The Shangri-La Hotel in downtown Kuala Lumpur was the prestigious setting for our largest ever gathering of Hull graduates in Malaysia on 27th July 2019. Approximately 120 people gathered to network and socialise with fellow alumni and staff of the university and to hear from an illustrious panel of speakers on a range of key contemporary themes.
There are nearly 2,500 graduates of the University of Hull living in Malaysia and the connection between Malaysian Students and the University of Hull goes right back to the 1957 (the year that Malaysia gained its independence) when the first Malaysian students set foot on campus on Cottingham Road. Since that time, the roots of friendship and exchange have deepened, not just in terms of students from Malaysia attending Hull but also through the establishment of enduring academic partnerships between Hull and institutions in Malaysia.
Following a networking session over drinks, guests were seated to hear our first speaker. Following an introduction from MC Joanne Ng, Professor Phillip Gilmartin, PVC International) welcomed alumni to the event and spoke with great passion and energy about his new role and his vision for the University of Hull as an internationally engaged university.
Next up, Joelle Pang (BBA, 2006), a tech entrepreneur and CEO of Fast Jobs, shared her vision of the future of technology with a particular focus on the intersections between digital transformation and high impact entrepreneurship. Joelle drew attention to her company FastJobs, through which she has successfully connected non-executive casual labour forces to employers through a mobile-first approach. Joelle spoke with great insight and enthusiasm about the potential for technology to promote better social and financial equality, challenging entrepreneurs to “stop chasing unicorns and consider what is that one problem that you would dedicate your life to solve?”
Joelle was followed by Selvendran Katheerayson (MBA, 1996), Investments Director at Khazaneh, the Sovereign Wealth Fund. Selvendran, speaking in a personal capacity (and not on behalf of his employer) drew attention to some of the main economic headwinds that are buffeting Malaysia in the global economy. These included the US/ China trade war, the reassertion of isolationism and protectionism amongst key global players, Brexit in the UK and the destabilizing effect of disruption to shipping in the Straits of Hormuz. Selvendran skillfully dissected each area revealing the pros and cons for Malaysian prosperity. Overall, his presentation served as a warning that we are navigating through a period of chaos and turbulence in the global economy quite unlike any that we have seen before.
Our third and final speaker on the Megatrends theme, Nurini Kassim talked about the benefits to society of technology, whilst also drawing attention to the dangers that lurk at the frontier of technological advancement. Nurini expressed her concern that universal broadband and mobile technology have created a situation where ‘we’re on 24/7, we’re never off.’
As something of a counter-point to the prevailing trend, she drew attention to education and the crucial role that it can play in balancing out – “we teach technological skills, when we should be teaching soft skills.” For Nurini, it is education that will allow society to tread a path between the beneficial and detrimental applications of the same external forces.
Following a lively Q&A session, Dr John Mc Loughlin, Director of Alumni and External Affairs, thanked alumni for their attendance and invited them to toast the success of the university with the traditional recitation of the university’s latin motto Lampada Ferens.
The evening finished with a Chinese buffet and drinks and an opportunity for a group photo session – an opportunity that was enthusiastically taken up by our very proud and committed graduates from across the region.