Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Living out a dream

01 November 2009

PETALING JAYA: For someone who has no affinity to racing cars in his schooling days, Riad Asmat is about to take up the challenge of leading the operational side of the newest team on the Formula One grid.

The 38-year-old was named as the new chief executive officer of the 1Malaysia F1 Team on Friday and will be reporting directly to the team’s main backer, Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, who is also the AirAsia chief executive officer.

Feather in the cap: Fernandes putting the team cap on Riad after announcing the latter’s appointment as CEO on Friday. — Reuters

Riad may be young and small in stature but he certainly comes with strong credentials.

He worked with Sepang International Circuit (SIC) and Nike before joining Proton where he was attached to the managing director’s office as a general manager prior to his current appointment.

Riad said he was attracted to Fernandes’ proposition to live out the dream of seeing a Malaysian team make it in Formula One.

“Datuk (Tony) wants to see Malaysians living out their dreams and to him, nothing is impossible.

“It is not easy to get a place in the grid for the Formula One world championship and it involves a lot of parties. Now that he has created this platform, he wants to invite people with the right talents to join in the dream.

“I have always wanted to try out new challenges and this was his proposition to me ... that it’s better to have tried than regretting it later if we had not taken the first step,” said Riad, who was more into rugby in school.

“I had to stop playing rugby on the doctor’s advice after I had a concussion. I also tried horse riding and golf but stopped as I was not good at it.

“I was not really into racing cars like kids today who are familiar with Formula One. I’m more into cycling these days to keep myself fit,” said Riad, who has a Masters degree in Organisation and Communication from Western Michigan University in the United States.

It is a plum job to be associated with Formula One but Riad has his work cut out for him, namely, to steer the fledgling Malaysian team and make an impact in the Formula One racing and in the process, generate greater patriotic interest.

All these are also expected to generate economic spill overs for the country via endorsements, pro­motions, advertising and tourism.

And that means less quality time to spend with his wife and three children.

“Right now, I am still working from home as our new office at the SIC will only be ready later this month.

“It’s going to get busier when the Formula One season starts in Bahrain in March but I have accepted the challenge and the work load that comes with it.

“It probably has not sunk in yet but it’s not going to be easy getting things to run smoothly initially.

“But like Tony said, we will be there on the grid in March and everyone is chipping in to make the dream come true.”

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