Group Managing Director (GMD) of World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur (WTCKL)

A man who wears many hats, Dato’ Sri Dr Irmorhizam Ibrahim, 46, aims to bring revenue growth to WTCKL by exploring cooperation strategies with key players of the Business Events (BE) industry in order to revitalise the recovery of Malaysia’s tourism and trade-related industries. A strong advocate of investing in human capital as well as using technology and social media to create brand awareness, he has been the WTCKL’s GMD since 2019. In January,
he was the first Malaysian to become Chairman of Conferences & Exhibitions, Member Advisory Council (MAC) of the World Trade Centers Association (WTCA). Besides being Business Event Council Malaysia’s Pro-tem President, he also sits on the board of Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau, Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation and the Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM).

Additionally, the multi-talented lawyer by profession serves as an advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry. In the Ministry of Higher Education, he is the Special Action Committee member for students’ social problems and a member of the Ministry of National Unity’s Think Tank. He enjoys imparting his knowledge to the younger generation not just in the academia but also in sports where he is the Malaysian Golf Junior Association’s President with the Royal Patron being Her Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda The Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah Almarhum Al-Mutawakkil Alallah Sultan Iskandar Al-Haj. The man was conferred the World Digital Economy Corporate CEO Lifetime Achievement Award at the World Digital Economy & Technology Summit 2022 in June.

How do you juggle your various portfolios from being an adjunct professor to heading various organisations and playing key roles?
Where there is a will, there is a way. As an extremely disciplined person, I evaluate weekly my list of priorities for the portfolios I hold so that I will always be on top of my game. Sometimes it is tricky to find that balance. I am a firm believer that time should be used constructively and that has helped me to balance my tasks effectively. Also, I am passionate about what I do and that makes a difference.

You have completed your third Master on Public Administration (MPA) at the University of Malaya’s Faculty of Economics and Administration. How will it help you in your career advancement?
The MPA course covers Public Policy Analysis, Fiscal Administration, Public Administrative Behaviour, Malaysian Politics and Governance as well as Planning and Community Development. Besides providing a better grasp of how they relate to the economy and the business world, I am armed with a strong knowledge of strategising and am navigating better in my networking and business collaborations for WTCKL. Timing is everything. Likewise, understanding the political landscape is vital in business.

You have made the country proud by not only becoming the first local to hold a seat in the WTCA but also the first Malaysian to become a visiting professor in the Centre of Malaysia Scholars at the College of International Relations in Huaqiao University in China. What does this mean for WTCKL and Malaysia?
I believe greatly in networking and learning from each other. From the WTCA perspective, we believe that collaboration for mutual benefits and experience exchanges are key to the BE industry recovery. Agility in adapting to the current business climate is a must. There is much
to learn from China with its huge population and expertise in the BE industry. There can only be an upside in enhancing trade relations between the two countries.

As chairman of the inaugural Conferences and Exhibitions of the MAC of WTCA headquartered in New York, what are some measures adopted under your leadership?
During my two-year tenure starting 2022, I am committed to encourage all WTCs to operate in an open and inclusive approach to revive our industry. I aim to collaborate, connect as much as possible and share experiences between the global members as there are potentially significant synergies to be tapped.

Earlier this year, the WTCA board merged all the MACs into one global group in order to increase participation in conferences and exhibitions from its 326 members worldwide. Hopefully, it will also benefit the rest of the world to collaborate and diversify their services in the BE industry. The MAC remains committed to be relevant by enhancing engagement, advocacy, and branding; creating awareness; building new networking; and crafting new methods to propel the BE industry as a new form of economy for the WTCA.

Following WTCKL’s rebranding exercise to conform to the WTCA’s Standard Brand Certificate, what other areas is it working on to elevate its services?
WTCKL emphasises on certifications and best practices to regain the confidence of our customers. For example, our kitchens are halal certified by the Department of Islamic Development. Food safety management is always emphasised throughout our food and beverage productions in all of our events.

WTCKL is also developing the Anti-Bribery Management System (ABMS) aligned with the government’s fight against corruption. This is to uphold the value of integrity and governance throughout our business conduct via ISO 37001:2016 ABMS.

WTCKL is rejuvenating its safety and health management system. Please elaborate particularly in the post-pandemic era where cleanliness and hygiene are of utmost importance.

Apart from relooking into our existing operational practices and benchmarking the practices based on the Occupational Health and Safety standards, WTCKL also strives to embed the “Safety First” culture to all business associates, including vendors, contractors, and patrons. We have also obtained the Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers’ Safe Business Events Hygiene and Safety Certification.

Amidst the country’s manpower shortage, will WTCKL be introducing robots as part of its innovative service using technology in the hospitality industry?
As of now we are not planning to integrate robots into our services. Our industry is built on profound human connection and the ability to push forward an overall humanised and wholesome experience. We believe face-to-face interaction is the best way to provide a first-class hospitality experience to our guests.

Please provide more details on the creative solutions WTCKL is offering exhibitors and event organisers. We are exploring reusable serve-ware such as glass bottles in reducing the usage of plastic bottles for events. WTCKL has also ventured into providing eco-friendly hydration hubs for macro events instead of using individual mineral water bottles to participants to support our green initiatives. Besides putting extra thoughts in planning our advertisement placements and development of marketing collaterals into digitalisation to minimise paper usage, we are in the midst of reducing the use of paper towels with energy- efficient eco-hand drying equipment.

WTCKL is also managing food wastage with qualified contractors based on firm scheduling system for processed cooking oils and working with the local non-governmental organisations and foundations for donations. Lastly, we are expanding our Recycle House and Recycling Centre initiatives to strategic locations by using clear signages and labels to educate and instill responsible behaviour.

Malaysia Airlines is one of your strategic partners. Tell us more about your tie-up with the national carrier.
Our focus is very much to promote each other’s business to our clients and by utilising our social media presence to boost awareness of the airline’s deals for business travellers. We are in discussions with Malaysia Airlines to cement our strategic collaboration in the form of a MoU.

What are some upcoming major events at WTCKL that visitors can look forward to as we near the end of the year?
They are the Retail Solution Expo 2022 and the Malaysia China Trade Expo 2022, both happening in November.

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