Panthers of ISKL #102 – Ross Idris

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POISKL Ross Idris

This week we caught up with Ross Idris, ISKL’s very own Advancement Graphic Designer of 9 years! As the most lovable and adored staff by both faculty and staff, find out more about ISKL’s storied graphic designer!

Here is his story. 


Can you tell us more about yourself?

Salam Sejahtera to my fellow panthers, I am Ross Idris, originally a KL boy, born and raised here in KL. I have four siblings, and I am the third child. Both of my parents are no longer around, but I know they are happily looking over me from up there. May God bless their souls. Just a brief introduction about my life – I went to Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan St.John for primary school. I was at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan St. John (St. John’s Institution) for my secondary years. I graduated with a Diploma in Graphic design from Entrepreneurs Developments Institute (EDI) in 2001 and from Multimedia University (Cyberjaya Campus) in 2006 with a Bachelor of Multimedia, majoring in Media Innovations (Advertising Design). Upon graduating, I worked with various companies and industries, the last one being Tan Chong Motor Holdings (Nissan Malaysia), for almost five years before joining ISKL. I have been working with ISKL for nearly nine years now (how time flies fast)! And I had the opportunity to work on both old and new campuses! I have served three different Directors of Marketing/Advancement – Hilda Alposilva – the lady that I had a great laugh with during my job interview, and the one who opened the doors and gave me the chance to fly with the ISKL family. Chad Laws – a very easygoing yet firm boss, where we cracked jokes and always addressed each other as ‘kemosabe’ (friend). Finally, I am also working with the current Director of Advancement – Catherine Gresse – the energetic lady with a million ideas and endless energy. I have also worked under two Heads of School – Dr. Norma Hudson and Rami Madani, and I count the many friendly faces and beautiful smiles I call colleagues and friends from all three divisions.

When and why did you join ISKL?

I joined ISKL on November 6, 2013. 2022 marks nine years of being part of the ISKL community. I joined ISKL because of its reputation, caring culture, and friendly community. Its been my dream to work abroad. However, lady luck wasn’t on my side until I landed this role. It gave me a glimpse of how it feels working with the international community in Malaysia. I am also working with the best and “craziest” colleagues in the industry (laughs)! 

Can you tell us more about your position as ISKL’s graphic designer and your daily activities?

Being the graphic designer in the school means I am the gatekeeper for all visual-related matters in the school. My job is to ensure that all visual communications materials follow and meet the school’s identity and branding guidelines. My daily routine includes creating promotional collateral, including posters, banners, magazine ads, booklets, annual reports, brochures, and prospectus. My workload is not limited to the Advancement department only; I also assist the school-wide community, from the PTA to Faculty to students. Many seek my advice on all graphics-related matters beautifying their documents and presentations. I also help create visuals needed for their projects, events, and day-to-day activities.

Can you tell us something you are working on now that you are excited about?

When writing this, I am working on the all-new Vision and Mission visuals for the school. It has been a challenging week, cracking ideas on how they can be interpreted and presented visually. I have been working closely with both the Director of Advancement and Communications, squeezing every drop of our creative juice and ensuring we deliver work of the highest caliber. Upon completing this, I shall move on to the Annual Report for the year 2021-2022. It will be my eighth book throughout my time here, and I’m looking forward to designing many more.

Can you tell us more about your hobbies and interests? What do you do after work?

I love traveling! Sight-seeing! And food too – all sorts of them! Thank God Malaysia is a food paradise! I enjoy cooking too. The MCO lockdown has sharpened my cooking skills. Most dishes I cook are from what I learned from my late mother and siblings. Meeting and hanging out with friends for coffee is a must-do on weekends. After working hours, I would spend most of my time at home doing house chores, surfing the net, or watching TV.

Who or what inspires you?

I would say my parents inspire me the most! Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Another person who inspires me is Malaysia’s ‘Father of Modernization’ – YABhg Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, former Prime Minister of Malaysia. I have been humbled and honored to know him personally for the past 19 years. He is a great statesman and an inspiration for all Malaysians regardless of their political beliefs. I’m also inspired by warm and caring individuals who appreciate and respect each other and have a sense of humor that can brighten up anyone’s day. 

Best memory (or most memorable moment) so far working at ISKL?

I celebrated the grand opening of the new ISKL campus and was entrusted with creating all promotional collateral needed to go with it! One of the best memories was making a surprise video for the school’s opening ceremony. I managed to get the then Prime Minister YABhg Tun, Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, to make a short video congratulating the school on its grand opening. When the footage rolled during the ceremony, I could see and hear everyone’s expression; they were amazed!

Ross Idris & Tun Mahathir

What is one thing that we, the public, do not know about being a graphic designer?

Nothing comes easy. Creativity and ideas do not flow as quickly as you think. Being a designer is the same as other professions – we need a proper brief and ideation process before executing any task. Communication is key, and a clear brief on what needs to be done is vital.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of my job is ensuring that I deliver work up to par with the requester’s requirements. Having clear communication between the client and me is essential so that what needs to be done is expedited accordingly. Sending the final draft of an artwork also scares me once in a while, especially if it is to be printed and distributed publicly.

What is your proudest work or achievement you’ve done so far?

I am proud to see all my work (the visuals I’ve created) published (printed & digital) locally and internationally. One of my proudest achievements was when a marketing company – International Schools Marketing – recognized my work for one of our Open Day campaign visuals.

What about ISKL that has made you stay here for so long?

There are many reasons why I have decided to stay in ISKL until now, among them being:

  • I am surrounded by fun and understanding colleagues.
  • This is a caring, warm, and friendly community.
  • Diverse cultures and nationalities are a great way to meet and learn about individuals worldwide, and ISKL is as diverse as it gets. 
  • Youthful working atmosphere.

Last but not least, ISKL is located quite close to my house!

Ross Idris & Advancement

Anything else about you that you’d like to share? 

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I could be the longest-serving graphic designer in ISKL. I’m also the ‘in-house DJ’ and singing songbird here in the Advancement Department. My colleagues also like to tease and call me by the honorific title Tan Sri (laughs).

My most favorite quote comes from the designer of the famous I ❤ NY logo, Milton Glaser. He said:

“There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow, is the one to aim for.

This quote highlights what every designer should aim for when working on a design – something that makes people go ‘WOW.’ Glaser believes that a simple yes is not good enough, as it doesn’t evoke the kind of emotion that great design should be.

Where are the best lunch spots around ISKL?

If you want Nasi Campur, there are plenty of stalls selling yummy dishes in Desa Pandan. Lee’s Kitchen will be a great spot if you prefer cafe-like restaurants. They serve Chinese or Peranakan-style cooking. Further from campus, the area around Ampang Point shopping mall is considered a food haven. In my opinion, the best restaurant in the mall you should go to would be Taiwan Noodles and Gomonae! Ampang Yong Tau Foo is also a must-visit eatery outside the mall. Another spot I would recommend is B-Station, located at Ampang Avenue (Korea Town). 

What changes do you hope to see in the future for ISKL?

I hope one day to see an experienced and dedicated Malaysian with vast knowledge in International Education as the Head of School!

What does ‘Be All You Are’ mean to you?

It means being able to be whatever or whoever you potentially wish to be. It means being the best in what you’re passionate about. It means inspiring and making an impact on people around you. Like the rainbow, although it appears occasionally, it wows everyone every time it appears.


Do you know a student, faculty, staff, or alumni with a story to tell? Nominate them to be featured in our Panthers of ISKL stories by sending in your submissions here.

To find out more inspiring stories of our faculty and students read about Mizuki S. (’23), the Leader of Change, or Emilia Giraldo, the Latino Cuisine Chef!