Boarders Lecture Series | Mak Joon Nien

The Boarders Lecture on Sunday 15th October was a real treat for those that attended.


Mak Joon Nien, CEO of Standard Chartered Malaysia, spoke about his life and what it was to be in charge of such a large company.


As an Old Marlburian, he said that his time at Marlborough College UK were some of the best days of his life. He had struggled academically but then turned himself around when he realised what he was truly capable of. 


After University in Bradford and an MA at Imperial, Mak found himself at Standard Chartered bank in KL. He recounted how he and a friend had stood outside when they had first joined the company. On one occasion, the then CEO of the bank arrived in a large stretched limo and Mak commented to his friend, “Imagine that was us.” To which his friend replied, “It will never happen to us: we’re Malaysian.” 


Whilst the bank had a very long history in Malaysia it was always run by an expat. Some 25 years on and Mak broke the mould to become the first Malaysian CEO of Standard Chartered bank, Malaysia in 2022. 


When asked about what he wanted to achieve he told the audience that he wanted to continue his legacy with other Malaysians following him in this role. Moreover, he was aiming to place the bank in a position of strength for the next 150 years.


The boarders asked some tough questions: about the rise in SST, corruption and cyber crime as well as what are the most important characteristics a person should have to be successful? This last question led to some key take-aways from the talk:


  • Always behave as if you are more senior than you really are.
  • The only way to be successful is through knowledge and continuous learning.


He summed this up with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, ‘Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.’

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