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Self-Esteem

In psychology, the term self-esteem is used to describe a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value. As a young trainer running the workshop ‘Creating Your Own Rainbow ‘, I often asked participants: are you happy with yourself? The answers usually puzzled me. Self-esteem can involve a variety of beliefs about the self, such as the appraisal of one’s own appearance, beliefs, emotions, and behaviors. It is often seen as a personality trait which means it tends to be stable and enduring. It is also sometimes known as self-respect, self-worth, self-value. I was looking back on my presence at the Saree Queen contest yesterday. While I was nostalgic about my presence at a venue that made me feel good, I used to play badminton there when I was young (many years ago J); I could not help feeling the good work done by the Association. I could at least think of two things. In a world that is dominated by modernity and western tastes, it was good to revisit tradition. The saree is an elegant piece of dress just as every other traditional dress. More importantly, to me I thought it was an exercise in boosting the self-esteem of […]

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Learning from Mothers & Teachers: a great movie

The Power of Vision Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), the famous Spanish painter is said to have once remarked: If I paint a wild horse, you might not see the horse… but surely you will see the wildness.   Recently, I watched this nice Indian Tamil movie about a mother and her child. Amma Kaannakku (Mother’s calculations) ably acted by Amala Paul, it is a film about the mother visualising the future for her child. Narrated in a gripping and dramatic way, the film outlines the role of a mother and a teacher in shaping lives. It was a tear jerker. While my children and wife were making fun of me crying, I was unashamedly crying throughout the movie. I could relate to the travails of my mother trying to bring us up after my father had gone away all of a sudden. It helped me reflect and review so many of the things that we do every day in life. While the main plot of the movie itself is about the challenges of a single mother bringing up a daughter and the bondage between the two, there are enough lessons for those of us in shaping and developing talent or running […]

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Interview: Inspiring Lives

Dato’ Dr. R Palan, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, SMRT Holdings Berhad, listed on the ACE Market of the Bursa Malaysia Securities Bhd, is an alumnus of the prestigious Harvard Business School. He is a passionate trainer, author, speaker, consultant and a successful entrepreneur who is dynamic, versatile and has been highly committed to developing best practises in the field of human resources for over three decades. An author of over 15 books, Dr. Palan has a strong business and technology orientation and has pioneered several innovations in the field of learning. While he has worked in different countries with both for-profit and non-profit organisations from a variety of industries, Dr. Palan has had a long track record as an entrepreneur. In an in-depth and insightful conversation with Corporate Citizen,Dr. Palan talks about his career, people and talent management, entrepreneurship, youngsters today, and his future plans while also touching upon his personal space. Take us through your education and career Well, like most Malaysian Indians, I went to India to do my medicine, about 40 years ago. But in India, you guys are so brilliant that it was really tough to compete with you. To get a score of 99 […]

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The Magic of Thinking BIG!

Steve Jobs remarked ‘Small thinkers never do big things”. The book The Magic of Thinking Big sold over 4 million copies – the key was to set lofty goals and achieve them. The saying goes: If you want to be the person you want to be, you must think, behave and act like the person you want to be. Steve Jobs personified that view with his Think Different campaign. Nevertheless the goal is not just to set lofty goals but also work towards achieving them. In my own life I have found the true essence of it. I have met many people too who could never think big and also people who could think big. Their orientation to life was different. There is this fallacy that this can be only applied in the business world. Let us not forget that Mother Theresa showed what she could do to change the world, Mohd Yunus of Grameen Bank showed us what he could do to change the world and so did Steve Jobs. So can each one of us do big things to make a big impact and a lasting legacy on this world.

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Cutting edge trends in teaching English

Educators young and old came were enlightened, refreshed and bubbling with new ideas and techniques at a recent international language teaching conference. IT was way past five in the evening and the conference was officially over. All the speeches had been made and every award there was to give, had been given. The last poem had been read, the last performance done, the last story told. And yet the audience was not satisfied. “One more,” they clamoured in a single voice and refused to leave. “‘Tell us one more story, just one,” they pleaded with acclaimed story teller Jan Blake who was one of the featured speakers in the conference. Triumphant team: The teachers from SMK Seksyen 3, Bandar Kinrara jubilant after winning the ‘Yayasan Palan Top Initiative for English Language Teaching In School’ award. With them are Education deputy director-general (MARA) Abdul Halim Abbas, SMRT Holdings Bhd chairman Datuk Dr R Palan, Rural and Regional Development Ministry deputy secretary-general Datuk Rahim Abu Bakar and representative of the Malacca chief minister Datuk Md Rawi Mahmud (third, fourth, fifth and sixth from left). And although the stage was no longer available and presentation venues were officially closed, the crowd settled comfortably […]

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Making English fun to learn

To enhance and improve the command of the English language among teachers and students, the Government introduced several initiatives. The SMR Group, one of the organisations involved in the mentoring of teachers programme, shares its experience. THE Native Speaker Programme (Penutur Jati) was born out of the need to improve the standard of teaching English in schools. This initiative was a bold one as it went against the traditional approach to teacher training which involved teachers being taken out of schools to attend large training sessions, SMR Group CEO (Corporate Office) Syed Muzakir Al-Jofre shares. “Under this project, mentor/trainers would organise similar workshops but on a much smaller scale, after which the mentors and teachers would put into practice the lessons learned directly in the classrooms,” he says. SMR, an education provider listed on Bursa Malaysia, is primarily in the learning business and operates in the areas of tertiary education and training, learning technologies, and professional human resource development services. The organisation has been involved in the programme and the Professional Upskilling of English Language Teachers (Pro-ELT). Detailing the mechanics of the Native Speaker Programme, SMR Group ELT project manager Michael Hughes says mentors, or trainers, are assigned to organise […]

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HCK Capital Group signs deal with CUCMS

HCK Capital Group recently signed a lease agreement with Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences (CUCMS). Under this agreement, HCK Capital Group, which owns a plot of land in Cyberjaya, has been tasked to build a campus for CUCMS. The agreement states that the Group will lease the campus to the institution for a 10-year period with the option of renewal for another 10 years. The campus is expected to be ready in 2017 and CUCMS will be moving to its new location then. The signing ceremony was officiated by Mr Yee Tuck Sing, Executive Director of HCK Capital Group and Prof. Dato’ Dr. Mohamad Abd. Razak, President/CEO of CUCMS. The ceremony was witnessed by HCK Capital Group’s Executive Chairman, Tan Sri Clement Hii Chii Kok and SMRT Holdings Berhad’s Chairman, Dato’ Dr. R. Palan. CUCMS is a subsidiary of SMRT Holdings. CUCMS is a fast-growing institution offering courses mostly related to health and medical sciences. Its decision to collaborate with HCK Capital Group in its expansion plans is recognition of the latter’s credentials in the property sector.

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Why Palan made a bid for Master skill

WHEN education provider SMRT Holdings Bhd CEO Datuk R. Palan was asked why he bought into Masterskill Education Group Bhd (MEGB), he laughed and said everybody was asking him the same question. “Well I saw an opportunity. If this was a profitable and roaring business, I doubt we would be able to acquire it at 60 sen per share. “This deal is possible because the business is a stressed asset and the major shareholder wants to exit. We also happen to ‘live and breathe’ the (education) business and trust we can make it a success,” he says. In what perhaps caught the market by surprise, private equity firm Creador and SMRT on Monday expressed an intent to make a buyout offer for MEGB at 60 sen per share. Their offer is subject to a due diligence on the latter, which should end within a 30-day period. In a joint statement, Creador and SMRT said they had received an undertaking from MEGB’s single largest shareholder, Siva Kumar Jeyapalan, who owns a 32.9% stake, that he would accept any offer for his block of shares. Upon the announcement, shares of SMRT however reacted negatively. For the week, the stock is down 18.6% […]

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Finance Agency wins HRD award

9 June 2015, Dubai, United Arab Emirates– Bringing Malaysia’s expertise to the world, The Finance Accreditation Agency is awarded for the “Contribution to Organisation” category at the 11th Asia HRD Awards ceremony at the Grand Hyatt in Dubai. The Finance Accreditation Agency is an organisation supported by Bank Negara and the Securities Commission Malaysia, entrusted to grow quality human capital within the financial services industry. Supporting the government’s goal of growing quality professionals, FAA is recognised for the development of innovative systems, processes, and practices which have impacted overall employee development and productivity, with accompanying effect to bottom line. Past winners of this award from Malaysia include Maybank, Maxis, Khazanah Nasional, and Telekom Malaysia. Receiving the award at the ceremony, Chief Executive Officer of FAA Dr. Amat Taap Manshor said, “We are keen on sharing our expertise in developing innovative learning programmes to the rest of the world. We are proud to be supporting the Malaysian government’s initiative to grow quality financial services professionals in Malaysia and beyond.” The Asia HRD Awards cuts across four categories, including the “Lifetime Achievement”, “Contribution to Society”, “Contribution to Organisation”, and “Contribution of HR Community”. Recognised for its initiative, FAA provides comprehensive learning and development […]

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SMRT Confident Of 20% Growth

KUALA LUMPUR: The rather sharp fall in first-quarter profits, which came after lower annual earnings achieved for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2014 (FY14), has exerted more selling pressure on SMRT Holdings Bhd’s share price, which has tumbled 45% since the start of the year. Prior to that, the education group’s share price took a beating last year, as its acquisition of a 23% equity stake inMasterskill Education Group Bhd (MEGB) did not go down well with many shareholders. Its chief executive officer Datuk Dr R Palan, however, is confident that SMRT will be able to chalk up a double-digit growth of 20% for this year. “Without further expenditure incurred for corporate exercises, we expect our bottom line to grow in tandem with the top-line for this year,” Palan told The Edge Financial Daily in an interview. Contributions from Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences (CUCMS), which the group acquired last year, is a key growth driver, he explained, adding that there is no acquisition plan this year. “It is a year of consolidation when we stabilise our businesses first.” On top of that, the group has secured a contract to train English teachers for government schools. SMRT’s (fundamental: […]

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January 2019 Thoughts on two great leaders

Who Will Measure up to These Two Remarkable Leaders? James L. Heskett is UPS Foundation Professor of Business Logistics, Emeritus at the Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard University asks a simple question in a Harvard Business article; in a month when the world lost two great American company leaders: John Bogle of Vanguard Group and Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines. Most of us in Asia may know Southwest Airlines while a lesser number would know John Bogle. What other CEOs are in the same league? asks James Heskett. To me, who in Asia would match up to these standards. He says the decade of the 1980s saw widespread subscription to the notion that there were two “generic competitive strategies” aimed at achieving industrywide success: those that provided either a differentiated or a low-cost product/service. (A third was to focus on a particular market segment.) He adds that Roger Hallowell, in a doctoral dissertation submitted some years later, took issue with that notion based on his observation of a small number of incredibly successful service organizations. He concluded that these firms were seizing large market shares by offering both differentiation and low cost, that in fact the two strategies might […]

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Merry Xmas and Happy New Year

Greetings for a Merry Xmas and Happy New Year

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DEEP WORK in a distracted world

A few years ago, former CEO of Citibank Malaysia, Sanjeev Nanavathy told me about the importance of DEEP WORK. As an accomplished coach, he emphasised for the need to develop the ability to focus without distraction on a task that is cognitively demanding. He probably mentioned it as he noticed me flipping on to my I phone every now and then to check my WhatsApp messages. On a trip to my alma mater, Federation University, Ballarat, Australia, I noticed several posters around the campus on the help available if one was addicted to the mobile phone or social media. Never understood the significance of those posters until a few days ago when I had a chance to read DEEP WORK.   Deep Work is defined as a skill that allows you to master complicated information and do a great job in less time. It provides a sense of fulfilment very much similar to craftmanship. This skill seems to have been lost in a world of emails, social media and WhatsApp messages. Professor Cal Newport, the author of DEEP WORK presents a rigorous training regimen, presented as a series of four “rules,” for transforming one’s mind and habits to support this […]

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Last issue of Learn & Perform E News

This issue will be the last Learn & Perform E-News. I have enjoyed writing the e-news all these years, but it is time to say adieu or good bye to all of you. I have decided to quit E-News and social media, effective 1 January 2019. Thanks for all of your wonderful comments and support all these years for my endeavours to be a writer. The early days It was 1994 and the internet was a new buzzword. We had a Jaring internet account. Dr Nat, my classmate, colleague and friend, persuaded me to write the e-zine or e-news using Microsoft Biz Central. He was trying to get me into writing as he wanted me to codify our professional practice. The writings by illustrious practitioners, trainers and speakers such as Don Kirkpatrick, Bob Pike, Thiagi, Mel Silbermann and Zig Ziglar motivated me, but I was never sure I would be able to replicate their success. Eventually, I started writing the Learn & Perform E-News in 1995. One of my colleagues M. C. Jitha did a great job promoting the e-news. Ably supported by the technological tools employed by our young CTO Murali, the list grew from a mere 11 subscribers […]

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Cyberjaya Uni confers Honorary Doctorate on TS Rafidah Aziz

Cyberjaya Uni was honoured to confer the Honorary Doctorate in Business to Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz. Tan Sri Rafidah, a former Minister and the longest serving International Trade Minister is a role model and an icon,  As the Pro Chancellor it was indeed an honour for me to confer the award at the Uni’s 9th Convocation on Dec 13th, 2018.

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Happiness Summit and Asia HRD Congress & Awards, 2018 Vietnam

The 2018 Asia HRD Congress and Awards organised in conjunction with Anphabe’s Happiness At Work, Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam was an interesting event. Over 400 participants, 22 awardees and a host of great speakers from many different countries. Thanks to Thanh of Anphabe, Kannan and Deen of CEO and our colleagues Ann Nei, Yanie, Dr Amat and Dato Asariah, we had a great event. We have all the time heard about the Happiness Index and the happiest country yet we see so many unhappy people. Happiness is an elusive concept to many and linking it to the engaged workplace and organisational productivity has been the hallmark of the work of researchers in the Human Capital economics area. Happiness defined from the context of mental and emotional states refers to contentment, joy and satisfaction. The book The Happiness Advantage authored by Shawn Achor focuses on how happiness impacts people in the workplace. His research focusses on the direct connection with employee engagement. It was also intriguing to read a newspaper report this morning that highlighted teaching is no longer a passion but a burden today. The teachers, role models in society for a long time – are they longer happy. […]

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Reforming Technical and Vocational Education (TVET)

In the past few weeks, Malaysians have been both excited and rocked by certain announcements on education and foreign labour. The interlinked issues of education and foreign workers are contentious in almost every part of the world and Malaysia is no exception. In a bold move, Malaysian Education Minister Dr. Maszlee Malik appointed parliamentarian Ms. Nurul Izzah Anwar to head a committee to strengthen technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in the country despite criticisms. The HR Minister Mr. Kula ran into a minefield when he forgot the gastronomic desires of Malaysians and suggested a ban on foreign cooks in Malaysia. With the new Malaysian government giving people the courage to comment, there was no shortage of advice from the public. It is important to see these trends in training and immigration control in the context of nation-building. Building the skills and capabilities of our students and making them economically successful are not isolated efforts. In the long run, no nation can afford to allow unfettered entry of foreign workers even though it may need some level of foreign skilled worker employment. It is also not advisable for a country to allow its citizens to remain unskilled or leave […]

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The business case for minimum wages

Minimum wage is often described as minimum living wage or what employees need to earn to cover their basic expenses in a community. Yet, you often see conservative economists and some business leaders, often with extreme right views, arguing against a minimum wage. Their thoughts against minimum wages are based on the notion that minimum wages will increase unemployment as businesses that cannot afford the increased wages will look for cheaper alternatives. Therefore, they claim that lower skilled workers who occupy low wage jobs will become unemployed as these types of jobs will evaporate. The attempt to help those at the bottom of the pyramid, they argue, will become a lost cause. Conservatives argue for a free market approach and for wages to be determined by market forces. In a way, they are against any form of government intervention. They contend that imposing minimum wages will result in higher unemployment, increased cost of living and ultimately, a less competitive nation. Concerns that robots or automation will replace low wage jobs are commonly raised to support their view that a low wage policy should not be introduced. They couch their arguments on the point that lower level jobs must be saved […]

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Study at Asia Metropolitan University, Malaysia

Opportunities to pursue your MBA, DBA, PhD. Visit www.amu.edu.my Email lily@smrhub.com

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Three graduations Three continents Three experiences

It was a true learning journey. A busy and tiring May. Attending three graduations in three different continents. Getting mesmerised in between by the Malaysian elections. Each was a different experience. Unique in its own way. My younger son bespectacled Andy graduated from the University of California Berkeley, USA with a undergraduate degree in Applied Mathematics and will be moving on to do his PhD in Computer Sciences at Stanford University, USA. My eldest son Maha graduated from Imperial College, UK with a MSC in Risk and Financial Engineering and will be moving on to work in UK with a multinational. And, I graduated with another PhD, in Education from Federation University, Ballarat, Australia. My focus was on studying TVET systems of three countries. And I will move on to do what I am doing now – pursue my cherished goal of social entrepreneurship in Malaysia. Learning is exciting but one can only do that with the support of friends and family which we were blessed to have.

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