AirAsia CEO Riad Asmat tried very hard to take a different path from that of his father — AirAsiaX independent non-executive director Tan Sri Asmat Kamaludin. But fate intervened, bringing them together under one umbrella, with a little help from Tan Sri Tony Fernandes. In a candid interview with Anandhi Gopinath, Asmat and Riad open up about their relationship, lessons that have been passed down and living a life with no regrets.
In the case of family-owned businesses, succession planning often dictates that father and son end up working together in the same company. This is especially common in Malaysia; and there are a number of father-son teams that have been particularly successful — the late Tan Sri Yeoh Tiong Lay and his son Tan Sri Francis Yeoh of YTL Corporation, Tan Sri G Gnanalingam and his son Ruben of Westports Holdings, and Tan Sri F D Mansor and his son Datuk Seri F D Iskandar of Glomac.
What is not so common is having father and son face to face in professional situations that were unplanned, like in the case of Tan Sri Asmat Kamaludin, independent non-executive director of AirAsiaX, whose son Riad Asmat signed on as CEO of AirAsia earlier this year. But their paths do not cross, and the two take pains to point out that there is zero chance of nepotism or bias. After all, AirAsia and AirAsiaX are two totally different entities and in his role, Asmat does not get involved in the hiring of top executives.
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