December 15, 2016, by Susan Lim

The first 100 days

When you take a new job or even during the interview, you are often asked what you will do in your first 100 days. It can be a double-edged sword. While you want to make a difference, you do not want to make major changes without seeking advice and understanding the role further.

I took over as provost and chief executive officer of The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) on Aug 1 this year. I am also a pro-vice-chancellor of The University of Nottingham, the United Kingdom campus. The Malaysia campus has about 5,000 students and almost 700 staff members. This is a challenging prospect. In my previous role, I managed almost 100 staff members but this fades into insignificance when you consider the level of responsibility that my current position carries. My 100th day was on Nov 8.

So what did we do between Aug 1 and Nov 8? I am very careful to say we, as leading an organisation is about teamwork. You need the staff, at all levels, to support you in what you are trying to achieve. I am fortunate to work with committed, highly motivated staff. We are currently delivering our MBA (Master of Business Administration) in Singapore. We are extending this idea to Sri Lanka where we will deliver a course in education. It is important to note that our faculty staff deliver these programmes as we do not franchise our degrees.

We have signed an agreement with the World Bank and higher education institutions in Bangladesh to upskill about 8,000 academic staff over the next five years, which will lead to postgraduate qualifications for all of them. This programme will be delivered in Malaysia and Bangladesh. This model of delivery is becoming increasingly popular and we are now looking at extending the offshore delivery to other countries in the region such as Laos, Myanmar and the Philippines. We are also looking to extend our reach within Malaysia and offer our courses in other states, rather than just through our campus in Semenyih.

It was particularly pleasing to have opened The Vinod Sekhar Incubation Centre, knowing that we will now be able to provide the opportunity for our students and graduates to be part of a two-year programme that enables them to start their own company. UNMC also hosted On-Location – an initiative by the vice-chancellor of The University of Nottingham, Prof David Greenaway. This is where VIPs from the UK visit the campuses in China and Malaysia. Visiting both the international campuses allows us to highlight the similarities as well as differences in opportunities compared to the UK.

During my first 100 days, I was fortunate enough to have dinner with Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, have our new teaching centre opened by Tuanku Zara Salim Davidson and have a meeting with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. I also had the pleasure of having a one-on-one meeting with the current of Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Haji Idris Jusoh and the honour of hosting a signing ceremony with the Education Minister of Bangladesh. I feel honoured to have been afforded these opportunities.

These would not have been possible if I had not decided to go to university in my mid-30s. It is often said that education is transformative. This is certainly true in my case.

– By Prof Graham Kendall, provost and chief executive officer at The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus and provice-chancellor at The University of Nottingham, UK Campus

This article was published in The Star on 13 December 2016

Posted in Campus news