Malaysian Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin recently appointed Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin as chairman of Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB), effective July 1, 2020.
He was previously the president and chief executive officer of state oil firm Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas). His position in Petronas will be succeeded by Petronas group chief financial officer Tengku Muhammad Taufik Tengku Aziz.
Wan Zulkiflee’s crisis management experience in the oil and gas industry will stand him in good stead in steering MAB
Aviation principal consultant Jaafar Zamhari said despite Wan Zulkiflee comes from a different background, he would be capable to assail MAB to greater heights in spite of the challenging economic situation for aviation industry impacted by Covid-19.
“There will be a two-phase mission for him. Firstly, managing the crisis that will take him around two years — the (same) way he used to do in the oil and gas landscape.
“Secondly, learning (about) the aviation and airline industry, (which) will be easy for him. In the learning process, he can steer MAB in the right direction. He has the aviation industry knowledge as well, coming from Petronas, our major aviation fuel supplier,” Jaafar Zamhari said.
MAB believe he can do a lot to transform the industry
“Wan Zulkiflee is a visionary leader. The change (in landscape) from oil and gas to aviation will not be a problem (to him).
“He can do a lot to transform MAB. Give him all the freedom to steer the airline (and) I guarantee MAB will succeed,” he added.
Wan Zulkiflee has spent his entire career at Petronas since 1983
M’sian PM, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin expressed his heartfelt appreciation for Wan Zulkiflee’s leadership and contribution over the 37 years that he has served at Petronas.
“He has succeeded in maintaining Petronas as a GLC that has a solid financial position and is governed with excellence. Petronas is among our few GLCs that have a strong international credit rating and remains listed as a Global Fortune 500 company, ” he said.
He holds a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Adelaide
Wan Zulkiflee attended the Malay College Kuala Kangsar and graduated in 1977. He later earned a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Adelaide, South Australia.
In 2004, he attended the INSEAD Senior Management Development Program and the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School. He was conferred an Honorary Fellowship by the Institution of Chemical Engineers, United Kingdom in November 2005.
He has helmed Petronas through challenging times
Wan Zulkiflee has strong portfolio in managing crisis. In 2014, he dealth with weak commodity prices and steered the company through the period by reducing capital expenditure and cutting jobs while churning out profits to pay dividends to the government.
Earlier this year in February, he said Petronas would pay RM 24 billion in dividends to the government but there was no plan for a special dividend payment to the government in 2020. In 2019, the oil giant paid a special dividend of RM 30 billion in addition to a normal dividend of RM 24 billion.
He led Petronas to partner with Saudi Arabia’s national oil company – Saudi Aramco
He also led Petronas to partner Saudi Arabia’s national oil company Saudi Aramco to develop the Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) project in Pengerang, Johor.