Peter Bannink (1988) was born in the Netherlands, and prior to joining The Business Year in the beginning of 2016, he worked at an international business consultancy firm, where he supported international companies with access to the Russian market, and the Consulate-General of the Netherlands in St. Petersburg, Russia. He holds two MA degrees in the field of International Relations, one from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and one from the European University in St. Petersburg. He speaks Dutch, English, Russian, German and French. Peters works as the Country Editor for the Malaysia 2017 project.
Could you please brief readers about the different sections of the TBY publication, and on the Malaysia 2017 project in particular?
We have a general format across all of our publications, and we adjust this according to the specific strengths of the country that we cover. All editions start with Diplomacy, which is the most prominent section and where we feature the head of state and global leaders of other nations that discuss bilateral relations. The Economy chapter opens with the Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and covers a broad range of governmental agencies, like our partner from the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA). After this, we move on to industry-specific chapters with traditional Malaysian strengths, like Energy and Plantation, as well as new or frontier sectors like Aerospace and Health. For the latter we have witnessed increased activity in medical tourism and the medical equipment industry. For our Aerospace chapter, we have teamed up with the National Aerospace Industry Coordinating Office (NAICO), a newly established MITI agency.
The business environment progresses at a very fast pace. Many changes happen in one day. How do you justify the approach of TBY in publishing once a year?
We acknowledge the fast pace of business, especially in a dynamic frontier market like Malaysia. However, when interviewing and reporting we tend to focus on companies’ broader horizons and strategic decisions based on macroeconomic developments. A great example is the Roll-Royce-UMW partnership on the co-production of aircraft engines. A project like this creates many jobs, changes the aerospace ecosystem for good and impacts the
Malaysian manufacturing industry as a whole. These are also the kind of border- and sector crossing success stories that we want to feature, and of which there are many more to report about.
What approach does TBY follow to gather the information on various topics and industries?
To what extent you collaborate with the government or other organisations? Our collaborations with governmental agencies are definitely powerful sources of information. We are happy with our partners MIDA and InvestKL, who can brief us on the main sectors in their respective mandated regions. NAICO has been exceptionally helpful in identifying all the key stakeholders. The Malaysian Health and Travel Council (MHTC) is a knowledgeable partner for our research in the Health chapter, where we focus on medical tourism. We are also grateful to the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) for its input on the utilities section of our Energy chapter, and the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) for its invaluable support on public transport. The ultimate responsibility for gathering information remains with us; we read as much as we can and we spend very little time in the office as we are always on the road to meet with our interviewees and research partners, and to attend conferences.
When do we expect TBY Malaysia 2017 to be published? What information can you share with the media about the project?
The Business Year: Malaysia 2017 will go to print at the end of 2016, and will be launched in January 2017 at the World Economic Forum in Davos. We are in the midst planning an appropriate launch of the publication in collaboration with our Malaysian partners. In the meantime, we pre-publish a selection of interviews and articles on our website, www.thebusinessyear.com/ malaysia.
As a young man with fresh business consultancy experience, what plans do you have to move TBY’s publication to the next level of success?
My experience in consulting has proven to be fruitful as I learned to work in a wide range of industries, which we do at TBY. My personal mission for Malaysia 2017 is to maintain high editorial standards, objectively report on the sectors we cover and deliver an overall attractive publication. Furthermore, I greatly support TBY’s mission to be an active platform, and our physical publication is just one of way of doing this, presenting our interviewees’ views to our readers. Our online presence is increasingly important; we have digital tablet editions and an application called TBY Connect, best explained as a LinkedIn meets WhatsApp-platform for top-level executives. We sign up all of our interviewees to give them the opportunity to connect. In addition, we organise roundtables and panel discussions, where we invite the public and private sectors to enter into a dialogue on topics that we would like to cover in our publication.
TBY presents recapitulations of the year’s business updates and future prospects in over 25 countries worldwide. Specialised interviews and business analyses are the main methods of data collection.
Ligia Oliveira Kleber (1984) is a Brazilian journalist who has graduated from PUCRio (Rio de Janeiro - Brazil) in Social Communication. She holds a Master with distinction from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (RCSSD - University of London). She joined The Business Year in 2013 and has directed projects in Mozambique, Nigeria, UAE and Oman. She has been appointed the Country Manager in Malaysia in February 2016.
Could you please tell readers more about the history and establishment of The Business Year in Malaysia?
We started our operations in Malaysia in 2015, publishing our first edition The Business Year: Malaysia 2016 in January this year. We are an interview-based publication and we conduct approximately 200 face-to-face interviews with top executives from both the public and private sectors across all industries. This is a unique editorial approach. We believe business is made up of people and not just numbers, and we publish on the economic trends of each country through the eyes of their economic protagonists. When investors read our publication, they know not only what is happening in the country, but also they need to connect with, should they decide to invest in the country.
Having directed TBY’s projects in various countries since 2013, how was that experience helpful to your current position as the country manager in Malaysia?
Since 2013, I have directed projects in Mozambique, Nigeria, Sharjah (the UAE) and Oman. Of course this experience helps in delivering the project, but each region has its own business culture. Although I bring previous experience to the table, each project is unique and you need to adapt your strategy to the specifics of each market to deliver a successful project.
In reference to the relatively small representation of TBY in this region—Malaysia and Thailand—compared to the Middle East, Latin America and Africa, what is the significance of having an office in Malaysia?
We have a very strong presence in the Gulf, Africa and Latin America, where we have been going from strength to strength in the past decade. Just last year, we started expanding our operations into Southeast Asia. We chose Malaysia as our flagship project in Southeast Asia as this country has been tremendously successful in reinvesting revenue to develop other sectors of the economy. Malaysia started the trend of building landmark buildings, such as the Petronas Twin Towers in KL. The Gulf countries followed suit and often chose to be inspired by the Malaysian model. As we work on our second edition in Malaysia, this is the message we want to convey to the international community of investors.
Being represented in over 27 countries, with special focus on each country through country-specific editions, what is the nature of communication and coordination between TBY’s office in Malaysia and its other offices around the world?
Our country offices are grouped under regional offices, for which we have offices in Istanbul, Dubai and Mexico City. Kuala Lumpur is potentially the destination for our regional desk in Asia Pacific. The country teams operate independently from one another; however there is of course a great deal of interaction. As we all move around projects and countries, we share contacts and best practices with each other. We also support each other in identifying and approaching “guest speakers,” or heads of state that discuss bilateral relations between nations in our portfolio.
Recently, TBY signed a MoU with the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for Higher Technology (MIGHT). Could you tell us more about this collaboration? What other projects are on the horizon?
We always work in partnership with the government in the countries we cover. In 2015 our research was compiled in partnership with InvestKL, and this year we are happy to announce that our main partner is the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA). The research partnership with MIGHT deepens our coverage of the industry and high technology sector, as it brings great expertise. Another exciting project we are working on is a roundtable discussion that we will facilitate on the 17th of August in partnership with Brickfields Asia College. As we want to be this active platform, we also want to engage our interviewees in real life, and want to have a dialogue between the public and private sectors. Our keynote speaker will be Dato’ Sri Idris Jala, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and CEO of PEMANDU.