SKY IS THE LIMIT

The pursuit of success with Datuk Dr Maznah Hamid 

main pictMalaysians might know her as ‘The Iron Lady’, but those who know her better might be familiar with her moniker ‘The Jerlun’.

Datuk Dr Maznah Hamid, a native from Jerlun, Kedah, is the executive chairman of Securiforce Group Companies. Datuk Dr Maznah, who admires the success story of Oprah Winfrey, shares her personal stories with Property Insight and reveals how her quest of success did not come easy.

Hardship is the main reason of her triumph, Datuk Dr Maznah believes. She stresses that to achieve dreams, one must “start on your own and from below,” she says. The stepping-stones towards success are meant to be climbed one after another.

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At a young age of 17, Datuk Dr Maznah moved to Kuala Lumpur to seek success. Her first job was a teacher in an academy, and after two years of being someone’s employee, she quit and started being an independent home-tutor at the embassy and VIP residential.  This was the turning point of her life when she realised that in order to be prosperous, she must not rely on jobs with salaries. In fact, she personally requests Property Insight to deliver this message to the readers: “In order to be successful, one must not depend on salaried jobs. You can do salaried jobs, but make sure to do it only for temporary.”

That moment sparked her passion of entrepreneurship. Interestingly, she believes that she has one of the important traits of an entrepreneur:  being observant. While she was pondering the first business she would want to venture in, she observed her surroundings and realised that all of the residential homes where she went teaching had a guardhouse with armed bodyguards. At that instant, she could foresee that security will be a demand for years to come, and the idea of Securiforce came into being.

In 1979, she married her husband Datuk Shaheen Mirza Habib, and together took a vow to make their security company dream come true. “We begin our married life and business, in the life of hardship. We had to move to ‘illegal home’ with no electricity and water supply, because it cost only RM50 per month,” she remembers.

A year later, Datuk Dr Maznah successfully established Securiforce using her own savings, not borrowing a single sen from the banks. She pursued more capital to the extent of doing a lot of jobs at the same time, such as selling insurance, teaching, translating, becoming an estate agent, as well as doing multi-level marketing.

In her business principle, Datuk Dr Maznah believes that the foremost capital is the entrepreneurs themselves. Datuk Dr Maznah has built Securiforce from the ground up by her own perseverance and tenacity, without help from financial and government institutions, making her one of the respected businesswomen. Her entrepreneurial spirit was rewarded when Datuk Dr Maznah was nominated for the prestigious Entrepreneur Award by the Malaysian Malay Chamber of Commerce in 1990, and she bested all the other prominent male businessman for the honour, earning her the title of ‘The Iron Lady’ ever since.

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Throughout its over 30-years history, Securiforce now has earned the reputation of being a truly reliable provider of security services, gaining the trust and confidence of a broad range of commercial organizations extensively across the country most notably for banks and other financial institutions, government agencies, retail chain outlets and other commercial entities.

The company’s venture into Logistics Service vis-a-vis ground-to-air and air-to-ground services has now enabled Securiforce to have branch offices outside Malaysia. The company currently has branch offices in Singapore, Bangkok, China, Korea, Turkey, and Germany. Then, by using the returns she made from Securiforce, she established a number of subsidiaries under it, and among them was her first venture into property development via Danau Lumayan Sdn Bhd.

With Datuk Dr Maznah as chairman and her husband as the director, Danau Lumayan began developing 102 acres of land in Bandar Tun Razak in June 2000 and to date the company completed approximately 3,000 units of residential apartments, condominiums and shop lots.

The inspiration to start property development comes mainly from her love of entrepreneurship. From there, comes the desire to share and help other people. “Our interest started off when we received feedback from the public indicating the needs of having properties with affordable pricing,” Datuk Dr Maznah recalls. “Responding to the public needs, we started looking into the industry and try to understand how the system works and whether it is possible to assist the public on the issue of pricing. We noticed that most developers had priced their products on the higher side and it is possible to actually develop the product being requested. From there onwards, we formed the company and started our development projects till to date.”

Her development projects are performing well beyond expectations. Since Danau Lumayan is supported by the affordable pricing, all of their projects are able to appreciate between 80% to 100% within the time frame of one year. “Our recent completed project Astana Lumayan were sold at RM269,900, before Bumi discount, and the highest subsale value was at RM670,000,” she discloses.

Suasana Lumayan is Datuk Dr Maznah’s current development project with the expected GDV of RM280 million and rental yield estimated to be more than 10%. “At the moment, we are constructing 900 units of Suasana Lumayan, a condominium with sizes of 1,142 sqft and 1,364 sqft. The selling price is at RM299,990 and RM345,990 respectively. The project is now 95% complete and will be delivered for VP sometime in September 2015,” she shares.

Datuk Maznah’s next development project is the Rumah Mampu Milik (512 units) in Taman Naga Mas with a GDV of RM154 million and size of units at 1,035 sqft. The selling price will be RM300,000 per unit, according to her, and the project will be launched in the first quarter of 2015. For this particular project, Danau Lumayan is assisting the Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur to fulfill the federal government aspirations to provide affordable homes to the public. At the same time, the company is looking into pockets of land in Sepang, Selangor, as well as small parcels within Kuala Lumpur itself.

She considers the land price to be the most important part in a project investment. “As we are involving ourselves with affordable houses, the Gross Development Cost (GDC) is very much paramount in ensuring the viability of the project involved,” she says.

“There are the high-end and the middle-class projects. The purchasers are also classified in both areas, with the higher volumes being within the middle class groups,” she explains. “The pricing is now somewhat going into higher end, thus causing the market to be very much competitive for the middle class as they compete in procurement with the higher income groups. More developers who are willing to sacrifice their margins are required to be made available to assist the middle class groups. The government should assist and provide guidelines and a clearer regulation to ensure that the middle class groups are protected at all times whilst ensuring no overpricing of bubble effect to take place within this industry in Malaysia.”

Additionally, she asserts that most Malaysian developers priced their products on the higher side, “most probably due to their size of land bank which is relatively small.” As a developer, she believes that the price can be lowered, provided always that the land price is somewhat reasonable.

“The developers with large land banks should always try to assist the market by controlling the price structure and not to allow others to take advantage from the house buyers. This can be done by assisting the government to cap the price at reasonable rates rather than allowing developers to charge excessively,” Datuk Dr Maznah says.

She also advises young investors to always study the property markets before committing themselves. “They need to study on the price structures and compare the rates accordingly. This will ensure that the market price remains stable. Panic purchase will only contribute to hike in pricing and will only benefit developers rather than themselves.”

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Despite her over 15 years’ experience in financial and business management, Datuk Dr Maznah believes that it will not benefit her if she does not share it with other people. Therefore, she created Maznah Motivational Centre (MMC) to organise seminars for entrepreneurship and human development. The key assets that she is trying to apply to the public through those seminars are resilience, guts feeling, immunities, persistency and sustaining power, and she aims to raise and instill the spirit of entrepreneurship into every mankind.

Apart from that, she is also the Board of Advisor of Accelerated Business Schools Inc., USA and Success Resources Pte Ltd. At the same time, she is also actively involved in Yayasan Sultanah Bahiyah, Kedah, as the Board of Trustee member. Besides from being the president of Malaysia Association of Professional Speakers (MAPS) and Persatuan Usahawati Wanita Wilayah Utara (USAHAWATI), she is a member of Institut Keusahawanan Negara (INSKEN).

She also holds a PhD, Doctorate in Business Administration in Entrepreneurship, Motivation and Human Development Capital from Central State University of New York, and decided not to keep her knowledge to herself. She sincerely wants everyone to also learn from her experience, so she published a book entitled Motivasi Memburu Kejayaan (Malay and Chinese versions), Book Mini Series 3K Secrets – Success, Wealth and Happiness, Transformasi Diri (Menuju Kejayaan, Kebahagiaan dan Kekayaan), and Himpunan Doa Harian.

Datuk Dr Maznah Hamid’s love for entrepreneurship is endless. She remembers her tough days like it was only yesterday, at times oblivious that she has now become people’s inspiration and has changed so many lives. She is the living proof that anyone can be successful in both business and personal life, while at the same time not forgetting our responsibility for the society. She has wholeheartedly proven to us that the sky is the limit.

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