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Saturday August 14, 2010

Lim Kok Wing answers your 10 questions


Why did you take Limkokwing University of Creative Technology to different parts of Africa? Bulbir Singh, Seremban

Our presence in Africa is to build human capital that is pivotal in moving the economies of these countries up the value chain. We are there to empower as many young people as we can.

Essentially, we are established where our programmes are needed the most. In many instances, we are actually invited by the governments of those countries to set up campuses. Our approach to education helps to get young people ready for the job market very quickly because it is very skills-focused and industry-centric. We also actively promote an entrepreneurial mindset so that our graduates develop the confidence to set up their own businesses. The job market in Africa is quite narrow. Being creative and skilled in the use of digital technology, our graduates are actually expanding the creative industries of their countries through their enterprises.

What motivates you? Louis Liong, Kuching

I want to do as much as I can to bring education to those who need it within the shortest possible time. I want to help as many countries as possible to become more competitive in a highly globalised environment. Poor countries are falling behind rapidly because the more advanced countries are increasing their lead through innovation. The game is changing and a fundamental building block is empowered human capital that all countries have to build in order to progress their economies. Countries cannot rely on traditional modes of education to build advantage because these outdated systems don’t have the mechanisms to unlock the wealth trapped in the minds of their youths.

Essentially, it is about “designing the graduate”. That means putting in the processes that will create this graduate. That is the true meaning of education.

Do you expect Malaysia to make significant inroads into the creative industries by 2020, be it in movie-making, advertising or copywriting? Billy Cheah, Johor Baru

In recent years, the country’s creative output has been falling drastically. You can see the decline in content produced for advertising, music, multimedia, interactive design and other areas. It is because our best talents are leaving the country. They go to places where they can do the best work, where the environment supports talent exploration and development.

Unless this alarming trend is reversed, Malaysia won’t advance. There are many in the government administration that don’t see the link between a flourishing creative sector and economic development. The change has to happen within the Government so that the framework to support rapid development of the creative industries is in place. I know the Prime Minister is working hard to change this and appreciation for creativity has risen lately. I look forward to a more energised creative sector.

How can a really determined, talented and qualified artist secure a rewarding career in Malaysia when there seems to be so little scope in the creative realm here? Bernard KH Lim, Penang

It’s a big world out there teeming with opportunities. Globalisation has produced new opportunities for the talented to exploit. Those who are creative and possess the technical skills to visualise their ideas can build rewarding careers. This is the digital age and the Internet is the best connecting force to find employers and clients anywhere in the world. It is not by chance that the university website is among the most popular with 10 million hits a month from almost every country in the world. Many graduates from my university are active contentpreneurs with their own web businesses. But you must remember that being talented alone is not enough; the effort must be made to connect with those who need your talent, skills and ideas to build their businesses.

How does the Limkokwing University help its academic staff to improve themselves and the quality of their teaching? The university is said to have the highest staff turnover compared with other colleges. A.Vijaysankar, KL

The university ecosystem revolves around creativity and innovation. It is the same in all the campuses we have set up in three continents. Creativity is such that those involved will seek better solutions and better quality. Therefore, it is a challenge for anyone working with the university. Not everyone makes it. Those with the right mindset respond and find they can build themselves to a higher level. Those that don’t, could not get out of the comfort zones they have built into their minds. Lecturers must empower themselves to meet the standards set by their students. You don’t teach in a top-down manner anymore. You have to guide and allow the kids to run ahead. The students must be trained to function in the future. We cannot be teaching them what we have learnt so long ago.

What are your strategies for retaining good teaching staff, or any employee, for that matter? Jayasegaran, Penang

We are industry-focused, which means we are actively involved in building the skills of our graduates through collaborations with companies. We also work closely with the government, lending our skills to build content for departments and agencies connected with the public sector. These lead to us organising many events such as concerts, conventions, workshops and campaign launches. These build skills that they were not aware of previously. And many of our staff members have risen to the occasion, becoming excellent presenters, event managers and campaign strategists. They learn industry standards and expectations.

We are also a global university where our staff members travel to provide training to the staff in our overseas campuses. Our staff gets international exposure and develops skills in international relations connected with managing media, finance, curriculum development and campus management. Postgraduate training is actively encouraged.

I notice that you are always in black. Why? Huey, KL

It is a conscious effort to build the brand. Black traditionally is seen as a colour for mourning in some cultures, but these days you can see that black has become very fashionable, especially among the young. I use black as a team builder and as a result, we are known for wearing black. It has become part of the branding and our brand personality.

You have been going on quite a bit about the creative field. Who is your favourite person and why? Helen Pang, KL

The young people I see on campus are terrific personalities. They are extremely talented go-getters with great attitude and enormous confidence. You just have to be proud of them, and many have become well-known in their countries. They inspire others onscreen, offscreen, onstage, offstage or in the boardroom. They dominate in their fields. They inspire me to continue with what I am doing with the university as they prove me right every day with their perseverance to improve themselves.

What steps do you take when there are complaints about the quality of teachers at the Limkokwing University or institutes in Africa?

Kelvin Quah, KL

We take immediate action and it starts by gathering facts to ascertain the validity of the complaints. I hold regular talks with all lecturers to instill my philosophy of what we must do to ensure our students do well in their studies. It is my belief that no student should fail.

If there are failures, then it is we who have failed them. I encourage all our lecturers to be good to students, to be kind and respectful because students have given us the opportunity to build this university. There is no university where there are no students.

I notice an advertisement in The Star that says you have been appointed Commander of the Most Meritorious Order of Mohlomi by the King of Lesotho. What is this award all about? E.J, PJ

Lesotho is a land-locked mountain country in southern Africa. It is among the poorest countries in the world. But the people there are very proud, resilient and talented. They have such strong cultures.

The university in Lesotho was set up at the invitation of Prime Minister Pakalitha Bethuel Mosisili. It has made a strong difference to the country’s ability to empower its youths. I believe it is in recognition of that endeavour that the king has given this appointment.

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