In the modern business environment, dynamic entrepreneurs have emerged as powerful change agents and key strategists driving innovation and growth within their companies. One such influential leader shaping the world of footwear is Mohd. Burhanudin, the CEO of Empayar Ijmal. As a proud alumnus of the University of Technology Malaysia, Burhanudin has played a crucial role in revolutionizing the Malaysian footwear industry. In this interview with CEO Insights Asia, Burhanudin shares his thoughts on professional experience and the journey ahead.
Could you give a brief background to your professional journey?
I’m an Electrical Engineer by degree, having graduated from the University of Technology Malaysia. I initially honed my skills as an R&D engineer at Dyson in Senai Johor, Malaysia, delving into the intricacies of research and development. The pivotal moment in my career came when I decided to transition from engineering to the footwear industry. This shift wasn't just a change in occupation; it was a strategic move to leverage my engineering background and apply it to the creation of comfortable footwear.
As the CEO of Empayar Ijmal, my goal is to infuse engineering principles and innovation into our products, introducing a novel concept to the Malaysian market.
Ijmal specializes in crafting comfortable footwear that meets international standards, a mission fueled by my desire to challenge established competitors such as Skechers and Clarks in Malaysia. The motivation behind this endeavor is to establish a local brand that not only matches but surpasses global benchmarks in engineering and innovation.
My experience in engineering has equipped me with valuable project management skills and a deep understanding of research and development. These skills now play a crucial role in enhancing the production processes of comfortable footwear under the Ijmal brand. The journey has been transformative, and I am committed to pushing boundaries and elevating the Malaysian footwear industry to new heights.
How would you describe Ijmal as a company and its market position?
Ijmal is a local Malaysian brand, distinct from its international counterparts. Our journey began with the creation of comfortable shoes, initially focusing on the women's segment and gradually expanding to include men and children. In response to customer and market feedback, we identified a common concern: many comfortable shoes lacked contemporary design. This insight fueled our commitment to introducing trendy and minimalist comfort shoes.
The core objective of Ijmal is to provide designs that are not only stylish but also timeless, allowing them to be worn on any occasion—a quality we refer to as 'timeless.' Beyond aesthetics, Ijmal integrates elements of engineering and innovation into our products.
Crafting comfortable shoes is a complex undertaking, requiring adherence to engineering processes such as sample creation, rigorous testing for reliability, and refinement until the final product meets our standards. To execute this, we have experts within the company— specializing in both shoemaking and engineering. Their combined expertise ensures a har- monious balance between comfort, style, and the technological innovation embedded in our comfort shoes.
What specific traits and principles do you prioritize in guiding your overall team leadership?
When it comes to leadership, I find inspiration in the stories and leadership style of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), a revered figure in Islam. His leadership is characterized by several positive qualities, notably leading by example. In my role, I believe leaders should proactively initiate tasks to set a precedent, a practice I actively incorporate.
Prophet Muhammad's leadership also emphasizes the use of gentleness and wisdom when interacting with followers—a principle I strive to embody in our team dynamics. Furthermore, he consistently provided encouragement and motivation to his followers, fostering a sense of confidence in their abilities. This approach is mirrored in our team, where we encourage and motivate staff to pursue their goals with confidence, trusting in their capabilities to handle projects. In essence, by embodying these positive examples, a leader becomes an inspiration for others to actively participate and contribute.
Where do you envision yourself in the next five years?
In the coming years, I foresee Ijmal experiencing continued growth and potentially establishing dominance in the comfortable footwear industry in Malaysia. Market trends indicate a promising trajectory, providing a valuable opportunity for Ijmal to make a significant impact. This serves as a motivating factor in our pursuit of developing a local brand that can not only compete but also outshine international giants such as Clarks and Skechers. Our overarching goal and ambition are to position Ijmal as a leading local brand, challenging the established dominance of international brands in the Malaysian market. We believe in the capabilities of local expertise in Malaysia, affirming our confidence that we can produce footwear of comparable quality to renowned international brands. This vision is rooted in the belief that our talent and local expertise can create comfortable shoes that stand shoulder-toshoulder with global industry leaders like Clarks and Skechers.
What advice would you offer to emerging leaders in the field?
My advice to fellow leaders is to embody the principle of leading by example. While some concentrate on constructing business empires to accumulate wealth and attain successive triumphs, my priority is delivering value to the community and deriving associated benefits. I see success as an ongoing journey, emphasizing the importance of contributing to the community and enjoying its rewards, rather than simply gathering wealth and achievements. Building a business is more than just personal success; it's about creating a positive impact on a broader scale. The goal is to build businesses that contribute value to a wider audience, not just for personal gain. Additionally, I emphasize the importance of staying humble, regardless of the level of success achieved.
Mohd Burhanudin, Chief Executive Officer, Ijmal
Mohd. Burhanudin is a dynamic entrepreneur revolutionizing the footwear space in Malaysia. His transformative journey, marked by a commitment to surpass global benchmarks, showcases his prowess in project management, research, and development, driving the Malaysian footwear industry to new heights.