Thursday, September 29, 2016

Long day

Yesterday was pretty much the longest day in Glasgow. Had lectures from 9 to 11 am, and then headed to the internship hub briefing after lunch. I am pretty much writing cover letters and updating my CV in a slim hope of securing an internship next summer-winter. I am spending more time looking for a job/internship then on my studies right now. 
But I should move into study mode pretty soon.
The MSc. here has got 2 hours lecture per subject. We are expected to self-learn and study. Some subjects are 100% assignment, whilst there is a subject with 100% final exam!!!
By fate, E and myself bumped into the only Malaysian supermarket at Cambridge street near Cowcadden Subway. The owner, Mr. L had invited me to be a spectator at their badminton game at the Scottish Badminton Academy. My perception is that, their skills are above average. (They all sounded so)
Had a pleasant introduction to Microsoft Project from 2.30 to 4pm. We were in the dark all these while at Tuas.
Took the Subway to at Hillhead.
I reached Cowcadden really early, and had my first western meal - chicken burger, at Oxford Restaurant. To dine in, it cost 4.70 pounds. To take away, it's 4 pounds. With the wind chill outside, and about an hour to spare, I chose the dine in. When I saw the portion, I was in remorse and regret. A plain burger, with lots of (fattening) fries. 
Never again. 
Should had went to Subway.
Arriving at 6, I was practically invited to go walk around until 6.45. At least my heavy bag of shoes was allowed to stay back in the shop.
I walked around Sauchiehall Road aimlessly. Well at least I found a 5 pound swimming trunk at SportsDirect. Didn't buy though, as I wasn't sure how many days I'd head to the pool.

Once I saw the group play, I knew, there wey below the Singapore Bukit Batok Wednesday group. Always under promise, and over deliver, as told by Dr. Smart during Operations Management this morning.
I had also a familiar advice - being told that I am distracting their play, as I was jogging around the hall. This apparently distract play. It's a similar told-off I had in Singapore, while hitting the shuttle against the wall. 
Seriously.

But the real surprise was on the way back. The game ended at 9, and a player gave me and Tommy a lift. Tommy is a Thai chef who stays near my uni. We were dropped at the edge of Byres Road, which was about 10 min walk to Tommy's.
It was 45 min walk to Winton Drive. I couldn't believe I walked 45 minutes home after badminton. I used to lament that I walk a lot in Singapore. After badminton, I had to take MRT, and walk 5 minutes to my place. Scotland beats that now. 45 minutes walk, carrying my bag, after a long day.
If I had a car, I would never let someone walk home, at night. The weather had mercy on me. If it's a yellow warning Scottish rain, I'd be going thru physical training.
Maybe the culture here is to be more independent. Or, it's just self-centered-ness. Or, maybe I am a guy.
Mr. L "officially" invited my to come next week, after the session. I shall consider.
The 2-hour badminton is manageable. The walking and risk of getting caught in a night storm is more of a concern. I could make do with the Drop-ins at Stevenson's.

By the way, the campus is magnificent 


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Managing Change

As an engineer for the past decade, I had worked under numerous bosses.
They always say that good managers surround themselves with people smarter and better than them. But is this the reality? Do managers teach and share all they have with their subordinates? What about keeping their position and competitive edge against their peers.
In my short career in the field. I have met ultra-defensive folks who don’t even want to reply emails, in fear of becoming proof of record.
Today’s class of Managing Change was eventful. I caught Prof. Robbie after the lecture, and learned some great insights from me:
-          A manager should teach and share, and build a good team. If you have 2 engineers, the less skilled one will most probably be promoted, as no one wants to let your best engineer go. The solution, if you are caught in this position, is to LEAVE. (I couldn’t believe this term at first)
-          There are 2 ways around maintain your position as a manager. The first is to be really self-centered, sacrifice development of your guys, and keep all your knowledge. The second way around, is to employ people with skills you lack, as to complement your team. You all can grow together.
Change, is to create value.
What if you are a young engineer, being freezed out, and finding it hard to progress? The key is to identify the weak links and required skills in the organization, and develop it, so you could play a more prominent role. If you work in a power station, your basic job description is engineering, and you are rightly paid to do so. Being more resilient and hard working will not earn you an advancement, because that is what you are ’expected’ to do.
I think the professor just solved a puzzle in my head!

Became an interpreter for China-Britain Business Council's (CBBC) SME Forum yesterday at Celtic Park. It was a nice experience translating between Chinese and English, but challenging, especially on technical terms. Luckily, my past work experience did use quite some technical Chinese.

I think I made the right decision to venture out into the unknown

Ps: Before even starting revision, I am busy refining my CV and Cover Letter, in search for an internship in the UK next summer. And it's really not easy competing with the rest out there.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Days in Glasgow

So it's true. No, this is not a dream. I am sure that I felt my stomach grumble after I ate the tuna cheese sandwich I prepared for lunch.
Drinking tap water long term may not be something sustainable?
My streaming of FlyFm, for the first time isn't stable for some reasons. Switched to Singapore's Yes 93.3, the songs are fitting for 4am at +8 GMT. All the emotional and love songs.
Maybe in 2 hours, I may hear Majulah Singapura?

~~~

I spent an eventful week at home after coming back from Sydney.
Last Saturday, mom and dad both woke up early to send me off at Changi. We reached Changi at around 7.00am, leaving my house to my sister's waving smile at 5.15am.

Outside departure gate at T2
It was the first time I flew Emirates. Besides the slow service of drinks, everything was over my expectations.

Transit in Dubai
Live EPL in-flight - Glad that Man City beat Man Utd
Landed for sunset in Glasgow

I took no time to settle in. Maybe it's because I was here backpacking aimlessly 3 years ago. I am glad I fully utilised my 40kg luggage by Emirates. Made many new friends too.

Shopping spree
Pretty much settled in
A life saver
Thank goodness for the ikan bilis, chilly (sambal) paste, and packets of teh tarik/milo. I am pretty much equipped as a Malaysian. My friends who flew BA only had 23kg. The physical workout from the bus stop to the room was worth every strained muscle.
My place for the next 12 months - 24 Winton Drive
~~~

So, today was the first day of class. Actually, only 2 hours of lecture.
This semester, I will spend my days at Adam Smith Business School, taking management modules. From January 2017, I will be taking electrical power subjects (can't wait for it!!!).

And today's weather was marvelous 
And it feels like Harry Potter is nearby
~~~

No, never in my dreams I would be getting a Tier 4 Student Visa, and being sponsored to study in the UK. UK was too far away. Most students here have to pay (or rather their parents have to pay) every penny for everything. A full set of laundry costs GBP 3.50. The students in London pay even more. The hostel in London is twice the price outside London, which is crazy. I thank dad, who told us that he would only support our studies in Malaysia, and that if we want to go further, we will have to work it out. I never forget this.

Many people asked me how did I get the Chevening Scholarship. Only 5% of total applicants got it. The truth is, I didn't expect to get it. I was happily working in Singapore, earning the superior Singaporean dollars and spending it in Malaysia.

I admit that I always wanted go abroad, be it student exchange, or even to an extent, work and travel.
But I never had the chance. Post-graduation, I served my 5-year bond with Genting Sanyen. After that, I moved to Singapore for a year. And, I was going to be 30 pretty soon. How many years could I still dream of going on an adventure abroad?

Chevening was basically going to be the last (of many) scholarships I applied. I remember seeing the newsletter from www,scholarship-position.com while I was still working in KL in August 2015.

For this scholarship, I did my homework. I looked thru the database of past recipients, the subjects they studied, the university they went. I got the most prominent people I know (or rather, who know me) to be my referee.

All these while, I did what I thought was meaningful to society, for a better world. I was not contented to work day-in day-out in a power plant. I was always interested to learn new things and meet new people. I took part time studies, which inevitable broaden my world view, and knowledge. My involvement with The IET was vital. In fact, one week before the interview at the High Commission, I was in London for a meeting. How many people could stay with an organization for a decade? In retrospect, the panel could tell that my voluntary work with The IET was sincere, and that I am genuinely passionate with science, engineering and technology.

My cause of interest was renewable energy and energy efficiency.

It was then, that I realised the power of voluntarism. Prof. Dr. Vigna was right. Becoming Chairman of YPS Malaysia was something valuable.

I think I have been really fortunate in meeting the people that I've met throughout my life.

All the way.


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Signs of an Ailing Organization

The global economy is heading south. The Oil & Gas industry, once the mecca of engineering graduates, is still underwater. Many people, at least in Singapore, are out of jobs. It is an understatement that many companies, even conglomerates are facing turbulent times.
There are a few exceptions though. Nintendo, with the new Pokemon-Go craze, is the latest software-technology company racking in millions, while the usual suspects of Facebook, Google and Amazon can’t stop the cash from coming in.
Coming nearer to home, Malaysia and Singapore will build a High-speed Rail that connects Singapore and KL. It should be exciting times for the rail industry. The new MRT system in KL has also received great response.
Being in organizations, be it job-related, NGOs, or charity organizations with a noble cause, I have observed characteristics and trends of strong and less strong organizations. Super big organizations, like Nokia, and Yahoo have showed that being wiped out from your core business is always possible.
The discussions below will focus only on large organizations, and employees/members of more than 150.
So, what are the signs of an ailing organization?
Financially weak / uncertain business outlook
Suppose that an organization is grasping for funds, or the balance sheet is not rosy, for the past couple of years, even the right initiatives done seem wrong.  I think I finally agree with the notion that, business and finance people are the best fits for the top posts, or rather, most ruthless when they go all out to tidy up the accounts.
Take TNB for an example. TNB has been enjoying great growth after CK, the CEO with Accountancy background, left. The cost cutting measures and austerity plans he introduced earned him a bad name, among the thousands of employees. But, it ensured that the GLC had a sound financial health, and had a strong cash reserve.
Outdated business strategy / operation model
Needless to say. If the strategy is just mere cost cutting, or retrenchment, quite obvious isn’t it? I am aware that organizations are going into arrangement of unpaid leaves, which is fine. The top management should always get the message around transparently and clearly.
A top management that micro-manages
When someone from the top zooms in on daily routines, something isn’t right.
Lack of motivational leaders. Full of managers.
Managers manage, leaders motivates the team. You may be wary of your manager, but you would follow your leader thru thick and thin.
A work culture that stops progressing. People are more interested to protect their rice bowls / to pass time
No one dares to move.
Poor succession planning
No one is there to take over. I still believe that no one is irreplaceable in an organization. It’s just that, those who are left behind will go thru a torrid time.

~~~

So, my 1-year stint in Singapore came to an end yesterday, on Malaysia’s Independence Day. It had been a superb year. I am much more confident in Electrical Maintenance. It’s a shame I couldn’t stay longer, as another year or two would be perfect as an engineer.
Walking between and Singapore and Malaysia was interesting
In the same time, we all knew staying was unattainable. This just show how a ship to capsize with the wrong captain.
@Raffles Marina in my over-all
I will leave for Glasgow on the 10th of September. A brand new adventure. Never in my dreams that I would be studying overseas. I will be pursuing Masters in Electronics & Electrical Engineering with Management at University of Glasgow, under a Chevening Scholarship.
Chevening Scholarship is open for registration till the end of November. Do go to http://www.chevening.org/ and apply. Last year this time, while still in KL looking for my next move, I applied for the scholarship, and now, I am on my way to The UK in 9 days.
With British High Commissioner V. Treadall at the BHC Residence at Jalan Langgak Golf, KL
Life’s been unpredictable.  
I have a mission, to graduate with flying colours, and to do my country proud. It’s be the best National Day present to Malaysia next year – 60 years of independence. There are many issues in Malaysia, but we as citizen, should act and fix it, rather than sitting still and complain. 
~~~
Spent last weekend in Sydney. It was IET PATW Asia Pacific Finals, and my last CC-AP meeting. It's been a great 3 years with CC-AP. Joining The IET (www.theiet.org) has been one of the best decisions in my life. 
PATW has come a long way, since the days I competed in Hong Kong, in 2007. It's the showcase event of IET globally.
Congrats to everyone.
Had a semi-vacation at Coogee Beach
YPS Malaysia team
Opera House
If you ask me where I am heading in life, I honestly couldn't tell.
But within 2 weeks, I will be in Singapore, Sydney, and then Scotland.

Staying positive is key

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

10th August

So Singapore turned 51 yesterday. Coming to Singapore may be one of the best decisions I’ve made. It’s really an upgrade in terms of my career, i.e. moving from a 720MW to a 2670MW power station. Also, it was an eye opener to different (yet similar) work cultures, along multi-national colleagues. Some interesting personalities and characters round up my experience.
Singapore is clean, efficient, and well-respected worldwide. Being associated with this country builds confidence and trust.
But, as a Malaysian, my long term future lies in my home country. Though the country isn’t in the best shape, and with the descending international standing and reputation, it’s not easy to find a reason to return home. We must remember, that we grew up as Malaysians. It is so easy to complain and lament about the education standard nowadays, or the crime rate in KL. But once upon a time, our teachers, or seniors made sure that we received good education, and thus we stand a chance to be successful today. Without the Malaysian education, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Now, after we’ve grown up (yes, I’ll be 30 next year), it’s our responsibility to serve and contribute back to society. It’s easy to give up and just abandon the country.
I canceled my leave last Monday in order to improve my leave records. After much considerations, I applied for a Tier 4 Visa Appointment on 10th August (this morning), at 8.45am. Another calculated risk, knowing that I have yet to collect the Final Award Letter.
Yesterday, I left home at 6.30pm for BHC in Ampang Park. Reached the impressive TBS at around 11, and took a cab to Ampang Park. The cab driver was had a stereotype on (young Malaysian) Chinese passengers, as being respectful and rude. Well, I did my best to convince him otherwise, and even apologized on their behalf. I rounded off the taxi fare and gave him a tip. Man, the standard of KL taxis has got really a lot of room to improve. The long awaited FAL was yet to be posted after being signed a week ago.
Had a nice ramen with an old friend at Pavillion. The chemistry was still there, and we could talked and discuss subjects, life and current issues without boundaries.
I was back at TBS to take the 5pm bus to Larkin. It was my first time departing from TBS, and I have to say a big Kudos to TBS for being really efficient and clean. As compared to the days of Pudu Raya, TBS is like a Benz to a Proton. No ticket touts, pleasant, with helpful ground staffs, TBS is really a classy act.
I sat inside the bus and watched the sky turn dark. Hooking up my IPod with songs from yesteryears, looking out of the bus window onto the ongoing zooming car headlamps,  I thought back of my journey thus far. I am fortunate to be where I am today.
I shall be someone useful to society, and make this world a better place.
It seems pretty much certain that I’ll be in Glasgow on the second week on September.
I secretly apply some mild pressure to be the top 5% of the class. It is my duty, as a Chevening Scholar from Malaysia, to show that Malaysia's got the talents and people that could perform and achieve.

PS: Will be meeting the British High Commissioner in KL on 25th, and traveling to Sydney the same night, till 29th. Coogee beach swim during winter anyone?