Datin Suryani Ahmad Sarji
‘What You See Is What You Get’ is a good description of Datin Suryani. A former experienced upscale luxury boutique manager, Datin Suryani is an entrepreneur, having established and managed several businesses in the retail and education sectors. Currently, the Director and Chairman of the Board of Governors at StudyTracks Group Sdn Bhd, she is also a Director at Titian Pesaka Sdn Bhd.
Areas of Focus
Board governance | Luxury Retail | Customer Relationship Management | Financial Analysis & Management
I was a Petronas scholar. On my return from completing my studies in the UK, I served Petronas Carigali in the Finance Department from 1991 – 1994. My role was to assist with the accounts payable and I was a member of the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) tender committee. After this role, I moved to Seacorp Schroders Capital Management Bhd (SSCM) where I stayed for four years as an Investment Analyst, covering research analysis on consumer and motor stocks and advising Fund managers on their investment portfolios. I must admit that the experience in SSCM was tremendous and assisted me greatly in my future endeavours. I detested the daily routine of going into work though and broke free, starting my own company as a retail partner for Caltex Chevron in 1998.
Then, over the next five years, I got heavily involved in the A-Z setup of the Bandar Utama Caltex station, dealing with a range of issues from land negotiations to the launch of the retail outlet. This period provided a lot of exposure and the full breadth of experience of entrepreneurship and management.
After this, I took a break to look after my family until I got the opportunity to invest more time in my passion for retail. This time, it was luxury retail. From 2010 to 2016, I was the Manager and CRM expert for the Chopard flagship boutique in Kuala Lumpur. This involved managing the business of high end luxury retail, driving KPIs and leading the team. In 2013, I became the co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Governors and Director for the Eaton International School (EIS) and still hold this role. I was involved in the establishment of the EIS, promoting good governance as well as fiduciary oversight of the school.
1990 – Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Accounting
2013 – Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
2018 – Diploma In Islamic Studies
2016 – Corporate Directors Training Programme Intermediate
2017 – Womens Directorship Mentoring Programme Technical Training
A day in the life
I keep myself busy from 9AM- 5PM with business meetings and attending to my family business when required. I also keep myself up to date with current news and engage in various courses to enhance my knowledge. And if there happens to be a couple of free hours available during the day, I
would happily oblige a game of golf ! Evenings are usually reserved for the family.
My life philosophy
“Given in trust” – We are born into this world with rights and obligations to fulfill. Hence, I believe that we should carry these duties that are entrusted upon us with full integrity, honesty and sincerity.
My proudest moment
Coaching my three sons who are showing definite leadership skills in business, sports and religion.
I am passionate about
Anything to do with managing customer business relationships and brands. I was trained to be a CRM expert in terms of managing customers, managing various relationships as well as how to use the latest software tools. I am also passionate about my religion as it is all encompassing, guiding me on leadership , best practices , good character and values.
How I handle conflict and negotiation
The crux of it is to remain calm in any calamity or conflict you find yourself in. Listen to both sides of the story before passing any verdict, find solutions with peace and justice and seek the fairest outcome for all parties involved.
In what ways can we as women empower each other?
By encouraging each other in success as well as motivating and paving the way for promising female talent. We should also spend time in the company of women with the same positive values because it can allow us to thrive in each other’s strengths, advice and good wisdom.
What do you believe would make someone more invested and engaged in something they have to
work on ?
I’d say, it’s definitely passion and the determination to succeed! The most enjoyable and memorable moments in my career were my stint in Chopard because it had the most important
factors to keep me going :
- passion for the brand;
- passion for the team;
- passion for people;
- passion for success.
With passion covering these four elements, retail and customer engagement became my dance floor!
What I believe makes for professional and personal success
You need to be results/outcome oriented, without compromise on good values. God-fearing must be central to it all.
If only I knew this at the start of my career
Although I do reflect on the past, I use it primarily to seek lessons to guide me going forward. However, I do not contemplate the past with “ifs” as I firmly believe that everything which happens in your life journey is a learning experience and that it happens for a reason. Simply put, I quote Prophet Muhammad’s (Peace Be Upon Him) narration, “What has reached you was never meant to miss you and what has missed you was never meant to reach you”.