8th #GreatHeights Series – Mohd Haniz bin Mohd Nazlan
By Afiza Zulyadaen
Our first star for KYSER #GreatHeights series this year is Mohd Haniz bin Mohd Nazlan, from class 2000, – the Chief Investment Officer of Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT). Haniz, a Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) scholar, graduated from the London School of Economics (LSE) in Actuarial Science and served PNB dedicatedly for more than 13 years before moving to LTAT. In the interview, Haniz talked about his KYS experience, education and career journey, as well as his life aspirations.
Family-like KYS Community
For Haniz, the favourite thing about his KYS experience was the close bond and family-like community among friends, teachers, and staff. However, assimilating life in KYS after joining in Form 4 was not all smooth sailing for him. “I had to learn and adapt towards the new culture and surroundings, especially when other classmates had established a very strong camaraderie among them since Form 1. Early on, there was even a confrontation with some of the guys about my personality. But we settled our differences amicably and amongst them have now become my closest friends to this day.”
Although the daily schedule was hectic, Haniz found that balancing time between extracurricular activities and academics was never a problem. “It was more about stealing enough time to recharge yourself like skipping lunch to power nap”. He was awarded the Tan Sri Halim Saad Gold Medal for his active participation and outstanding academic performance, despite having only two years in KYS.
“All the teachers took great care of me, believed and supported me throughout my time at KYS. I also had a very close group of friends who provided strong support throughout.”
Accepting PNB Scholarship in Actuarial Science
Having spent too much time in chemistry labs with his chemist parents during his childhood, Haniz knew he didn’t want to pursue a science-related career. Hence, rejecting Medicine and Engineering scholarship offers. Instead, a counselling session about his potential career options, love for Mathematics and Creative Arts sparked his interest in Actuarial Science. The subjects of Economics, Accounting, Investment and Finance which were all part of the Actuarial Science syllabus had that element of subjectivity which would allow him to express his creativity. Also, the moment he stepped in the PNB building for the scholarship interview, he knew it was where he was meant to be. Having accepted PNB’s scholarship offer, Haniz pursued A-levels at Kolej Yayasan UEM (KYUEM) while experimenting on his leadership potential.
As a city lover, Haniz was ecstatic to be accepted into his preferred university, the London School of Economics (LSE). “The main building was tucked in between office buildings. If you were not looking for it, there’s a high chance you wouldn’t even notice the school being there. The best part of London was the plethora of cafes to hangout, the shops, theaters and plays. Plus, the Malaysian community there was quite strong making it easier to adapt. In terms of studies, from the second year onward, I found it harder to cope with the technical subjects of Actuarial Science which required me to put in extra hours and effort during my final year to elevate my overall performance”.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in London.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time in London. It will forever remain special to me as it was where I got to know my beloved wife.”
Learn While You Can
Being a self-challenger, Haniz seized the opportunity to further his studies when PNB had a collaboration with the Financial Services Institute of Australasia. He pursued both Postgrad Diploma and Masters in Applied Finance and Investment Programmes. He also took additional papers to obtain the Certified Financial Technician (CFTe) qualification, which studies reading technical price charts towards forecasting price movements. “The greatest privilege granted by PNB to me was when they sent me to Harvard Business School to pursue a 6-month Leadership Programme. It was basically a mini MBA but with CEOs, CFOs, COOs of global leading companies as classmates. It was truly an eye opening experience of self discovery and really shaped my leadership style preferences and behavior.”
Climbing The Ladder
Starting his career journey as an investment professional, Haniz was a Management Trainee at PNB in 2006 where he was put through a 6-month training programme involving classes and an attachment in the Corporate Services Department. Then, for eight years, he worked at the CEO’s office of PNB. The position allowed him to work very closely with the then CEO, Tan Sri Hamad Kama Piah Che Othman as well as being mentored by the Head of the CEO’s Office and PNB’s Chief Strategy Officer, namely Datin Paduka Kartini Abdul Manaf.
“It was among the best years of my career as it provided me with a helicopter view of the institution while enabling me to develop a strong foundation in terms of corporate knowledge, technical skills and competencies.”
As the PNB management team recognized Haniz’s ability in corporate strategy work, he was then moved to the Asset Management Division where he spent five years setting up future strategic plans and leading key change initiatives for the Division which included driving PNB’s global diversification plans during his stint in the International Fund Management Department. He then led the establishment of the Strategic Asset Allocation Framework for PNB and helped set up the new Department. In his last year at PNB, he was also given the role to double hat as the Head of the Investment Analysis Department. “Amongst the proudest career moments for me was when I was awarded the Leadership Excellence Award at PNB after 12 years of hardwork and dedication.”
Building The Nation
After a series of interviews and coffee sessions, Haniz made the toughest decision of his career in leaving PNB to join Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT) as its first Chief Investment Officer in August 2019. “The decision to accept the job was made easier with the knowledge that the new role would bring about positive impact in terms of nation building, similar to what had driven me to serve PNB over all those years. Taking real good care of the Armed Forces’ retirement savings is the least I can do to repay the national heroes who have risked their lives to protect the country and our people.”
Dreams and Life Aspirations
The father of two sets his ultimate life goal of being able to live comfortably with his loved ones, being there to celebrate the most important moments of their lives and also to achieve financial freedom as early as possible. “I have always had a dream of pursuing my own small business that somehow relates to love for art. Maybe having my own cool coffee joint or a small interior design shop, fashion label or art gallery. Also pursue philanthropy even on a small scale to ensure meaningful life with a clear sense of purpose.”
Tips to Keep in Mind
Not to miss the opportunity to learn from an expert, we asked Haniz for some tips and advises. For those aspiring to be in the investment field, Haniz gave four key-points: having the right “niat” or intentions, keeping a positive mindset, learning people and soft skills, and having strong support especially from your family.
“Persevere and keep faith that God knows best and will guide you when things become tough and overwhelming.”
For those students who are still uncertain of their career path, “the key is to find your areas of strengths and passion. Make sure you excel in your studies regardless of the subject matter and be as active as possible outside of academics. It’ll just be a much needed ticket for you to pursue the next stages of your journey and would open up the necessary doors.”