Going way beyond profit

There are concerns over the way business schools nurture their students as they seem to lack the human element.

THE subject of business decisions compromising the interest of society has dominated the corporate world for decades.

But recently, the reports are more frequent and spread over wider sectors of the industry.

The question that follows is whether this will be, a norm that the public at large will have to accept.

It appears that there are some players in the corporate world who give precedence to the bottom line only, such that people and other values can take a backseat.

What can we do about this situation? Stand back, watch and leave it to chance in the hope that the rule of law can prevent any intention to transgress? Or instead, we try to intervene?

Calls to stem such situations are aplenty, but not many have taken it far enough to question the education that business leaders undergo.

Dr Douglas Board with his experience in management, leadership and governance, had chosen the latter in an article he had written in the Financial Times last month.

Considering that at least 30% of the CEOs of the top 500 companies have the MBA qualification as reported in the Financial Times last year, Dr Board has every reason to bring attention to business schools.

Citing the example of the rigging by Volkswagen of its diesel emissions test result, Dr Board argues that there is connection of such a practice with the “business school industry” which incidentally is of the same age as the automotive industry.

As with Volkswagen which can by design, decide to cause harm in the name of maximising shareholders’ value, likewise, according to Dr Board, many business schools adopt the same premise. They choose to be obsessed with positions on league tables. Future leaders are dehumanised and allowed to morally drift.

Compelled by Dr Board’s candid writing, we in Putra Business School as a provider of management education, share our concern of the inadequacy of the curriculum of traditional business schools and faculty composition, in nurturing future leaders with values.

While acknowledging that bottom-line is the staple of any business in order to sustain, the school takes a stance that business leaders should appreciate that the rewards for doing business can be beyond profit.

The mantra for us is that business can be the driver to human and societal well-being.

It is the interaction of humans within and outside the organisation that matters.

So,it is about how owners of companies view their purpose for existence that will make a difference – whether it is solely about maximisation of their wealth or beyond.

But for too long, the MBA programme as the “signature item” of business schools accord pedestal position to shareholders as capital providers so that other humans are merely resources.

Flip the MBA brochures of different schools and chances are, Human Resource Management at least as a course if not an area of specialisation, features prominently.

While some may argue that the requirement for integrated reporting and triple bottom line accounting are all measures to bring wider accountability, we contend that maximising shareholders’ value as an indicator of success, remains a core yearning.

After all, assets, net of liabilities are still equity of owners.

Until and unless future leaders acknowledge their role as trustees for human well-being, decision making that results in lower return on investment for instance, will be hard to expect.

But are business school leaders convinced that the purpose of doing business can be for the larger common good?

The studies by Harvard Business Review and others have found that companies with purpose beyond profit make more money.

However in the final analysis, it is about how ready business schools are to offer a curriculum founded upon by humans as stewards who will make a difference to the training of future leaders especially on matters regarding ethical conflicts.

On this score, leadership gurus Warren Bennis and Jim O’Toole, forewarned more than a decade ago that even if a school wished to change, the challenges could be overwhelming.

With the exception of a few, generally, business schools according to both Bennis and O’Toole are built on much too narrow a focus.

We concur on this aspect of business schools being obsessed with the “scientification” of curriculum and research, giving preference to methodology that involves quantification and measurement, usually at the expense of relevance.

The recruitment process of many business schools favours those who have more potential for publication in scientific high-ranked journals so that in the words of Bennis and O’Toole: “Today it is possible to find tenured professors of management who have never set foot inside business enterprise, except as a customer.”

Drawing analogy to medical education, they highlight that cutting edge biological research are conducted by medical schools yet, most teaching faculty are medical practitioners.

What this means for a business school is the risk – that future leaders are being trained and educated based on curriculum drawn out of maps, rather than from terrain.

The representation of the real world can be flawed, much like a Mercator projected map depicting North America as larger than Africa.

The implication of such a practice is that there may be theories that do not hold true in real life, but becomes the model for decision making.

So, given such a painting that has emerged from business schools, can society still depend on them to tackle the conundrum of escalating manifestations of trust deficit among business leaders?

It is in recognition of this backdrop that Putra Business School as a home-grown postgraduate business school, took an unprecedented route to offer a curriculum that shifts the ethos of business to be one that goes beyond profit.

The centrality of being human – humans governing ourselves from inside-out through obedience and submission to the unwritten – what we term as human governance becomes our narrative.

The genesis of corporations being set up to bring prosperity to the public is revisited while the bigger purpose of being-and-existence as a human within the larger cosmos, is a regular topic of conversation.

To balance between theory and practice, rigour and relevance, model and actual, we hire practitioners to be part of faculty.

In short, we see ourselves as a business school committed to nurturing competent future human leaders underpinned by values from within.

Nonetheless, we are aware that we are treading uncharted territories.

While signals from international accreditation bodies favour the move for business schools to create impact to the community, we are unsure of the direction, locally.

We are uncertain if local assessors continue to better grade schools with higher number of tenured faculty, who are prolific academic journal contributors.

Yet, we are resolute in our journey to bring back the human – the conscience – in future leaders who will embrace societal well-being.

It is not about impacting journals but impacting the life of humans.

Prof Dr Arfah Salleh is Professor of Human Governance, Founding President and CEO, Putra Business School, Malaysia.

Source: The Star

Shorter housemanship for outstanding grads

Engaging session: Dr Jeyaindran had a lively discussion with medical students at the talk.

Engaging session: Dr Jeyaindran had a lively discussion with medical students at the talk.

FUTURE medical graduates may be able to undergo a shorter housemanship stint.

“If you can pass your assessments with excellent marks, we may decide to shorten your housemanship to 14 months,” said Deputy Health director-general (Medical) Datuk Dr S. Jeyaindran.

The housemanship stint is for 24 months.

“To qualify for this, housemen must score excellent marks (85% and above) in three of their posting exit exams,” he told medical students during a talk at Univ-ersiti Malaya (UM) last week.

He said the three types of postings are surgical-based – either surgery or orthopaedics, medical-based –– medicine or paediatrics, and obstetrics and gynaecology.

Dr Jeyaindran said that after applying to a committee, the houseman would then be assessed by two other consultants from a different hospital to ensure their competency as medical officers.

He added this was suitable for those who also want to pursue medical research and need to enter a postgraduate course to do so.

However the ministry is still in talks with universities to allow these “accelerated housemen” into the postgraduate programmes.

As of now, to enter a master’s programme, one has to complete one-and-a-half years as a medical officer.

Dr Jeyaindran who had an engaging discussion with the enthusiastic students, said the initiative was necessary as the world was moving from time-based training to competency-based training.

He said it will be a hybrid system where clinical competencies and core knowledge are combined.

“We still want to produce doctors with both good clinical knowledge and skills.”

He said that this will also speed up the process for those who want to pursue postgraduate studies.

Currently, the housemanship takes a total of 24 months with six postings divided into 16 weeks.

He said that the fast-tracking for housemen was likely to be implemented by early next year.

There are 10,000 placements for housemen and they are required by law to complete 12 months.

Siti Sarah Johan, 21, a medical student from Universiti Malaya (UM) said that “fast-tracking” a house officer would not resolve the problem of insufficient positions for housemen.

The insufficient number of positions for housemen is the reason why many medical graduates cannot start their training, she added.

“There will still be too many medical graduates and there is no guarantee that you will get a placement quickly,” added Siti Sarah.

Medical student Hian Chuan Kai, said the accelerated programme was a “great idea”.

“It would allow more medical graduates into the system and they won’t have to wait so long to get their placing,” said the 21-year-old from Perdana Univer-sity.

UM medical student Navinnash Kumar Gopal, 22, was of the view that the fast-track system would be good for those who were competent as house officers.

However, the downside was that they would not get enough clinical exposure if the stint was for a shorter period.

Source: The Star

Narrowing down hunt for best ideas

Judges Tan, See and Ong looking through the submissions from participants for the i-Design Facade Design Competition.

Judges Tan, See and Ong looking through the submissions from participants for the i-Design Facade Design Competition.

JUDGES of the i-Design Facade Design Competition are in the process of selecting their Top 5 picks from 56 submissions.

i-Berhad director Monica Ong, facade consultant expert Dr Robert See and Henry Butcher Malaysia managing director Tan Hai Hsin met last week to go through the entries.

Ong said that out of 460 registered participants, they received 56 submissions for the competition.

“Today we are breaking it down to Top 5 entries before we select the final three winners,” she said.

‘‘Those selected will be given time to further refine their work before the Top 3 winners are announced in April,’’ she added.

Ong said some of the submissions were from students who attended the half-day workshop in January and were given a chance to resubmit their work.

“We can see an improvement in design after the workshop.

“We want students to design a facade that we can apply to our development, and with the technical input given at the workshop, we noticed that entries that came back were much better,” she said.

Tan said that based on submissions, it can be concluded that the objective of the competition was achieved.

“Our aim was to get Malaysian students in the country and those studying overseas to take part, and we achieved that,” he said, adding that the students had given them many new and refreshing ideas.

“Overall, we realised that the creativity of students meets expectations and we think that they should be given the chance to make them real and be a showpiece in i-City’’.

“By the middle of April, we hope to be able to reveal this new creative idea for a building facade and hopefully it will become an iconic not just in Selangor but in Malaysia,” he said.

Dr See, who advised participants during the workshop, said with better guidance, the Top 5 participants could create a design that could be implemented for the development in i-City.

“These are all students’ work and we did not expect professional work. Judging from this level, the submissions have met our expectation.

“The whole idea of the competition is not just to get a new design. We are looking for something that we can implement in real life. We also want to provide a hands-on experience for Malaysian students.

“We have gone through submission rounds and held a mentoring programme.

“After we select the top five, the mentoring doesn’t stop as we will continue to give them guidance to show them how their ideas can be translated into an actual project.

“Whether you win or not, participants will learn something from industry experts,” he said.

The i-City i-Design Facade Design Competition was launched on Oct 9 last year, giving Malaysian students a chance to design a facade for an upcoming mixed-development in the western part of i-City.

Participants were allowed to take part in groups or individually and can be a student of any field of study.

University students were challenged to submit their best ideas for a large single LED facade in front of the multi-level carpark.

Ideas must be based on the themes “City of Digital Lights” and “Pulse of Selangor”.

The winner does not just get to see his or her design up on a building, but gets to work with industry experts and see their creation come to fruition.

Designs will be judged based on sustainability and timelessness; it must be trendy, colourful and vibrant.

The winner or winners of the contest will be awarded RM10,000 cash and will make a name for themselves for creating a facade for a development in an ultrapolis, involving world renowned master planners, international architects and foreign investors.

Second and third placed winners will receive RM5,000 and RM2,500 respectively.

Source: The Star

Giving life back to our rivers

(Front row, from left) Faizal, Malaysian Water Partnership vice chairperson Datuk Hanapi Mohamad Noor, Lim, UKM Institute for Environment and Development senior lecturer and research fellow Dr Rahmah Elfithri, Drainage and Irrigation Department senior assistant director Dr Teo Fang Yenn and grant recipients of the National River Care Fund.— GRACE CHEN/The Star

(Front row, from left) Faizal, Malaysian Water Partnership vice chairperson Datuk Hanapi Mohamad Noor, Lim, UKM Institute for Environment and Development senior lecturer and research fellow Dr Rahmah Elfithri, Drainage and Irrigation Department senior assistant director Dr Teo Fang Yenn and grant recipients of the National River Care Fund.— GRACE CHEN/The Star

StarMetro continues to look into the sorry state of our rivers; this time throwing the spotlight on efforts by NGOs such as the Global Environment Centre in cleaning up rivers in the Klang Valley

POLLUTION in Malaysia’s rivers is a worrying problem. Take, for example, Sungai Langat in Selangor; two years ago, it was classified under Class 3 and 4 and Universiti Putra Malaysia Environmental Forensics Research Centre head Dr Hafizan Juahir warned that if nothing was done, the river was as good as dead.

Worse still, in 2007, Sungai Juru in Penang was listed as Class 5 by Environment Department (DOE), making it unable to support either fish or aquatic plants.

More recently, in Kuala Lumpur, January saw a trail of dead fish flowing from Masjid Jamek to Brickfields in Sungai Klang.

According to Global Environment Centre (GEC) director Faizal Parish, for up to 1km from its source, river water would generally fall into the Class One or drinkable category.

Another 2km downstream, when it runs through housing areas, wash-off from the roads and wastewater from drains makes it deteriorate from Class Two to Class Four. By the time it reaches an urban area such as Kuala Lumpur, the river water is usually only safe to water plants because of the presence of E. coli, a bacteria found in human faeces.

According to Faizal, this is because not all housing areas in the Klang Valley are equipped with proper sewage treatment facilities. For example, he cited a treatment plant in Sungai Bunus that could only cater to 600,000 people while the Klang Valley has a population of eight million.

However, he said this would be worked on in the River of Life project, which aimed to upgrade eight rivers in the Klang Valley — Sungai Gombak, Sungai Batu, Sungai Jinjang, Sungai Keroh, Sungai Bunus, Sungai Ampang, Sungai Kerayong and Sungai Kelang — to Class 2B (safe to touch) by 2020.

In addition to the construction of treatment plants, there will be a major undertaking to instal underground pipes where they were previously non-existent in older housing areas.

The second part takes a long look at the industrial sector, particularly SMEs, which do not treat their discharged water, especially in areas such as Kepong and Jinjang.

Sullage, which is water flowing from the kitchen sink into the drains, will also come under the microscope. Households as well as restaurants washing their plates in back lanes are contributors to the pollution. For the last 20 years, all this waste has been flowing into the rivers.

In urging the community to take full charge to combat water pollution, Faizal advised the public to refrain from eating at shops that did not comply with legal sanitation practices.

Lastly, he said, Malaysians had to get rid of the littering habit.

Rubbish eventually gets into the rivers, clogs up the waterways and is a major contributor to flash floods.

“The target by 2020 is to restore river water to Class 2B category in a collective clean-up. Basically, it will qualify a water body safe for kayaking,” Faizal explains.

On an optimistic note, he said, if all parties gave their full cooperation, it would then be possible to boat all the way from Taman Melawati to Masjid Jamek; but it will come at a price.

So far, GEC has spent more than RM50,000 under its National River Care Fund (NRCF) programme.

Out of this, six community groups received between RM5,000 and RM8,000 for projects that ran from awareness programmes to river clean-ups. Among the recipients was Taman Warisan Hulu Klang Recreational Residents Association which got a grant for RM5,000 to restore the natural flow of Sungai Klang, which had been affected by flooding after water was released from a nearby dam.

Another RM8,000 went towards the clean-up and beautification of the AU3 Recreation Park river.

Under the river rehabilitation category, a partnership between Kuala Lumpur City Hall and the Drainage and Irrigation Department will see a grant of RM10,000 to clear sedimentation and garbage along the 500m stretch of Sungai Midah, which flows through Sungai Besi.

Funded by the corporate sector and public donations, NRCF advisory committee member Datuk Lim Chow Hock said the next cycle of applications would open next month.

“The current amount covers only five states. For the next cycle, we are asking for RM1mil.

“With the full cooperation of the communities and governing authorities, this should be enough to cover 56 rivers flowing in all 13 states in Malaysia,” said Lim.

Source: The Star

27 i-Star interns to train under industry leaders at 13 firms

Bright minds: Liow and Fernandes taking a wefie with TAR UC students after launching the i-Star Internship Program, the biggest internship project in the country.

Bright minds: Liow and Fernandes taking a wefie with TAR UC students after launching the i-Star Internship Program, the biggest internship project in the country.

KUALA LUMPUR: Learning from the best! Twenty-seven young Malaysians will soon be mentored by some of the best-known captains of industry under the biggest internship project ever launched in the country.

They will spend four to six weeks soaking up the work culture and learning from inspiring leaders.

The participants of the new i-Star Internship Program will be trained at 13 companies under the direct guidance of their respective leaders.

At the launch of the programme by MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai yesterday, corporate bigwigs turned up to lend their support.

Among them were AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, Fajarbaru Builder Group Bhd non-independent non-executive chairman Tan Sri Kuan Peng Soon, Salcon Bhd executive deputy chairman Tan Sri Tee Tiam Lee, Malindo Air chief executive officer Chandran Rama Muthy, and Star Media Group Bhd group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai.

Liow said the new mentoring programme offered young Malaysians the chance to not only work at large corporations in the country but learn from the best in their fields.

“There is no better education than learning directly from prominent corporate leaders,” he told students of Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC) at its campus here.

“This is the reason why we are having this programme. It allows you to learn, experience and appreciate the hard work, determination and perseverance of the chief executive officers and managing directors,” he said.

Liow, who is also the Transport Minister, noted that some 80% of the essential skills, such as human relations and leadership, could not be learnt in the classroom.

“You must hone your skills in different areas by participating in various activities,” he added.

He also encouraged corporate leaders to practise “reverse mentoring” from the interns, who were brimming with ideas and enthusiasm.

The i-Star Internship Program is organised by TAR UC and Platform to Engage and Empower Rakyat (PEER).

The programme is aimed at inspiring Malaysian youth, including undergraduates and graduates, in their career paths and providing them with invaluable on-the-job training and working-life experiences.

PEER is a non-government organisation that seeks to empower Malaysian youth and university students by leveraging its extensive network of organisations and individuals in supporting youth activities.

For a start, 27 successful candidates will train under the i-Star Internship Program.

Also present at the event were Deputy Education Minister Chong Sin Woon, TAR UC president Datuk Dr Tan Chik Heok and PEER chairman Eric Choo.

Source: The Star

Make school dress comfortable for our tropical climate — Ravinder Singh

MARCH 14 — It may be politically right for Kamalanathan to announce that schools may be closed if the heat wave persists, but is that all that politicians can think of doing?

Could the minister first tell us why in a tropical climate, which is getting warmer by the year, must our school children be dressed as though they are in a temperate country?

Dressing should suit the climate and not be the other way round. For example, in the Middle East people have to protect their faces and eyes from sudden dust storms by covering their faces when outdoors. Similarly the Eskimos have to be in thick fur clothing day and night.

Our school boys used to go to school in shorts and short-sleeved shirts. This is the most comfortable outdoor wear for boys in the tropics. Further, this allows much freer movement as children don’t sit still when outdoors. They want to run about and play, whether formal games or informal games of their own.

The girls used to be in simple baju kurung or pinafores, without vests and jackets. Prefects used to wear a badge. Teachers used to be without ties and jackets, and some even in shorts with stockings.

Nowadays, they have to wear long pants, neckties and vests. Prefects may have to wear long sleeves and jackets. This makes for a lot of “style,” but what is the purpose of all this overdressing of our school children, and even of teachers required to wear ties? To make them more disciplined? But there is so much indiscipline. To create the perception that our schools are as good as those in Europe, Japan, and similar places? But results do not prove this.

Providing all the “overdressing” stuff — neckties, vests, jackets, long pants for boys — is surely a big money earner for certain parties. So that some business people can make money by providing all these unnecessary apparel for school children, parents have to fork out the money and children have to suffer discomfort in this ever warming climate.

Face the facts and address the issue head on. Make school children and teachers dress suitably for the tropics and keep the schools open. Go back to the days when school children used to be dressed most suitably for school. Think of the children’s comfort and not of those supplying all the unnecessary stuff to and make up today’s school uniforms.

Air-conditioning as some would propose is not a practical solution as you can’t air condition the outdoors. If the world is getting warmer, we have to acclimatise ourselves to it for we can’t remain in air-conditioned areas without going outdoors.

We should therefore be teaching our children to dress comfortably and not stylishly. Get rid of ties, long-sleeves, vests and jackets. Teachers should set the example. This may not go down well with some parties and even some parents, but let’s be practical.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.  

Source: The Malay Mail

MQA nafi tawar program pendidikan

CONTOH surat penawaran Program Pendidikan bagi Kalendar Akademik 2016.

KUALA LUMPUR: Agensi Kelayakan Malaysia (MQA) menafikan pihaknya terbabit dengan penawaran Program Pendidikan bagi Kalendar Akademik 2016, malah tidak pernah berurusan dengan sebarang ejen bagi tujuan itu. Mengikut MQA dalam satu kenyataan media hari ini, agensi itu menerima beberapa aduan berhubung surat panggilan temu duga untuk kemasukan program itu yang didakwa ditawarkannya. “Untuk makluman, MQA tidak terbabit dalam penawaran program ini dan tidak pernah berurusan dengan mana-mana ejen bagi tujuan itu. “Orang ramai dinasihatkan berwaspada dan tidak terpedaya dengan sebarang notis atau iklan mencurigakan,” katanya. Sebarang maklumat lanjut, hubungi pihak MQA di talian 03-7968 7002 / 7020 / 1304 / 5510 atau melalui e-mel: akreditasi@mqa.gov.my.

Sumber: Berita Harian