Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Honda - Our Challenging Spirit

It may seem deluded to honour a successful businessman for his passion and dedication.

After all, he already earns enough financial returns, not to mention accolades for his ventures which have borne fruit.

With Honda's Our Challenging Spirit Contest, which required the nomination of someone with with either dedication and passion being the driving force behind them in whatever they do, and for some reason, I just had Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes in mind.

So he's the man that won the 2002-2003 Malaysian CEO of the Year Award, which he won when piloting the then fledgling AirAsia to greater heights.

Forget the string of awards to his for making his popular low-cost carrier a household name in Malaysia and the region, rising to prominence by turning AirAsia from a fledgling
government-linked commercial airline into a highly successful public-listed company.

Forget the fact that AirAsia, a homegrown enterprise, has blossomed into an internationally-recognised name that embodies the whole spirit of Malaysia Boleh.

Born and bred in Kuala Lumpur, educated in England at Epsom College and the London School of Economics, Fernandes, an accountant, worked briefly with British-based Virgin Atlantic as an auditor before becoming financial controller of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Records in London in the late 1980s.

When he returned to Malaysia, he earned the distinction of being the youngest managing director of Warner Music and eventually, Southeast Asian vice-president of the Warner Music Group before leaving the music industry to kick-start his vision of a budget airline. Tony, a Facebook friend, whom I've known by face and reputation just before he made his exit from the music business, is an inspiration for all the right reasons.

His vision post 9/11 seemed impossible, but through the success story he has proven with AirAsia and its numerous conquests, on the ground and in the sky, it expands more than the recognisable branding of 'Now Everyone Can Fly'.

The hard work, spurred on by his dedication and passion has brought the whole country just a little closer.

I know it sounds a little far fetched or dramatic, but affordability of bringing distances a little closer REALLY does mean a lot, especially for families who are parted by kilometres and hardly have the Ringgits or Sens to spare for flying which traditionally was more of a frivolous luxury.

And despite firstly being a man of business, Tony has continued to innovate and open up the region to a whole market of low cost air carriers.

No more is flying, or going great distances an exclusive club.

And after it's initial humble establishment in 1993, beginning operations by end 1996, AirAsia was finally recognised at SKYTRAX World Airline Awards ceremony in Hamburg, Germany earlier this year as the best global low cost carrier.

All this from the airline that was originally founded by government-owned conglomerate DRB-Hicom and once heavily in debt, taken over by Tony through the purchase of it through Tune Air Sdn Bhd for a token sum of one Ringgit by the end of 2001.

It took only a year for AirAsia to begin sowing the seeds of its inevitable success, with its various firsts, including promotional fares as low as RM1 and abolishment of fuel surcharges.

And with a long list of success stories, with Thai AirAsia, Indonesia AirAsia, AirAsia X - it's long haul service, AirAsia is something truly Malaysian to be proud of.

And AirAsia Bhd group chief executive officer, Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, you have my aye for embodying true passion in bringing Malaysians just a little closer.

To vote for Tony, or nominate someone, CLICK HERE

PS - Aku gembira hari ni. Nanti je aku cita besok!