Idris Jala discusses his role as a member of the Malaysian cabinet and as the CEO of its Performance Management and Delivery Unit, PEMANDU. Recruited by the Prime Minister after his success in leading Malaysia Airlines, Jala sought to bring the type of transformative overhaul typically limited to the private sector to the public sector. He details his six-step approach in achieving such overhaul: setting high goals, anchoring activity to key performance indicators, discipline of action, situational leadership, winning coalition and public support and “divine intervention.” Jala places particular emphasis on the importance of soliciting the opinions, suggestions and support of the public, particularly in town hall-style meetings, in order to ensure the relevance of policies as well as to encourage government accountability through these more transparent processes. He also stresses the importance of a sort of internal transparency through government problem-solving meetings, in which the problems and roadblocks officials face are openly addressed and tackled.
At the time of this interview, Idris Jala was the CEO of PEMANDU, the Performance Management and Delivery Unit of Malaysia. He worked with Shell for nearly 23 years in a number of capacities, including a human resources director, managing director of Shell Malaysia and vice president of its business development consultancy. In 2005, he was selected to lead Malaysia Airlines out of near-bankruptcy. As its CEO from 2005 to 2009, he was able to transform the company in just one year, and earn it record profits in just two. His success led to his appointment as a minister without portfolio in 2009 by Prime Minister Najib Razak in an effort to introduce similarly massive overhaul in the public sector, specifically in the areas addressing crime, corruption, rural infrastructure, urban transport and education.