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Harvard Business School to Nurture Data Professionals in Malaysia
May 4, 2016 News

Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), in association with the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) and The Centre of Applied Data Science (TheCADS), introduced a customised Big Data Analytics (BDA) programme by Harvard Business School (HBS) Executive Education in Malaysia. The first batch of the four-day programme took place at Hilton KL from 25th to 28th April 2016 with 53 C-level participants from various industries. Participating companies include PETRONAS, Celcom, Astro, Maxis, Senheng, KFit, UNITAR, Grab, Chatime among others.

Dato’ Yasmin Mahmood, Chief Executive Officer, MDEC said, “It is imperative for companies today to add value and stay competitive by ‘future-proofing’ their businesses through the development and adoption of innovative ‘disruptive technologies’ such as Big Data Analytics.”

The 4-day programme allows participants to gain a basic understanding of big data, applications of complex analytics methods; improving business model and efficiency with predictive analysis; ethics of transparency in data collection and the concept of “un-volunteered truths”; implications of big data analysis on marketing, the supply chain, and human resources; recruit and develop talents in data analytics; and build and sustain a competitive advantage by expanding company’s analytics capabilities.

Accompanying Dato’ Yasmin in the press conference was Professor Karim Lakhani, Associate Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School; Dato’ CM Vignaesvaran, Chief Executive Officer of HRDF; and Sharala Axryd, Managing Director of TheCADS.

Professor Karim said “The overwhelming response to the first batch of the programme is a testament to Malaysia’s growing focus on Big Data Analytics and the growth opportunities it offers for medium and large businesses. This unique program can provide a useful bridge between a participant’s knowledge about Big Data and a real-life situation, where they may require specific technical competencies to harness the power of data.”

Dato’ Yasmin noted that this is the first time HBS has conducted a teaching session outside of Boston. Professor Karim elaborates that the learning is not one sided. “This teaching model is experimental. The typical model is for students to come to us; and Harvard has a set model of teaching. However, with this programme, the learning is collaborative. I was really impressed by the interaction during the first intake. But it’s not just about teaching what we know. This is also for our research, so we can study the approach and culture of this region, to understand better about the businesses here.”

Dato’ Vignaesvaran from HRDF expresses his keen support for upskilling Malaysians in BDA, contributing to “economic development and foster business innovation across industries.” He understands that it’s not always possible for SMEs in the region to reserve funding for training purposes.

“SME companies don’t always have the funding for training, so we sponsored 30 companies, fully subsidised, and hope the SMEs learn and have and ‘Aha!’ moment, where they understand what technologies are available out there to solve their problems and support their operations.”

He adds that they will be keeping in touch with all participants to evaluate how successful the programme is, how they are implementing the skills they’ve learnt, as well as looking at how it impacts on the businesses’ daily operations.

Present as well was Sharala from the CADS and is determined to “build the BDA talent pool in Malaysia by bringing world class learning solutions that ensure a consistent and sustainable supply of skilled workforce and that will also help address the talent skills gap in the local ICT sector.”

“We wanted the training to be sector and industry driven, so businesses propose the training needed in each sector and we work with them to create a sector led training community.”

Dato’ Yasmin emphasises that the mind-set of the organisation is very important in a data driven economy. “The most important asset in a company are the talents in data science. C-level executives have to understand the impact of data in their daily operations. This field is newly emerging, and Malaysian companies have to take a leadership role in this, to continue to stay relevant in the marketplace.”