#Asia MaGIC CEO Cheryl Yeoh is stepping down



There’s a changing of the guard taking place at the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Center (MaGIC).

CEO Cheryl Yeoh will leave the Malaysian government-funded agency next month, barely two years after assuming the role, she said in a statement given to Digital News Asia.

She didn’t state a reason for her move, only that it was a “mutual agreement” with Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance (MoF).

“My contract will end on January 14, 2016, after one year and nine months of service. However, I’ll also be clearing a lot of my annual leave before my last day of service, so I will be in and out of the office toward the end of my contract,” she said in the statement.

“MoF has given me a wonderful opportunity to set up MaGIC and steer it in the right direction where it will benefit entrepreneurs not only within Malaysia, but the larger Southeast Asia, and to truly put Malaysia on the map for the right reasons because we have so much untapped potential,” she added.

Digital News Asia said Cheryl’s tenure was reportedly cut short from “two-plus-one years,” with the additional year at the discretion of the Malaysian government.

It added that Cheryl’s leaving supposedly comes after “months of mounting pressure on MaGIC to adhere to its original mandate of reaching out to entrepreneurs of all types, and not just technology-based ones.”

We’ve reached out to Cheryl to get her comments on these points, and we’ll update this story when we hear back.

In the meantime, Warren Leow, MaGIC executive director for entrepreneurship development, has also left his post, but it’s not certain whether these exits are related.

A startup founder herself

Cheryl took the helm at MaGIC in April 2014 after MoF Secretary General of Treasury Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah convinced her to move back to Malaysia and turn the country into a startup hub for Southeast Asia. She was said to have been selected for the job because of her entrepreneurial background and her Silicon Valley connections.

At the time, she had been based in the US where she ran two startups – one of which was Reclip.It, a personalized shopping list app she sold to Walmart Labs in 2013.

Under her leadership, MaGIC launched Southeast Asia’s largest accelerator program, in which startups from across the region and renowned entrepreneurs and mentors around the globe participated.

The program, among other MaGIC initiatives, put Malaysia – often outshone by neighbors Singapore and Indonesia – in the spotlight.

The announcement of Cheryl’s departure shortly follows MaGIC’s demo day, which gathered over 150 investors in one room.

Next CEO

Cheryl has no immediate plans after she steps down. “I will be taking a three- to six-month break to recharge, travel, and focus on personal growth as well as spend time with close friends and family. I might consider some advisory or consulting role on my ‘sabbatical’ as I’ve had a lot of requests to ‘pick my brains,’” she said.

There’s no word yet on who’s going to replace her but the selection process has reportedly started.

While she won’t be involved in the selection of the new CEO, Cheryl added:

I believe that the chairman and board of directors of MaGIC will choose the best person for the job – someone who will continue to lead the amazing team I have built, who will hopefully continue all the great programs and initiatives that we’ve started here at MaGIC, and provide the vision for a future roadmap that will truly benefit the entrepreneurs and the country.

Source: Digital News Asia

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