"I focused my time on learning, hanging around people who were uplifting and willing to share their knowledge and experience, and giving 110% effort to every opportunity that came my way."

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ABOUT ME

I never had a long-term ambition or goal, or a career plan. I just needed a place to start. And every opportunity that I got, I immersed myself intensely and learned as much as I could. Other opportunities somehow found me when the work today starts to speak for itself. 

 

Twenty years ago, I never could have imagined that I would have opportunities to work at a steel mill, a nuclear power plant, a stock exchange, or be given the privilege of building an airline from scratch and growing it until its IPO, or starting a global internet video-on-demand service. I didn't seek these opportunities out. I focused my time on learning, hanging around people who were uplifting and willing to share their knowledge and experience, and giving 110% effort to every opportunity that came my way.

 

Interestingly, that's been my philosophy of how to run businesses. I've stopped worrying about crafting the perfect 3-5 year long-term strategic plan, or even worry about details of a 12-month budget. The world today moves at a much faster rate of change. There is no way to anticipate what will happen around the corner, and no 12-month budget or annual plan has stayed constant without being re-written every couple of months. Instead, focus on having the courage to take that first step to launch, collect lots of feedback, listen to the market, and keep adapting and improving every day - at a faster rate than your competition.

My professional experiences:

HEALTH & FITNESS

 

My journey from being a clinically overweight individual (BMI > 25, Waist-to-Height > 0.51) to an Ironman triathlete today, may appear impressive to some, and more concerning, unattainable to many. Many don't see the long, arduous journey, the many setbacks, and moments of sheer frustration. It wasn't a linear, straight path. And there was no extraordinary capability on my part.

 

Firstly, I didn't set out to have lofty goals. I merely wanted to be able to last longer than a few minutes playing indoor soccer with friends. Even then, it took almost two years of being more careful with diet and more regular exercise, before there was a noticeable weight loss. After all, the body needed time to undo years of bad lifestyle habits. I didn't set out big goals to change my life. I focused on how I could feel better each day, and changing my personal rewards from junk food to social interactions (with the right set of positive-oriented friends!) 

 

When I discovered running, I thought accomplishing a 10km run was a big deal - until I saw grandmothers and grandfathers completing full 42km marathons. It may seem impossible at first, but when I found an activity that I enjoyed, and I find friends who share the same passion, all it took was focusing on "one day at a time". Enjoying the tangible progress I made - first to slowly increase distance from 10km, to 21km, to 42km, and then to slowly improve on the time it took (from over 5 hours, to under 5 hours, to under 4 hours) and then to add more variety by moving on to triathlons - which required that I learn how to swim - from scratch - at 40 years of age. And ultimately progressing to full 3.8km swim, 180km bike, and 42km run Ironman races. The long, impossible journeys are just a collection of small daily steps.

Follow me on Strava

"I didn't set out big goals to change my life. I focused on how I could feel better each day, and changing my personal rewards from junk food to social interactions (with the right set of positive-oriented friends!)"

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Sathish Shankar

Managing Partner, Bain & Company Southeast Asia

"It has been a real pleasure getting to know Azran and working with him over the years. He is a unique CEO - a great combination of strategic skills and operational acumen. He is a cut-through thinker who can distill complex issues to their essence. Azran is a very good listener and is always open to a counter point of view. Azran's ability to get things done has been instrumental in getting AirAsia X off to a fast start as a new airline with a pioneering business model. Finally, I've always admired Azran's ability to manage a great work-life balance despite a demanding job - he has graduated from Marathons to Ironman competitions!"

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Fiona Harris

Chairman, Barrington Consulting Group

"I loved the way he thought and I loved the way his organisation thought. It made me think how are we going to incorporate that into the various organisations I am involved with. It was inspirational."

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Greg Gaunt

Executive Chairman, Lavan Legal

"Well I knew Azran already because we are on the Curtin Asia Business Centre advisory Board together so I knew he was a very interesting character and I think he gives you just a different perspective about what's happening in the world."

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Steven Cole

Managing Director, Cole Corporate

"He was exciting, innovative, challenged the status quo. That was the best thing about it and as a consequence makes you rethink a lot of traditional theory."

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Michael Curtis

Business Development and Marketing Manager

"Azran set up the AirAsia X brand with the inaugural route being Kuala Lumpur - Gold Coast. The great relationship that was borne out this link with Gold Coast Airport continues. Azran has always been a leader and has worked tirelessly to keep business fresh, exciting and on the way up!"

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Surjan Singh

Director at Green Energy & Carbon Management

"How many high ranking people in the corporate world will respond to customer feedback and make an effort to incorporate recommendations and change? Well! Azran is one of the select few who makes the effort to respond and address customer needs. I still fly Air Asia in their bucket seats (though they are being changed now) because of the efforts and feedback led by exemplary leadership and good management practices."

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Jay Sorensen

Ancillary Revenue, A la Carte Pricing, Frequent Flyer, FFP, Airline Start-Up Consultant

"There's a saying, "Some are born great and some have greatness thrust upon them." Well, maybe Azran benefits from both. Yes, place my name in the column for his fan club. But seriously, he's smart, open-minded, and has a fun personality. Azran provides a challenge to those stuck in the past because he's taking his company into the future. In some ways, he's similar to a dandelion plant - - I think he'd flourish in any type of soil or in any industry."

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Haravinthan Aurumugam

Drilling Engineer at Talisman Energy

"He is my role model, his words and inspirations personally to me have impacted myself to an advanced betterment. A guru himself when it comes to self-confidence and materializing his dreams/goals, thanks a million Mr. Azran for your influence in my life."

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Firdaus Abdullah

Executive Director

"Azran's one of the sharpest guys I know, with an intense focus on getting things done. AirAsia X has got itself an awesome CEO and leader."

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Johan Farid Khairuddin (JFK)

Radio & TV Personality-turned-Professional Airline Pilot

"Azran is my idol, mentor and friend. I was given a brief moment to have had worked with him on a few international youth projects while he was still one of the powers that be within the Astro All Asia Networks and enjoyed every minute of it! He is truly an inspirational leader that comes with only the highest recommendations from all of my other friends and colleagues who has worked with him. As a visionary, Azran has the uncanny ability to always see the bigger picture regardless of the pressing troubles that might be creeping in. He is humble, caring and attentive to detail -- both work related & personal. I have been and will continue to be praying for the day I get to serve him again whether directly or indirectly. With gods grace, when he retires (if he ever does), i'd be one of the young kids taking over from his reign. Keep it going fly boy! Much love & respect – JFK."

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