Malini Saba: The Path to Greatness

A self-made billionaire, Malini Saba, is a unique business woman and philanthropist who was born in Malaysia. With only $200 in her pocket, she moved to the United States at the age of 19. She received valuable insight into the investment world by attending lectures at Stanford University and sneaking into business gatherings to pick the brains of investment bankers.

Unable to get into a venture capital group, she founded Saban in 1990. The company has a diversified portfolio that includes technology, real estate, oil and gas companies in the United States, Australia, and China.

Malini is a forward thinker and a risk-taker. When most people were backing away from real estate, she invested in it. “I have always looked at market trends and done the opposite. I look at where the world will be 3-5 years out based on what we are doing now,” she said. Throughout the 90s, Malini invested in more than 20 Silicon Valley technology companies, including PayPal Inc., Netscreen Technologies, Inc., and Sycamore Networks, Inc.

Later, she founded the non-profit organization, Stree, which has donated millions of dollars to help low-income women and at-risk children imagine themselves as contributing members of society. Recognized by Queen Noor of Jordan and the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, Stree, provides healthcare access, educational opportunities, and legal services. Additionally, the organization holds seminars to assist grassroots groups with public policy campaigns in Africa, India, Eastern Europe and Central America.

After seeing first-hand the damage caused by the 2004 Tsunami, Malini vowed to give $10 million to the victims in India and Sri Lanka. In 2005, she donated $1 million to El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, CA to form the Heart Research Center for South Asians. It is the first hospital in existence to address heart disease and diabetes from a cultural perspective for the descendants of those from the southern region of Asia.

Malini Saba has had to move a few obstacles out of her way as she became successful. However, she says, she doesn’t believe in walking away from a fight. She once engaged in a 4-year legal battle to win back a piece of land that caused her company to close some of its mines. As she recalls Steve Jobs, she said, “He was a fighter. He stood his ground on what he believed in. He used all hurdles to his success. It takes a lot of self-belief and vision to be on that path.”

The Art Of Compliance By Helane Morrison

The old saying “ask forgiveness, not permission” is an expensive proposition when it comes to running a business, and abiding by laws. Infractions cost millions, and through the 1990s and 2000s, many companies were caught, fined, and some were even completely dismantled. There is also a saying, largely used in the financial industry, called “willful blindness.” The gist of the saying is that you can’t just claim that you had no clue as to what you were supposed to be doing, or that you were unaware you were doing something wrong. It does not work like that, and for that reason, many companies have gone the route of hiring a compliance officer to oversee matters.

Housing and the financial industries had to be revamped after our entire economy nearly collapsed through the 2009 reverse-and-unwind of the messy mortgage crisis. As those industries regrouped, many unrelated companies started to follow suit, and compliance officers who had been a bit lax previously, started working much more diligently. This all came to pass because some people at the top of companies started getting jail sentences for corrupt operations.

One of the major compliance officers in our country is Helane Morrison. She has been around for many years, providing safeguards for businesses, and making sure the public is protected by ensuring that brokers, financial professionals, and even real estate agents are doing their jobs properly. Having attended Northwestern University, and graduating with a Journalism degree, and then going to the University of California Berkeley School of Law, the knowledge she amassed was crucial to her professional success.

Keeping companies on the straight-and-narrow is no easy task, yet Helane Morrison seems to do this with ease. Having maintained ethical integrity throughout her life, she remains very influential and powerful in compliance circles. Currently she works for Hall Capital Partners where she is a Managing Director, Chief Compliance Officer and General Counsel. In addition to holding those titles, she is also on the firm’s executive committee. Prior to joining Hall, Ms. Morrison worked for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from 1999 to 2007.

That near-decade was one of the most tumultuous our markets had ever seen. There was a run-up, and subsequent reversal, to Y2K, and then we had 9/11, where the markets were shaken to their core. Just as we started to move beyond 9/11, the recession of 2003-2004 took hold. For these reasons, she is a seasoned professional, who brings a lot to the table, and is able to keep companies heading in the right direction, and effectively sidestepping trouble.