The A-B-CEOs of higher education

  • Education
  • Sunday, 26 Apr 2015

Strong impact: Under the Malaysian Higher Education Blueprint, the CEOs’ success stories will inspire and motivate students to strive for excellence.

For tomorrow’s nation-builders, there’s nothing like learning directly from the captains of industry themselves.

I WAS beaming with pride, as I’m sure all Malaysians were, when it was announced that our very own Tan Sri Tony Fernandes was chosen this year as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine.

This recognition is something extremely noteworthy and certainly due for an example of a towering Malaysian on the global stage. Congratulations to Tan Sri Tony, the AirAsia Bhd group CEO, and I join all Malaysians in wishing you all the best for the future.

This announcement was extra sweet for me personally as it actually has a direct impact on the future of Malaysian higher education.

Among the key programmes under the Malaysian Higher Education Blueprint is the CEO faculty programme, which is designed to get Malaysian as well as foreign CEOs to commit time and effort to lecturing in institutions of higher learning in the country. That being the case, it was heartening know our students will hear directly from the mouth of one of the most influential people in the world.

Other luminaries who have graciously chosen to be part of this programme so far are Khazanah Nasional Bhd managing director Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar, Huawei Malaysia CEO Abraham Liu and CIMB Group CEO Tengku Datuk Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz.

One may ask what makes this initiative such a groundbreaking one? It sounds like a novel idea but what are the actual practical benefits to such an endeavour?

Well, for me, the answer is definitely a resounding yes to the positives of the programme.

For example, it’s one thing to learn the theory and principles our founding fathers adhered to when forming this blessed country but it is quite another when they verbalised their ideas and thoughts directly to us. Such experiences carry the strength of direct experience and offer a great deal of clarity and inspirations to those who are listening intently.

Among the key shifts in the in the National Higher Education Blueprint is to mould holistic, entrepreneurial and balanced graduates.

With these business leaders directly imparting their knowledge and experience, it will go a long way in shaping and constructing the mindset of tomorrow’s nation-builders.

Besides that, the CEOs’ stories will also act as an inspiration and guide on how no challenge is insurmountable and what are the needs and values that are essential to become a success.

Imagine a budding entrepreneur undergraduate from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) with an insane “now everyone can fly” kind of idea listening to how Tan Sri Tony bought a failing airline for RM1 and turned it into a globally successful billion-ringgit business in a highly competitive industry. He will leave that talk with renewed perspective and a clearer picture on how to actualise his dream and be conscious of the tools he needs to be successful.

Such experiences instil faith and inculcate universal values that are needed to become internationally successful.

For me, it’s akin to a candle lighting a candle. Such illuminating stories of success so close to home can be highly motivating and enlightening.

I’d like to thank all the CEOs who have committed to the noble programme so far.

Malaysia needs all the help it can get in transforming our educational system into one that’s globally recognised and competitive. Each of us has a role to play in this task.

In the spirit of patriotism and nation-building, I’d like to invite all successful CEOs, local and international, to contribute in creating a superior class of graduates for the future and ensure that more and more Malaysians will make it to the prestigious TIME 100 list.

P. Kamalanathan is Deputy Education Minister. He welcomes feedback via twitter@PKamalanathan. This is one in a series of articles for this column which appears every fortnight. It also sees the contributions of Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh and Deputy Education Minister Datuk Mary Yap who share their views on various education-related issues.

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