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Brand Finance: PETRONAS CEO only ASEAN leader ranked in top 100 globally

Brand Finance: PETRONAS CEO only ASEAN leader ranked in top 100 globally

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PETRONAS CEO Wan Zulkiflee (pictured) is the only ASEAN CEO to have been ranked among the top 100 CEOs in Brand Finance's latest Brand Guardianship Index (BGI). Jumping 35 spots, he had a BGI score of 47.4 out of 100.

The brand guardianship ranking measures how effectively CEOs manage the brand.

Separately last year, PETRONAS was also ranked by Brand Finance as the most valuable brand in Malaysia, with a brand value of US$13,318 million. In a statement to A+M, Brand Finance's Asia Pacific MD Samir Dixit said the reason why more ASEAN CEOs are not in the global ranking is because most of them are more business-focused rather than brand-focused. This restricts the growth for brand value, which is one of the evaluation criterias in BGI.

Also, as BGI only ranks the top 100 CEOs, Dixit said most of the ASEAN corporates lose out to the larger brands from the rest of Asia, including China, Japan, South Korea and Japan, where brand building is taken very seriously. Dixit said while those are renowned brands, they once started out as unknowns but their managements made it their agenda to be among the top brands worldwide.

Most ASEAN brands lack the ambition and drive to be globally competitive.

To land a spot in the top 100, ASEAN CEOs need to answer a key question - is their brand driving their business or the other way round? Dixit explained that in most cases, it is the business that is driving the brand.

"China has a national brand building agenda wherein the country’s premier Li Keqiang wants China to have majority of its big brands in the top 10 in the world across categories. Such an agenda doesn’t even exist amongst the CEOs of ASEAN companies. If you don’t have global ambitions as a corporate as a brand and as a CEO, you would not be in the global CEO rankings. It’s that simple," he added.

Meanwhile, Tencent (#4) and Toyota (#10) were the only two Asian companies with CEOs in the top 10. Tencent's Ma Huteng jumped 13 spots this year and had a BGI score of 69.2. On the other hand, Toyota's Akio Toyoda slipped eight spots to 10th this year and has a BGI score of 61.3. According to Brand Finance, 10% of CEOs in the ranking come from China, in particular the Chinese tech brands including Alibaba, Baidu and NetEase. This proves just how crucial and outward facing the role of a Chinese tech CEO is to the brand’s image and operation, the report said.

Topping the list this year was Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson with a BGI score of 72.2. Hewson has been at Lockheed Martin for 37 years, her whole career, and has been CEO for the last seven years, presiding over a 14% increase in Enterprise Value, Brand Finance said. She edged out Amazon's Jeff Bezos who tumbled to 55th this year. Separately, only three other female CEOs were featured in the ranking - IBM's Ginni Rometty (#30), healthcare services brand Anthem’s president and CEO Gail K. Boudreaux (#78), and General Motors CEO Marry Barra (#80).

Brand Finance CEO David Haigh said great brands need great leaders. They set and direct brand purpose and balance short and long-term financial returns. Their role is to gauge the mood of external stakeholders and ensure that all internal stakeholders behave in a way that is consistent with optimising purpose and profit, he added.

"They may be technical experts, but the moment they become CEOs they must rise above technical specialism to lead and inspire the whole team," Haigh said.

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