An Interview with the CEO of InvestKL

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Tasked with bringing multinasional companies to Greater KL as part of the overall plan to propel Malaysia into a high-income nation status, InvestKL is finding success and is optimistic about the future. Editor Chad Merchant sat down with CEO Zainal Amanshah to learn more about the business potential right here in KL.

As a principal part of Malaysia’s ambitious goals of achieving high-income status by 2020, InvestKL was created and launched in July 2011 to bring at least 100 large multinational companies (MNCs) to the Greater KL area in that same timeframe. Two years on, the plan has seen reliable, steady success. Though Greater KL has numerous benefits to offer MNCs, enticing them to take the plunge and invest millions in setting up regional headquarters here isn’t always an easy task, as InvestKL CEO Zainal Amanshah explained.

“First and foremost, we must understand the client’s business and determine how to help them successfully integrate their business operations here,” Mr Amanshah outlined. “We actually shepherd them through the entire process, so it takes a real hands-on approach.” He went out to detail the services that InvestKL offers, ranging from recommendations on a client’s best investment and deployment strategies to proposing talent management programmes to managing the entire transition, even providing familiarisation programmes for client’s staff.

“It’s so much more than just attracting these global companies,” Mr Amanshah said. “We have a mandate from the government to not only showcase to these companies why Greater KL offers them so much, but to also actually facilitate their move and transition, and make the process as seamless as possible for them.”

Expats from all over the world have discovered Greater KL and know it to be an easy place in which to live as a foreigner. InvestKL aims to take that a step further by highlighting not only the lifestyle which makes the city attractive to expats, but the business environment that makes KL such a natural choice for MNCs wishing to tap into the surging Asia market.

“It’s a strategic location in Southeast Asia,” Mr Amanshah explained. “Within a short flight, you can be in almost any of Asia’s key business centres. And Greater KL has excellent connectivity via road, rail, air, and sea.” He also noted the political stability of the country and Greater KL’s proven track record as a successful home to MNCs such as IBM, Shell, HSBC, Citibank, GlaxoSmithKline, Nestlé, BMW, Nokia, and many others.

When asked about some of the obstacles faced by InvestKL, Mr Amanshah answered candidly, “One of the more challenging ones is the negative perception of Malaysia. This is, however, changing.” He continued, “Another challenge is more logistical in nature, just the complexities of going across state lines [in Malaysia], such as having the headquarters in KL and subactivities like manufacturing located in another state. However, there are so many good things here, the obstacles are small by comparison.”

Indeed, one of Greater KL’s most appealing attributes continues to be the comparative cost of quality living here. Good infrastructure, a vast array of shopping and dining options, plenty of top-tier international schools, excellent medical centres, a growing cultural scene, and a vibrant multicultural population – all with a comparatively low cost of living. Combined with a well educated workforce and Malaysia’s desire to grow its expat population, too, and its attractive business-friendly policies and incentives, it’s easy to see why Greater KL is an appealing choice for MNCs.

As InvestKL’s first and only CEO, Mr Amanshah has overseen the company’s success since its inception. And as the company’s first employee, he has also directed the steady growth of InvestKL. “Today we have around 35 employees, all dedicated to helping companies see the benefit of operating in Greater KL. “We believe the future of KL and all of Malaysia is very bright,” he said. “I think KL has to earn the status of being a world-class international city, and believe that we’re taking the right steps to make that happen.”



InvestKL Malaysia

Tasked by the Malaysian government to attract and facilitate large global multinationals to set up their regional business, innovation, and talent hubs in Greater Kuala Lumpur and strategically grow their business in Asia, InvestKL works with other government ministries, entities, and agencies to formulate attractive fiscal packages and help corporations identify business opportunities while strengthening their competitiveness regionally and globally.

Source: The Expat September 2013

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