Synxsoft Sdn Bhd founder and CEO Mazrie Mahat (pix) tells SunBiz that setbacks and rejections are common, but what matters is whether we learn from defeat or let it define us

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

My leadership journey has been shaped by the highs and lows of my experiences. I have learned that growth comes with struggle and achievement and is earned through repeated failures. That is why failures have been powerful teachers to me.

As a leader today, I embody these lessons by embracing challenges, fostering a culture of adaptability within my team, and encouraging a mindset that views setbacks as stepping-stones to success. Sure, success feels good, but failure – as long as you don’t let it get the best of you – brings wisdom and growth.

The lessons I gained from both success and failure guide my decisions and actions, allowing me to lead with empathy, resilience, and a forward-thinking perspective.

What traits do you look for in your talent or how do you decide who is right for a job?

Always outnumbered, never outgunned. I always believe in this quote when hiring new people in my company. It generally implies that even if you have fewer resources or people on your team, you still possess the capability, skill, or firepower to compete or succeed against larger or more numerous competitors. Every role I have ever hired for has been heavy on people soft-skills. I always prioritise that. I am particularly drawn to people who are curious and love to learn.

How do you think the industry you are in will evolve in the future?

The IT industry is constantly evolving, and several trends are likely to shape the more foreseeable future namely Ethical Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and quantum computing. Overall, the IT industry’s future will revolve around innovation, improving efficiency, and addressing societal needs while navigating challenges such as cybersecurity threats and ethical considerations in technology deployment.

What advice can you offer those looking to start their career/own business?

You need to get out of your comfort zone and keep pushing yourself forward even when you face challenges and roadblocks. With the perseverance mindset, you will reach your goal eventually.

When it comes to launching your career or starting your own business, my top advice revolves around the power of networking. When you are in business, networking is your superpower; you should seek connections as if they are treasures. Get out of your comfort zone and attend industry events, join professional groups, and connect with people in your field. The more diverse your network, the richer your opportunities. Also, don’t just start a business for the sake of starting one; find an opportunity and then exploit it.

We all know about the industrial revolution, are we in for a technological revolution? Your thoughts.

In the startup landscape, this technological revolution is a game-changer. It is not just about adapting to new tools, it is about reimagining entire business models and creating innovative solutions. We are witnessing a shift where startups are leveraging technology not just for efficiency but for true disruption and value creation.

We are in the state of what I’d call a technological renaissance. The pace at which technology is evolving today is reshaping industries and societies. The convergence of various technologies like AI, blockchain, and IoT is unlocking a lot of possibilities.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional life?

Mentorship has been an invaluable compass in my professional journey. Learning from the experiences of seasoned mentors has allowed me to avoid common pitfalls and make informed decisions. The startup journey is inherently filled with highs and lows, and having mentors who have weathered similar storms has been reassuring. Their encouragement and advice have often been the motivational boost needed to overcome obstacles and keep moving forward. These mentorship-derived lessons have shaped not only my professional persona but also my approach to leadership and team management.

What do you want to accomplish in the next five years?

In the next five years, my vision is to steer our startup towards becoming a household name and pioneering force in the industry. I aim to encourage new and creative ideas that not only meet market demands but also set new standards. It is also my goal to lead our startup in making a meaningful impact on society. By focusing on giving back and nurturing a strong, motivated team, we aspire to create a legacy that goes beyond just business success.

Best piece of advice you ever got on your career.

One piece of advice that always sticks with me is the encouragement to “Embrace Failure”. In both professional endeavours and personal experiences, we all encounter setbacks and rejections, but what counts is whether we choose to learn from that failure or allow it to define us. So, the next time you find yourself burdened with the stench of failure, decide if you are going to let it rot you away or if you are going to start fresh. I know which one I’d rather do.

Most-admired business leader? Why?

The late Steve Jobs of Apple Inc. What stands out to me is not only Jobs’ technological innovations but also his ability to inspire. He had a remarkable talent for bringing out the best in his team. This leadership style, centered on people and purpose rather than mere numbers, is something I strive to embody in my role as a startup CEO.

After leaving Apple in the mid-1980s, he returned in the late ‘90s when Apple was struggling. Under his leadership, the company experienced a resurgence with products like the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad – revolutionising industries and revitalising Apple’s position. The transformation from near-bankruptcy to becoming one of the most valuable companies globally is widely considered among the greatest comebacks in business history.

How do you stay abreast of issues affecting your industry?

Listening to tech podcast, YouTube, LinkedIn and Reddit is my way of staying up-to-date with the ever evolving IT industry.

If you could have an hour with any thought leader in the world, who would it be and why?

Meeting with Tun Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s former prime minister and a prominent political figure with a vast wealth of experience, would present an excellent opportunity to delve into various aspects of his leadership and views on critical issues. His contribution has had an immeasurable impact on our diverse multi-cultural society, transforming how Malaysia to be what it is today.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced? And what did you learn from it?

One of the biggest challenges of running a startup is to deal with financial struggles. The constant concern of keeping the business afloat while ensuring the well-being of the team is an ongoing priority. However, despite the challenges, it helped us become more resilient and determined to face whatever comes our way.

What man-made innovation confounds you? Why?

One human-made innovation that both amazes and puzzles me is weather control technology. The idea of trying to influence or change weather patterns is fascinating, but the complexities and ethical questions about these interventions are hard to grasp. It’s a technological area that captures my interest and caution, especially considering the responsibility that comes with attempting to control nature. However, I am not sure how realistic it is at this moment.

Malaysia’s greatest brand.

In my opinion, Malaysia’s greatest brand is Petronas. Beyond being a major player in the oil and gas industry, Petronas has successfully become a symbol of national pride and global excellence. Its commitment to innovation, sustainability, and community development sets it apart. The brand has managed to create a positive impact both domestically and internationally, showcasing Malaysia’s capabilities on a global stage.

A must-read for every business owner/manager is ..,

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. This insightful book delves into the significance of resilience and determination in achieving long-term success. Duckworth’s research emphasises the idea that passion and perseverance, more than talent alone, play a pivotal role in reaching one’s goals. For business leaders navigating the challenges of entrepreneurship, Grit serves as an inspirational guide, encouraging a mindset that can weather setbacks and propel individuals and teams toward sustained achievement.

How do you expect policies on climate change to impact businesses in the future?

As awareness and urgency around environmental issues continue to grow, governments worldwide are likely to implement stricter regulations and incentives to promote sustainability. Companies that proactively adopt eco-friendly practices and incorporate sustainability into their business strategies will likely thrive, not only meeting regulatory requirements but also appealing to a growing environmentally conscious consumer base.

What are the top three factors you would attribute your success to?

Adaptability, discipline, and resilience. Being adaptable means we can navigate the twists and turns of the business world, adjusting our strategies to meet the challenges and opportunities that come our way. Discipline ensures that we approach our goals with a structured plan, manage our time effectively, and maintain consistency in our work. Resilience is all about bouncing back from setbacks, learning from failures, and turning obstacles into opportunities for growth.

Tell us a joke.

As a startup CEO, I slept like a baby. I woke up every 2 hours and cried. – Ben Horowitz, co-founder, Opsware

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