Lesson in vital business and life skills


Sarena with Form 4 Impresif students and the team from Teach For Malaysia.

SUNWAY Berhad’s property division managing director Sarena Cheah turned a classroom into an exciting business pitching session at a high-needs secondary school in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur.

Sarena co-taught the class with Teach for Malaysia (TFM) fellow Munirah Jamalludin as part of the TFM Week.

During the session, Sarena shared her experience and insights on marketing, including techniques for cold calling, target audience segmentation and the 4Ps of the marketing mix – product, price, place and promotion – with 30 students of Form 4 Impresif.

At the end of the sharing session, the students were asked to pitch their business ideas incorporating the 4Ps to Sarena.

Besides sharing her marketing skills and judging the pitching session, Sarena also talked about her work and life experiences with the students and offered advice.

“Remember to keep a balanced lifestyle throughout your life. As a student, be actively involved in both sports and studies because you get to learn different things in and out of the classroom.

“In sports, you learn how to pick yourself up after falling and how to do better and rise from failures. These are life skills which can only be learnt outside the classroom,” she pointed out.

Sarena also spoke about the importance of good values.

“Sunway has grown to what it is today because a large group of people came together and put their best effort to work. We are able to enjoy continued success by practising our core values of integrity, humility and excellence for the benefit of the people, profit and prosperity,” she added.

School principal Nafisah Hashim said the session was a meaningful part of the school’s current intervention to address several major challenges, including low attendance as well as socioeconomic and gender achievement gaps.

A student named Aiena said, “I learned a lot from Sarena, especially on how to communicate well with people and to be confident. I aspire to be a successful businesswoman and have my own store in the future.”

TFM is an independent non-governmental organisation that enlists Malaysia’s most promising future leaders in their mission to end education inequity.

TFM Week is one of its most significant events where key influencers, including corporate figures, celebrities and members of the civil service, spend time as “teachers” themselves for a day, co-teaching a lesson in school with a TFM fellow.

TFM Week has been crucial in raising awareness on the importance of education in grooming the next generation.

Sunway’s top management, including Sunway Group founder and chairman Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah, deputy executive chairman Tan Sri Razman Hashim and corporate advisor Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, who are also trustees of the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation (JCF), have previously taught as part of TFM Week.

JCF’s involvement with TFM stems from a shared belief in the importance of quality education.

In addition to the teaching sessions by the corporate chiefs, JCF has pledged another RM150,000 to TFM, bringing the foundation’s total contribution since the partnership started in 2012 to RM750,000.

JCF has also supported Closing the Gap, an independent organisation powered by TFM aimed at helping children from disadvantaged families gain access to quality higher education through mentoring programmes.

Sunway Education Group, which is owned and governed by the JCF, has also pledged RM1mil in scholarships to deserving students nurtured by TFM, with the aim to reduce the post-secondary gap and create opportunities for them to pursue quality tertiary education.

In Malaysia, more than two-thirds of students in the majority of underperforming schools come from challenging socioeconomic backgrounds.

Almost half of 15-year-old Malaysian students do not meet minimum proficiency levels in reading and one in five of them does not complete secondary school.

The fellows or teachers of TFM will teach for two years in high-need schools across Malaysia.

They work hand-in-hand with other educators, the community and private sectors, to impact and empower the lives of those within the classroom and beyond.

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