Forging leaders


Many Malaysians have benefited from the Maxis Scholarships for Excellence Awards and gone on to greater heights.

IT has been seven years since its inception but the Maxis Scholarships for Excellence Awards (MSEA) has only gone from strength to strength.

Maxis Communications Berhad chief executive officer Sandip Das said the MSEA began in 2005 and has enabled quality education for 209 of its recipients.

“We have committed more than RM37.9mil to the effort and this is not a ‘one time effort’ because there is a need for a constant supply of evolving talent.

“It is actually part of our overall corporate responsibility agenda that focuses on education and community-based activities that aim to bring about a positive impact upon the lives of the communities in which it operates in. In this case, Malaysia,” he said.

He added that the focus on the scholarship is leadership, which is the key difference between entities and those that are not.

“Entities, be they nations, organisations or even social movements, rely heavily on leadership for its success. Leadership is a trait that transcends national resources and wealth. It has no inhibitions.

“Through MSEA, we are confident that we will be able to develop a new group of Malaysians who can lead the country into its future, pushing new breakthroughs in various fields both locally and globally.

“The value of leadership is in its service to the people, in its focus on innovation, and its ability to effect positive change in order to create positive impact,” said Sandip.

He pointed out that Maxis has maintained its market lead through its focus on constant evolution to deliver better and unprecedented customer experience.

“We know that in a world which will be transformed by technology, leadership qualities will be necessary to create the right focus on the types of services that will create value and economic strength.

“We hope that our scholars will be leading authorities in their fields and will work together to produce a sum far greater than the gifted parts. “Leadership does not mean new frontiers or fancy designations. Leadership is reflected in everyday life and can be demonstrated even in the most mundane of activities,” he said.

Nurturing talent

Sandip said that any success in our country’s economic transformation hinges on our ability to cultivate Malaysian talent in view of meeting the needs of future development.

“Maxis is a corporate citizen partner of the Malaysian government and its initiatives are part of the latter’s Talent Roadmap 2020.

“After independence, many Asean countries sent their bright young minds to get a Western education. It was an investment. Today we may need to do it again to stay relevant and compensate for any shortcomings we may have in our own academic infrastructure while we develop it.

“International exposure is expensive but an education in itself will imbibe best practices. The good part about all this is that all the shining examples are not in the West alone. But individuals who are keen to learn need to shed their inhibitions and put aside their ego.”

He added that Maxis talents are exposed to the best in industry and technology. They are given tough responsibilities with mentoring from their peers.

“They take the escalator to leadership learning. Not all of them stay with us. We understand that we cannot accommodate all of them, but we are not entirely unhappy when they go to other companies and contribute with what they have learned at Maxis.

“This practice allows the whole nation to gain. We make them good corporate citizens and inculcate a sense of ‘Malaysian-ness’ in it all. Our business has all these qualities,” he said.

The design of the MSEA facilitates contribution by its graduates from first-class universities locally and abroad, and in various courses and specialisations, he added.

“The MSEA produces new graduates and postgraduates from all fields because there is no restriction on the type of fields you can apply for with the scholarship.

“We send many of our scholars to the world’s top institutions so that they can bring back new experiences from afar. The idea is to raise the fabric of economic development based on education,” said Sandip.

Honing skills

Maxis has a long history in education and talent development having championed scholarly development in many forms.

“We’ve supported the public primary and secondary schooling system with online classrooms; we’ve also mentored students in creating digital content and services.

“At the home front, we’ve equipped our employees with lifelong career-supportive learning through our Maxis Academy,” he said.

With the MSEA, Maxis is the only telco that offers scholarships for its postpaid customers and their children.

Sandip explained that they aim to grow future leaders from talented young Malaysians who have a strong sense of being part of their communities.

“We have a rigorous interview process which picks up attitude, aptitude, authenticity, clarity of thought, sense of purpose, the drive behind the person, skills in the subject of specialisation and overall ability to communicate,” he said.

He added that they also looked at each candidates’ academic records but also placed emphasis on extra-curricular activity to ensure a proper balance was achieved.

“Finally, we deeply value the commitment he or she has to the nation. Combined, that would be our recipe for a first class talent,” said Sandip.

Beyond books

Maxis scholars who are undergoing the scholarship and some who have completed it provide their own take on the nature of the scholarship.

Perdana University lecturer Dr Kamalan Jeevaratnam who graduated with a PhD in Cardiovascular, Physiology and Comparative Medicine from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, said he was surprised when he was selected for the scholarship.

“When I got the phone call, I was flabbergasted as I didn’t expect to get the scholarship. I was never a straight-A student but the MSEA isn’t a conventional scholarship either,” he said.

Dr Kamalan explained that the interviews with Maxis representatives were different from the normal ones.

“They would ask me things like ‘What drives me? Where do I see myself when I’m 50? What’s your perspective on life?’ So I answered naturally without much thought and spoke from the heart.

“I guess in a way, the scholarship is amazing because it recognises a person for his non-academic strengths as much as it takes into consideration the academic prowess,” he said.

Chua Qin Eion who graduated with an Economics degree from the Australian National University and is currently employed at Maxis under the Maxis Management Associate Programme, said the whole experience has been wonderful.

“The scholarship gave me the opportunity to widen my horizons, not only during my university days, but even now in my working life.

“The way the scholarship gauges an individual by asking prospective scholars life perspectives and driving factors as well as goals and future visions in itself looks for leaders, and they give these future leaders a chance at a great education,” said Chua.

Standing tall

Another MSEA scholar who graduated with a Master in Law from Columbia University, United States (US), and is currently employed at CIMB Investment Bank, Faisal Ariff Rozali said the scholarship has a diverse pool of past and present scholars.

“As far as diversity is concerned, Maxis doesn’t limit itself to funding scholars who are only academically talented. My own experience at receiving the scholarship was one of surprise.

“I was in New York at the time, pursuing a different scholarship programme when they called me. We had a video conference and when they told me I was selected, I was dumbfounded,” he said.

Faisal Ariff added that he sees a bright future for Malaysia. “I see a successful nation that is progressive and nurtures talents. Things are looking up and we’re doing pretty well right now,” he said.

Scholar Yoshnee Raveendran, who is currently pursuing a degree in computer science and engineering at the University of California Los Angeles, in the US, said the fact that Maxis doesn’t provide any preparatory or leadership courses prior to their studies helps promote leadership and independence.

“The sheer freedom we are given with the scholarship forces us, in a way, to learn to be independent, stand alone and be savvy with ourselves and our finances,” she said.

She said the scholarship is a boon for students with many strengths and gives equal opportunity for them to pursue their dreams.

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