Photo of Meg Coates and Latifah Mohamed Yusof, Astro Malaysia Holdings Berhad.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Latifah Mohamed Yusof has been with Astro for over 20 years, with a two-year secondment to the position of CFO of Astro GS Shop Sdn Bhd (AGSB), a joint-venture company between Astro Malaysia Holdings Berhad and GS Home Shopping Inc. of Korea. Prior to this she held roles as the Group Finance Assistant Manager at UMW Corporation Sdn Bhd, a Finance Executive at UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd, and an Audit Assistant at Coopers & Lybrand. To say she has spent her career dedicated to finance is an understatement.
Latifah began her journey at the University of Bath in the UK, where she received her Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Economics. She later gained a Certificate in Business Accounting from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). She is also a member of the Harvard Business School Alumni Club of Malaysia.
In the 18 months that she was seconded to AGSB, Malaysia’s leading home-shopping channel, Latifah oversaw a team of ten and according to her CEO from that time, Dato’ Rozalila Abdul Rahman, she “contributed relentlessly in building a strong team and a solid foundation, providing strong leadership in the areas of business planning and market intelligence, finance, legal and regulatory compliance.” Dato’ Rozalila cites Latifah’s role as CFO as “playing an instrumental role in managing the company’s cash flow and prudent spending against budget”, as one of the contributing factors that facilitated its successful start-up years.
As part of the pioneering team, Latifah established AGSB’s accounting systems interfaces between AGSB’s customer relationship management system – adopted from Korea – to SAP, as well as taking on the additional responsibilities that came with a start-up company, whilst simultaneously performing all the functions of a financial controller.
Now, back in her role as Group Treasurer for Astro, Latifah oversees five departments with a total of 34 staff, 27 of which are female. During this time, she has transformed the treasury department, and has been instrumental in the group’s debt push-down exercise, arranging for over RM650m (approximately US$155m) of the holding company’s debt to be pre-paid three years in advance.
“This recognition is a great honour for Malaysia and Astro. I would like to dedicate the award to my bosses, my direct and indirect mentors, as well as my team at Astro who continues to inspire me to drive forward innovation in treasury. A sincere thank you to all who have supported me in my journey.”
Latifah Mohamed Yusof, Group Treasurer
She has also successfully spearheaded the establishment of Astro’s in-house bank (IHB) in partnership with Standard Chartered. This had allowed Astro to benefit from savings on foreign exchange and remittance costs, as well as increased process standardisation, higher efficiencies through reduced manual handling, and improved visibility and better control over the group’s cash position.
She is currently championing Astro’s procure-to-pay project together with Astro’s procurement team, to achieve full automation, digitalisation and governance of spending activities, as well as reviewing Astro’s TV customers’ payment touch points.
The Group CFO of Astro, Shafiq Abdul Jabbar, describes Latifah as “a valuable asset to the firm” and states that it’s his privilege to be her line manager for the past three years. He cites her driven personality and willingness to put the extra time and effort into driving projects as key traits that led to the successful completion of the IHB. “This achievement is a first for a media group in Malaysia, and arguably the region, a great accomplishment which deservedly should be made known to the rest of the treasury world,” he says.
Whilst achieving all this, Latifah has also been an active member of the Malaysian Association of Corporate Treasurers (MACT), of which she is currently the President. Her responsibilities as the President include offering guidance to the treasury community, as well as supporting events that educate and share knowledge with the budding treasury community in Malaysia. In addition, Latifah is also a member of the Financial Markets Committee (FMC), established by the Central Bank of Malaysia, with a focus on reviewing and formulating comprehensive strategies for the financial markets.
Latifah is committed to creating a supportive and empowering environment where women have equal opportunities in the treasury community, and she enforces this within both Astro and MACT. She takes an active role in mentoring her employees and always ensures she explores the potential of women in her team. She aims to teach her team to be self-sufficient, and hopes to inspire one of them to be her future successor. Outside of her professional roles, Latifah has a loving family. Her husband is always supportive of her career, and she has raised three children who have become equally high achievers in their own chosen career paths. In a previous interview with Treasury Today as part of the Women in Treasury profiles, Latifah cites her family as her greatest inspiration. “I aspire to be a role model for successful career women and mothers – excellent at work and at home!” she said.