The staff at the main campus of WOU celebrated Deepavali together today with a lunch feast and several activities organised by their Hindu colleagues.
In his welcoming remarks, Assoc Prof Dr S Nagarajan, Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, explained that the breaking of coconut signifies the breaking of one’s ego while the Festival of Lights symbolises the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.
Vice Chancellor Prof Dato’ Dr Ho Sinn Chye, Chief Operating Officer Mr Yeong Sik Kheong, Registrar Dr Andy Liew, School of Education, Languages & Communications Dean Prof Santhiram Raman, and Educational Technology & Publishing (ETP) Assistant Manager Khoo Chiew Keen then performed the breaking of coconuts outside the Homestead.
This was followed by the lighting of oil lamps by Group Finance Director Chua Saw Nee, ETP Director Grace Lau, and Assoc Prof Dr Intan Osman and Senior Lecturer Lalitha Ramasamy from the School of Business & Administration.
Prof Santhiram gifted Prof Ho with a golden shawl and a flower garland, a common Indian tradition of showing honour, in appreciation of his long service as Vice Chancellor. “It looks like you’re in a hurry to see me leave!” Prof Ho remarked in jest to the laughter of guests before delivering his speech.
Prof Ho said that feasting together reminded him of a book he had read titled ‘Never Eat Alone’ by Keith Ferrazzi published in 2005, in which the author used the platform of building relationships to highlight networking.
He told staff that in this day and age, people can no longer work in silos but must network and collaborate to accomplish complex tasks. While doing so, they should help each other to master new knowledge and skills to enhance work proficiency, he added, through the process of “co-elevation” (a term coined by Ferrazzi in his latest book).
Prof Ho stated that the first book talks about five mindsets for building relationships. “One, is in order to go far one must work together with others to overcome obstacles and achieve goals. It is all about team-building. Second, you need to plant a seed of relationship and as the seedling matures, the relationship will blossom into love and respect.”
He continued, “Third is asking questions. If you don’t ask the rights questions, you’ll not find the right solutions. Fourth, the strength of your relationship is an exponential function of the number of people you form relationships with. Lastly, you have to give in order to get,” he stressed.
He then shared a 4-minute video showing Ferrazzi talking about his new book and explaining the term ‘Co-Elevation’. According to Ferrazzi, collaboration alone is not enough today. Collaboration must lead to co-elevation of all parties involved in any collaborative project, for instance in a course development project.
Over 100 staff attended, including WOU Sdn Bhd Chairman Dato’ Seri Stephen Yeap, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Programmes and EdTech) Prof Zoraini Wati Abas, and special guest Ms Kristin Bleyder, coordinator for international online degree programmes, from Luebeck University of Applied Sciences (LUAS), Germany, who visited WOU on that day for a meeting.