Growing up in Jelebu, Negeri Sembilan, Mohd Firdaus Kamaruddin, affectionately known as Firdaus, would not have predicted the international journey ahead of him. Reflecting on his origins, he says, “I was raised by my grandparents and lived with them for the first 12 years of my life, which shaped my core fundamentals. I then moved to Kuala Kangsar to attend boarding school, and from there, my academic path led me to accounting, with the backing of a local scholarship from PETRONAS.”
The Global Experience at GE
With credentials in hand and fire in his belly, Firdaus joined GE’s ‘Financial Management Program’ after a short 2-year stint with PETRONAS. The programme, which he proudly shares, was over a century old and presented him with a golden ticket to a whirlwind of global experiences. The programme’s constant rotation took him from Malaysia to Singapore, Hong Kong, and back, eventually leading him to GE’s Corporate Audit Staff, a well-established finance career accelerator in the company.
“I spent most of that time in the US, being sent on assignments from Mexico to Shanghai, Bristol, Abu Dhabi, and several US cities, among others.” But it wasn’t just about work for Firdaus; it was a cultural immersion. “Every country has its unique culture,” he emphasises. The experience honed his adaptability, teaching him to “assimilate but also remain true to oneself.”
He recalls the biggest culture shock came during his time in the US, where the fierce “Type A” Americans challenged his introverted nature. “I felt insecure about my accent and English skills,” he confesses. But, determined as always, he took to heart the advice of supportive colleagues: emphasise effort over perfection.
“My experience with GE took me around the world. It was intense but enriching for my career and personal development.”
Middle Eastern Adventures
Qatar was a brief but crucial chapter as a springboard to his Dubai stint in 2014. His work with GE, especially his involvement after the Alstom acquisition, saw him tackling roles of increasing responsibility.
“Starting as the Middle East region’s Financial Planning and Analysis leader, I eventually oversaw the entire Middle East Africa as the Finance Leader,” Firdaus explains. He described his role: “Nothing is ever the same in my role because I run a region, so I learn something new every day.”
Firdaus’s heart lies not just in numbers but also in discovering the stories of places. “I appreciate history,” he says. In Dubai, he takes solace in long walks, whether inside malls to escape the heat or outside to marvel at the Emirati architecture. On weekends, he dives into books, explores investments, and embarks on travel adventures, relishing art, museums, and historical sites.
A Strong Malaysian Connection
No matter where his journey took him, the flavours and stories of Malaysia remained close to his heart. “Food is my tether to Malaysia. I have a small group of Malaysian friends wherever I go. We’d gather, discuss home, and indulge in Malaysian delicacies,” he reminisces. “Whenever I find myself in a new place, I search for Malaysians or at least a hint of Malaysian cuisine.”
Having recently accepted the Finance Leader role for Grid Systems Integration Central Europe at GE Grid Solutions, Firdaus is embarking on new adventures in Berlin. “The European focus on renewable energy is captivating, and we’re at the forefront with several mega projects. It’s an opportunity to merge my experiences from the Middle East with the challenges of Central Europe,” he shares.
Lessons and Reflections
When asked about advice for Malaysians considering an overseas move, Firdaus emphasises the importance of adaptability. “You can’t expect to stay with a Malaysian mentality without assimilating,” he advises, highlighting the need to research local nuances and customs.
However, his love for his homeland remains unwavering. “I love Malaysia as my home. Malaysia has its strengths and flaws, but it’s still my home, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” he declares with pride.
Looking to the Future with TalentCorp’s Initiatives
Firdaus appreciates platforms like the MyHeart portal. “It’s a fantastic start,” he observes, “The challenge is to keep the momentum and use this platform to strengthen connections among Malaysians and optimise our global relations.”
As he continues his international journey in Berlin, he leaves us with a resonating thought, “Success isn’t tied to a place, it’s a journey. It’s about aligning with your visions and goals, wherever you may be.”
If you’re a Malaysian residing abroad like Firdaus, join MyHeart to be part of a global community with Malaysians at its heart.