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Advocacy Dialogue

Launch of the Malaysia Board Diversity Study & Index

Dato' Sri Idris Jala, Dato' Dr Nik Ramlah Nik Mahmood, Low Ngai Yuen, Shinbo Won, Shai Ganu, Krissandi Lee & Michele Kythe Lim

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Malaysian Code on Corporate Governance 2017

Board composition influences the ability of the board to fulfil its oversight responsibilities. An effective board should include the right group of people, with an appropriate mix of skills, knowledge, experience and independent elements that fit the company’s objectives and strategic goals.

The right board composition will ensure sufficient diversity and independence to avert ‘groupthink’ or ‘blind spots’ in the decision-making process. It also enables the board to be better equipped to respond to challenges that may arise and deliver value.

Diversity on boards has been a topic of growing interests. The ambition for more diverse representations in boardrooms has been championed by many, including the 30% Club Malaysia which was launched in 2015 to inspire sustainable business-led voluntary change to support gender diversity on boards. With this effort, we see a slight improvement in the number of companies with at least 30% female directors on boards[1], from 9% in 2016 to 19% in 2019.

However, true board diversity goes beyond that of just gender. Companies must meet the needs of various stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, supply-chain partners, communities and the environment. The ideal way to represent a diverse group of stakeholders is a well-constituted governing board comprising directors who provide diversity of thought, experiences, and perspectives.

In the Malaysia Board Diversity Study conducted by the Institute of Corporate Directors Malaysia (ICDM) in collaboration with Willis Towers Watson (WTW), we examined over 300 top companies with primary listings under Bursa Malaysia (“Bursa”) against the multiple dimensions of board diversity.

Apart from the Malaysia Board Diversity Index, we deep dived to examine the correlation of the company’s performance against the dimensions as below. Read more about it here.

8 key dimensions

Join us in the launch of the inaugural Board Diversity Index in Malaysia.
Learn more about the board diversity landscape in Malaysia.

Which are the top 10 companies with the highest diversity scores in the Diversity Index?
Which dimensions of diversity show stronger correlation to the company’s performance?
Are disclosures on diversity and inclusion key to investors’ investment decision?
Who is responsible in reengineering your board architecture? What should your next steps be?
What is the role of the independent directors and nomination committee chair?

Wednesday | 7 April 2021 

10.00am Context Setting and Launch of the Malaysia Board Diversity Study & Index
by Michele Kythe Lim, President/CEO of ICDM
10.05am Presentation
The Malaysia Board Diversity Study
Presentation of key findings and recommendations from ICDM & WTW research study by Shai Ganu, the Managing Director, Global Practice Leader – Executive Compensation & Governance and Krissandi Lee, Associate Director – Executive Compensation, South Asia at WTW

  • Malaysia Board Diversity Index: The 8 Key Dimensions of Board Diversity
  • Top 10 Companies with Highest Board Diversity Scores – Overall & by Market Cap; and Spotlight on Top 10 in Gender Diversity
  • Business Case for Board Diversity: Correlation to Company Performance
  • Four Actionable Steps for Boards
10.35am Advocacy Dialogue
Diversity Is More Than Just A Numbers Game

A robust dialogue session between the invited panel of directors from amongst the companies with outstanding board diversity scores. The session seeks to explore how they have embraced the different dimensions of diversity and how they have helped improve their overall board effectiveness and company performance.


  • Dato’ Sri Idris Jala ICDM(F) | Chairman of Heineken Malaysia Berhad & Non-Executive Co-Chairman of Sunway Berhad
  • Dato Dr Nik Ramlah Nik Mahmood ICDM(F) | Senior Independent Non-Executive Director of Axiata Group Berhad
  • Low Ngai Yuen ICDM(M) | Independent Non-Executive Director of GDEX Berhad
  • Shinbo Won Director, Head of Asia ex-Japan, Australia of BlackRock Investment Stewardship
  • Shai Ganu ICDM(M) | Managing Director, Global Practice Leader – Executive Compensation & Governance of Willis Towers Watson
  • Krissandi Lee | Associate Director, Executive Compensation Practice at Willis Towers Watson


  • Michele Kythe Lim
    President/CEO, Institute of Corporate Directors Malaysia
12.00pm End of Virtual Dialogue Session

Send us your burning questions or issues you would like to bring up during the dialogue session to advocacy@icdm.com.my


Idris Jala

Dato’ Sri Idris Jala
Chairman of Heineken Malaysia Berhad

A Fellow member of ICDM, Dato’ Sri Idris Jala is the Chairman and Independent Non- Executive Director of Heineken Malaysia Berhad and is also presently the President and Chairman of PEMANDU Associates He is also a Non-Executive Co-Chairman and Independent Non-Executive Director of Sunway Berhad (an ICDM corporate member) and sits on the board of the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation.

He was the Former Managing Director of BFR Institute and CEO of PEMANDU, a unit in the Prime Minister’s Department, Malaysia, the organisation tasked with spearheading Malaysia’s transition towards high income status by 2020. He served as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for 6 years, and later as the Advisor to the Prime Minister on the National Transformation Programme.

Dato’ Sri is also a renowned transformation guru in turning around companies’ performance through his big fast results methodology and transformational strategies that are innovative, rigorous and relevant to today’s demands. He has continuously delivered sustainable social economic reforms which, in 2014, saw Bloomberg placing him among the top 10 most influential policy makers in the world.

He is also the founder and Executive Chairman of the Global Transformation Forum (GTF), the world’s singular platform for influential, global leaders to engage and share experiences and best practices on how to drive transformation. He is an Expert Resource Speaker at the Harvard Health Leaders’ Ministerial Forum and a Visiting Fellow of Practice at the Oxford Blavatnik School of Government and served on the Advisory panel for the World Economic Forum (WEF) on New Economic Growth and on the Advisory Panel of World Bank.

Dato’ Sri Idris is also former Managing Director/CEO at Malaysia Airlines (MAS) for 3 years where he was brought on board to turn around the airline which was in crisis brought about by a prolonged bout of losses from operational inefficiencies. Prior to MAS, he spent 23 years at Shell, rising up the ranks to hold senior positions including Vice President, Shell Retail International and Vice President Business Development Consultancy, based in UK. This included successful business turnarounds in Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

Dato Nik Ramlah

Dato Dr Nik Ramlah Nik Mahmood
Senior Independent Non-Executive Director of Axiata Group Berhad

A Fellow member of ICDM, Dato Dr Nik Ramlah is the Senior Independent Non-Executive Director, the Chair of Axiata Group’s Board Nomination & Remuneration Committee and a member of the Board Risk and Compliance Committee.

Dato Dr Nik Ramlah retired as Deputy Chief Executive of Securities Commission Malaysia (“SC”) in March 2016, having served the organisation for 23 years. She has extensive experience in policy and regulatory reform, capital market regulation, corporate governance, and Islamic finance. Prior to joining the SC, Dato Dr Nik Ramlah was an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya.

Currently, she also sits on the board of Dialog Axiata PLC, United Malacca Berhad, Permodalan Nasional Berhad, Amanah Saham Nasional Berhad, Perbadanan Insurans Deposit Malaysia, Institute for Capital Market Research Malaysia, and the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF).

Low Ngai Yuen photo scaled

Ms Low Ngai Yuen
Independent Non-Executive Director of GDEX Berhad

A member of ICDM, Ms Low Ngai Yuen is an Independent Non-Executive Director on the board of GDEX Berhad, an express carrier that provides logistic services for the domestic and international market.

Known to the public as an acclaimed film producer, director and TV veteran, she started her career as part of the inception team of the radio station, WOWfm; 97.6 in 1999 and went on to host an issues-based television program titled 3R, an award-winning women empowerment program on TV3 from the year 2000. She subsequently became an Executive Producer that created, wrote, produced and directed many highly rated TV programmes in Malaysia and the region.

While she was with the French multinational retailer Carrefour Malaysia & Singapore as its Marketing and Communications Director,  she championed the TUKAR program (Program Transformasi Kedai Runcit) as an entry point project for the Economic Transformation Program both at the blueprint and execution phases to modernise traditional mom and pop shops throughout Malaysia by modernising traditional premises, upgrading existing premises, encouraging the participation of cooperatives in retailing and creating local distribution centres.

From 2010 until present, Ms Low actively contributed and stayed involved with community building and social purpose organisations. She is a multiple award-winning workaholic running 3 NGOs: CEO for Global Entrepreneurship Movement Association, GEMA that enables market access for new technology and innovation; President for the 20-year old Kakiseni that champions the arts and its advocacy; as well as being the Founding President of WOMENgirls, an NGO dedicated to remind women as role models to younger girls to achieve their potential. From 2015 to 2018, Ms Low was appointed to sit on the National Women Advisory and Council Board for the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development to address gender equality and inclusivity especially for career opportunities and decision-making positions.

Ms Low also serves as an Executive Director of WCIT2020 Sdn Bhd, a wholly owned subsidiary of PIKOM and sits on the Consultative Board of Malaysia Productivity Council for Productivity Blueprint as well as the ICT Nexus.

Shinbo Won

Mr Shinbo Won
Director, Head of Asia ex-Japan, Australia of BlackRock Investment Stewardship

Mr. Shinbo Won heads BlackRock’s Investment Stewardship (BIS) team for Asia ex-Japan. He is responsible for engaging with investee companies in the Greater China, South Korea and Southeast Asia markets on behalf of BlackRock’s clients globally.

The BIS teams actively engage with BlackRock’s portfolio companies to address governance, environmental, and social issues that could materially impact the long-term sustainability of the company and clients’ value.

Prior to joining BlackRock, he was Head of Asia ex-Japan Research at ISS, having led a geographically diverse team that provides proxy research and recommendations for more than 5,000 companies in 14 Asia-Pacific markets outside Japan, while overseeing the development of ISS’ benchmark voting policies for those markets.

Shai Ganu

Shai Ganu
Managing Director, Global Practice Leader – Executive Compensation & Governance at Willis Towers Watson

A member of ICDM, Mr. Shai Ganu is the Managing Director, Global Practice Leader for Executive Compensation & Governance at Willis Towers Watson. He also serves on the Compensation Committee of a leading FMCG company in ASEAN, the Human Resource and Finance Committees of not-for-profit organisations in Singapore and more recently, as a non-executive director of a listed company in Singapore.

His expertise is in the diagnosis, design, and implementation of human capital solutions; notably board and executive reward frameworks, long and short-term incentive plans (equity and cash based), sales force architecture, change management and culture transformation – in other words, the attraction-motivation and retention-productivity strategies.

Mr. Shai is passionate about enhancing corporate governance in Asia, helping companies make informed people-decisions based on sound analytics as well as building and growing teams in new markets.


Krissandi Lee
Associate Director, Executive Compensation Practice at Willis Towers Watson

Mr. Krissandi Lee is an Associate Director at Willis Towers Watson’s Executive Compensation practice and is currently based in Singapore office.

He is passionate about helping companies to unlock value and synergy through their most valuable asset – human capital. Kriss advises board directors and top executives on compensation and corporate governance matters. His areas of specialisation include diagnosis, design, and implementation of human capital solutions; notably board and executive reward frameworks, long and short-term incentive plans (equity and cash based) across various stages of company’s growth.

In addition, Kriss has been extensively involved in developing corporate governance framework for companies and industry across South East Asia. His recent work includes development of the corporate governance solutions for Otoritas Jasa Keuangan (OJK) and leading financial institutions in Indonesia.

Michele Kythe Lim

Michele Kythe Lim
President & CEO, Institute of Corporate Directors Malaysia (ICDM)

The President & CEO of Institute of Corporate Directors Malaysia (ICDM), Ms. Michele is a forward-looking leader, and her leadership priority has been about nurturing a pipeline of high-performing talent for the corporate world and beyond.

She brings with her a wide spectrum of leadership and advisory experience, most recently on corporate governance-related matters, which includes board and director effectiveness, competency development needs, remuneration and succession planning, legal and compliance, and corporate performance.

Prior to ICDM, Michele was Group Head, Corporate Secretarial and General Counsel for five years with IHH Healthcare Berhad, one of the largest listed healthcare providers globally. She oversaw legal, corporate secretarial and governance functions across several jurisdictions such as Singapore, Turkey, India, Asia Pacific, North Asia and the CEEMENA region while keeping watch on local matters.

Ms. Michele was instrumental in ensuring the successful execution and completion of IHH Healthcare Berhad’s mergers and acquisitions, takeovers, joint ventures, corporate schemes, and operational matters. In addition, she was a member of a subsidiary board, as well as the Chief Sustainability Officer leading the sustainability reporting and practices for the Group.

In collaboration with

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[1] Boards of the top 312 Bursa-listed companies sampled in this Malaysia Board Diversity Study.