11 Unique Life Lessons from Dato’ Seri Nazir Razak

nazir razak speaking at conference

It’s the end of an era for the Chairman of CIMB Group, Malaysia’s second-largest bank, Datuk Seri Nazir Razak who will be stepping down from his post and all other positions within the group after 29 years of serving the organization. The brother of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was CIMB’s CEO for 15 years and Group Chairman since 2014.

Datuk Seri Nazir Razak was also named one of Asia’s 50 most influential figures of the last decade by FinanceAsia in 2006 and the “Best Top Executive in Malaysia” by Asiamoney for 2 consecutive years in 2009 and 2010. Throughout his professional career with the bank, he has exemplified great professionalism and leadership skills throughout his journey in building CIMB Group to where it is today.

To commemorate his achievements and contributions, not only to CIMB but also to his passion in advocating for ASEAN integration, we have compiled an article for us to learn from the man. Here are some of the great values picked up through his Instagram account that you can learn and apply at your workplace to empower your habits, work ethics, and ultimately your career.

Related: The Bank of the Future? Here’s Why CIMB is a Great Place to Work

1. Make a habit of reading

Everyone knows that reading is a great way to expand your knowledge, build new skills, and also potentially learning from other people’s (the author’s ) experience or mistakes. However, given how demanding our professional careers have developed in modern day, how many of us actually makes it a habit to allocate at least 30 minutes a day to read a book?

Fun fact: The average CEO reads 52 books a year, that’s about 1 book per week.

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Back at the world’s best bookshop😎

A post shared by Nazir Razak (@nazir.razak) on


2. Be assertive and never be afraid to speak up

While it is not uncommon in the Asian culture to assume a conservative mantle at work, it will only do harm to your career prospects if you have all your opinions and concerns bottled up inside. Depending on the situation and stakeholder(s) involved, it is often a much better idea to be (politely) assertive and communicate your opinions at work. However, you should be smart about it and always have a game plan before you do.

3. Have a sense of humour

Learn from some of the most successful businessmen and corporate professionals in the industry. Life at the office should not be just about work. It always pays off to have a little sense of humour (at the right time of course), and build personal connections with your peers and bosses. Learn from Dato’ Seri Nazir Razak, take a break and chill every now and then. Your body and mind will thank you for it and perform much better after!


4. Cultivate integrity at the core of your leadership

Having honesty and integrity in the workplace is one of the most important qualities of great leadership in business. Without integrity, there is no trust. Without trust, a company culture will become unhealthy and eventually crumble.

Integrity is a state of mind and is not situational. If you compromise your integrity in small situations with little consequence, then it becomes easy to also compromise in big situations.


5. Always be appreciative and recognize achievements

It is always easy for us to take others for granted, especially in the midst of an extremely busy project and with deadlines piling up. However, it is always a good thing to take a minute or two throughout the day to thank your colleagues when they have added value to your life. Whether it’s thanking your peer who helped to get you a cup of coffee or thanking your supervisor for their guidance and mentorship, appreciation will go a long way.

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Congrats #teamcimb @samir.gupta11 @zafrulaziz

A post shared by Nazir Razak (@nazir.razak) on


6. Never be afraid to be family-oriented and show it

“Work always comes first.” That’s a quote that one probably hears a lot, especially in companies with fast-paced work environments. Depending on the industry, sometimes you may even be required to work half days on Saturdays. But remember that you are always dispensable in whichever company you join, and the only people who will be there for you when you’re down is your partner and your family.

Never be afraid to show that you prioritize family before work, just make sure you openly communicate to your superiors and cleverly manage expectations and deadlines.

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Ciao #capri #pasta

A post shared by Nazir Razak (@nazir.razak) on


7. Work hard, play harder

Given the societal pressure and inter-connectivity in the digital age, it is very easy for us to be tempted to just ‘stay on the grind’ and keep working until we clear off our entire action list. But if there’s one thing we learn from successful people like Datuk Seri Nazir Razak is that when it’s time to work, you should give in your 100%. However, when it’s time to play, make sure you don’t hold back and give in your 110%!

Always take time some time off work to work on yourself (exercise, meditation, grooming) and catching up on your favourite football match during the weekends. Remember that the human brain functions way more effectively when it has some time to destress and refocus.

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Watching a program with augmented reality at KMF2016. I like what I see but not the way I look!

A post shared by Nazir Razak (@nazir.razak) on


8. Incorporate a regular exercise routine and stay fit

Having a healthy body is important to sustain a sharp mind and build endurance (for both sports and work). Research has also shown that healthy employees are generally more productive, have higher morale, and take less sick time.

Pro tip: It’s unwise to remain seated in your chair for 3-4 hours straight. Set a timer to remind you to stand up every 45-60 minutes and talk a walk to the pantry or drop by your colleague’s desk to have a chat.

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Superman. In the background. Definitely not in the foreground. Only 60kg, already begging for mercy.

A post shared by Nazir Razak (@nazir.razak) on


9. Never be too proud to teach and mentor others

As you progress through your career, you will gain valuable experience and new skills. You will also be tasked to lead teams, departments, and eventually an entire organization, each progressive step making your schedule busier and more hectic. However, one should always remember to allocate time to coach and mentor others, especially those in your team. Not only is it important for the transfer of knowledge, but by teaching others, you are also reinforcing your understanding and building personal relationships with your colleagues.


10. Find time to give back to society and help those in need

Not only is it the right thing to do, it is also often time very fulfilling when one takes some time off to give back to the community, whether it’s participating in a full-on corporate CSR initiative, or just volunteering on your own with other external organizations around the region.

Related: Expand the World’s Biggest Brands at DKSH Malaysia


11. Practice servant leadership and be humble

Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy that places your people before yourself. This is unlike what traditional leadership styles that usually focuses on empowering and worshiping the leader of an organization. In today’s world, it is more important than ever before to remain humble even as we climb up the corporate ladder to a leadership position.

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Here to serve. Dinner for staff at the Risk Management Basel event @cimb_niaga

A post shared by Nazir Razak (@nazir.razak) on


Related: UpClose with Dato Hamidah Naziadin, Group Chief People Officer of CIMB Group


Feature Image Credit: TallyPress



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