AirAsia CEO Holds Management Meeting Shirtless, Draws Flak

AirAsia’s CEO, Tony Fernandes, recently stirred controversy when he shared a picture of himself on LinkedIn, chairing a management meeting shirtless. The image, which was intended to showcase the airline’s unique work culture, drew significant criticism from netizens who found it inappropriate.

A Glimpse into AirAsia’s Work Culture

Tony Fernandes took to LinkedIn to laud the low-cost Malaysian airline, AirAsia, for its distinctive work culture. He mentioned how he could enjoy a massage, courtesy of Veranita Yosephine’s suggestion, while simultaneously conducting a management meeting. Fernandes expressed his pride in what they’ve built at AirAsia and hinted at exciting days ahead with the finalization of the “Capital A” structure. However, the focal point of his post was the image of him sitting shirtless, receiving a massage during the meeting, which overshadowed his positive sentiments.

Public Reaction to the Shirtless Meeting

The post, shared on October 16, quickly gained traction, amassing over 500 likes. However, the comments section was flooded with critiques. Many users pointed out the inappropriateness of holding a meeting in such a manner, especially as the CEO of a publicly listed company. One user questioned the message being conveyed, suggesting that such displays might be why many workers are hesitant to return to the office. Another user pondered how the reaction might have been different if a woman or woman-identifying individual had shared a similar picture.

The Broader Implications of Modern Work Culture

The incident brings to light broader questions about modern C-Suite culture. The image, for some, represented the “hustle culture” and “grinding” that many younger generations are now distancing themselves from. It also highlighted the discomfort that such displays can cause among employees and the public. The post serves as a reminder of the importance of self-awareness and sensitivity, especially in leadership roles where actions and decisions can significantly impact a company’s image and employee morale.


While Tony Fernandes’ intention might have been to showcase the relaxed and unique culture of AirAsia, the backlash serves as a lesson in the importance of context and perception. In today’s digital age, where images and posts can quickly go viral, it’s crucial for leaders and individuals alike to be mindful of the messages they convey, intentionally or otherwise. As the CEO of AirAsia, Fernandes’ actions are under constant scrutiny, and this incident underscores the need for leaders to strike a balance between personal expression and professional decorum.