MiA Asked.. Dato’ Wan Hisham, President of Dale Carnegie Malaysia

Marketing In Asia interviewed Dato’ Wan Hisham Wan Salleh, President of Dale Carnegie Malaysia about how he plans to play his Marketing game this year.

Dato’ Wan Hisham’s professional background is extremely rare. He has more than thirty years of experience in business, leadership and policy-making industry. With his credibility and vast experience, he has been honored by the Dale Carnegie & Associates, Inc for his values, insights and charismatic leadership to improve and further develop the Malaysian market and create a better working environment and lifestyle upon the foundation of the golden Dale Carnegie human relationship principle.  Since 2008, Dato’ Wan Hisham Wan Salleh has been the proud Chairman & CEO of Dale Carnegie Malaysia.

His journey as a professional in marketing and business started when he joined Petronas International Marketing Division to work in a team to develop a successful effective marketing plan to sell crude oil in 1979. After 4 years in the company, he left to start his own business mainly in shipping industry where the company provides towage and pilotage services at Kemaman Port, Terengganu. Being an eager and ambitious person, he also ventured into air conditioning business as well as construction industry operating in Terengganu, his birth state.

Resulted from his outstanding performance, he was offered to helm in state construction company as the chairman of GPQ Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of state Terengganu State Economic Development Corporation (SEDC). He has turned around from the losing concern of accumulated loss of 20 million to an accumulated profit of 12 million within 4 years. He then embarked with some friends to salvage an abandoned development project in Jelutong, Penang under the Udabina Sdn Bhd. The team managed to turn around the company and completed the project.

In 2004, he was called back to Terengganu to run for the State Assembly Election which he won. He was then appointed by the Chief Minister Dato Idris Jusoh to join the State Executive Council holding the State Infrastructure Development, Public Service, and Communication Committee portfolio due to his academic qualification and his vast experience in the construction business.

During his term as the State Infrastructure Development, Public Service, and Communication Committee, he worked on policy making and development of the state in both physical and people development. There were many footprints made during his stay. One of the most outstanding one was the launch of Monsoon Cup, a sailing match race that brings world-class sailors to Terengganu. The event was organized by T-Best events, a State Government owned company chaired by him at the time. The event was a signature event in Terengganu.

He has closely worked and earned his high credibility with top executives, key managers and state’s leaders in policy-making, people’s development, heritage as well as the infrastructure development to identify the best solutions and steps worth taking to further develop the state. Resulted from this were a lot of breakthrough in leadership and lifestyle of the people. With numerous projects delivered, they gained tremendous change. With his involvement, the state had improved its transportation system bringing East Coast Expressway connecting Terengganu to the west coast of Peninsula Malaysia cutting the time needed from 9 hours to 4 hours’ drive from Kuala Terengganu to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. He also upgraded the airport, providing computer literacy for the suburban and elderly people on Information Technology, building free houses for the under poverty and brought Terry Thoren to the state to start Animation Development Program which produced 1200 animators from the state, thus developing the creative industry.

His leadership aptitude is clearly undoubtful when once again, he showed his mettle by turning around TDM Sdn Bhd, a public listed company controlled by the state of Terengganu. When he took over the chairmanship in 2004, the market capitalization was RM 140 million. When he left in 2008, the market capitalization grew approximately 200% to RM 1 billion.

With these profound knowledge and extensive diversity, Dato’ Wan Hisham performs with excellent competencies in both English and Malay. He was first exposed to Dale Carnegie in 1997 when he took The Dale Carnegie Course. When he was offered to be the Chairman in 2008, he took it as a challenge to better himself and to build up Dale Carnegie Malaysia so more people can benefit from its courses. When asked why he decided to take the chair, he said, “When the opportunity to be a franchise holder for Dale Carnegie Malaysia came, I did not hesitate at all.

“The Dale Carnegie course that I took in 1997, it totally transformed my life. I benefit a lot from it and I want to share with the younger generation so they too, can benefit from it”.

Claiming that he sees a lot of potential in Dale Carnegie, being the franchise holder also give him a platform to share his insight and experience with other people. Dale Carnegie Malaysia won multiple awards under his wings. The first one was the Chairman Club’s Award in 2008. In 2015, the franchise received Silver Club Award and was followed by the 10% Growth Award in 2017.

For his contribution in developing Terengganu, Dato’ Wan Hisham was knighted by Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin with Darjah Dato’ Paduka Mahkota Terengganu (DPMT) (Knight Commander of the Crown Terengganu) entitling him as Dato’.

Tell us about your role in Dale Carnegie Malaysia.

Dale Carnegie believes that everyone inherits greatness.

We change how people see themselves, so they can change how the world sees them and that change the impact they have in the world

In Dale Carnegie Malaysia, I am devoted to help people realize how much impact they can have in this world by empowering them with the drivers for success. I am here to make sure that we always give our best in upholding the beliefs. I prioritize my time to discuss with my team on issues such as ensuring our trainers follow the Dale Carnegie ISO 9001 certification process to maintain world-class standard, connecting my team with key leaders in the industry to gain insights into the market needs for professional development, driving collaboration between Dale Carnegie ASEAN and leading my team on the strategic level. In a nutshell, I would say my role is to steer Dale Carnegie Malaysia towards the pathway in becoming the premier thought leader on Employee Engagement, providing solutions to help organizations optimise performance by creating commitment and engagement in employees.

How do you see the evolvement of the local human capital industry here for the past decade?

In the last few years, I can say that the local human capital industry has made a quantum leap. Training is no longer about finishing the budget. We see organizations focusing on people development such as conducting a thorough training needs analysis to identify the competencies gap before conducting trainings, running employee engagement survey across subsidiaries in their group, reviewing their performance management system to align employees work with the deserving rewards and recognition. We also observed increasing number of conference discussing the topic of human capital development, in fact, Dale Carnegie Malaysia has conducted Employee Engagement Conference in two consecutive years since 2016.

In 2016, we organized ENGAGE 2016: Building Talents for Impactful Results by Mark Cosgrove, Director of Trainer Quality and Carnegie® Master Trainer who shared insights on Creating Engagement with Millennials. In 2017, we have Carnegie Master from Dale Carnegie Boston for the topic “How Great Organizations Create a Culture of Engagement. Both conferences have received positive turns out, with this, I believe that organizations in Malaysia shared our belief that people are indeed a company’s biggest asset.

Can you share the influence Dale Carnegie Malaysia made towards the nation’s human capital industry throughout its 40-year existence?

In the last 40 years, we produced approximately 12,000 to 15,000 graduates.  Does the experience with Dale Carnegie make a difference? Our graduates said yes!

For example, we have cases where a father or a mother took Dale Carnegie course with us about 10 to 20 years ago and is now making sure their children are attending the same course. Not to mention the repeated clients nationwide.

Organization wise, we have collaboration with corporations that we worked for 2 years or 3 years professional development. One of our client that has given us their consent to share their testimony is Vitrox Corporation Berhad. This is one of our success stories as shared by its Founder and CEO, Mr. Chu Jenn Weng.

Challenge. Being the world-leading automated machine vision inspection solution providers, Vitrox pursues excellence in everything we do. Vitrox foresaw the need to realize and integrate the values into actualization and practices in both our work and personal daily lives.

Solution. Vitrox started to engage with Dale Carnegie Excel since 2015.The development programme began with our leaders, then cascade to all levels of our employees, as we believed that all employees are equally important in contributing to the organizational growth and excellence.

Result. The result was simply outstanding; our core values were actualized into real-life practice and embedded within the organization. As a result, our team felt motivated at work and demonstrated a high level of enthusiasm to their works. Not only was it beneficial and impactful to the organizational performance and culture, it has also enhanced our relationship with the customers significantly as our sales grew tremendously.

Where do you see the industry is heading to in the next 5 years?

The industry is becoming more competitive. I see us developing even more in the next 5 years. Looking at how fast our technological advancement nowadays, it has become more crucial to possess what machine can never replace. The soft skills are what distinguish one person from the other. Speaking of technological advancement, with IR 4.0 the trend is moving towards digital and blended learning. I am confident with this because we are already moving in that direction in the last 2 years. We have been providing live online digital training since 2013, thus putting us ahead in the market.

The industry players are swarming the Internet, as it offers an equal playing level. Do you see this as a challenge to Dale Carnegie Malaysia’s market share?

Yes. It is a challenge. Research from Udemy Business indicates that mobile learning accounts for 25% of all learning worldwide and will only increase with Millennials and Gen X being the largest online learners. Micro-learning is expected to go full-tilt with super-short video clips of less than a minute

We are ahead in this field. We are among the first to introduce online training. The advantage we have is the availability of over 100 years’ experience, credibility, resource and global networking.

When it comes to capturing online community’s attention, it is a war out there. How do you plan to rise above the noise in 2018?

For 2018, we are focusing on content marketing as well as face to face marketing approach. We believe what we share online should add value to the reader, thus content marketing is the key. Face to face marketing is still valid and vital as this is what Dale Carnegie stands for, a genuine connection for us as human beings.

Do you think Content Marketing will dictate your online campaigns this year?

Yes, tremendously. We do not hard sell. We provide premium training program with excellent quality and thus we create content that speaks to our potential clients. “People do not want to be sold. Business buyers do not buy your product and service, they buy into your perspective and approach to solving their problems. Thought Leadership series is a systematic approach to deliver new ideas, relevant advice and compelling solutions to prospects and customers through sales, marketing and media channel”. This statement is the first line in our narrative that so clearly defines and separates Dale Carnegie Training from all other organizations when it comes to individual and corporate transformation.

Which combination of channels will contribute the most paid customers in 2018, is it social media, email, networking event or physical one-to-one professional relationships?

I would say that the channel that provides us the most paid customer is our professional relationship. We treat our professional relationship with our clients very seriously. Dale Carnegie values human relationship, we believe that genuine connection can go a long way. Many of our clients know us through word of mouth from their circle of influence. Some know us through reading Mr Dale Carnegie flagship books like How to Win Friends and Influence People and How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. We also have clients who come to us through reading one of our most famous Dale Carnegie graduate, Mr Warren Buffett book, The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life where he mentioned us for 16 times how Dale Carnegie Training has transformed his.

Why is that so?

Human touch gives us the time and opportunity to build trust. This is the key to gain willing cooperation and influence one’s decision.

Quality versus price, where does Dale Carnegie Malaysia stand when offering a training program to your customers?

Quality. We do not lower our price to compete with our competitors. This is because here in Malaysia, we are the only training provider with ISO certification for both product development and trainers’ certification and development process. For example, our professional Performance Consultant met with one of the Global HR Director for an MNC that is headquartered in Malaysia, we have strategic discussions and meetings with the client to uncover the root cause of the dynamics in leadership and employees’ performance and provide consultation of the right intervention solutions. The Global HR Director was impressed and at the end of one meeting, she told our performance consultant that Dale Carnegie Malaysia team are Stars!

Will Dale Carnegie Malaysia continue to use a lot of traditional marketing too this year?

Yes. Dale Carnegie values genuine relationship and thus we stick back to what we do best. We do not just provide training, we help people pave their ways to success and we build real connections along the way. Regardless of how many, how huge our online marketing efforts go, we always include face-to-face interaction where we would spend time to listen and try to understand our client’s present situations and needs to better assist them in getting where they want to be.

How about PR?

In terms of our PR strategy, we consistently build our credibility by organizing conferences to present the key findings of our research white papers to build awareness and understanding on the importance of employee engagement. We also organize free monthly workshops that we call as Power Morning, to highlight trending leadership topics that matters to the human capital development industry. For example, to enable more in-depth understanding about leadership blind spots in Malaysia, Dale Carnegie will kick-start a nationwide Leadership Blind Spots research in Malaysia. This research will involve 700 – 1000 respondents from a cross-section of industries, company size and positions in the organization, from individual contributors to CEOs. The focus of our PR effort is to maintain a positive brand reputation as the go-to expert on Employee Engagement and the premier thought leader for empowering dynamic leadership.

The best way to contact you?

People can always reach me via our office phone number 03 7665 3320. Else, they can contact me via LinkedIn.

Anything you wish to share to the readers?

For over 100 years, Dale Carnegie has helped communities all over the world prosper by improving the personal and financial well-being of the people who live there, and the companies that do business there. In Malaysia, we have presence since the 1960s. We are truly passionate about what we do, and for this passion, we will we continue to cross borders and generations, to show people how to tap into the best parts of themselves to create positive change.