Canadia Bank hired Malaysian Michael Lor as their new Chief Executive Officer just last month. Lor answered a few questions for The Phnom Penh Post for the occasion of Malaysia National Day.
Where in Malaysia were your born?
I was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and studied in Malaysia until 1984, when I went to Singapore to pursue my tertiary education. Subsequently, I stayed on in Singapore and started my career with DBS Bank Singapore, in 1988.
How big was your family and what did your father do?
I have six other siblings, and I am the second youngest in the family. My father was a businessman.
Where did you study and what qualifications did you get?
I started my schooling in Kuala Lumpur and completed my A levels at the Methodist Boys’ School, Kuala Lumpur. I subsequently pursued my tertiary education at the National University of Singapore, Singapore. I graduated in 1988 with a Bachelor or Arts and a Bachelor of Social Sciences (Honours), majoring in Economics and Statistics.
What was your first job and how did your career progress from there to here?
I started with DBS Bank in 1988, and was seconded to Thailand in 1999 to work in our newly acquired subsidiary, what was then the DBS Thai Danu Bank. All in all, I was with the DBS Banking Group for 17 years. In 2004, I returned to Malaysia and worked with RHB Bank as their Head of the Consumer Banking Division. Subsequently in 2007, I joined Hewlett Packard Worldwide as their Director of Banking Services. In October 2009, I was appointed the Group CEO of EON Bank, Malaysia. Presently I am with Canadia Bank and I just joined them last month.
Do you enjoy working in the banking industry? Why?
The banking industry is a very vibrant and fast changing industry. It requires a lot of persistence and creativity as competition is very intense and the development of the industry is very rapid. Further, the regulatory requirements are very strict and demand much discipline and expertise from the participants of this industry. So, it’s a very challenging industry; but it is also a very rewarding industry for successful practitioners. I have been a banker for the past 23 years and have thoroughly enjoyed myself. It requires much patience and discipline as one has to learn to cope with rapidly changing regulatory environments as well managing an organization through different economic situations. I have made many friends from many countries and have had the opportunity to manage banking businesses in different cultures. Yes! I have definitely enjoyed myself.
What were the circumstances of your arrival in Cambodia? What had you been doing and how did Canadia Bank hear about you?
I joined Canadia Bank on 15 July, and I am now in the middle of my second month in Cambodia. Canadia Bank had been at the forefront of banking in Cambodia and I would like to thank the Board of Directors for entrusting this job to me. It is the intention of the Canadia Bank Board that as the bank continues to develop and grow; they would like to see the bank managed by professional bankers, as part of our discipline to meet with international compliance and other regulatory standards. With this very serious intention as part of their strategic aspirations for Canadia Bank, the Board had engaged an international search firm in Singapore to approach me to join them as early as 3 to 4 months ago.
What sectors of the economy do you see as exciting in Cambodia?
Cambodia is at the cross-roads of a rapidly changing landscape. Its is surrounded by countries which had a longer history of economic development, hence it will be “forced” to develop at a much faster as Cambodia keeps pace to these neighbouring countries. Investments will continue to come into this country and this will further fuel the rapid development of this country, across all sectors. Furthermore, the Prime Minister and the government of this country have wisely adopted very disciplined, pro-growth economic policies which have and will continue to steer this country towards rapid economic development. In my opinion, this is good for the country and the people of Cambodia. And of course, good for the banking industry as well.
Did you bring your family with you?
My family is still in Malaysia; however the intention is for them to join me in Phnom Penh subsequently.
How do you like living in Cambodia?
Frankly, because of my work schedule, I have hardly had the opportunity to “explore” the country. Coincidentally, I am answering your questions from the Independence Hotel, in Sihanoukville. My family and I were pleasantly surprised by the beautiful beaches of Sihanoukville. Before we arrived here, we had never imagined that Cambodia had such beautiful and pristine beaches, clear waters and fantastic seafood. Imagine waking up to the sound of waves just outside your bedroom windows. I believe this country has significant offerings for the tourism industry.