'Survivor' test for potential leaders


IT’S the survival of the emotionally, physically and mentally fit, as the Tun Razak Youth Leadership Awards (Tryla) training programme gets underway. Fifty-five young adults are taking part in the eight-day programme which kicked off yesterday in Kuala Lumpur. 

Nurturing leadership qualities in our youth for the future of the country, is what Tryla is all about. 

This training programme helps participants realise their leadership potential and exposes them to a wide range of leadership skills through intensive and rigorous outdoor and classroom activities.  

Mooted by the Malaysian Institute of Management (MIM), with sponsorship from the Konrad Adenaeur Foundation of Germany, Tryla in its 10th year, aims to produce leaders that can meet the challenges of this new millennium and help Malaysia realise Vision 2020. 

TAN: Leadership stems from teamwork.

Each year a group of not more than 60 individuals from all over the country, aged between 20 and 30, undergo an eight-day residential programme – three days at MIM in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, and five days at the Royal Malaysian Naval Base, in Lumut, Perak. 

Participants have the opportunity to display and develop perseverance, endurance, personal initiatives, organisational skills and leadership capabilities when they compete in a series of military-style outdoor activities.  

“Malaysia is an excellent training ground for potential leaders,” observes MIM executive director Foo Sheh Loon. 

“Youth in this programme have the added advantage of working with a diverse group of people not only in terms of race, gender and religion, but also from varied educational and professional backgrounds,” he says, adding that the ability to adapt to different situations is one of the hallmarks of a good leader.  

Tryla alumni president Thomas Tan says: “Leadership always comes from team-based effort and Tryla encourages teamwork and initiative that will be very helpful in the working world.  

“Young people are easier to mould and elements of leadership qualities are becoming more obvious at a much younger age.” 

He adds that exposure to the Internet and other communication technologies has broadened our world. 

Young or old, student or professional, everyone is treated equally in Tryla. 

“Even though I was the youngest participant in last year's Tryla, my team mates respected my opinion and listened to what I had to say. It made working together a lot easier and more fun,” says Tengku Erina Tengku Nasrudin who enjoyed the food as much as the exhilarating experience.  

“There was always plenty of food for everyone and we ate five times a day,” enthuses the 22-year-old, adding that she enjoyed getting to know people from all walks of life and from all over the country. 

TENGKU ERINA: 'Age is not an issue; everyone is treated with respect.'

Breaking boundaries and stereotypes while building self-confidence is another highlight of this unique programme. 

“Thanks to Tryla, I have a better understanding and appreciation of the relationships between the different races. Before Tryla, I would never have initiated a conversation with someone of a different race, but now I realise that colour is only skin-deep and we are all the same,” says Kelvin Lee, who together with fellow Trylans, admits that there was a profound change in their characters and mindset after just eight days. 

Of course, not everything is smooth-sailing. From raging river- crossings to jungle-trekking, map-reading to flaring tempers, Tryla is not for the faint-hearted. 

Participants are not allowed to carry any electronic gadgets, such as mobile phones and palm tops, not even pocket knives. 

“We remove everyone from their comfort zones and place them in complex situations where they are forced to work with each other to come up with a solution. Everyone has to rely on their survival skills and come up with an effective strategy to successfully complete the tasks given,” explains Tan, who has been both a participant and coordinator in Tryla. 

Says Foo: “It all boils down to personal development. At the end of the day we hope to instil not just leadership skills but everything else, from stress management to critical decision-making skills that will help manage one's life,” says Foo.  

Inspired by adventure stories from former Trylans and a desire to get back in shape, Syed Ahmad Idros decided to join this year's batch of potential leaders.  

“I love new challenges and experiences that will test me both physically and mentally. Tryla is like being in Survivor, but instead of the money, it's something bigger,” says the 29-year-old who is at present working and taking a part-time management course at MIM. 

Says Tan: “All they (youth) need are the basic ingredients/elements of leadership, and they progress from there.”  

Candidates have to pass medical tests and meet all the necessary requirements. 

“Selection will be strictly on merit, based on applicants' academic, sporting and extra-curricular activities, voluntary work and career achievements,” says MIM marketing manager Adele Chow. 

From social responsibility to full-fledged commitment to the country's development as a whole, Tryla continues to assist and do its part in creating qualified, highly motivated, ethical and dedicated leaders for tomorrow. 

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