UTM Malaysia Interview

Reading Time: 5 minutes

WahidOmarUniversiti Teknologi Malaysia, or UTM, is one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the country. Inside Investor met newly appointed Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Wahid Bin Omar to hear about the latest developments, future plans and the overall mission of the university.

Q: Can you tell us about your personal and professional background?

A: I’ve been working for UTM for the past 30 years. If you look at our history, UTM used to be a mainstream university focusing on undergraduate studies to provide professional education to meet the needs of the nation’s technical workforce requirements. Until now, the results have been significant as UTM has been the largest provider of technical and professional workforce of the country. I was recruited as a very young lecturer in the civil engineering faculty of UTM, and now many of us trained during that time are leaders of the university. We fully understood the philosophy and principle in which UTM was established when we joined the university, namely to advance scientific and technological excellence in a responsible way for the good of mankind.

My appointment as the Vice-Chancellor came as a surprise when I received a call while I was in London stating that I was to take over the role, which I did on September 1, 2013. Prior to the present appointment, I was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Development from 2011 to 2013 and Director of the Office of Asset and Development from 2008 to 2011, where one of my major tasks was to manage the university’s major development projects with a budget of about one billion ringgit. With my invaluable experience as an academic and administrator of the university, and with strong support from the management team and the UTM community, and the legacy left by our former leaders, I strongly believe I can contribute to the university and steer it to greater heights.

Q: How has the first time as Vice Chancellor been for you?

A: The transition of leadership was very smooth. In certain institutions, the transition can be quite turbulent at times. Dealing with academics can be quite challenging and complex as they are a diverse group. However, when I took office, my aim was not to make radical changes but to consolidate the foundations that we have built on. I plan to make minor adjustments and move forward in our preparation to be Global UTM 2020. So we are now continuing with the long-term agenda of UTM Global Plan 2020 and are currently working on the strategy up to 2014/15.

Q: Is it still part of the strategy to push UTM among the leading global universities?

A: The former Vice Chancellor has been very aggressive in this regard. Of course we are still aiming at this target, but what is most important is to have a shared vision for collaborative roles to move forward. The process of consultation and inclusiveness for consensus and buy-in is crucial. We need to transform through innovative and entrepreneurial ways progressing in a balanced way. Many people want to preserve the old UTM philosophy, spirit and tradition. They are right to maintain that principle as it promotes continuous obligation to advance in noble ways for the good of mankind. But, we cannot remain static or too nostalgic in response to the current global challenge that is becoming more competitive. The university has to move forward. We have to be an international player. We need to be visible as a quality institution that can rise up to the challenge. We have now embarked as a graduate focused research university. Locally, there are many young technical universities which can play the role we used to play in the past in recruiting undergraduate students. With all the facilities, the equipment and the experience we have, we should move forward in more impactful ways beyond conventional paradigms to make a difference.

Q: What are the intermediate targets for 2014/15?

A: In our planning for 2014, we identify the key focus areas of research and publications, student development, financial management and international reputation. We need to measure our achievements in effective ways as this is the only way to make sure we don’t lag behind but to perform better all the time to reach greater heights. There has also been a clear message from the former Vice Chancellor about the culture that we want to form here. Our aim is to get everyone on board to reach the target that has been agreed. That’s the commitment we hope to get from everyone. We need to be aware that education is a very special obligation and responsibility. We reach out to others and create values for them. We need to be driven and reflect on how we are spending our time here. It is my strong belief that a university is a place where we ensure the continuation of civilisation. Some people say that’s a brave statement. But our staff should feel the value they are creating through the contribution they are making to society in this country as well as to international students. A university, in my view, is not just to produce human capital, but to create human beings with values and that can contribute for the good of society. That’s our message and our mission. We want to promote that.

Q: How do you plan to achieve real internationalisation?

A: We aim to make our brand visible to the world. This is a major plan for next year, and for that, we have enhanced our international office with its directors moving around the world and carrying out marketing and networking for UTM. We have already established very good partnerships in areas of mutual interests such as with MIT, Oxford, Imperial College London, Harvard Business School and Cambridge, just to mention a few. For example, the establishment of the Centre for Cardiovascular Engineering initiated by UTM facilitated the partnership between the National Heart Institute with Aachen University, Germany to produce an artificial heart. This global branding strategy with impactful outcomes is good for us.

Q: What is the message, the spirit of UTM? What does it stand for if I was to come here as a student?

A: First of all, what we offer is a unique learning environment and conducive campus experience. The philosophy of UTM is very noble, focusing on excellence in science, technology and engineering and producing competent and responsible individuals in accordance with His will. As such, Muslims and non-Muslims in UTM can live and study together in harmony, discovering things together and learning about shared values. There is no barrier to advance knowledge in science and technology for the good of mankind. Our conducive environment as an eco-tourism campus encourages all kinds of activities amidst our tropical climate such as horse-riding, fishing, canoeing, jungle-trekking and bird-watching, to name a few. All these provide an enriching and stimulating learning environment for our students.

Q: How have demographics changed at UTM in the past?

A: We have students from more 35 countries here at preasent, from all over the world. In the early days, we just had students from the region, like Indonesia, India or Pakistan, but now you can see diverse nationalities on campus consisting of various races, colour and creed.  There are more mature students doing postgraduate studies coming from Europe, Japan, Korea and Africa, making UTM a multi-racial and multi-cultural community.

Do you like this post?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, or UTM, is one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the country. Inside Investor met newly appointed Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Wahid Bin Omar to hear about the latest developments, future plans and the overall mission of the university. Q: Can you tell us about your personal and professional background? A: I’ve been working for UTM for the past 30 years. If you look at our history, UTM used to be a mainstream university focusing on undergraduate studies to provide professional education to meet the needs of the nation’s technical workforce requirements. Until now, the results...

Reading Time: 5 minutes

WahidOmarUniversiti Teknologi Malaysia, or UTM, is one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the country. Inside Investor met newly appointed Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Wahid Bin Omar to hear about the latest developments, future plans and the overall mission of the university.

Q: Can you tell us about your personal and professional background?

A: I’ve been working for UTM for the past 30 years. If you look at our history, UTM used to be a mainstream university focusing on undergraduate studies to provide professional education to meet the needs of the nation’s technical workforce requirements. Until now, the results have been significant as UTM has been the largest provider of technical and professional workforce of the country. I was recruited as a very young lecturer in the civil engineering faculty of UTM, and now many of us trained during that time are leaders of the university. We fully understood the philosophy and principle in which UTM was established when we joined the university, namely to advance scientific and technological excellence in a responsible way for the good of mankind.

My appointment as the Vice-Chancellor came as a surprise when I received a call while I was in London stating that I was to take over the role, which I did on September 1, 2013. Prior to the present appointment, I was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Development from 2011 to 2013 and Director of the Office of Asset and Development from 2008 to 2011, where one of my major tasks was to manage the university’s major development projects with a budget of about one billion ringgit. With my invaluable experience as an academic and administrator of the university, and with strong support from the management team and the UTM community, and the legacy left by our former leaders, I strongly believe I can contribute to the university and steer it to greater heights.

Q: How has the first time as Vice Chancellor been for you?

A: The transition of leadership was very smooth. In certain institutions, the transition can be quite turbulent at times. Dealing with academics can be quite challenging and complex as they are a diverse group. However, when I took office, my aim was not to make radical changes but to consolidate the foundations that we have built on. I plan to make minor adjustments and move forward in our preparation to be Global UTM 2020. So we are now continuing with the long-term agenda of UTM Global Plan 2020 and are currently working on the strategy up to 2014/15.

Q: Is it still part of the strategy to push UTM among the leading global universities?

A: The former Vice Chancellor has been very aggressive in this regard. Of course we are still aiming at this target, but what is most important is to have a shared vision for collaborative roles to move forward. The process of consultation and inclusiveness for consensus and buy-in is crucial. We need to transform through innovative and entrepreneurial ways progressing in a balanced way. Many people want to preserve the old UTM philosophy, spirit and tradition. They are right to maintain that principle as it promotes continuous obligation to advance in noble ways for the good of mankind. But, we cannot remain static or too nostalgic in response to the current global challenge that is becoming more competitive. The university has to move forward. We have to be an international player. We need to be visible as a quality institution that can rise up to the challenge. We have now embarked as a graduate focused research university. Locally, there are many young technical universities which can play the role we used to play in the past in recruiting undergraduate students. With all the facilities, the equipment and the experience we have, we should move forward in more impactful ways beyond conventional paradigms to make a difference.

Q: What are the intermediate targets for 2014/15?

A: In our planning for 2014, we identify the key focus areas of research and publications, student development, financial management and international reputation. We need to measure our achievements in effective ways as this is the only way to make sure we don’t lag behind but to perform better all the time to reach greater heights. There has also been a clear message from the former Vice Chancellor about the culture that we want to form here. Our aim is to get everyone on board to reach the target that has been agreed. That’s the commitment we hope to get from everyone. We need to be aware that education is a very special obligation and responsibility. We reach out to others and create values for them. We need to be driven and reflect on how we are spending our time here. It is my strong belief that a university is a place where we ensure the continuation of civilisation. Some people say that’s a brave statement. But our staff should feel the value they are creating through the contribution they are making to society in this country as well as to international students. A university, in my view, is not just to produce human capital, but to create human beings with values and that can contribute for the good of society. That’s our message and our mission. We want to promote that.

Q: How do you plan to achieve real internationalisation?

A: We aim to make our brand visible to the world. This is a major plan for next year, and for that, we have enhanced our international office with its directors moving around the world and carrying out marketing and networking for UTM. We have already established very good partnerships in areas of mutual interests such as with MIT, Oxford, Imperial College London, Harvard Business School and Cambridge, just to mention a few. For example, the establishment of the Centre for Cardiovascular Engineering initiated by UTM facilitated the partnership between the National Heart Institute with Aachen University, Germany to produce an artificial heart. This global branding strategy with impactful outcomes is good for us.

Q: What is the message, the spirit of UTM? What does it stand for if I was to come here as a student?

A: First of all, what we offer is a unique learning environment and conducive campus experience. The philosophy of UTM is very noble, focusing on excellence in science, technology and engineering and producing competent and responsible individuals in accordance with His will. As such, Muslims and non-Muslims in UTM can live and study together in harmony, discovering things together and learning about shared values. There is no barrier to advance knowledge in science and technology for the good of mankind. Our conducive environment as an eco-tourism campus encourages all kinds of activities amidst our tropical climate such as horse-riding, fishing, canoeing, jungle-trekking and bird-watching, to name a few. All these provide an enriching and stimulating learning environment for our students.

Q: How have demographics changed at UTM in the past?

A: We have students from more 35 countries here at preasent, from all over the world. In the early days, we just had students from the region, like Indonesia, India or Pakistan, but now you can see diverse nationalities on campus consisting of various races, colour and creed.  There are more mature students doing postgraduate studies coming from Europe, Japan, Korea and Africa, making UTM a multi-racial and multi-cultural community.

Do you like this post?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid