The 35th President of the U.S., John F. Kennedy once said, “Leadership and Learning are Indispensable to Each Other.” And, this statement stands true for every leader whether leading a country or a company. Surely the hunger for learning and upkeep of knowledge is essential to crafting success, especially, in the business world where the pace of change is ever-accelerating. It is a mark of an influential business leader to learn continuously and utilize learning for remarkable purposes. The very best entrepreneurs never stop learning and constantly evolve and innovate to bring change through their dedicated endeavors with a deliberate pursuit to make people’s lives easier. One such perpetual learner and philanthropic woman entrepreneur, who is creating a positive difference in society through her distinguished service, untiring devotion towards her endeavors, and unwavering zest for learning, is Anne Rajasaikaran, the Principal Officer of the Budimas Charitable Foundation, and the CEO of Edumaax Education Group.“I strongly believe that I am on this path because of my passion for learning. Many people equate age, status, or certain achievements with the end of their education, but to learn is to be alive. I have come to realize that I can never be satiated with the knowledge I have, and the thirst to seek more. Learning should never stop,” asserts Anne.
From a very young age, Annehad a passion for learning, starting fromformal education to on-the-job discoveries. This is when she found her drive to be an entrepreneur. Currently, Anne serves as the Principal Officer of The Budimas Charitable Foundation, a non-profitable organization dedicated to providing guidance and funding for the well-being of orphans and underprivileged children in Malaysia. Her responsibilities involve overseeing initiatives within Human Resources, Finance and Admin, Public Relations and Communication, Marketing and Funds (Home, Education, and Food) departments. On top of that, she also oversees the Edumaax Group of Companies, the parent organization for Imperium International College, St. John’s International School, and Pusat Tuisyen Kasturi as Chief Executive Officer. All the above entities are subsidiaries of MAA Group Berhad.
The Journey of MAA Group Berhad So far
MAA Group Berhad (“MAAG”) is a Malaysian investment holding company listed on the Main Board of Bursa Malaysia.MAAG has a long history, commencing operations as Malaysian American Assurance Company Berhad (“MAAB”) in 1968, which was principally engaged in General and Life insurance businesses. In 1985, MAAB changed its name to Malaysian Assurance Alliance Berhad (“MAA Assurance”).For over 4 decades, through its subsidiaries and associate companies, MAAG was principally engaged in Conventional Life and General Insurance, Unit Trust, Family Takaful, and General Takaful businesses, Asset Management, Trust Fund, Property Management, and Services, Information Technology, and Security Services.
Presently, the Group’s significant business segments are General Insurance; via its subsidiary, MAA General Assurance Philippines, Inc. (“MAAGAP”) in the Philippines, and Education Services. The Group’s other segments are hire purchase, leasing, SME debt factoring, and other credit facilities, advisory and consultancy services of hotel management, operators of hotel accommodation, food and beverage, operators of short-term property accommodation, logistics and dispatch, and the provision of property management, design, and renovation services. “In MAA, we are driven to build a brand that is highly recognizable, give confidence, and develop the loyalty and respect of customers and the community. The team is encouraged to undertake only actions that are consistent with our values and that will reinforce our mission towards nobility, wisdom, and strength,” adds Anne.
Steering the Success of the Organization
When Anne was first tasked with helming The Budimas Charitable Organisation, she quickly jumped into building awareness of what the organization does and how each donation impacts the lives of its recipients. In 2010, she initiated the Budimas Children’s Food Programme which has now grown from 30 childrento over 7300 children across 12 states. “Achieving this success wasn’t easy. You need strong leadership to make sure everyone on your team is going in the same direction and working towards the same goal. And when the ball gets rolling, you have to take a step back and let your team shine,” opines Anne.
Under the insightful leadership of Anne, The Budimas Charitable Foundation has now reached out in supporting more than 10,000 underprivileged children across Malaysia.Since its inception in 1968, the company has grown tremendously, with its presence across the world. And, at the same time, it also takes pride in its CSR activities where it has been actively committed to community service projects that have helped raise public awareness of various pressing social and community-related issues.
Honesty and Openness are the Keys to Success
Every business leader has their own set of principles, beliefs, and values, which sets them apart from the rest. For Anne, the key to business success lies in integrity, honesty, and open communication.“Ultimately, leadership is not about glorious crowning acts. It’s about keeping your team focused on a goal and motivated to do their best to achieve it, especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter,” affirms Anne.
Being a successful leader, her advice to aspiring and budding entrepreneurs is to foster open and honest communication and create an environment where honesty and openness in all aspects of communication are encouraged. She also urges them to welcome people to share their views, talk about the obstacles in their way and ask for and listen to feedback. And, most importantlyensure that their team has a clear path to their door if they need it.
Chalking the Growth Ahead
When it comes to the future, MAAG has several initiatives in its pipeline. Currently, the group is engaged in an extensive search for new additional core businesses to further diversify its income streams and create more job opportunities and career advancements for both existing and new employees. MAA has also taken an interest in the education sector. With the acquisition of St.John’s International School (SJIS) in 2019 and the establishment of Imperium International College (Imperium), the Chairman, Tunku Yaacob Khyra has made education a key pillar of MAA’s strategy. MAA aspires to build a one-stop education hub to make high-quality education accessible to all, owing to its partnerships with The Budimas Charitable Foundation and the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN).
It also has plans to introduce several new education entities in the near future which comprise international schools for primary and secondary students across key cities in Malaysia as well as an international boarding school in Italy, in partnership with the highly acclaimed UK boarding school, Cheltenham College. As a leader of the organization, Anne’s mission is to create a workplace that supports involvement and provides positive, fun ways for employees to get together for personal and professional development activities, both within and outside normal company hours. “I am also working towards providing strong infrastructures that support employee growth — both in philosophy and also literally with actual resources and budgets — validate their commitment to each employee’s professional development and foster a strong sense of culture and community,” concludes Anne.