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Client Case 1: Designing a Flagship Leadership Development Program for the International Centre for Leadership in Finance (ICLIF)

The Challenge

In the face of continued globalization and its impact on the financial industry, the International Centre for Leadership in Finance (ICLIF) was set up by Bank Negara Malaysia to enhance the global capabilities of key financial executives in the Asia region. ICLIF was established and endowed as a not-for-profit corporation by Bank Negara Malaysia in October 2003 to provide leadership development programs for CEOs and Level 2 and 3 senior executives from financial institutions and business corporations in Malaysia, Asia and beyond.

Linkage Asia’s Solution

Linkage responded to the global challenge and designed the Global Leadership Development Program (GLDP) to meet ICLIF’s leadership requirements. Targeted at CEOs and high potential senior executives, the GLDP is a unique and extraordinary four week learning experience spread over four months with intervals of 6-8 weeks.

The GLDP has strengthened the ability of executives of private and public sector organizations in Malaysia and the region.

The GLDP has provided participants with an unsurpassed opportunity to immerse themselves in current leadership and management issues with thought leaders and leading industry practitioners, and apply what they have learned in their organizations. Moreover, participants were given opportunities to meet with current and former executives who share best practices in key areas related to ICLIF’s unique, Asian-focused leadership framework, the ICLIF Breakthrough Leadership Model.

The learning outcomes from the GLDP include:

  • Competencies to make organizations more competitive and successful
  • Skills that engender organizational excellence and a spirit of creativity
  • Best practices of global business leaders from diverse sectors and geographies
  • Interpersonal skills to communicate effectively with a broad range of stakeholders on diverse and often complex business issues
  • Insights on global trends impacting business performance and organization effectiveness


  • The GLDP has consistently received strongly favorable ratings since its first run in 2004
  • The following testimonies are a sampling of feedback from program participants

ICLIF has recognized Linkage as a trusted partner for building global leadership capabilities among top executives from Asia’s financial industry. This is a program that should not be missed by any Malaysian Chief Executive who strives to be a global player in the fast changing global business environment. Even though I feel that I have already reached the pinnacle of my career, I have found this program to be very useful indeed in enabling me to review some of my past performance, reassess my present commitment and style of management and to re-chart my future plans and programs.

Y. Bhg Tan Sri Lodin bin Wok Kamaruddin,
Group Managing Director, Boustead Holdings Berhad

I attended the inaugural GLDP in 2005 and my experience was fully satisfactory. The Linkage and faculty from various institutions were very knowledgeable and provided guidance and coaching on many relevant disciplines.  The major learnings for me from the course were in strategic management and change leadership.

Rasool Khan, Managing Director,
The Bank of Nova Scotia Berhad, 

I attended the GLDP in 2003 and my experience was above expectations as I know that no such programme existed in Malaysia before. The Linkage team were very dedicated to ensure that we reaped maximum benefit out of the programme. Their coordination with the Faculty members drawn from USC/Drucker Business School and Stanford was also very rewarding. I have learned greater self awareness and am able to function more effectively as a leader and able to better organise myself with a balance to work and family. As a pioneer, I have since recommended RHB Bank to send participants to the programme without fail.

Vaseehar Hassan bin Abdul Razack,
Board Member, RHB Bank

GLDP program was a management detoxification program of some sort for me. …I established valuable relationships with many chief executive officers. These were movers and shakers with solid credentials. is highly recommended and worth every single cent.”

Dato’ Wong Chun Wai,
Group Chief Editor, The Star Newspaper

The faculty is highly impressive. The wide ranging topics covered are practical and relevant for senior management today. Above all, the cross border interaction with course participants is invaluable. There is a wonderful sense of camaraderie all round.

Mark Lim Kian Wei,
Executive Director, General Insurance Association of Singapore

The return on this investment of time and money will be very high if I go and implement even half of the things that I have learnt.

Nishit Majmudar,
CEO, Pru Life UK

I must say the experience has been very enriching indeed. The Linkage team which played a key role in the design and execution of the GLDP program, has been instrumental in ensuring the program was both insightful and interesting. In particular, Sam Lam’s personal insight on leadership issues were telling as well as amusing. I like his common sense approach. My major learnings from the GLDP were the ability to understand my own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of my subordinates. Applied with common sense, the tools and concepts learned in GLDP help me to lead and motivate the right people to do the right thing.

Chan Kok Seong,
Director and CEO, UOB Malaysia

My experience was very positive in learning from course facilitators and participants as well. The Linkage team did a good job in organizing the overall GLDP program, including the selection of topics and scope of the GLDP. There were several sessions conducted by the Linkage team which I find very well facilitated with good presentation and contents. And my major takeaway from the GLDP includes enhanced self-awareness, leadership competencies and responsibilities.

Jeffrey Chew, Executive Vice President and Head (Business Banking Division),
OCBC Bank (M) Berhad

I attended the GLDP and had a life-changing experience. This program helped me regain balance in my life, which resulted in higher effectiveness as a leader, and higher efficiency as a manager…The Linkage team took the time to analyze my strengths and weakness and was able to pinpoint spots in my thinking and leadership style that I was completely unaware of.. I learned a lot from GLDP, but if I have to point out one major learning, I would say that I learned to think of balance in everything I get involved in. Balance is key for comprehensive fulfillment.

Dr Rami M.S. Ahmad,
Deputy Director, Operations -3, Islamic Development Bank

It was an eye opener and was a very different & valuable experience for most of us. The Linkage Team was very professional in conducting the faculty. With their in-depth knowledge of the subject matter, they were able to communicate across with much clarity and understanding. They were also able to get most of us to open up and share our experiences & that networking which has continued till today has been very useful. Generally this leadership program has been relevant and useful for me in discharging my duties in my newly acquired position heading the consumer bank; as well as the new challenges that come with the wider exposure & responsibilities within the Banking Group.

Tunku Ahmad Burhanuddin,
Head (Group CEO’s Office), CIMB Group

I think it has given me a fresh perspective of leadership and what it takes to be a great leader. I find the Linkage team capable and responsible in carrying their work. Most of the faculties lined up are interesting and thought provoking. Where some are, in my opinion, slightly lacking, Linkage has been responsive to suggestions and comments. But more importantly, I established valuable relationships with many chief executive officers. These were movers and shakers with solid credentials. Spending weeks together as a team certainly built up relationships. That special bond has even been extended to family members, who travelled with us. I certainly recommend Malaysian businessmen for this programme. The Linkage team must be commended for putting together this programme. It’s highly recommended and worth every single cent of the programme. Go for it!

Khor Chap Jen, Executive Director,
SP Setia Berhad

 I attended the GLDP in Cameron Highlands in February 2007 (Part 1). This segment of the GLDP included key aspects of leadership competencies which I found very useful in helping me deal with leadership issues in my working life. I thoroughly enjoyed and value the experience gained at the GLDP, which not only provided excellent opportunities for enhancing knowledge through interaction with other participants, but at the same time also forging new relationships with other leaders, present and future.

Nazlan Ghazali, Executive Vice President, General Counsel & Company Secretary,
Maybank (GLDP Class of Summer 2007)

 My experience with you, your colleagues and the participants of the Global Leadership Program in Camerons last February was fantastic. It helped me confirm my style and character but more importantly it provided me subtle tips to deal with my weaknesses and enhance my strengths, in addition to providing me a tool for more systematic evaluation of situations or individuals. I particularly like the application of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Derailment warnings, which I consciously apply. And, the experiences cited during the program explained the respective subjects discussed very well. I also enjoy the extended discussions beyond the group program where more specific observations were made. Looking forward to the next two legs of the program and more discussions with you and team. And thank you for the recommended books. The Good to Great is very interesting and I am half way through it.

Koh Kah Hock, Director (Special Projects),
YTL Power International Berhad

I attended the GLDP in Cameron Highlands in March 2007 and the experience I had was great. There were a lot of self reflection of feelings and experiences of our past works, and with this awareness it is definitely helpful when it comes to making decisions in our present works. An example of this is found in the Learning Tactics Inventory which relates the different aspects of managerial behaviour. By identifying the strength and weakness in each area, not only can this can be applied in our job challenges, but also for us to understand why others behave and make decisions like what they did. The interaction created with the other team members help us to see beyond ourselves and understand the subject better.

The Linkage team had also been able to relate the various HBR articles which discuss real life examples in the mostly American management environment to its outcome, and sometimes cause me to be conscious (or guilty at time) that if I do not make appropriate changes in my life, I might have the same ending. There is really so much to learn and improve and the Linkage team is actually leading us onto the right direction of helping us to be a better leader and manager than what we currently are.

Kow Choong Ming,
SP Setia