Wawasan Open University (WOU) received industry endorsement for its two new niche MBA offerings during a simple ceremony held at the main campus.
The event marked the official launch of the MBA in Construction Management (MBA-CM) and the MBA in Production and Manufacturing Management (MBA-MPM).
Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) Prof Dato’ Dr Ho Sinn Chye presided over the launch of the MBA-CM along with Ivory Properties Group executive director Dato’ Seri Nazir Ariff and Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) Penang branch chairman Dato’ Jerry Chan. For the second session on the MBA-MPM, Prof Ho was joined by Free Industrial Zone Penang Companies Association (Frepenca) president Horst Rosenmueller and Malaysian-American Electronics Industry (MAEI) chairman Dato’ Wong Siew Hai.
Prof Ho shared that the MBAs will allow entry-level personnel in the construction and manufacturing industries to rise to higher management and leadership positions. Among the target group for the MBA-CM are architects, town planners, site supervisors, draughtsman, property/estate officers, quantify surveyors and land surveyors, while for the MBA-MPM are production and process engineers, quality control engineers, health and safety executives, IT specialists, accountants, and marketing executives.
Nazir, a property developer, stated, “When someone graduates as an engineer, architect or town planner, it does not mean that he can straight away go into the field and manage a construction project. He has to go through many years of experience and a bit of education before he can really manage a construction project. This MBA programme will be shortening the learning curve for this person. I am hoping my colleagues in the industry will encourage their staff to join this programme over the next few years and I am sure this programme will be one of the successes of this university.”
Chan, also the managing director of Asas Dunia Bhd, found the MBA-CM covers topics like “procurement management, risk and crisis management, sustainability, environment and corporate governance, that are not normally covered by courses of this nature”.
“Other areas include negotiation and dispute resolution, which again is never or seldom covered,” he said, stating these are “good and necessary” for those in the development and construction sector, since the property market in Penang in the next 3-5 years is looking good due to foreign direct investments.
For the launch of the MBA-MPM, Wong, who is also Board of Governor, American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), shared that the electrical and electronics (E&E) industry contributes about 1 million headcount, or 32% of the 3.3 million total employment in the manufacturing sector in Malaysia. He mentioned risk and crisis management and ‘highly-motivated human talents and leadership” as challenges faced by the factories, suggesting that workers and work and study for the MBA-MPM at WOU.
“This MBA looks at the big picture and prepares for future challenges. It encourages thinking to develop strategies, challenge the status quo and have a paradigm shift,” he said. Italso improves competencies like finance and costing, optimisation techniques, making sense of numbers, material management, and leadership qualities, notably “what it takes, how to lead, how to grow and develop and motivate talents, handle conflicts, decision-making, and vision-mission strategies,” he added.
Rosenmueller, also the managing director of OSRAM Opto Semiconductors, said Frepenca represents 65 members comprising of MNCs and SMEs. He believes the MBA-MPM will “promote competency enhancement” in E&E, which is one of the major engines of economic growth of Penang. He said Frepenca supports the MBA-MPM as it helps in “staying ahead in the highly competitive manufacturing environment”. He noted that the programme istimely “to further enhance the capability of the industry as a whole and make Penang the location of choice for investors”.
Among those who attended the launch were Wawasan Education Foundation (WEF) director Loo Choo Teng, WOU Deputy Vice Chancellor (Operations) Dr Seah Soo Aun, industry representatives, and staff of WOU.