Meet the innovation driver with a passion for public policy

Noorida Baharuddin FCPA is CFO of the Malaysia Deposit Insurance Corporation. Photographer: Aaron Chin.

Working for statutory bodies requires a certain passion for public service and the skill to harness team synergies to achieve the best possible results. Noorida Baharuddin brings all that and more to her role as CFO with Malaysia Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Fact File

Joined Malaysia Deposit Insurance Corporation (MDIC): 2006 as Chief Internal Auditor. Became CFO in June 2014
Based: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Formerly: Price Waterhouse (now PwC), Malaysian Airline System (MAS), Securities Commission Malaysia, Offshore Financial Services Authority
Qualifications: FCPA, Bachelor of Business (Tasmania); Bachelor of Law (Malaysia)
Team: 36 across finance/facilities and materials/IT
MDIC total income 2015: A$156.9 million (derived from MDIC member premiums and levies and investment income)
MDIC total funds and reserves 2015: A$792.6 million
Note: A$1.00 = RM3.2057 as at 5 May 2017

1. My role: "Promoting innovation" 

Malaysia Deposit Insurance Corporation (MDIC) is part of the national financial safety net. It’s a statutory body established in 2005 to administer the Deposit Insurance System (DIS) and the Takaful and Insurance Benefits Protection System (TIPS), two financial consumer protection schemes for bank depositors and insurance policy owners in Malaysia, respectively. 

I’m responsible for the management of accounting and treasury functions, as well as information technology, office administration and operational business policies, processes and controls. I have to strike a balance between being hands-on and focusing on strategic orientation. 

Leading teams from diverse areas has given me the opportunity to unleash the full potential of my teams’ synergies. It’s also an opportunity to create new leaders within the team to promote innovation and encourage new ideas. 

My other key responsibilities include chairing the Asset and Liability Management Committee, which reviews our investment and financial risk management practices. I’m also on the Executive Management Committee, IT Steering Committee and Enterprise Risk Management Committee.  

2. Game-changers: "Strategic position"

Before joining MDIC, I had gained experience in external and internal auditing, risk management and policy development. The game-changer was being put on the job-rotation plan to assume a more strategic position. As part of MDIC’s human capital plan there are job-rotation opportunities for employees to be cross-trained in related areas and gain a wider variety of skills. 

I had already spent eight years in audit at MDIC as Chief Internal Auditor and had established an internal auditors’ group for deposit insurers. The experience leading the audit team gave me the opportunity to understand most aspects of MDIC’s operations and strategies, and was an excellent foundation for a more strategic role. Coupled with my CPA background and experience in financial and IT audits, it made for a relatively smooth transition.

Professional Development: Thinking like a CFO value pack: Take your career to the next level and begin to adopt the skills of an aspiring CFO.

3. My passion: "Sound governance"

Of my 25 years of working experience, 21 of those have been in a regulatory environment. It may sound bizarre but I’m passionate about contributing towards the objectives of statutory bodies and the successful development and implementation of public policies. 

When I was in audit, I focused on how to add value and partner with management to strengthen the MDIC’s systems of internal controls and governance. I made recommendations based on international best practices or proven corporate business practices, ensuring buy-in from management. 

Now, on the other side of the equation, I ensure effective development and implementation of internal control systems to maintain sound governance. For example, with both finance and IT under my wing, it is seamless to work on system enhancements for finance to enable greater efficiency and effectiveness. 

It’s important to provide senior management with up-to-date operational and financial data and analysis.

Lessons learned and best advice

Keep learning

Assuming more strategic roles means taking on more challenges. You must keep abreast of new developments in standards, markets and the financial industry – and at a faster speed. These can be learned, but the bigger challenge is to take the initiative to develop new capabilities. This requires preparation and a positive mindset. 

It's about teamwork

I realise the importance of having the right people [on the team], with relevant technical competencies, good attitude and leadership skills. You need to have good relations with colleagues at all levels and continuously engage with team members to empower them. That keeps motivation high.

Engage relevant parties

If you want to expand your skills and knowledge, take the opportunity to play a more active role in managing external stakeholders. For me it was particularly important in areas concerning financial consumer awareness about MDIC and our mandate.

Humility and integrity matter

In this multinational era, with regulations and international accounting standards continuously being enhanced and updated, managing a company’s financials will increase in complexity. CFOs will need accounting and financial acumen, and strong analytical skills, plus good communication skills.

Integrity and professional ethics go a long way; so does a sense of humility.

Read next: How to build a great team

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