The Leaderonomics Show met up with Azran Osman Rani in 2014.
Appointed CEO of AirAsia X in July 2007, Azran launched AirAsia X’s inaugural flight to the Gold Coast, Australia in November of the same year. He led the start-up team that developed the business plan, raised capital, secured relevant licenses and approvals, and acquired aircraft.
He spoke of his bias toward action, that was honed during his prior experience in multiple countries, building businesses from scratch – going from the shareholders agreement to having hundreds of people mobilised within 12 months.
On having a team that is flexible and adaptable, Azran said that one of the dangers of trying to have a long term plan is that you can develop a rigid mindset and start to believe your own assumptions about the world. This tunnel vision may result in you missing out on opportunities.
In an organisation, it is important to create a culture where information flows both ways – not necessarily just ideas top-down. Azran shared an example of how people on the ground were really able to escalate their ideas, issues and problems up quickly.
As leaders, you have to earn the credibility of your people – it is not automatically given. Engaging with your frontline teams, and the speed with which you start addressing problems help you earn that credibility. Even if you aren’t able to solve 100% of the problems – the next time around more will be willing to open up and engage, and starting raising more substantive issues.
Azran also shared how he balanced being CEO and maintaining his keen interest in sports, and how it has helped him as a leader. He learnt that
- nothing is impossible
- it is possible to do multiple things at once but you must have clear determination
- you need to have a bias for action
- discipline and tenacity is shaped, refined, sharpened because you are extremely persistent
- you become a better time manager
- you prioritise what you do and are very clear about what you don’t do – to be very intentional, deliberate
Ultimately you develop mental resilience and focus.
Like having to override the pain you feel in a triathlon – this is no different from the tenacity you need to face challenges at work.
“Just don’t give up”, says Azran.
Of all his role models and mentors, he shares how his parents really helped shape his character – even from the tender age of 4. They were very supportive – allowing him to explore and try different things.
He also spoke of the areas he would love to get more involved in – with regard working with the entrepreneurial community in Malaysia, he said a lot more can be done, especially with social enterprises.
“I’d love to find ways of helping businesses – creating new businesses that have a positive and lasting impact on society and the environment”.
In keeping with tradition, our host Lily Cheah had our guest answer questions from our Thinkonomics game – three questions which revealed quite a bit more about Azran than you might normally hear in an interview.
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