As chief executive of the country’s premier think-tank, Herizal determines the institute’s strategic direction. This includes designing ISIS Malaysia’s research and engagement programmes, building its research and policy development capabilities, and managing relationships with the government, private sector, civil society organisations, diplomatic community and other think-tanks. Herizal also leads the institute’s Track-Two diplomacy through the Asean Institutes of Strategic and International Studies (Asean-ISIS), Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia- Pacific and the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council, among others.
For more than a decade, Herizal worked at The Asia Foundation, where he was responsible for designing and coordinating its programmes in Malaysia. He is known for his civil society development efforts in Malaysia, particularly in the area of human rights and democracy.
Herizal was an election observer in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, and a member of the International Contact Group at peace talks between the Philippines government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front. He continues to contribute to the development of peace in Mindanao through various economic and socio-political approaches.
Herizal was behind a 2011 programme on prevention of violent extremism, focusing on the east coast of Sabah. The programme covered more than 50 villages in the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) area and has engaged with more than 5,000 youths and village leaders to date.
Herizal was a recipient of the Chevening scholarship for his post-graduate work in Global Politics at Birkbeck, University of London. He was a Fellow of Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at the Freeman-Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University (2012) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Fellow at the World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings in Tokyo (2013) to engage the IMF and the World Bank delegates at the Annual Meeting on programming in advance middle-income countries to surgically tackle instances of development traps in the middle-income economies. He has published three books on election observation and electoral politics: "Report of the Indonesian Legislative and Presidential Election 2003-2004," "Afghanistan Presidential Election 2004," and "Politics of the Straits: An Observation of the Taiwan Legislative Election."