Tuesday, 18 July 2017

10 years with Saadiq to remember :)

Saadiq Team 2017
Tuesday, July 12th - a farewell & appreciation event was organised by SCSB (Saadiq) in conjunction with Hari raya celebration and Certificate of Islamic Law & Certificate of Islamic Banking graduation Ceremony. My feeling? Like walking through the clouds in disbelief!

It took me months to make up my mind, to realize my priorities and my constraints. This time the pulling factors are so immense making the pushing ones become unbearable. I would need to put my case as clear and objective during the exit interview soon, inshaAllah

Honestly, this is among the most divided and difficult decision I have ever made. Inside, there are mixed feelings of relief and pain; sadness; and incompleteness. 

Post-Shariah meeting
10 years ago, I was a young and energetic academic staff, upon completed my doctorate and Shariah degree 2 years before, was approached by our dear Dr Shamsiah who was the Shariah specialist at the Securities Commission to join her in the Shariah Board of SCBMB. I recalled my first encounter with En Azrulnizam (the Head of Islamic Banking Department and thereafter became the first CEO of SCSB) and Haji Nasiruddin (the COO and now the Head of Shariah, SCSB). They were very warm and friendly welcoming me and seemed interested to know about my interest. I admitted as being the newcomer to Islamic finance, there would be a lot to learn and know specifically the practical way of how the industry operates. Perhaps, I appeared to be very confident and bold (hahaha!) though only God knows how nervous I was!

Training Saadiq Excos
So that was the beginning of my fulfilling journey as a part of Saadiq growing 'happy family'! I joined Dr Shamsiah who has been my 'guru' and dear sister whom I confides many things ever since; and of course our cool and learned Dr Hikmatullah. We receive relentless support from Haji Nasir and Ustaz Marwan in respect to continuous guidance and assistance. If I were asked who have been instrumental in molding my practical paradigm and worldview in Islamic Finance whom I will forever be indebted to; they are no other than Dr Sham and Haji! They have been very patient with my questions; sometime my silence (oh what? haha!); often my impatient hunger for answers or changes!

SAC-BOD Dialogue
We worked very hard as a team during months before the incorporation of Saadiq as an Islamic subsidiary in November 2008. I remembered how upset I was when receiving a CD containing over 100 documents to be vetted within a limited time frame. Dr Sham taught me the efficient ways of reading through Sukuk term sheets, instead of words by words or lines by lines as the traditional way I vetted the thick legal documents and agreements (imagine how psychotic I was, hahaha!)

Represent Saadiq updating the Industry
We are accustomed with the working environment of an International bank which expects one to be multi functional and skillful, and very practical, simple yet professional. We blend so well with the Product, Business, Legal, Risk, Audit and also the Regional team, that over the time, we gradually become a part of the growing Saadiq family. In fact, we always complement each other to the extent that they were willing to present a new structure at my home during my confinement just to assure that my opinion would not be neglected!

Haji has always been brilliant in 'interpreting' or 'translating' the business languages into that of we the advisors could easily comprehend. Often Haji could foresee our misconception that would affect our judgement and rulings. Having a vast experience of nearly 30 years in the industry, he would easily spot any inconsistency in certain reports or incomplete disclosure to product structures or potential shariah risk related thereof; sometimes Haji could 'smell' something 'fishy' long before we discovered it by ourselves. He only posed few questions to make us think and deliberate from various aspects before we arrived to any decision with relevant Shariah justifications. That's why, I personally feel very offended when in number of occasions, Haji was seen to be dominating or influencing our decision which put him in a difficult situation. For me, even if it is half-true, that actually reflected our weaknesses and incompetency as Shariah advisors and nobody should be made as the 'scapegoat'!

Updates on IFSA2013
Perhaps, the only 'beyond-control' kind of challenge that we have to endure is the different approach or Shariah interpretation in deliberating particular structures or issues from the Bank's regional counterparts. My colleagues have been very patient, full with wisdom and hikmah; unlike me who often failed to hide my unpleasant feeling. I would just ignore them and move on.. nexxxxtt!! (like 'ada aku kisah?', huhuhu)

I remember in 2012 when I insisted to resign from both chairmanship and advisory (of course due to the intense pressure), Wasim, the 2nd CEO persistently persuaded me; looked into my eyes with his blue rounded wide eyes saying loud and clear, "I don't want to let you go; tell us what we can do to make you change your mind; You can let go the chairmanship but we still need you as the advisor; I am pleading to you, please.." Ahhh, why did my stony heart melt instantly? But being bold as a typical 'Dr Irwani', I sort of demanded the bank to put in a standard for approvals ~ issues that need urgent decisions; issues that are less urgent; certain matters that we can delegate the approvals to the Head of Shariah and many others.
My last participation in Dallah Barakah in 2012

Yet, I have to admit that the above -mentioned 'drama' was and still is the way how we acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to become effective advisors. The learning process is endless. The more we are exposed to the actual way of how transactions are carried out, the more areas are discovered to be further explored. We tend to wonder how the Credit and Collection Department works; or what are the actual functions of trading room or treasury; or the way how the front liners interact with customers; what are the Shariah auditable areas at every level of the transaction, and even the business or marketing assessments of a potential branch! 
Dealing room (was 8-mth preggy)

We could be very critical against each other during the meeting, and then laughing during coffee break or teasing En Amir to get a haircut; En Suhaimi for his over dedicated presentation or En Asnul for the almost similar monthly sukuk report! Occasionally during spare time, I would join the girls chitchatting about the girlie stuff like foods, how to slim down (hahhaha), also gossiping! Oh, how I am going to madly miss all of them!

The exposures that I have obtained from Saadiq since 10 years ago always motivates me to share with my students in the University as well as participants in the workshop. That practical sharing never fails to give me the sense of satisfaction in a way that I feel my knowledge keeps on growing at the same time benefiting my students or audience. In fact, this has been the main reason which keeps me surviving in the industry despite those pressures from the Business and 'suffering' for having to meet with various deadlines. There has been a joke among the advisors that the bank, upon assigning us with a new document or structure to be vetted today,  always expects the approval to be given yesterday! Scary, right? hahaha!

Shariah visit to Metal warehouse in Liverpool
Checking the metal bar

Metal in the form of nickels

So, this is a piece of my journey in the first 'madrasah' of Islamic Finance. The vision of my monthly routines is still clear and fresh; driving through the busy MRR2, AKLEH and Jalan Sultan Ismail before reaching Jalan Raja Chulan; or Federal Highway-Jalan Syed Putra-Jalan Pudu-Jalan Raja Chulan if travelling from PJ for early morning meeting;  'climbing' to level 13A of MSC to find a parking space (yes, we have to find our own parking! no 'manja2' ok!!); only to drive down again towards Pavillion if there is no longer any space in the MSC! Then the 'naughty-me' would take my own sweet time to shop for J-Co donuts or Lavender pastries before cat-walking into the meeting room, late but without slightly any guilt, hahaha! oh... really, I can't imagine myself, my life without Saadiq related-brand (sign..!) in the future.

So long to my 'family'.. my Sadiiqi. Thank you for all the fruitful memories, fulfilling learning avenues that have made me a person I am today. I pray to Allah The Al-Mighty to guide us, to make us steadfast in dakwah & tarbiyyah in this promising and challenging industry, inshaAllah. All the best!
A very rare farewell gift!

No comments:

Post a Comment