“I’ve actually been delaying the tender of resignation for quite some time,” said Ashran in a press conference on Nov 23. “As soon as I was able to size up that MaGIC is safe under the Ministry (of Entrepreneur Development), I actually communicated (my intent) to the KSU,” he clarified, adding that the Ministry’s Secretary General was initially surprised by his request.
Ashran also shared that he had been mulling a departure since early this year, even before the change of government in May, due to opportunities that have opened up to him. Ashran will next be joining Dattel (http://www.dattel.asia/), which is based in Malaysia with a presence in Indonesia and Thailand. On his upcoming future role, Ashran said, “Coming on board as a partner and also a CEO for a regional consumer intelligence company, that has a pretty awesome huge potential moving forward, is too much to resist”.
Nevertheless, Ashran was bullish about the new arrangements for MaGIC, saying that “to some extent (MaGIC) can do better under a ministry dedicated to entrepreneurship”.
It also seems likely that MaGIC’s scope of work will largely remain unchanged, given that the organisation will be “operating on a similar budget scale” to what it currently has. For the time being, CFO Amiruddin Abdul Shukor will be the interim CEO, but Ashran was not able to give any indication who his successor will be. “There is no visibility on that,” he cryptically replied.
From an uncertain future to one under a new Ministry
Ashran confirmed that the reorganisation moving MaGIC under the authority of a Ministry is part of the on-going attempts by the government to make clearer the delineation between the public and private sector.
However, for a spell, it was uncertain if MaGIC would continue to exist at all. “When there was an announcement of potential disbandment, we had much difficulty with regards to re-engaging (the stakeholders),” he recalled, even to the extent that it was difficult to organise meetings.
“We were very thankful that that YB Lim Guan Eng who was our minister (at the time) gave that support then,” he stressed, referring to the Finance Minister’s appearance at the launch of the second cohort of the Global Accelerator Programme (GAP). “The support that he gave from a morale point of view allowed us to do work moving forward.”
Fortunately, the uncertainty did not last for long. “The minute we were off the radar in terms of disbandment so to speak, then it was business as usual.”
As for the team he is leaving behind, Ashran is certain they can continue to deliver. “The team at MaGIC does stuff with heart and passion,” he enthused. “They just need somebody who understands both dynamics of government and private sector to be able to get that blend (right).”
“All I had to do right was manage all the hearts in there.”
Part of the new National Entrepreneur Framework
Ashran is very clear about the role MaGIC plays now under the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development. “We see ourselves as a vehicle of the ministry,” he said, adding that the Ministry will be driving policy while MaGIC implements it.
Exactly what is detailed in the National Entrepreneur Development Framework which MaGIC had an opportunity to contribute to during its development. The decision to fold MaGIC into the Ministry coincided with a retreat organised to finalise the details. “It worked out well,” said Ashran, “(Otherwise) it (would have been) very difficult to do intergration.”
Ashran is enthusiastic about the opportunities brought about by MaGIC’s new role. “Being under a single ministry with a common goal working with peers is a lot easier because the alignment is there,” he clarified, referring to other sister agencies such as SME Corp, INSKEN, SME Bank, Bank Rakyat and TEKUN Nasional, each playing their own role. “Naturally at the ministry they’re looking at MaGIC to continue to drive the startup and innovation segment.”
Another benefit that Ashran sees is the clout that comes with being part of the government. “There are key mandates driven at the ministerial level that cascade down that allows our work to be tied up nicely,” said Ashran, adding “Being under the new ministry of entrepreneurship allows us to have that larger voice.”
“We can now better push for policies,” he said, “We can do systemic change at a more macro level. (Before) we were very program-oriented at a micro level to some extent.”
These are opportunities that perhap MaGIC didn’t have before. “You need a weight, you need a ministerial champion, to be able to drive certain things across,” Ashran concluded.