Money, money, money … Love of money is the root of all evil !


Lets not use Money as an all-powerful weapon to buy people

ONE can safely assume that the subject of money would be of interest to almost all and sundry. ABBA, the Swedish group, sang about it. Hong Kong’s canto pop king, Samuel Hui made a killing singing about it. Donna Summers, Pink Floyd, Dire Straits, Rick James and quite a few more, all did their versions of it.

Is money all that matters? The ‘be all and end all’ of life?

This will certainly be a fiercely-debated subject by people from both sides of the divide; the haves and have nots.

Just last week, my 12-year-old asked if the proverb Money is the root of all evil is true. Naturally, like most kids of his generation, he would not have a clue as to how difficult it is for money to come about. Or why, when it does come about, it has the power to make and break a person. To a Gen-Z kid, the concept of having to ‘earn’ money is somewhat alien. Simply because everything he ever needs and beyond is ‘magically’ provided for.

Forget about teaching this generation to earn their keeps, just expecting them to pick up after themselves is a herculean ask. But we are not here to talk about that, instead, is money really the root of all evil? Perhaps, the proper answer would be ‘the love of money is’.

Let’s see what sort of evil comes with this love of money. Top of mind would be corruption, covetousness, cheating, even murder, just to name a few. These, of course, are of the extreme.

What about at the workplace? How does the love of money or rather the lure of money affect the employment market? Let me take on a profession closer to my heart, the advertising industry. Annually, our varsities and colleges churn out thousands of mass communication and advertising grads. Of these, only a handful would venture into the industry. Where have all the others gone?

A quick check with fellow agency heads reveals that many have opted to go into the financial sectors as the starting packages are somehow always miraculously higher than those offered by advertising agencies. A classic case of money at work. For those who have actually joined the ad industry, some get pinched after a while because of a better offer of … money, and more. (As if this is not bad enough, the “pinchers” are often not only from within the industry but are clients!)

The fact is there is absolutely nothing wrong in working towards being the top of one’s profession and getting appropriately remunerated for it. The problem starts when money is used as the all-powerful weapon to ‘buy’ people. Premium ringgit is often paid to acquire many of these hires, some of whom, unfortunately, are still a little wet behind the ears. Paying big bucks for talent is all right, as long as the money commensurate with the ability and experience of the person.

Case in point is if an individual is qualified only as a junior executive with his current employer, should he then be offered the job as a manager and paid twice the last drawn salary? All because some of us are just so short on resources.

Now, hypothetically, if this person was offered the managerial post anyway, would he be able to manage the portfolio and deliver what is expected of him? Would he, for instance, ask what he needs to bring to the table? After all, he has suddenly become the client service director and draws a salary of RM20k a month. Does he actually need to bring more new businesses, or what? We can call ourselves all sorts of fancy titles but the point is we have got to earn it. As they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Having served on the advertising association council for the past nine years and presiding over it the last two, it concerns me greatly to see the how money is affecting and somewhat thinning the line of qualified successors to the present heads.

The lack of new talents coming into the ad business is increasingly worrisome. Though it may look a seemingly distant issue to most clients, they must now take heed. The agencies are business partners and if there is going to be a dearth of talents it will surely affect the clients’ business in the near future. So rather than pinching the rare good ones from the agencies, would it then not be in the clients’ best interest to instead remunerate the agencies so to secure better and higher standards of expertise? Food for thought, eh?

Pardon me for being old school. I am a firm advocate of the saying that one should not chase money. First learn to be at the top of your trade and money will chase you. Then again, we are now dealing with and learning how to manage the present generation. A generation of young, smart, fearless, and somewhat impatient lot who may not be as loyal as their predecessors. A generation that loves life and crave excitement. Adventure is in their blood and ‘conforming’ is a bad word. And money, lots of it, makes the world go faster for them.

As elders, we need to look hard and deep into how to inculcate the right value of money in this new generation. These are our children. They are the future. If we make no attempt to set this right and instead keep on condoning the practice of over-remunerating them, we will be in trouble. The fact that Malaysia will soon have to compete in the free-trade region further allows money to flex its muscles more. I shudder to think what would happen to our young ones if we keep on mollycoddling them with the wrong idea that they ought to be highly paid just for breathing.

Folks, my sincere apologies if I have inadvertently touched some tender nerves but a wake-up call this has to be. For our dear clients, think about the proposition to review your agency’s remunerations – upwards I mean. This, over taking people from the industry, will save you more in the long run.

For those of us in the agencies, let us keep polishing up our skills and not let money be the sole motivator. If you are good, others will take notice. Work hard, the rewards will come. Just exercise some patience.

I leave you with a saying that one Mr Jaspal Singh said to me when I was a rookie advertising sales rep with The Star eons ago: “Man make money, money does NOT make a man”. (Or woman, of course.)

Till the next time, a very Happy Deepavali to all.

God bless!

By Datuk Johnny Mun, who has been an advertising practitioner for over 30 years, is president of the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents. He is also CEO of Krakatua ICOM, a local ad agency.

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“Chinese dream” speaks to the whole world, offers global inspiration


“Chinese dream” speaks to the whole world, offers global inspiration

When President Xi Jinping articulated a vision of prosperity, national rejuvenation and happiness for the people at the UNESCO headquarters in March, he added the best footnote yet to the notion of the “Chinese dream.”

Dream

No other words about China in recent years have captured the world’s attention and imagination as those two have.

The phrase, first mentioned during a speech by Xi two weeks after he was elected general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee in November 2012, has been echoed repeatedly by Chinese leaders and is considered a central mission of the new leadership.

The latest reaffirmation came on Sunday, when Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao called on young people to work for the “Chinese dream” to integrate their personal dreams with the bigger dream of the Chinese nation’s revival.

Although the country might still be years, if not decades, away from living its dream for real, the Chinese dream has provided global inspiration.

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev said in January during a visit to Beijing that he admired China for its great achievement of development and that he believed the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation will benefit the whole world as well as the Chinese people.

Asha-Rose Migiro, a former UN deputy secretary-general, also said last year that the “Chinese dream” resonated with the dream of Africa, as China and Africa can achieve common development through common efforts.

This is no accident and not difficult to understand. For one thing, the Chinese dream does not run contrary to the common aspirations worldwide, but is compatible with them.

Peace, prosperity, happiness and social stability, which are the essence of the Chinese dream, are also the most fundamental components of the shared pursuits of people worldwide.

In that sense, people across the world have all dreamt of the “Chinese dream” in their own way. It is no wonder that foreigners understand the notion upon first hearing it.

The Chinese dream also offers huge potential opportunities for cooperation and mutual benefit for other countries, both economically and politically.

China’s rapid economic growth has produced enormous “bonuses,” not only for the Chinese people, but also for the whole world.

According to figures from the National Statistics Bureau, China has topped the list of contributors to the global economy, with up to 19.2 percent of world economic growth coming from China in 2007, compared to only 2.3 percent in 1978.

China is not only the main engine of global economic growth, but also the defender of regional peace and stability.

Unlike certain troublemakers in the region, China has the resolve to create with Asian countries a peaceful and bright future for East Asia and the rest of the continent.

The realization of the Chinese dream does not entail fracturing the dreams of other countries. On the contrary, it helps them to realize their own dreams of peace and prosperity. – Xinhua

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The mind-set: how the rich get richer, the poor get poorer? You need more money …


The rich may get richer while the poor may get poorer, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It requires a change of mind-set.

Mindset

 

I ONCE overheard someone lament that “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer”, which made me think if indeed that statement is true.

The rich do get richer only because they have sound financial concepts required to stay rich. They focus on their net worth, working on their appreciating rather than depreciating assets.

They know how much is required to keep their lifestyle. They don’t necessarily need to be debt-free because they know what good leveraging can do to enhance their wealth. They employ financial strategies which are contrarian to common ones – taking on investment opportunities when others would stay away and having the purpose driven portfolios.

They consciously inject capital into their portfolios rather than on an ad hoc or timing basis. They know the impact of inflation on their money and insurance coverage because they review their financial life regularly. Their financial data is maintained and accessible anytime they want.

The poor do get poorer only because they continue to adopt a poverty mind-set. They focus on their expenses too much either being overly frugal or overly spendthrift.

Frugality means overprotective of your money which prevents risk-taking while overspending means financial leakages and unnecessary bad debts.

Their financial life has no planning and they have never taken a conscious effort to straighten it out. Their finances are all lumped into a “pot” which is meant to be used for everything.

They do invest but usually due to either lack of knowledge or fear of losing their capital, the amount is too small to be financially significant. Their insurance coverage depletes as medical costs rise, unsure what and for how much they are insured for.

It really doesn’t have to be this way. There is a way to change your financial situation. The first step is to decide to be financially responsible yourself. Acquire the right financial knowledge and make that change. Find a financial buddy to help you get started.

– Financial Snacks by Joyce Chuah, CEO of Success Concepts Life Planners

So you need more money … 

The problem always starts when you owe more than what you can earn, financial experts say.

When it comes to money, Adrienne Wong (not her real name) believes she is a reasonable spender.

An assistant communications manager, Wong, 31, earns about RM8,000 a month, but says her debts take up a sizeable chunk of her monthly income.

The two biggest items in her list, her housing and car loans, amount to about RM3,000.

“My credit card bills usually come up to another RM1,000 plus, so that’s more than half of my salary gone. With utility bills, that’s another RM600. The rest goes into savings, pocket money for my parents and a bit of shopping.

“With property and car prices as high as they are now, it’s no wonder our loan amounts are so big. But what choice do we have?” Wong asks.

Indeed, the rising rate of household debts is a pressing concern – as of March, this year, the Malaysian household debt ratio against the GDP reached an all-time high of 83%.

Last week, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) announced a three-prong approach to curb the rising trend of household debts:

> Maximum tenure of property financing is now fixed at 35 years;

> Maximum tenure of personal loans is fixed at 10 years;

> Prohibition on the offering of pre-approved personal financing products.

BNM Governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz had said that Malaysia currently has the highest household debt to GDP for a developing country in the region. In comparison, Thailand’s household debt ratio stands at 30%, Indonesia at 15.8%, Hong Kong at 58%, Taiwan at 82%, Japan at 75% and Singapore at 67%.

Countries that have higher household debt to GDP are the United States at 91.7%, United Kingdom at 114%, Australia at 113%, New Zealand at 91%, and South Korea at 91%.

RAM Holdings Bhd group chief economist Dr Yeah Kim Leng says BNM’s move is a “prudent one”.

“A financial crisis can always be traced back to excessive borrowing or leveraging, and the problem is that we never know we are in a credit bubble until that bubble bursts.

“The higher this figure is, the more vulnerable the household sector will be to economic shocks, which can come in the form of an economic downturn,” he says.

The concern, he says, is when people owe more than what they can earn, which is not sustainable.

According to BNM figures, the three biggest contributors to Malaysian household debt are the housing, car and personal loans (refer to chart).

Personal loans can be used for a variety of reasons.

Teacher Siti Norsharmi Fateh Mohamad, 28, says she took a RM35,000 personal loan three years ago to fund her wedding.

“We wanted our wedding to be special, with everything done up nicely. It didn’t feel like much then, but now that we have more commitments (a daughter and a housing loan), it’s definitely an additional burden for us.

“On hindsight, we shouldn’t have taken the personal loan … it wasn’t a necessity,” she says.

But personal loans are popular lately and there’s a reason for it.

“Banks aggressively push personal loans because it’s one of the most profitable products for them. Interest rates for personal loans can be anywhere from 3% to 12%,” says a former local bank manager who declined to be named.

Spending trends have also changed, says Dr Yeah.

“Previously, people only spend what they can afford, but practices have changed. Today, many people don’t mind spending money they don’t have.

“Taking a personal loan is not necessarily a bad thing, but it depends on why you’re doing it. Taking a personal loan for education, for example, is fine, because you’re improving your skills … or for medical purposes to enhance one’s health. But to take a loan for conspicuous consumption, or to make speculative ‘investments’… I think that should be discouraged,” he says.

Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK) chief executive officer Koid Swee Lian agrees.

“It is quite common now for people to take personal loans prior to a festivity because they want to buy new furniture, change their curtains, do a bit of renovation.

“Consumers must be discerning and responsible in their borrowings, just as credit providers must be responsible in their lending. Earn before you spend, not spend then earn! Use the debit card and not the credit card if you cannot pay in full each month,” she says.

Before taking a loan, Koid says consumers should ask themselves:

> Do you really need the personal loan?

> Is it for a productive purpose or can you forgo it?

> Can you afford to pay the loan instalments? If the interest rate increases, can you still pay the increased loan instalments?

> If the loan is for a productive purpose, would you generate enough income to repay the loan and leave some income for yourself?

If taking up a personal loan is absolutely necessary, Koid advises potential borrowers to do their homework and compare the different bank rates.

“Go to bankinginfo.com.my where you can make a comparison of all the rates. Don’t take a loan just because it’s offered. Also, understand what you’re signing up for. Find out whether the bank is charging you a flat rate, a reducing rate or a floating rate,” she says.

Koid gives an example of a loan with these terms – a RM10,000 loan to be paid over five years at 4% interest rate per annum.

“A flat rate of 4% for a five years may not sound like a lot, but what it actually means is that you’re essentially paying 20% interest for the five-year loan. The amount of interest you pay doesn’t change regardless of how much you’ve repaid,” she says.

“Compare this to a reducing rate. If you’ve paid RM1,000, that means the interest should only be on the remaining RM9,000.”

Those who have trouble managing their cashflow can also seek help at AKPK or call its toll-free line at 1800-88-2575.

“People who have a debt problem often feel very embarrassed, but I think they need to be realistic. You’re in that situation, you have to solve it. Come to us, we will do our best to help you,” Koid says.

Doing good well – there’s greater impact in helping through informed giving


Doing good wellTWO weeks ago, I was on a flight back from Singapore. One of the newspapers had a poignant picture of a young boy in tears. I could practically feel him staring at me.

He had been rescued from a saree embroidery factory in Kathmandu. Child labour in the Kathmandu Valley is extensive and there are up to 80 such factories which employ more than 500 children, mostly below the age of 14, to make those sarees. And the sad part of the story is that many do not want to be rescued.

The Kathmandu operation was timed to coincide with World Against Child Labour Day which was on June 12. According to the International Labour Organisation, hundreds of millions of girls and boys throughout the world are involved in work that deprives them from receiving adequate education, health, leisure and basic freedoms.

More than half of these children are exposed to abuse because they work in hazardous environments where slavery, forced labour, illicit activities such as drug trafficking and prostitution, and armed conflict are common.

The plight of these children weighed heavy on my mind on this short flight back.

The following week, I was on the road listening to the radio and I learnt that World Refugees Day was on June 20. It is estimated that more than 45 million people worldwide have fled their homes due to conflict, persecution and other abuses.

In Malaysia, there are over 100,000 registered refugees in Kuala Lumpur alone, and one can imagine the actual figures nationwide, especially those not registered.

In looking at the two big issues here, we may wonder what we can do to make a difference in the lives of so many people.

Certainly there are many communities who will benefit from our giving and volunteer efforts – the aged, homeless, abused children and women, addicts, the poor,disabled, orphans, victims of human trafficking, etc to name a few. Then there are the sporadic needs in times of natural disasters.

And this is where the work of NGOs is significant. Many NGOs come about in response to a specific need and are small and limited in their operations. But there are an estimated 20,000 NGOs that operate globally because the causes they fight for transcend national borders.

And for the work they do, they need support. Some of these NGOs have a strong global presence and are able to draw funds and resources from many sources.

An executive from a large company once asked me what worthwhile organisation or group his company can contribute to.

I pointed them to a community in need of help for social change. They are children in estates who need assistance to enable them to stay in school. I told him that it would be better for him to visit the community in a somewhat remote area and understand their situation and needs.

The legwork proved to be a deterrent and so the company chose a children’s home in the Klang Valley instead. It was easier to arrange and provided ample photo opportunities for the company’s magazine.

There are many us who are willing to give and contribute. However, our giving can go further when it is done right.

For a start, we should go beyond being compassionate and generous, and instead be prepared to do due diligence to determine the deserving causes. This is called “informed giving” and it requires us to hold the organisation accountable so that the funds given are effectively used. It is not just giving, but following up for accountability and performance.

Sometimes it might be better to channel the funds raised to a reputable foundation to be administered instead of making the contributions direct. When I made this suggestion at a recent fundraising discussion, it was met with some laughter. Why would you give money to another organisation which already has so much money?

I know of trustees in a charitable foundation who diligently visit the communities they support. They want to see for themselves how the money is spent, whether the classroom has been built, and how the children who received financial aid were doing.

Just as the executive could not find the time to check out the community I recommended, many of us also do not have the time to do follow-up and accountability.

So we should consider those organisations which take the work of giving seriously. They are the ones that are managed professionally, with full transparency and accountability.

Companies and individuals can partner with such organisations which are more efficient and have a proven track record in helping others.

This is the reason why Warren Buffett gives such generous amounts to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to pass on to the right people. Buffet knows that he should just continue to do what he does best, which is to make a lot of money, rather than rolling up his sleeves to manage the giving directly.

There are many practices in companies which can be applied to social work to transform lives.

Like businesses, charitable organisations need the best leaders and people to execute the programmes.

Many of the issues faced are complex. We need to understand the issues and provide insights on the right solutions to address the root causes of the problems.

Which is why simply doing good is not enough. We need to move to “doing good well”.

TAKE ON CHANGE By JOAN HOI

Joan is inspired and influenced by the book, Doing Good Well. What does (and does not) make sense in the non-profit world by Willie Cheng.

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 About Doing Good Well 

 The way we see the world can change the world. In this book, Willie Cheng frames and explains the nonprofit world while providing fresh insights as to where and why it works – or not.
He covers a spectrum of nonprofit paradigms including:
The structure of the marketplace – challenging whether a “marketplace” truly exists.
Concepts of nonprofit management – disputing why charities must follow corporate mantras of growth and reserves accumulation.
Philanthropy and volunteerism – questioning the motivations of givers.
New social models of social enterprises, social entrepreneurship and venture philanthropy – seeking to explain why these may not have worked as intended.
Nonprofit quirks – showing how the rules can result in the extension of the rich/poor divide into the charity world and make fundraising inefficient through an efficiency ratio.
In describing his ideas through an easy writing style and hearty anecdotes, Cheng engages and provokes the reader with a strategic review of the status quo as well as the enormous potential in the nonprofit world. After all, as Cheng describes it, charity is no longer simply about “Just Doing Good” but “Doing Good Well.”

Success is a state of being


successVERY often the benchmark of ­success is wealth. Everyone is judged by the external signs of wealth.

People pass ­disparaging remarks about those who are doing service or providing for others but are not wealthy and do not display the signs of wealth.

If people identify more with their external conditions or roles, they will inevitably feel inferior or superior to others and so lack self respect.

The ways in which society works often blinds an ­individual from realising his/her own ­self-worth. For example, society sometimes gives ­acknowledge-ment only to those who are wealthy or occupy a position of authority. In reality, every individual has the right to know that worth is inherent in every human ­being.

Self worth can help ­individuals avoid feelings of inferiority or superiority. The middle path is a dignified way of life.

Success is not a material thing. It is a state of being. We might call it contentment, ­happiness or even peace.

How do you define success? It is the completion of a task, another job well done, an exam passed, a promise kept, or a mountain climbed.

Whatever we believe success to be will have a profound ­influence on our lives.


Bridget Menezes is the author of Self-Empowerment and Spiritual Counsellor. Readers can email her at lifestyle.bridget@thesundaily.com.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way


Hope THERE have been calls for the Government to allow the use of English as a medium of instruction in schools again. As there are Chinese and Tamil primary schools alongside national schools, Malaysians should have the freedom for another option. Presently, English as a medium of instruction is already available but only in private and international schools. Only a small percentage of Malaysians can afford to go to such schools.

I HAD my early education at a Chinese primary school in Bidor, Perak. Upon completing my Standard Six examination in the school, I moved on to the Government English Secondary School in Tapah, where I completed a year of Remove Class before going on to Form One.

I had my upper secondary education at Ipoh’s St Michael’s Institution (SMK St Michael Ipoh) and then pursued my tertiary studies at Universiti Sains Malaysia and later at Universiti Malaya.

I taught Mathematics and Physics in secondary schools for many years before being promoted to school prinicpal. I have now retired

Since I was in a Chinese school during my primary school years, I wasn’t at all good in the English language.

However, in Remove Class, I knew that I had to brush up on the language if I were to move up and do well in my studies.

To improve my English, one of the first things I did as a teen, was to keep a diary to record the daily happenings in my life.

My daily jottings also included my thoughts on events and activities both at school and at home.

We used to live in a shophouse. My father used its front portion to run his his Chinese medicine shop. There was a counter from where he conducted his business and surrounding it, were shelves of medicine that we referred to as the “medicine house” in Chinese.

We also had a “money room” but contrary to what most people might think, we did not stash bundles of cash and coins there. In fact, it was a cubicle at the back of our shophouse where my father would count the day’s takings, keep his books and carry out some administrative tasks.

Looking back, learning English has been a long and arduous journey for me — I often mixed up my tenses, misspelt words and even used the wrong words when I wrote and spoke; in fact, in many instances, I would directly translate from Chinese to English!

I cannot help but be amused by what I wrote then — thinking in good Chinese and writing in bad English! It seemed like a comedy of errors.

The image on the right is a page from my diary when I was in Remove Class. It was a Thursday, the 11th day of the first month in 1962. It reads as follows:

The Chinese New Year come nearly. To-day my mother asked us to clean the house. It was a hard work, because we must wash the ground, clean the kitten, door, bedroom, sitting place and money room. We started the work at 10.00am. First we clean the door, than the money room, medicine house, kitten, bed room. We washed the ground. 

All my brothers and sister were worked very hard. At about 2.00pm, we stoped our work and ate something. Then we continued our work. Everybody work with hard and happly. At about 4.30pm we have finished our work. To-day, we all felt very happly.

From the diary jottings above, it is obvious that my English then was “below average”.

However, my reason for attaching this page from my diary, is to urge English language learners not to be discouraged. It is through sheer perseverance that I overcame the challenges before me.

I was passionate about learning English and as the saying goes: Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

By LIONG KAM CHONG, Seremban, Negri Sembilan, The Star

High salary and high performance require book smart and street smart!


high_performance_model
Heera: ‘Qualifications bring credibility to the job’. Heera: ‘Qualifications bring credibility to the job’.

WHEN it comes to hiring suitable talents, it would be ideal to have a potential employee with the relevant qualifications as well as one that has practical experience.

But what if there was just one vacancy available – and the organisation had to choose between the two candidates? In a hypothetical situation between a candidate that’s “book smart” (has the relevant qualifications) and one that’s “street smart” (has the practical experience), who would be the more likely choice?

More importantly, is a high-paying job unattainable for those without formal education? Or is there still a chance for a candidate that does not have that oh-so-important diploma or degree?

The book smart candidate

Heera Training and Management Consultancy principal consultant Heera Singh believes a candidate with the relevant qualifications would generally be “technically competent” in that job.

“It certainly brings credibility to the job. For example, if someone has a Masters in Human Resources (HR) Management, then the qualification enhances his credibility,” he tells StarBizWeek.

“It also assists greatly in the recruitment and selection of employees. For example, if a job is advertised and does not specify technical qualifications, but only states practical experience required, then every Tom, Dick and Harry will apply and this will ensure lots of extra work for the HR department,” Heera says.

Leaderonomics finance and human resources leader Ang Hui Ming concurs that having the right qualifications adds more credibility to an individual seeking employment – at least on paper.

“Generally, the employee might probably have a wider knowledge-base theoretically of the function he is hired for and has some form of certification of his ability to understand at least the basic concepts of the function,” she says.

However, it has often been said that what one learns in theory can be quite different in practice.

Heera believes that the “book smart” candidate, though technically qualified, still lacks experience – an important element that may be vital in certain jobs.

Ang: ‘Being technically qualified doesn’t mean they can do the jobs well’. Ang: ‘Being technically qualified doesn’t mean they can do the jobs well’.

“Being technically qualified does not mean that they can do the jobs well. They may be more academically inclined rather than hands-on.

“They may be technically qualified but may not like the job. Many people, for example, go to university and do courses that their parents want them to do, or courses which their friends are doing. All they want to do is to get their qualifications.”

Ang, meanwhile, feels that not having the relevant experience is not a big deal – as it is something that can be acquired over time.

“There is no real disadvantage, experience is to meant to be built anyway.

“At most, it’s the lack of reality. If a person is all academic, it is uncertain how he or she will handle real life situations where the theories they learn needs to be adapted to the situation, environment and culture of any given place and time.”

The street-smart candidate

The advantage of hiring an employee with experience means that they can do the job straight away with minimal disruptions, says Heera.

“There is minimum need for any job orientation and at interviews, you can ascertain the type of practical experience they have and see if it suits or meets your job expectations.”

Ang concurs: “Generally, the employee might have deeper expertise in the function and would have experienced real-life situations in the function. This makes the person more adaptable and adept to handle similar natured situations more wisely and calmly.”

“The type of experience is important. If they have the wrong type of experience, then it is of no use to the company. For example, if a person has worked in a HR capacity in a government department, then his experience may not necessarily gel with what is wanted in the HR department in the private sector.

“Experience can be a bad teacher as it is always difficult to mould a person who has the experience but has picked up some bad habits along the way.”

Ang feels there’s no real disadvantage to hiring someone that has no paper qualifications but is oozing with experience.

“At most, probably a possible lack of what’s new in the market, or what’s happening on a global scale or what new technology is out there that can better equip him or her in the function.

“This is only an assumption as people that are hands-on can still learn market trends and future technology if they read up and do research on their own. There is just no paper qualification – that’s all.”

Does it really matter?

According to an article on online investment site Investopedia, “Is It Better To Be Book Smart Or Street Smart,” its author, Tim Parker, points out that one does not need to have the relevant paper qualifications to be truly successful.

“Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, is widely regarded as one of the best businessmen of his day. He didn’t have a college degree and neither did Steve Wozniak, the other founder of Apple.

“Other successful businessmen without college degrees include Dell Computer founder Michael Dell, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Virgin Brands founder Sir Richard Branson. People all over the world have found success without a college degree,” he writes.

But is that the rule or the exception, he then asks.

“Unemployment data shows that more than 8% of the population looking for a job (in the US) can’t find one.

However, for those with a bachelor’s degree, the unemployment rate is only 3.9%. The unemployment rate is 13% for people without a high school diploma.

“A college degree doesn’t guarantee success, but Bureau of Labour Statistics unemployment statistics show book smarts more than double your chances of finding a job.”

Of course, having an employee with both the relevant paper qualifications and practical experience would be the optimum choice, naturally.

“This would definitely be an ideal combination,” says Heera.

Ang says having both qualities would indeed be a plus point, adding however that having both relevant qualification and practical experience does not make one a best employee.

“It’s a person’s character, values and attitude that makes him or her a good employee. Qualifications and experience are all things that can be accumulated as long as one has the right attitude and desire.”

By EUGENE MAHALINGAM eugenicz@thestar.com.my
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