood, Mazlin’s more of your Vin Diesel than an Orlando Bloom.

He has two great goals in life now. The first is a vision to transform Daya into a heavyweight. He’s aiming for the company to join the billion dollar club over the next three years. (For the nine months to Sept 30, 2013, Daya’s revenue jumped 110% to RM373mil in revenue and net profit increased 26.74% to RM18.9mil)

The other, is to look like his idol, Australian actor Hugh Jackman.

He loves the pain that comes with pushing himself to extremes. Dumb bells are his favourite toys. Why, he even celebrated his birthday in the gym with his gym mates.

“I am 52 now. I have done it all. The cars, the yacht, you name it. What turns me on now is winning contracts for Daya,” says Mazlin resolutely.

“At the end of the day, a company needs to deliver. We are very focused on creating value and growing the company over the long term. I have huge responsibility to my staff and the people who gave us contracts. We have to deliver based on my vision for the company, Daya is still undervalued, “says Mazlin.

“You must always take responsibility. It’s not about following your emotions. Whether it’s to your family, the people you work for, your client, or someone you dislike, take responsibility,” he says.

He adds that with Daya Offshore Construction Sdn Bhd (DOC) going out there to secure contracts from Norway, Daya is in fact going against the grain of typical Malaysian oil and gas companies.

When asked what Malaysia’s problems are, he responds: “If there is a hard truth Malaysian companies must learn, it is to stop the habit of political patronage,”

Not surprising, Daya has been one of Bursa Malaysia’s outperformers this year. On a year-to-date basis, the stock is up 116% to 41 sen as of Thursday.

While Daya started off in 1994 as a specialised polymer company, it has since expanded substantially into the oil and gas (O&G) business. Daya was initially more focused on the downstream O&G segment, where it was already established as a leader particularly in chemical services. It chugged along, growing organically until this year, which was clearly the inflection point for Daya.

This started with the formation of DOC last September, of which Mazlin appointed Mark Midgley CEO.

Almost immediately DOC began delivering results.

The arrival of vessels Siem Daya 1 and Siem Daya 2 literally created waves. DOC secured two major contracts in less than six months from Norwegian firm Technip Norge AS for charter and subsea contracts worth RM440mil and RM100mil-RM176mil respectively.

The latest research house to give its mark of approval to Daya’s efforts is RHB Research, which has a 48-sen target price. DOC is already contributing almost 50% to Daya’s topline.

“Suddenly Nathan (Daya’s MD Nathan Tham) was busy answering calls from some 40 fund managers. People wanted our shares and started saying Daya was the smallest O&G stock and with the most growth. I guess this is what happens when earnings have been growing organically over the last five years,” laughs Mazlin.

Sharing his love

Contributed by Xandria Ooi

FASCINATION is what I’m feeling when talking to Datuk Mazlin Junid, a man who doesn’t mince his words, yet laughs so often you know he doesn’t take himself seriously.

Work, however, is a different matter.

When you’re a business leader, he says, you don’t have to be liked. “If you want to be popular, you can’t get things done.”

We’re sitting in the quiet guest lounge of Daya Materials and Mazlin is extremely casual and candid. It feels like a chat, not an interview.

He explains to me how he doesn’t hesitate to fire people, even at the directorial level, because they either weren’t performing or did something that conflicted with the interests of the company.

“And he could be a friend,” he says matter-of-factly. “Friendship is secondary, the company always comes first. All that matters is our bottom line.”

I can’t let it go, not quite believing that a man as affable as he is, truly doesn’t care what his employees think of him. Don’t people who like and respect their bosses look forward to going to work and having the motivation to work harder?

“Well, I like them to like their jobs.”

Would you be okay if your successor in the future is a woman?

“Oh certainly, I’m not gender specific. I’d like to have more female board members but right now, there’s only a few. Malaysia’s industry has always been a bit chauvinistic with few women leaders, except maybe banking.”

He mentions Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz as a woman he feels is a brilliant leader, alongside Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz and Datuk Farah Khan.

“Women,” he says, “are more passionate. There are very few female business leaders who can be as cold-hearted as men. People like me, I’m very cold-hearted.”

In what way? “Well, when I take more than one wife, for example, I’m very cold-hearted about it.”

But that’s not business, I protest, laughing.

But since he brings up his wives, I assume I’ve just been given permission to delve into the topic of his rather large family, with four wives and now three, after a recent divorce.

People ask him, all the time, why he chose to have so many wives.

“And I tell them ... because I could. Although now, I wish I hadn’t.”

Why? I’m fascinated. This is, by far, one of the most interesting conversations I’ve had about relationships.

He makes a noise, somewhere between a grunt and a sigh. “The amount of stress and management! Obviously, all these things that happened, nothing was planned.”

I raise my eyebrows. What do you mean, nothing was planned? When you propose to a woman, isn’t it planned? I point out.

He counters that it wasn’t his lifelong ambition to get married multiple times. “Sometimes it was done on a spur of a moment”.

Are you the kind of man who gets swept away by love and that’s why you propose to women on impulse?

“That’s a good question,” he muses. “Somebody asked if I know what love means. Until today, I can’t figure it out – what love for a wife is all about. Responsibility, somehow, is stacked right at the top for me.

Running one household is hardly easy, but to run four (now three) at a time, takes some mighty management skills. Mazlin has it down to a workable, practical schedule that he says keeps everyone happy.

As he explains it, “Relationships are just like work. I use my work practices at home. There are tasks to be done and I implement the same regime for every household.”

I listen wide-eyed as he elaborates, describing how he sometimes repeats the same holiday three times with his different wives.

“No, my wives don’t mix,” he volunteers the information, knowing what I am about to ask just from the look on my face.

Surely there’s bound to be jealousy?

“They’re not jealous of each other, but they’re jealous of other women!” he declares and I am reminded of how he can now marry another.

“Somebody asked me if I’m on a fleet renewal programme,” he jokes. “But no, I have my hands full right now.”

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