Malis Selamat is currently the Head of Corporate Sales, Southeast Asia and Country Manager of Philippines/Vietnam for Google Cloud. In her role, Malis is focused on helping new and existing customers adopt Google Cloud solutions to capitalise on the region’s fast-growing economies.
With over 20 years of enterprise, commercial, and channel experience, Malis possesses extensive knowledge on helping customers and businesses maximise their revenues.
Prior to joining Google Cloud, Malis was the Director of Commercial Business for the South East Asia and Korea (SEAK) region for VMware where she was responsible for leading the commercial/inside sales team. She also led the SEAK VMware Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion charter. Malis has held leadership positions in leading enterprise companies such as McAfee, ABB, Citrix, and QlikTech amongst others.
#1 How did you end up in this technology industry?
The technology industry was not something I had considered for a career when I left university. I had a Bachelor of Arts degree and majored in Political Science and European Studies, and was keen to become a broadcast journalist. I clearly remembered how tough it was the year I graduated, as it was during a recession and I had sent out close to 100 resumes with only a handful of responses back. In the end, I decided to temporarily work as a data entry at Datacom Services, which was the customer service provider for Microsoft back then.
One thing led to another and my curiosity landed me a permanent role with Datacom where it started as a small set-up in Singapore. I was allowed to travel around Southeast Asia to replicate the same set-up for Microsoft under Datacom Services. This involved spending months in each country to build and stabilise the operations. As someone fresh out of school, the challenge was for me an opportunity to excel and to grow my career within the company. I was fortunate as I had a manager who was also my mentor who guided me in the first few years of my career. It was also my first foray into sales as well and since then, there was no turning back.
I realised my passion was not only in technology, but to be able to offer the value of technology to a broader audience and the thrill of knowing that I was a major contributor to an organisation’s transformation.
As I look back, there were a lot of lessons learnt that enabled me to be where I am today. One of the earliest lessons was, instead of taking everything onto my shoulders, I learnt how important it was to manage and leverage my team and my management. Steve Jobs once said, “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”
#2 What kind of challenge(s) have you faced in your career journey?
The challenge of being a woman in technology is the expectations of being a great employee, wife, and mother. I was extremely fortunate to have married someone who constantly encourages me to continuously challenge myself and who will always be there to support me in my career and for the family. I pursued my career with no worries, knowing full well that my husband will always be there for me and my daughters. We make a great team!
#3 Is there any tough moment as a woman in tech?
Being a woman in the technology industry also means having to work doubly hard to prove yourself, and even more so as a working mother. I was however blessed along my journey of having great leaders and managers like Alan Curtis, Greg Magness, Ng Choong Meng, Yaj Malik, Craig Nielsen, Jagdish Mahapatra, Sanjay Deshmukh, and Brian Higgins, and many more whom I would consider as Women’s Allies as they were in roles where they could make a difference to the diversity of the organisations, and they made an effort to do so as well. Currently, at Google, I am fortunate to work with a great female leader, Ruma Balasubramanian. She built a great team of very diverse and strong people.
As a woman leader myself, I believe the industry could do more to have women leaders, and it could also begin with anyone in any role. I find myself in a position to guide and mentor other women in this field, and I can look back with pride as some of them are in very successful positions now.
#4 What is your best advice to all the women in technology today?
Throughout my career journey, I have adopted 3 principles that I continue to hold, and I believe has been integral for my success :
- Be Authentic: Being authentic to yourself is important. This will come out in your interaction with others and the capacity for others to trust and follow you. By being authentic, you will remain true to yourself and act as the pillar to conduct yourself with integrity and yet achieve what is needed to be successful.
- Have confidence: I have come across many women who are reluctant to take up a new role offered to them because they felt they did not possess the right skill to execute the job at that time. Never sell yourself short. Take the challenge, allow yourself to learn and grow so we can unlock our potential.
- Find a mentor: I was successful as I have had mentors to guide, challenge me along the way who provided me with valuable insights on what is needed to be successful.
Regardless, as leaders, it should be all about inspiring and guiding people around you to ensure they uncover their potential to be successful. Ronald Reagan once said, “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”
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