Our Leaders

Norman Matthieu Vanhaecke

Acting Group CEO

Norman is currently the Acting Group CEO in Cradle Fund Sdn. Bhd. effective 1 June 2022. He joined Cradle in September 2020 and has served as the Head of Corporate Services. He started his career as an auditor with KPMG, and has then, over 12 years, held various Finance, Accounting and Management positions in local as well as multinational Oil & Gas related companies and government agency. He holds an Accounting degree from University of Queensland, Australia and a Software Engineering degree from Multimedia University, Malaysia.

Juliana Jan

Senior Vice President, Grant

Juliana Jan joined Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd in 2004 and is currently the SVP Grant, responsible in managing Cradle’s grants.

Juliana has an extensive and diverse experience in market research and grant as well as venture capital funding. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the Missouri University Science and Technology – Rolla.

Juliana started as an analyst under the developmental grant (CIP50) team and in early 2009, she headed the developmental grant (CIP Catalyst) evaluation team. Then in 2010, she moved to head the commercialisation grant (CIP500) evaluation team and eventually the entire CIP500 unit. With the evolution of Cradle and the initiation of its equity play, she moved to head the equity team.

Juliana continues to be committed in building and developing strong growth potential start-ups in the country specifically in early stage through her work in Cradle. She played a major role as part of the working committee in the setting up of the various products in Cradle and the development of processes, such as the CIP Catalyst (developmental funding), CIP500 (seed funding) as well as the Co-investment and DEQ800 initiatives in 2014 and 2016 respectively.

Prior to joining Cradle, Juliana started her career as a market research executive in a technology-funding agency, which provides both grant and venture capital funding, where her industry and market research projects varied from consumer product and biotechnology to other high technology industries. This has given her a strong background in spotting market trends, analysing gaps in the market and identifying market needs.

After two years in the market research division and another year in the CEO’s office, Juliana joined the investment unit in the same organisation as an analyst where she acquired experience in venture capital funding.

With her career experience, Juliana understands the needs of the market and the issues in the funding ecosystem from prototype development in the pre-seed stage, the seed stage, up to the later stage of fund raising.

Juliana is very passionate about helping entrepreneurs and start-ups. The knowledge and know-how she gained prior to joining Cradle and also at Cradle has been invaluable in enabling her to assist Cradle recipients by advising them and sharing information about the market and funding criteria.

Ahmad Kashfi

Senior Vice President, Ecosystem Development

Ahmad Kashfi Alwi, also widely known as Ash, is a dynamic and accomplished professional with extensive experience in ecosystem development, strategic partnerships, stakeholder engagement initiatives, and marketing. He currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Ecosystem Development at Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd, where he plays a pivotal role in driving the organization’s growth and success.

In addition to his role at Cradle Fund, Kashfi was a serial entrepreneur, having founded two startups before venturing into the corporate world. His entrepreneurial spirit and firsthand experience in startup ventures provide him with unique insights and a deep understanding of the challenges faced by early-stage companies. This background allows him to effectively lead MYStartup, a major capacity-building initiative backed by Malaysia’s Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MOSTI), specifically targeting and supporting early-stage startups. As the driving force behind MYStartup, Kashfi spearheads efforts to empower and nurture emerging entrepreneurial ventures, providing them with the necessary resources, mentorship, and guidance to accelerate their growth and success.

Before joining Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd, Kashfi held several positions within Axiata Digital, where he made significant contributions to the company’s achievements. As the Director of Business Development (Startup Ecosystem), he played a vital role in fostering strategic partnerships and facilitating the growth of the startup ecosystem. He also served as the Director of Regional Development, overseeing marketing and operations for Axiata Digital’s microinsurance business across multiple markets in South East Asia. Notably, he led the Digital Content business in Boost, a lifestyle mobile wallet in Malaysia, where his strategic leadership expanded the wallet’s content vertical.

Kashfi’s illustrious career journey also includes invaluable experiences at Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) and DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd, two prominent players in the telecommunications industry. While at TM, he established an innovation unit and founded the company’s startup accelerator program called ‘RE:’. At DiGi Telecommunications, he excelled as a Product Manager responsible for managing a vertical under the company’s advanced digital services portfolio.

Alongside his professional accomplishments, Kashfi holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Property Management from the University of Malaya. Furthermore, he furthered his academic pursuits by earning an MBA (Distinction) from the University of Nottingham. In addition, he is pursuing a PhD in Innovation Management from the same institution, further underscoring his dedication to enhancing his expertise and staying at the forefront of industry trends.

With his extensive background in ecosystem development, strategic partnerships, stakeholder engagement, and marketing, his leadership of MYStartup and his entrepreneurial experience, Kashfi Alwi is a highly valued and influential figure in the technology and telecommunications sectors. His entrepreneurial mindset and strong leadership skills position him as a catalyst for growth, innovation, and the development of early-stage startups in Malaysia and beyond.

Eliza Elias

Vice President, Strategic Communications

Eliza Elias is the Vice President of Strategic Communications of Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd (Cradle).

Eliza holds overall responsibility for strategic communications, which encompasses Organisation Marketing Strategy, Market Research, Communication Design and Planning in line with overall company strategy and objectives.

She transformed Communications within the organisation from an administrative function into a strategic business partner and a key enabler for Cradle’s rapid growth and success. She works closely with the internal team across Cradle, stakeholders and ecosystem players to develop effective communication and marketing strategy for a high performing workforce in the local funding industry.

Previously, Eliza was the Vice President of Marketing & Ecosystem Development for Cradle. Her role includes overseeing the organisation’s overall marketing activities and various projects. She managed the Corporate Communications unit, which oversees all internal and external communications as well as event activities to help Cradle build its credibility as an early stage startups influencer.

Prior to Cradle, Eliza began her career with the Technopreneurs Association of Malaysia (TeAM) – an association that furthers the interests of technopreneurs and assists in the development of the digital economy in Malaysia. Her main scope of work was to assist the management in coordinating all aspects of public relations activities as well as marketing and event management. During her tenure with TeAM, Eliza was actively involved in various projects such as The National Games Engine Project (NGEP), The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) research project and the TeAM book entitled ‘Go for Broke! Tales of Technopreneurship!’

In 2007, Eliza joined Cradle. Eliza is very passionate about sharing her experience and knowledge with entrepreneurs. With her diverse working experience and skills in the local funding industry, she brings a deep understanding of intercultural relations and global corporate culture to Cradle, its entrepreneurs and partners.

Harmender Singh

Vice President, Strategic Planning & SUPER Project Management Office

Harmender Singh was appointed as Vice President, Strategic Planning & Super PMO in April 2022, and is responsible in developing key strategic and growth initiatives, to realise Cradle’s strategic vision and ensuring a sustainable competitiveness. He is also tasked in ensuring Cradle-led initiatives’ alignment with the Malaysia Startup Ecosystem Roadmap (SUPER) and coordinating the execution all of SUPER’s interventions. The role also sees him reporting to the Advisory Committee & National Digital Economy and 4IR Council (MED4IR).

Under his belt, he has over 16 years of experience in driving transformative initiatives and applying innovative solutions across MNCs, GLCs, SMEs and aligning it with organisational mission & vision.

His career experience spans multiple industries including working with telcos, property and also a consulting background cutting across various government and commercial sectors.

A certified advanced coaching and mentoring professional, he is also a certified change management specialist with a passion and focus on developing and coaching startups.

Harmender read Law at the University of Liverpool and went on to complete his Masters’s in Business Administration (MBA) at Lansbridge University. He is currently completing his Doctorate in Business Administration at HELP University & Charted Management Institute UK. Harmender is an innovator at heart and is always thinking of new ways of solving old problems.

Datuk Yvonne Chia

Non-Executive Chairman

Datuk Yvonne Chia (YChia), a distinguished Fellow Chartered Banker, personifies an unwavering drive and an infectious sense of optimism. Her illustrious banking career commenced with her ground-breaking appointment as the inaugural female CEO of a commercial bank in Malaysia, setting a precedent for the entire region.

Throughout her journey, YChia has adeptly navigated intricate mergers, spearheaded technology integration, established thriving greenfield businesses, and successfully managed high-growth ventures and crises. Her exceptional track record of consistently delivering outstanding performance has garnered her esteemed accolades, including esteemed recognition from Forbes and the CNBC Asia Business Leaders Awards.

YChia is not only a revered industry figure but also a mentor who generously shares her profound insights across diverse forums and leadership development platforms. She fervently champions the cause of diversity, equity, and inclusion as powerful catalysts for driving transformation in the future of work. With her agile mindset, forward-thinking philosophy, and remarkable ability to adapt to change, she remains at the forefront of emerging trends in ESG, AI, and disruptive technologies.

Beyond her role as a trailblazer in the banking sector, YChia assumes the chairmanship of Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia and Press Metal Aluminium Holdings Bhd. She also serves as a board member of Silverlake Axis Ltd and holds a pivotal Trustee position for leadership development innovation through Teach For Malaysia and the Merdeka Award Trust Foundation (until December 2022). Furthermore, she proudly holds the honorary title of Professor (Economics) at the esteemed University of Nottingham.