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Alumni share school stories, business tips


(Second and third from left) Gilbert and Lankester sharing their experiences while BMCC chairman Andrew Sill (left) and Schultz look on.

(Second and third from left) Gilbert and Lankester sharing their experiences while BMCC chairman Andrew Sill (left) and Schultz look on.

THERE was a lot of catching-up and networking chit-chat last Monday as the alumni from the Alice Smith School gathered for the Alice Smith-Chamber brunch themed “Our Journey Through Time.”

Not to mention the sharing of some very insightful business tips from Aberdeen Asset Management PLC co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Martin Gilbert and Tune Hotels Group Real Estate and Partnerships CEO Mark Lankester.

The two successful CEOs were at this year’s edition of the business networking brunch to share their memories and talk about their experiences climbing up the corporate ladder.

None of which would have been possible without the education foundation they received from the school, say both the Alice Smith School alumni.

“It’s that balance of being able to have fun and at the same time being able to achieve what you need to,” Gilbert tells the participants at the brunch.

“I think I developed a lot of confidence and the ability to make fairly bold decisions,” says Lankester about having received a British education his whole life.

Gilbert attended the Alice Smith School from 1961 to 1965 while Lankester attended the school in the late 1960s before continuing his education in the United Kingdom.

Not only did they take a walk down memory lane, Lankester and Gilbert also shared some business advice with the audience.

Lankester says he even met AirAsia Bhd Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes in Alice Smith School.

The transition from Warner Music to the hotel line, he says, was not that tough.

Tune Hotels after all, he says, is all about having a comfortable bed and a hot shower in a clean and secure environment.

At the end of the day, it is still about creating a business - coming up with the right kind of product that people want, branding and marketing it, he adds.

Claiming to be just an average student in his school days, Gilbert says the secret of a great CEO is not fearing failure as much as other people do.

“One of the great weaknesses of school education is people fear failure.

“If I were to advise students, I would tell them it’s better to have given something a try than to not try at all,” he says.

“Also, how you deal with adversity is more important than how you deal with success.

“It’s how you deal with disasters that really make or break you.”

This year’s event is jointly organised with the British Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (BMCC), Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce & Industry (MICCI), The Malaysia Australia Business Council (MABC), Malaysia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce (MNZCC) and the Alice Smith School.

It was supported by the International Trade and Industry Ministry, British and New Zealand High Commissions in Malaysia, which are the founding nations of the school.

International Trade and Industry Minister II Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan and Alice Smith School head of school Roger Schultz were present at the event.

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