Maybank group president and CEO Datuk Khairussaleh Ramli on the return of the Maybank Championship after three-year hiatus

In a groundbreaking collaboration with the LPGA Tour, this year’s tournament is underlined by a burning ambition to accelerate women’s golf.

Khairussaleh: We are committed to making this one of the best international events that we have in Malaysia (All photos: SooPhye)

The Maybank Championship 2023 at the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club this month achieves a significant milestone in the tournament’s illustrious 14-year history. Renowned for showcasing top-tier international and Asean golfers through co-sanctioned European Tour and Asian Tour championships, it is now embarking on an exciting new journey.

After an absence of three years, the championship returns with renewed vigour and a “Retake the Green” theme. In a groundbreaking collaboration with the LPGA Tour, it seeks to not only continue its tradition of sporting excellence but also pave the way for women and the next generation of golfers, while further elevating Asean on the global sporting map.

The tournament is not merely about birdies and eagles, it is also a reflection of the shared values and striking parallels between the financial world and the fairways.

“We’re the biggest company on the stock exchange and have a role to play in putting together an international event and a feel-good factor to Malaysia. We’re always bringing in top players and among the 78 who will be here this October, you will find them to be part of the top teams in the CME golf ranking,” explains Maybank group president and CEO Datuk Khairussaleh Ramli, with the latter referring to the women’s professional golf tournament, the season-ending event of the LPGA Tour.


Fair play

Khairussaleh says the significance of including women’s golf in the prestigious championship is groundbreaking in that it not only enhances the diversity and inclusivity of the tournament, but is also a testament to the bank’s commitment to empowerment and equality, both within the banking group and across the nation. “We want to inspire young girls, and kids, to take up golf in the hope that it will not continue to be perceived as an elitist game. It’s for everyone, and we hope to inspire them by showcasing ordinary individuals accomplishing extraordinary feats.”

There are many good players from around the region and there’s an affinity for not just the players but also the viewers of LPGA.

“The camaraderie among the players is much stronger than in men’s golf, in my opinion. Of course, they compete fiercely on the course. But off it, they work well together. We are committed to making this one of the best international events that we have in Malaysia,” he stresses.

After being involved in professional men’s golf from 2006 to 2019, the tournament’s return is underlined by a burning ambition to accelerate women’s golf, providing the intersection where the best in class come together to thrive and succeed in their passion, while shaping women’s professional golf to inspire the next generation of golfers. “From a social impact perspective, it provides a platform for our Malaysian players — Kelly Tan, Alyaa Abdulghany, Ashley Lau and Natasha Andrea Oon — to compete at a world-class event,” says Khairussaleh.


Tan and Khairussaleh posing with the Maybank Championship Tiger Trophy

Two standouts to watch are Ng Jing Xuen and Jeneath Wong. Ng recently made history as the first Malaysian woman golfer to secure an individual gold medal at the Southeast Asian Games. At just 15 years old, she has consistently performed well at international events, winning the Templer Park Country Club Malaysian Ladies Amateur Open and placing third in the Santi Cup individual event in August.

Meanwhile, 18-year-old Wong holds the second-highest ranking among Malaysians at No 58 on the World Amateur Golf Rankings. She has had an impressive year, highlights of which include her participation in the US Women’s Open at Pebble Beach. Notably, she achieved a season scoring average of 72.72 for the Pepperdine Waves women’s golf team, surpassing the previous freshman record of 73.22 set by Danielle Kang in 2009/10.

Junior golfers Adrianna Prewa Sim (13) and Belle Ngo (14), representing the Malaysian Ladies Golf Association, will serve as event reporters. They will provide coverage and profiles of the players in the tournament on Maybank’s and the Maybank Championship’s social media channels before and during the event.

The championship will feature notable golfers such as two-time Olympic medallist Lydia Ko, Chinese sensation Ruoning Yin and the newly crowned US Open champion Allisen Corpuz.


Victory lap

“I am nervous as the CEO,” Khairussaleh laughs, when asked what he looks forward to at the championship taking place from Oct 26 to 29. “I am responsible for making sure this event is a success. We’ve got a good team running it and want to make this one of the best international events that we have in Malaysia. We want to attract as many people [as possible] to come here over the four days.”

As an organisation that values excellence, Maybank is always seeking partners who bring a level of quality and prestige, while having a shared values system. “With the LPGA, we have found a partner that is committed to ensuring the golf course is an inclusive environment for everyone, and we are proud to be alongside them in realising the vision to help grow the women’s game,” he stresses.

“We will be broadcasting the event to about 253 countries, reaching more than 50 million viewers. That’s going to be a huge profile for Malaysia, not just Maybank. We would like to believe there’s an economic spillover, increasing spending and injecting money into the local economy by providing job opportunities, strengthening the local economy and contributing to local infrastructure development.”

The target economic impact is estimated at between US$10 million (RM47 million) and US$15 million, with more than 40,000 spectators expected at the event as LPGA attracts a more diverse crowd.

Golf embodies mental resilience, strategic decision-making and adaptability, which resonate deeply with Maybank’s commitment to navigating challenges in the banking industry effectively. There are similarities between the determination of a skilled golfer teeing off and that of a successful banker navigating the complexities of the economic landscape, demanding dedication and fortitude.

“Golf is all about honesty, right? They often say it’s a gentleman’s game and it’s about being true to yourself. In banking, we are all about integrity. We have a saying that integrity is doing the right thing when no one is around,” says Khairussaleh.



Banking on change

It has been 17 months since Khairussaleh rejoined Maybank. His previous stint was from November 2008 to September 2013, when he served as group chief financial officer for three years before taking up the post of president director and CEO of PT Bank Maybank Indonesia Tbk. After that, he became group managing director at RHB Banking Group. In this capacity, he played a crucial role in shaping the group’s strategic direction.

With almost 30 years of experience in the financial services and capital markets sector, he brings a substantial wealth of knowledge and expertise to his current role. “Time sure flies, but it has been an exciting journey so far. The bank is in a good place and we charted our strategy, by working with the board and management, to elevate it to the next level while outlining our desired direction for the next five to 10 years,” he ruminates.

“We have this tagline that we want to take Maybank from good to great and as a first transformation programme, we have now embarked on M25+. The strategy is a comprehensive and forward-looking initiative that aims to elevate the organisation above industry standards and solidify its position as a leader in the financial services sector.”

Launched in October 2022, M25+ is underpinned by the overarching mission of “Humanising Financial Services”, reflecting Maybank’s commitment to delivering a customer-centric and sustainable solution.

“It is aligned around five strategic thrusts, starting with intensifying customer-centricity followed by accelerating digitalisation and technological modernisation. Next, strengthening Maybank’s business presence and position beyond Malaysia,” says Khairussaleh.

“The fourth strategy is about driving leadership in sustainability. And lastly, claiming global leadership in Islamic wealth management. These are the key priorities we want to invest in for the next few years.”

A new way of working was implemented using the Agile methodology, that aims to empower the staff, prioritise customer focus and expedite task execution.

“Introducing a new culture at work is never easy,” Khairussaleh admits, “but I am a true believer that if we can get this done, Maybank can go much further in terms of our performance and capabilities.”

With new leaders at the helm come winds of change. One notable shift involves the setting up of a dedicated team of 100 people who are solely focused on mortgage sales, replacing the previous practice of selling multiple products. This shift has resulted in significantly increased productivity, with the team now handling six cases in six months, a marked improvement from the previous rate of only two cases.

“We are also constantly thinking about customer needs, and it sometimes goes beyond banking. How do we then connect our services with other providers?”

Khairussaleh prefers not to discuss his accomplishments while actively working but rather reflects on them as he rides into the sunset.

“I value when the people I have worked with share their experience of working with me with much gratitude, especially those who have progressed in their careers. That gives me a greater sense of accomplishment and fulfilment.”


Maybank Championship will take place from Oct 26-29 at the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club. All attendees are welcome and complimentary entries are available for children under 12, as well as Maybank Cardholders (Debit, Credit & Charge Cards) and MAE App users. For more details, see here.

This article first appeared on Oct 2, 2023 in The Edge Malaysia. 


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