Time to show up and stand out

New Straits Times - - Higher Ed - Ocyeoh@nst.com.my by by Daniel Pink, by Dale Carnegie and by Jay Con­rad Levin­son.”

O.C. YEOH

BE­FORE he be­came a skills men­tor and founded his ven­ture start-up, Khairul An­war Ka­marudin en­coun­tered some bumps along his jour­ney to­wards suc­cess. First, he dropped out of univer­sity. Then, he had a failed busi­ness.

But he was ever ready to “pick him­self up, dust him­self off and start all over again”, to quote an old song.

Though re­served by na­ture, Khairul An­war al­ways had an in­de­pen­dent streak and that’s not easy for one who is the el­dest of five chil­dren.

Af­ter Form Three, he asked to con­tinue his stud­ies in a board­ing school. There, over two years, he made many friends in a to­tally dif­fer­ent so­cial en­vi­ron­ment away from his fam­ily.

“It was a whole new world for me, and I em­braced my new-found free­dom,” he said.

Khairul An­war said he was al­ways fas­ci­nated by the sci­ence of physics, which for him rep­re­sented the me­chan­ics of how the world worked.

Af­ter SPM, he un­der­went ma­tric­u­la­tion in en­gi­neer­ing and then started his de­gree course in Univer­siti Pu­tra Malaysia (UPM).

He then ex­pe­ri­enced the cul­ture shock of hav­ing to be re­spon­si­ble and com­mit­ted to his course­work.

“I was used to be­ing play­ful and en­joy­ing my free­dom, and ne­glected my stud­ies,” he said.

“I was more keen on hav­ing a good time, and also my mind was fixed on earn­ing more pocket money than do­ing well in school.”

Khairul An­war had all along per­formed well in school, eas­ily scor­ing in his ex­ams, un­til he en­tered var­sity when he sud­denly found it a strug­gle to put the ef­fort in his stud­ies.

To earn money, he worked late nights in a ho­tel as a ban­quet waiter.

He stood out in this area and im­pressed his su­per­vi­sors, who kept re­quest­ing for his ser­vices.

“I was a fast learner and very hard­work­ing, and soon I was tasked to serve the dig­ni­taries at VIP ta­bles,” he said.

Due to his poor aca­demic per­for­mance at UPM, Khairul An­war had to drop out and went on to work in F&B out­lets in two ho­tels.

“The money was good, and pay­ment was im­me­di­ate af­ter each shift,” he said.

Mean­while, his in­ter­est in F&B be­gan to grow and he started learn­ing more about the sub­ject from the In­ter­net dur­ing his non-work­ing hours.

The knowl­edge he ac­quired was enough to get him hired in a top fine-din­ing restau­rant, where a reg­u­lar pa­tron be­came his first men­tor.

“This cus­tomer would give me tips that were even more than the cost of his meal,” said Khairul An­war.

“One day, I asked how he be­came so rich, and also why he was so gen­er­ous.

“He replied that he was not that rich be­cause he liked giv­ing money to those in need. He then asked me to save the tips I earned for my fur­ther stud­ies, and also to re­port to him my progress.”

Thanks to this ad­vice, Khairul An­war en­rolled as a part-time stu­dent with the Open Univer­sity Malaysia where he made the Dean’s List three times and earned his Busi­ness de­gree in Mar­ket­ing.

Even be­fore he grad­u­ated, how­ever, Khairul An­war found em­ploy­ment in a train­ing com­pany where his boss be­came his sec­ond men­tor.

“From the In­ter­net, I had also learned how to do Pow­erPoint, and that came in use­ful for this job which in­volved pre­sen­ta­tion skills,” he said.

“My po­si­tion was meant for some­one with a de­gree and though I had yet to earn mine, I was still of­fered the job.”

Khairul An­war said his fa­ther, a tech­ni­cian, had al­ways en­cour­aged him and his sib­lings to read, and bought news­pa­pers and sec­ond­hand books for them.

“This boss was very well-read and his of­fice had a li­brary filled with busi­ness books and mag­a­zines which I could bor­row any­time. He even passed me mag­a­zines like af­ter he had fin­ished with them.”

In 2007, Khairul An­war was named the com­pany’s best sales man­ager, but that did not stop him from leav­ing his job the fol­low­ing year to open a restau­rant to­gether with his brother, a chef.

The ven­ture, how­ever, did not sur­vive in the face of a global eco­nomic cri­sis.

Khairul An­war then joined the IT firm Skali where he was a strat­egy con­sul­tant work­ing with users and pro­gram­mers and af­ter that, he worked in Ca­reerX­cell where he was a learn­ing de­vel­op­ment man­ager en­gag­ing over­seas tal­ent.

Mean­while, he also earned his MBA in Is­lamic fi­nance and bank­ing from Asia e Univer­sity, where he was awarded merit schol­ar­ships three times.

In Oct 2012, Khairul An­war be­came the CEO of UKM TEEM where he worked on sev­eral tal­ent de­vel­op­ment projects based in Univer­siti Ke­bangsaan Malaysia.

Dur­ing this time, he was in­tro­duced to the con­cept of de­sign think­ing at Gen­o­vasi as well as a MaGIC-spon­sored course on start-up de­vel­op­ment with Stan­ford Univer­sity Grad­u­ate School of Busi­ness.

This ex­po­sure led to the cre­ation in 2014 of courseMY.com, an In­ter­net start-up that Khairul An­war founded which al­lows lo­cal in­dus­tries to of­fer con­tent in dig­i­tal for­mat to younger stu­dents for ex­po­sure and ex­pe­ri­ence.

Un­der Cra­dle’s Coach and Grow pro­gramme, he ac­quired hands-on tech­niques of grow­ing a start-up where he met with ex­pe­ri­enced en­trepreneurs and also built his own con­fi­dence as an en­tre­pre­neur.

An ad­vo­cate of de­sign think­ing, Khairul An­war is to­day a cer­ti­fied coach and the founder/ ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of DT Lead­er­ship.

“My mis­sion now is to make youth re­alise the need to stand out, the ear­lier the bet­ter so as to be com­pet­i­tive sooner than later,” he said.

“They can go to places like MaGIC for tech en­trepreneur­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“For read­ing ma­te­rial, I rec­om­mend

by Tom Kel­ley,

Peter Drucker,

Skills train­ing in ses­sion.

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