STRATEGIC ADVISER & CHAIRMAN
One of Asia’s most recognisable entrepreneurs, Tony Fernandes is best known for co-founding low-cost carrier AirAsia and democratising air travel in the region. In 2001, Tony and his partner, Kamarudin Meranun, bought an ailing, debt-ridden airline for a token RM1 (~US$0.25) and transformed the Asia-Pacific airline region by introducing the low-cost concept and pushed countries to free up their airline markets. AirAsia turned profitable within two years by tapping the pent-up demand for cheap tickets. Along with the dedication from over 20,000 staff, AirAsia has grown into what it is today: the World’s Best Low-Cost Airline for a decade running. Combining airline licenses in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, India and Japan, AirAsia is the largest low-cost carrier in Asia by passengers carried. Its Malaysian entity went for its initial public offering in 2004, and thereafter AirAsia Group assumed the listing status in 2018 to further streamline the group’s structure and business operations. Its stable of publicly-traded companies also includes Asia Aviation, the parent company of Thai AirAsia, in 2012; its long-haul sister airline, AirAsia X, in 2013; and PT Indonesia AirAsia, in 2017. For the financial year 2018, AirAsia Group reported more than RM1bn in profits.
Tony was the host of reality show The Apprentice Asia in which a group of aspiring young businessmen and women compete for the chance to work with Tony. In 2016, AirAsia in partnership with The Duke of York, brought UK’s Pitch@Palace to Malaysia where keen entrepreneurs get to pitch their tech-related startup ideas to an audience of potential supporters. Later in 2018, AirAsia was the strategic partner for Pitch@Palace ASEAN 1.0, the first Pitch@Palace event in the region to open participation to all 10 countries in Asean.
Among his notable awards over his career, Tony was named Businessman of the Year by Forbes Asia in 2010 - the first person from Malaysia and Asean to receive the honour - for democratising air travel and transforming AirAsia into a successful global brand. In 2011, Tony received the Honour of the Commander of the Order of the British Empire, conferred by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and the Commander of the Legion d’Honneur, awarded by the French government for his outstanding contributions towards the economy of France through the aviation industry. Tony was also named “Brand Builder of the Year” for his outstanding work in building the low cost airline brand at 2014 World Branding Awards. TIME Magazine included Tony Fernandes in the 2015 TIME 100 list, the magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. In 2016, Fernandes was recognised by the US-Asean Business Council with the Fourth Pillar Award for his extraordinary contribution towards the growth of Asean.
Today, Tony’s dream is to turn AirAsia into a data-driven e-commerce travel technology company.
Kamarudin Meranun is the co-founder of AirAsia. He is now the Executive Chairman of AirAsia Group, taking the lead in engaging with the government, aviation regulators and airport authorities of Malaysia. Prior to joining AirAsia, Kamarudin worked at Arab-Malaysian Merchant Bank from 1988 to 1993 as a Portfolio Manager, managing both institutional and high net-worth individual clients' investment funds. In 1994, he was appointed Executive Director of Innosabah Capital Management, a subsidiary of Innosabah Securities. He subsequently acquired the shares of the joint venture partner of Innosabah Capital Management, which was later renamed Intrinsic Capital Management.
He graduated with a Diploma in Actuarial Science from University Technology MARA (UiTM) and a BSc with Distinction (Magna Cum Laude) majoring in Finance in 1986 and an MBA in 1987 from Central Michigan University.
In 2018, Kamarudin garnered the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the 8th Global Leadership Awards for his remarkable career, deep dedication in spearheading corporate and community development and his continued efforts in steering AirAsia to greater heights.
Today, Kamarudin is keen to draw in the right partners and investors to help grow AirAsia’s digitally-driven lifestyle businesses under RedBeat Ventures.
Tharumalingam Kanagalingam, better known as Bo Lingam, is Deputy Group CEO (Airlines) for AirAsia Group and a board member of RedBeat Ventures.
Bo joined AirAsia in 2001 as a Ground Operations Manager, responsible for the implementation of the low-cost concept in operations and procurement. Since then, he has held several key positions including Purchasing and Supplies Senior Manager, Regional Guest Services Director and President and Group Chief Operations Officer, where he supervised AirAsia’s operations in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, India and Japan, drove process improvement and set up new airlines in the region for the Group.
Prior to joining AirAsia, he worked extensively in the publication and music industry at various production houses, including EMI Music Malaysia and at Warner Music Malaysia.
Bo currently serves as Deputy Group CEO (Airline Business), overseeing AirAsia’s airline operations, commercial and finance functions, network planning, as well as the business development of new airlines.
Aireen Omar is Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer (Digital, Transformation and Corporate Services), responsible for AirAsia’s digital strategy, promoting innovation throughout the group and encouraging collaboration across AirAsia’s businesses and markets. Additionally, she oversees large, strategic group-wide initiatives to help transform AirAsia into a global, cloud-driven product and platform company. Aireen is also the CEO of RedBeat Ventures, ensuring collaboration across AirAsia’s businesses and markets with RedBeat Ventures’ portfolio companies.
Aireen joined AirAsia in January 2006 as Director of Corporate Finance and her portfolio expanded quickly to include Treasury, Fuel Procurement and Investor Relations functions. Taking on these roles, she was instrumental in shaping the development of AirAsia into one of the fastest growing and highly-acclaimed airlines globally. She made her mark when, at the peak of the global credit crisis in 2008, she managed to secure funding for AirAsia’s expansion plans. Then in 2012, Aireen was appointed CEO of AirAsia Berhad. She was promoted to her current role of Deputy Group CEO (Digital, Transformation and Corporate Services) of AirAsia Group in December 2017.
Aireen launched her career at Deutsche Bank Securities Inc in 1997, holding positions in New York and London before leaving in 2000 from the Equity Arbitrage Proprietary Trading Desk focusing on international equities, equity derivatives and equity-linked products. After returning to Malaysia in 2001, she served in several major local financial institutions including the Maybank Group, the country’s largest banking and financial services group. She is an Economics graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science and also holds a Master in Economics from New York University.
Aireen has received an Outstanding Achievement Award (CEO Category) at the inaugural Malaysian Women of Excellence in 2014. She was awarded Corporate Treasurer’s 25 Most Influential Women in Treasury 2015 and Masterclass Woman CEO of the Year award for two consecutive years in 2014 and 2015 at the Selangor Excellence Business Awards. In November 2016, Aireen was awarded the Eminent Leaders in Asia accolade at the Asia Corporate Excellence and Sustainability Awards (ACES). Aireen was also named APAC CEO of the year 2017 by Aviation 100 Awards.
Aireen has become a role model for many girls in the region. This is something she embraces, investing her time into programmes such as #GirlsCanDoAnything. She believes in empowering girls with the confidence to pursue their dreams. In similar vein, she’s now set to empower start-ups to achieve their potential.
HOW KIM LIAN
Prior to joining AirAsia in 2015, How was at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Consulting based in Malaysia, where he led numerous organisational and financial transformation projects in industries including logistics and aviation. He also led in the integration of mergers and enterprise performance management engagements to assist companies gain better insight into their business. With over 19 years of experience in finance function improvement, How has the right mix of knowledge and experience that will ensure RedBeat Ventures’ success.
How won the Best CFO for Investor Relations at the Malaysia Investor Relations Association (MIRA) Awards 2017.
How’s meticulous eye for numerical detail comes as no surprise given he is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Internal Auditor. He is also a member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants and the Institute of Internal Auditors.