Careers

The best advice AirAsia’s boss ever received? ‘Slow down. The quicker you go up, the quicker you can go down’

Tony Fernandes, chief executive officer of AirAsia
Tomohiro Ohsumi | Bloomberg | Getty Images

From dabbling in the sports and music industries, to turning around a struggling low-cost airline, entrepreneur Tony Fernandes would appear to have achieved a lot during his career to date.

But the AirAsia group CEO said the best piece of advice he ever received was to slow down and take your time.

"Slow down. Don't try and take over the world," Fernandes told CNBC's "Life Hacks Live" on Monday.

The advice was bestowed upon Fernandes by his previous boss Stephen Shrimpton when they worked together at Warner Music in Southeast Asia.

Fernandes said he had just been promoted, but wanted to climb further up the career ladder — and he wasn't even beyond the age of 30. Shrimpton's response has stuck with him ever since: Be patient.

Tony Fernandes, chief executive officer of AirAsia
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

"He said, 'Tony, you know, there's nothing that beats experience. Learn a bit. Slow down, because the quicker you go up, the quicker you can go down,'" Fernandes said, adding that he heeded the "fantastic" advice.

"As I've got older, I've got more and more patient — I'm very loose with my mouth sometimes and it upsets many political leaders — so it's always been there and it was great advice for me."

Fernandes, 53, has worked with Richard Branson — he was the financial controller of Virgin Communications London in the 1980s. He joined Warner Music in 1989 and became vice president of Warner Music South East Asia in 1999.

Life is not a sprint, it's a marathon. And you don't have to complete everything in one day.
Tony Fernandes
Group CEO of AirAsia

In 2001, Fernandes became the group CEO of AirAsia. By finding new ways to attract customers, he helped lift the loss-making company out of debt.

His experience has taught him not to rush things. "Life is not a sprint, it's a marathon. And you don't have to complete everything in one day," Fernandes said.

The businessman also had some guidance to offer younger workers on how to tackle the all-important issue of work-life balance.

"It's a real issue, especially to the younger people," he said. "All these entrepreneurs, you want to go and win, you're engrossed in your life — and I never had regrets but I could've balanced my life better — because you want to take over the world, and you're 24/7 on the phone, you're in the office all the time, but then you can't replicate your kids growing up or some of those things."

Fernandes admitted that it's easy for him to say now, after what he's achieved during his career, but if he could give just one piece of advice, it would be to "try and keep the weekends to yourself."

Life Hacks Live is a series produced by CNBC International for Facebook, where tomorrow's leaders get to ask some of the world's biggest influencers for advice. You can watch the full interview here.

VIDEO1:0301:03
Randi Zuckerberg's three pieces of advice for budding entrepreneurs
make it

Stay in the loop

Sign Up

About Us

Learn More

Follow Us

CNBC.COM