KDU Redefines Entrepreneurship In Cultivating Graduates Of High Value

Dr Brian Wong Kee Mun (centre) with his management team at the School of Business, KDU University College – on the go in developing the niche in Humanistic Entrepreneurialism.

 As the School of Business is developing its niche in Humanistic Entrepreneurialism, this ideology will ultimately form all students in KDU University College into a wholesome persons with a set of qualities that is utmost required by the real world and ultimately benefited the global society. 
With a university-wide ecosystem in doing business, students who are serious about building up their own business upon graduation could incubate their ideas with the help of mentors that KDU set linkages with. 
Moving forward in emphasising the importance of Entrepreneurship in education, the School of Business (SoB) at KDU University College challenges and redefines the right approach to teach the discipline. The School develops its niche in Humanistic Entrepreneurialism, an approach that highlights the importance of self-awareness and self-adjustment in engaging the society and the industry. The idea is not only intent to cultivate superb entrepreneurial traits among business students, but rather in its full readiness to inculcate every student and staff in KDU with the true value of entrepreneurship.

According to Dr Brian Wong Kee Mun, the Head of SoB, this move is initiated by a realisation from a recent census conducted by the School on what it takes to become an entrepreneur. In the first phase of the study with data obtained from the students, academicians, working adults, entrepreneurs within and beyond the country, the researchers sorted out the primary characteristics that portrayed by an effective entrepreneur in the real world are nothing more than ‘Resourcefulness’, ‘Innovativeness’, ‘Enterprising’ and ‘Perseverance’.

“Enterprising is something that we could nurture in the university as long as students are enrolled in business schools while innovativeness requires the openness of faculty members to new ideas and relevant supporting facilities at the university. However, resourcefulness and perseverance are traits that develop internally through the process of self-awareness and self-adjustment based on external stimulation of education and environment,” elaborated Dr Brian when being interviewed on his plan in implementing the ideology of Humanistic Entrepreneurialism throughout KDU.

He revealed that to the researchers’ surprise, the key factors to be an effective entrepreneur are not the conventional or stereotyped thoughts of being passionate about something, let alone depend on the technical skills or business skills. “It is about the self-reflection and self-awareness that counts! That is why we need the approach of Humanistic Entrepreneurialism in educating our students,” he explained. In realising these traits, the researchers found that the definition of “entrepreneur” is relevant not only for those who own business(es) but also employees who are able to think of their employer’s business as if their own business.

Based on the foundation of ‘E3’ concept (which stands for English Proficiency, EQ Development and Entrepreneurship) that KDU once advocated in producing graduates of employability, and also the efforts of incorporating entrepreneurship as a core subject among KDU’s general education subjects (MPU), SoB is now intend to bring this advocacy into the next greater level.

“When we are too wealth-driven, we often forgot about the human side in doing business, hence emphasising on own profitability rather than benefiting the general society. By right, when we are doing business, it has to be society-driven by creating products or services that help to solve an issue in the community living.” stressed Dr Brian and he continued, “We are now trying to shift the silo mindset of solely building entrepreneurial skills to a broader society-driven mindset by creating non-technical skills-set which also includes the traits of resilience, passionate, ownership, risk taking and independence.”

On the way crystallising these ideas, Dr Brian revealed, SoB is currently undergoing the process of curriculum review that involved the lecturers to look into their teaching methodology; reshuffles of assessment mechanism by implementing the extraordinary idea of ‘Rewarding the Failures’ in encouraging innovative and perseverance among students; building an Entrepreneurialism Centre that provides a platform to challenge assumptions, for ideation and to encourage innovativeness; setting up a Simulation Centre in creating an environment for student to have business role-play that mirror the actual entrepreneur ground.   

“Being part of building up a university-wide ecosystem in doing business, we will launch 2 new specialisations named ‘Entrepreneurship’ and ‘Enterprise Risk Management’ under the Bachelor of Business (Hons) programme by this year. Students who are serious about building up their own business upon graduation could incubate their ideas with the help of mentors that SoB set linkages with.”

“By encouraging students to participate in Hatch-Up competition organised by the Student and Alumni Centre (SAC), they are able to win a seed fund of RM10,000 from KDU to do a prototype of their products or services by using ideas which are commercial. For businesses that have high growth potential, we will link them up with the external parties to bid for higher fund values,” continued Dr Brian.

Besides, instead of working for others during their final year internship, undergraduates could actually run their own business as Final Year Project. “When they start to work on their business during this period, they can either rent a space in Co-Labs, a business incubator next to KDU under Paramount Corporation Berhad, or running this particular business as a joint venture with the School! At this point, Co-Labs could also help up in building a network of mentors and coaches.”

Under such an ecosystem, even if the business plan failed, Dr Brian said, “We will reward the failures, as the students have gone through a useful and meaningful learning process. The students shall portray their learning points through reflective writing or report on what they have done best, or what they should improve to be resourceful and make things work.”
According to Dr Brian, in developing business ideas and bring about Humanistic Entrepreneurialism in KDU University College, the School is not limiting the actual implementation to SoB students. “It is actually open to all!” he enthused, “As business set up needs different technical skills such as IT, culinary, design and et cetera, and these could be provided by the School of Computing and Creative Media (SCCM), the School of Engineering (SoE), the School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts (SHTCA) and the School of Communication and Creative Arts (SCCA).”

Business undergraduates from KDU had been praised for their adaptability and versatility in handling ad hoc situation. This had very much proven during their participation in external business simulation competitions where their capabilities surpassed those with higher academic qualifications. With these excellent track records, the Head of SoB is very much confident that the advocacy of Humanistic Entrepreneurialism in KDU will form students into full-grown wholesome persons with a set of self-developed qualities that is utmost required by the real world and ultimately benefited the global society. As Dr Brian concluded, “Perhaps this is the right formula to have graduates who are able to recognise the meaning of their existence, redefine the meaning of employability and recreate the meaning of opportunity that best meet their personal objectives.”