Continuous learning for SME executives

Final leg: The top 15 finalists attending a recent development training session.

SMALL business executives who took part in the AmBank BizRACE gained a new perspective in managing their operations, allowing them to bring the business further.

The top 15 finalists in the programme recently completed two, out of four, executive development programmes at Menara AmBank.

Peoplender Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Kristine Ng, a participant in the programme, said she was inspired with a new structure for her business after the first day itself. Ng recalled one of the trainers talking about constraints that one would face in growing businesses – if it doesn’t fit the business model, then change must occur.

“The trainer made it sound so easy that I took it literally and the very next day, I came up with a new structure for our business and immediately shared it with my chairman. He agreed with my suggestion and I quickly went into implementation mode, with his approval,” she said.

Peoplender owns and operates peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform Fundaztic.

Ng added that the training sessions did not merely offer information that was usually available in the market. Rather, the content was highly relevant, invaluable and easily applicable for a demanding and challenging SME business of today.

All ears: The trainers encourage plenty of engagement among participants.
All ears: The trainers encourage plenty of engagement among participants.

“I’m able to get a clearer direction to reaching my company’s goals because the trainers provided tangible and viable ways to attain our goals. We also got to discuss issues faced with our fellow SME counterparts and best of all, it’s all for free,“ said Ng.

Another participant, Alec Chong, who is the general manager of Pertama Crane and Engineering Sdn Bhd, concurred, noting that he gained a lot of insight from these sessions and was looking forward to more of such programmes.

“What really motivated me to join AmBank BizRACE was the prizes for winners to go abroad to be exposed to a well-known learning environment. This tells me the competition isn’t just about winning, it is also about improving as we progress and these opportunities are excellent,” he said.

He noted that the top management of companies usually would not bother to take time out to attend such trainings as they were mostly focused on their businesses and profits.

“But I really learned a lot from the sessions, such as to think out of the box and through discussion with the other participants. The trainers encouraged plenty of engagement in unique ways that we might not otherwise explore,” he said.

Chong added that he was glad he took up his colleague’s advice to join the AmBank BizRACE as it was one of the best decisions he has made for his company. He also said that his participation in this programme was meant to be an encouragement to his children to strive for knowledge no matter their age.

“I wanted my children to know that even at my age, I am still learning, it doesn’t stop once we start working but it is a continuous process,” said Chong.

The Top 15 finalists have completed two modules on the topic “Becoming the best in the world” and “Leading with culture”. The upcoming two modules will cover topics on innovation and process excellence.

The other companies in the Top 15 finalists are A Job Thing, Linnk Busway Systems, Plus Solar Systems, Akyu (Malaysia), My AOne Learning, Sales Candy, BuildEasy, Segamat Panel Boards, IGL Coatings, Persafe Engineering, Supplycart, IJ Pharmacy (M) and The Boom Beverage.

Peer learning: Business executives picking up pointers in discussions with other participants.
Peer learning: Business executives picking up pointers in discussions with other participants.

AmBank Group, under its Business Banking division launched the AmBank BizRACE in strategic support of small and medium enterprises as they scale their businesses to the next level in Malaysia. It is part of the bank’s continuous efforts to provide additional support to SMEs that go beyond financial accessibility. 

The AmBank BizRACE is an entrepreneurship challenge competition aimed at providing SMEs with access to valuable knowledge-sharing sessions and development training. Close to 1,000 SMEs registered to participate in AmBank BizRACE via late last year.

The Top 100 applicants were then selected based on their plans for scalability and growth.

The first round of selection saw 35 successful participating SMEs that made it to the Top 35 in the AmBank BizRACE programme. These finalists were shortlisted from the Top 100 businesses, which were selected during the initial stage of presenting their business plans to AmBank BizRACE’s panel of judges.

The complimentary development training packages for the Top 15 SMEs are worth up to RM350,000, which includes coaching opportunities that can help them identify what is needed to scale their businesses.

In addition, the Top Five will get an exclusive chance to go on a field trip to an international organisation in China and the Top Three contestants will win media packages worth RM595,000 for their company.

During the AmBank BizRACE registration period last year, a series of five AmBank BizCONFERENCEs were held nationwide targeted at SMEs. The AmBank BizCONFERENCE featured successful business leaders from different industries who shared their insights on how they enabled their businesses to thrive and grow despite facing many challenges along the way.

Following the AmBank BizCONFERENCEs, a series of smaller and more exclusive CEO Chat Sessions were held in Kuala Lumpur. These sessions were designed to facilitate quality conversations between each featured speaker and a group of up to 50 SME chief executive officers.

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