Since young, I never agree getting good education guarantees better career opportunities. Maybe this is because my late mother never make such guarantee nor force us to get good grades. However, I still strive for excellence to prove to myself that I am equally good. I was so focus to challenge myself academically when I was young to the extent that I never bother to plan ahead.
When I completed Form 5 education (then Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia), I started to work part-time in a restaurant while waiting for my result. Never had I thought of making plans for my academic journey. I just focus on getting paid working part-time while waiting for my result. I was really focus on everything I did back then. After getting my SPM result, I tried to study for STPM. I went for the boring STPM study for less than 2 months and ended it without giving much thoughts to what is next.
My brother who was taking his ACCA study started to panic! He was the one concerned about my academic route because I didn’t seem to have any plan at all.
YES, I did not have a plan.
He suggested me to take LCCI Diploma in Accounting and without much thought I took it as I was lazy to think. I continued with LCCI Higher Diploma in Accounting with straight Distinctions in all papers except a Credit in cost accounting. Maybe I am good with finance even though it consists mostly boring subjects. This was when I started to put some thoughts and be serious with my academic choices.
After doing some fact finding on many professional courses like ACCA, ICSA, CIM and CIMA, I decided to enroll with Institute of Chartered Secretaries & Administrators (ICSA) that covers subjects from finance to human resource to strategic management to marketing to law and information technology. This was the only course that covers all aspects of a business and it was cheap compared to a bachelor degree. Back then, I was not aware that the government offer PTPTN loan. I took my classes at night and went to work as accounts clerk, secretary and personal assistant during day time. Within 2 years of night classes, I completed my ICSA professional degree. I didn’t bother to continue with MBA, then decided to continue working and help out my family financially.
In fact, many corporate executives including C-level are not familiar with ICSA qualification. I still remember when I first joined my current employment, ICSA was wrongfully perceived as private secretary qualification which is equivalent to a Diploma!
I started to have problem assuring people of my academic credential. After working 4 years here, I found myself stagnant and decided to challenge my ability to learn again. With less career commitment and my personal desire to prove that MBA is not that difficult to study, I decided to enroll for the course part-time. Again, I graduated as planned.
In fact most of what I study in MBA were taught in ICSA except lacking of practical research from the latter. In ICSA, we were assessed based on exams whereas for MBA, it was really about solving real-life problem faced by the industry in areas of human resource, finance, marketing and business management by writing assignments and thesis.
MBA provided me lots of networking opportunities. I make friends with people who are from property, internet of things, government, telco, oil & gas, engineering and many other industries that I’ve never knew they ever exist. Knowing these friends did not only satisfy my social needs but also widen my knowledge in all areas. Because of MBA, I learned to invest in share market and this indeed make me some extra money. I would say knowing more friends who want to continuously gain knowledge is the best achievement throughout my MBA journey.
For those who have little knowledge about me, I’ve contributed almost half of my career being an entrepreneur, starting as young as 22 years old. This makes me very independent but also deprives me exposure in corporate environment – thus I have minimal understanding to corporate standard and jargon.
Words like “framework”, “road map”, “value chain” are alien to me even though I’ve learned these during my ICSA study. After going through MBA, I finally able to relate these jargon with activities during my entrepreneurial journey. In fact, all these were part and parcel of my entrepreneurial activities – is just that I was not exposed to these words previously. After my MBA study, I now have better understanding of corporate standard and jargon used by many of my colleagues. This saves me lots of time and effort to “google”.
I have pretty good critical thinking and problem solving skill whereby I constantly think ahead in every aspect of my work planning. Never once I remember failing any of my employer. However, due to lack of recognition and specialization in ICSA degree, the employment market literally knew little about what this professional degree can offer. Therefore, very often I was deprived of many opportunities at my workplace.
Most colleagues were not aware of my specialization or should I say they are not aware of what ICSA graduates can do – even until today. Having widely recognized MBA reaffirm my credential at workplace as most people understand what a MBA holder can offer. If you are one with the same problem as mine, I guess you should start to enroll in one MBA course too.
I always hear people using the word “research design” at my workplace. As a layman, research to me means doing fact finding on areas of interest regardless of it is science, technology, market, product or even business or society related then develop some conclusion based on the findings. Simple mindset right? Yes, I am simpler than most people perceived. So why is there a need to develop “research design”? Just decide the ways you want to do fact finding and do it!
After taking MBA, I fully understand that research design literally means more structurally written research framework and methodology with the objective get buy-in from stakeholder to support your research with resources. Again, it is all about workplace standard. So, a research design paper can be as thick as 50 pages of written content depending on the quantum of each research. With MBA, I’ve indeed improved my ability to draw out research design systematically.
Working in government-related environment, very often many will look at your academic qualification before anything else. This is the truth; this is the culture and there’s nothing much one can do to change the system that still judge people based on academic paper!
Having your name after the word “Dr” indeed activates more opportunities in all sorts of high level engagements. The word “Dr” can be used effectively to enhance your career credential despite some Drs talking no sense. I am not saying all PhDs talk no sense – am just quoting an example. Hope our Drs. out there are not offended.
Even though I’ve yet to start PhD study, currently having a MBA is already giving me more strength and credits at workplace. Of course, this is only temporary. I’ll still need a PhD if I have intention to move up the corporate ladder. With current MBA, I already have better offer for speaking engagements including career opportunities from more established organizations.
Many think having a MBA is going to give them higher salary, instant career promotion, or some think they are smarter than their peers who do not own one. This is so hilarious to me. It is just a MBA – there’s nothing to shout about. It is the same for PhD. Anyone can get MBA or PhD if they have few years of extra time to spare, some money and willing to put in effort to study. I hope my friends out there will not perceive academic as a green lane to achieve success. Success requires lots of giving, hard work and perseverance. For those friends who are interested to study MBA or want to know more, do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try my best to help. Cheers!