A Man With A Mission

Datuk Mohd Mustafa Abdul Aziz

Chief Executive Officer, MATRADE

Datuk Mohd Mustafa Abdul Aziz is currently the chief executive officer of the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation or known to many as MATRADE. He is a man with a mission who successfully leads MATRADE to a new height by transforming the national trade promotion agency into a thinking organisation under all circumstances through boom or bust.

The visionary leader began his 32-year career in the civil service starting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, followed by the Economic Planning Unit, and Prime Minister’s Department, before joining MATRADE in June 1994. Despite having a wealth of experience, Datuk Mohd Mustafa has always been striving for the best and passionate about leading change to produce extraordinary outcomes be it for the organisation itself, business community or the country as a whole.

Staying firm to the phrase “rain or shine, the show must go on”, he leads his comrades by making the impossible possible. The reputable CEO keeps echoing the undertaken transformation initiatives that are aligned with MATRADE’s three main agendas: Digitalisation, Sustainability and the National Trade Blueprints (NTBp). He strongly believes that solid and powerful storytelling about MATRADErs hard work should be conveyed accurately. “Make no more mistakes!” – The compassionate leader advises fellow MATRADErs to encourage them to deliver excellent jobs always.

“It is not easy to put where we are now, all aspects must be well-thought-out in championing MATRADE’s ongoing duty to be an organisation of excellence which is achievable through having the right attitude, good values, distinctive cultures and work ethics (AVC) in our organisation. I am hopeful that the new characteristics of MATRADE will have a spillover effect on our relationship with Malaysian companies as well as our counterparts in other Ministries and Agencies. It has been our aspiration to place Malaysia as a major trading nation and the centre of reference when it comes to international trade”, the Kaizen believer reiterated.

Furthermore, the foresighted leader has always been contributing massively to Malaysian export activities. Among major responsibilities he was held accountable, proving his remarkable leadership quality were:

1. Established the Malaysia Trade Centre in Dubai, UAE in 2001;

2. Reopened the MATRADE office in Osaka, Japan in 2005 after being closed due to economic crisis that hit Asia in 1998; and

3. Established the Malaysia Trade Centre in Doha, Qatar in 2013. 

Inculcating the spirit of working together as a team, he was also involved in the nation’s capacity building component together with the consulting team of the Malaysian Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) in the negotiation of Free Trade Agreements as follows:

1. Malaysia-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement;

2. Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement; and 

3. ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement.

According to the MATRADE’s CEO, all sorts of careers need a good self-leadership trait to be at the top in order to run any operations effectively. The chief acknowledges good talents and steers MATRADE’s transformation and restructures exercise by doing the needful to put the right people at the right place. The perfectionist leader often emphasises on personal brand image among his colleagues, in empowering MATRADE’s brand reputation. Moreover, he fosters spring-cleaning practices among MATRADErs to maintain a clean and decent working environment which leads to better productivity. Datuk Mohd Mustafa has made this very clear to all MATRADErs in understanding that their roles as civil servants inter alia, are also about labouring love for the country, passion, discipline, and right mindset. 

As the business trends keep evolving, the zealous MATRADEr regards that it is pertinent for both the public and private sectors to join forces in promoting trade enhancement between Malaysia and other trading countries. The TPO needs to be fast and versatile to deliver the best in serving the business community. Good synchronisation be it trade strategy or smart networking can possibly overcome export challenges.

Alongside Malaysia’s stellar trade performance, MATRADE bagged the “Best Use of Information Technology” award at the 13th World Trade Promotion Organizations (WTPO) Conference and Awards organised by the International Trade Centre on 17 May 2022.

The TPO was recognised for its initiative in organising the first fully virtual edition of the 17th Malaysia International Halal Showcase (MIHAS) in 2021. Adding another feather to its cap, MIHAS 2021 was also recognised at the Malaysia Public Relations Awards (MPRA) 2021, clinching the Gold Award in the Best “Pandemic Pivot” or “COVID-19 Communications” campaign category. This shows that under Datuk Mohd Mustafa’s leadership, impactful working culture is adapted and MATRADErs give their best with enthusiasm, ensuring that the TPO excels on the global stage and making it known as one of distinguished Malaysian’s Government Agencies. 

MIHAS 2022 which will take place from 7 to 10 September 2022 in a hybrid format will be bigger and better! The MATRADE’s flagship event will showcase a total of 1,196 booths in 13 leading clusters. “Apart from the exhibition, we will also organise the International Sourcing Programme (INSP) which anticipated 400 foreign buyers; from over 50 countries including from the Middle East, Europe, Central Asia, South Asia, ASEAN, Oceania and African region, who will engage in business meetings either virtually or physically with Malaysian exporters. Besides that, the prestigious MIHAS Awards is back again. It seeks to celebrate outstanding exhibitors in booth design creativity, innovation in products and services as well as inventions that are making lasting impacts in the global Halal industry”, he revealed.

The recent slew of cost-cutting measures by the government due to the pressure of global inflation and the rising cost of goods have moved MATRADE to embrace sustainable avenues such as the public private partnership (PPP) and private finance initiative (PFI) in forging collaborations with strategic partners in carrying its mandate. This includes the recently launched MATRADE Digital Trade Platform, powered by Fusionex Group – a business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) trade platform aimed to reduce trade complexities, foster business interconnectivity and promote Malaysia-made products and services to buyers and partners across the globe.

An addition to his endless efforts, the top-notch MATRADE’s Iron Man, strives to transform MATRADE into a self-sustaining organisation. Datuk Mohd Mustafa is determined in finding solution for the organisation’s operating and development budget at all cost. For instance, one of the revenue streams include Menara MATRADE, a conducive building strategically located next to MITEC – the Malaysia’s largest trade exhibition and conference centre, which is also within the proximity of Solaris Mont Kiara, and Publika – well known residential and shopping addresses for foreign expatriates. The inclusivity building offers world-class facilities along with high-speed internet. For viewing and further details kindly contact Revenue Generation Unit at 03 – 6207 7901 / 7903 or email halim@matrade.gov.my / snazreen@matrade.gov.my.