No other profession demands competent leadership as much as a military life does. In other careers, bad decisions can lead to a loss of money and jobs, whereas in the army, the stakes are much higher. General Zul recalls one of the experiences he had at AIM, where people had a difficult time picturing the relevance of managerial training for the army life, because soldiers simply had to follow orders. He responded that, while it was true that there was a clear chain of command in military life, commanders have to deal with the massive responsibility of handling people’s very lives in their hands. For General Zul, it is important that one draws knowledge from as many fonts as possible, so as to ensure the security of one’s people and one’s nation.

A graduate of the Royal Military College at Port Dickson before coming to AIM, General Zul is an expert in tactical weapons and insurgency. He has had many years of experience both on and off the field – as Senior Instructor in the New Zealand Army Infantry School, and as Commander at the Malaysian Army Infantry Training Center. In June 2018, General Zul was officially installed as Malaysia’s 20th Armed Forces chief. As Chief of Defence Forces, his role is to lead the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) in defending the nation and its strategic interest against all forms of aggression and to support the civil authority in maintaining peace and internal security. In line with the government needs and future challenges of the security in the Asia Pacific, specifically terrorism, General Zul is now leading the MAF through a restructuring exercise, with the aim of making the Armed Forces a balanced, credible and deterrent force.

General Zul is also a key member of the General Border Committee that meet and confer on measures to be adopted to eliminate threats along the common borders of Malaysia-Indonesia and Malaysia-Thailand. Under bilateral arrangements with Britain, Australia, New Zealand, the ASEAN countries and the United States of America, he will also share feedback on the combined military exercises.

General Zul has served as both commander and teacher to countless cadets, with his instructors blending actual combat experience with academic framework, creating a culture of disciplined thought and disciplined action – the Malaysian army’s leadership philosophy of “Be, Know, Do”.

This ideology, as well as his own passion for being a ‘Leader Developer’, has led General Zul to synthesize experience, scholarship, and teaching to train leaders who understand just how much is at stake, and how important it is for them to be competent at what they are doing. The need to develop real leaders who will affect hundreds, if not thousands, is what drives General Zul to constantly improve himself so as to serve as an example to up-and-coming leaders.

The jarring shift in environment and lifestyle after leaving the army can be disorienting and confusing. To address that, General Zul, along with his team of instructors, developed entrepreneurial development packages for outgoing and retiring servicemen and officers. Dubbed ‘Resettlement Training’ by the army, this project will not only ease individuals back into civilian life, but also let them hit the ground running by providing them a source of livelihood as entrepreneurs. As Vice Chancellor of UPNM (the National Defence University of Malaysia) from 2013-2018, General Zul promoted the teaching of entrepreneurial thinking skills and business education for every university student and cadet.

For his consummate professionalism and never-ending drive to improve both himself and those he leads, General Zul, as Chief of Defence Forces, as Army Commander, and as a teacher has made extraordinary contributions to his nation and to humanity. He can indeed be truly considered to be a leader worthy of his men.