Business Development Director of Saab Malaysia
A lot of boys grown up thinking about being a soldier, or working with things that go BOOM! Zaki however has gotten somewhat close to that dream, through his role of business development director for Saab Malaysia – the defense company, not to be confused for the automotive division. After majoring in communications, he entered the job market doing PR initially, but eventually found himself doing sales thanks to networking skills. How then did he enter the field of defense? One of his earlier jobs included the marketing of navigation, propulsion and electronic warfare equipment to be included on the navy’s Littoral Combat Ships, and he grew to like his new role. Since then he’s been involved in the development of aerospace interests including aircraft for the Royal Malaysian Airforce, simulators, radar systems and more.
We speak to him about his role at Saab in this 2020 interview.
What does your role entail?
As business development director, my main goal is to initiate programmes with the army and the air force, to see how Saab can help, and provide for them locally. We’re talking about equipment from fighter jets to weapons and things like that.
What do you enjoy most about being with Saab?
My role is pretty exciting because I get to sit in meeting with soldiers and some times they begin talking about things like battle tactics. It’s an entirely different scenario than the usual corporate type meetings, yet we’re still doing business. It’s just a unique set up, and of course, the items we sell are exciting as well, though dangerous!
Tell us a bit more about Saab, a lot of people only know about its cars.
Well, it’s a Swedish company to begin with. Saab essentially started of as a defense company in the 1930s, and the car was a by product later on – which then got sold off, and at one point General Motors owned the automobile brand. However, Saab still continues to produce defense systems and equipment, and the Malaysian office has only been around since 2012, and I joined in 2017.