Dato' Sri Idris Jala, who is from the Kelabit ancestry and a Christian (one of the few non-Malay non-Muslims to have been appointed to head a GLC), is the current Minister without Portfolio in the Prime Minister's Department and acting Chief Executive Officer of the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU). He is also a Senator in the Dewan Negara, the upper house of Malaysian Parliament. Idris Jala graduated from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Penang in 1982 with a Degree in Management, finishing with an award as one of the top graduates. He later obtained a Masters Degree from University of Warwick, UK, 4 years later.
While in SHELL
Before joining MAS, Idris was attached with a major oil company, SHELL since 1982 and has hold a various number of key positions in the company, serving across different divisions and regions. He was overseeing Shell Malaysia’s business in the LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) and the downstream sector, as well as holding posts in human resource, business development, retail, consultancy, LPG and re-engineering. He also hold the position of Vice President (VP), Business Development Consultancy for SHELL International, which was based in London. His string of portfolios in SHELL, among others, are as follows:
- Head, Staff Development & Industrial Relation Officer, Sarawak Shell Berhad, 1982 – 1987
- Head, Human Resource Development, Sarawak Shell Berhad, 1993
- Senior Manager, Retail Sales, Shell Malaysia, 1997
- Chairman & Managing Director of LPG, SHELL Sri Lanka, 1998
- Vice President, Retail Marketing, Shell International, 2000
- Managing Director and Executive Director, Shell Malaysia (Gas and Power), 2003
In 2005, the Malaysian government elected Idris Jala as the CEO of MAS who suffered from massive losses. The appointment of Idris as the Managing Director of MAS initially caused a national stir as he himself does not come from the aviation industry.
In February 2006, he announced the airline's business turnaround plan from a 9-month loss of USD400 million in 2005 to achieving a record profit of USD260 million in 2007 until September 2009. With the strategies, MAS returned to profitability for the 2007 fiscal year, exceeding all expectations and estimates.
But they did not stop there
In May 2008, he appeared on the national television announcing the airline's first ever 'zero fare' for domestic and a selection of international flights, a move that raised his spat between him and AirAsia's boss, Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes to a new level.