I was fortunate to be in Penang again, this time to do few things in my capacity as the President of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants. Interestingly, all the events that I attended had to do with "innovation", the catchy word that is gaining more significant in today's world which is full of uncertainty. First, I attended a discussion session with the faculty members of the School of Management at the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). I shared my thought on issues relating to the accountancy profession and what the future would be. The faculty members did not disappoint me as they post me with questions ranging from PCAOB to how a more sustainable business governance could be shaped, by focusing on the heart of people rather than creating more rules. Significant portion of the discussion was also on Islamic Finance, which is gaining popularity and where Malaysia aspire to lead the world.
At the end of the session, as what we normally do in Malaysia, I was handed a souvenir. In line with the institution that I was visiting, I was handed a book. This is where I got excited. It is about what sort of university USM is going to be in the future. USM is considering a number of models such as virtual university, industry lead university, government lead university and a number of other models that would make USM significantly different from where it is now.
Hey! They are also concerned about the future after all and dare to consider models that are totally different from what USM is used to be! It gives me confort that our institution of higher learnings are innovating themsleves. What would be interesting is whether they are allowed to be different, since being different means they may need to be lead by different group of people who perhaps, would be more confortable of being challenged, at least intellectually.
Next, I attended the MIA Business Forum 2007 with the theme "Driving Innovation". The highlight of the conference was round table discussion attended by CEOs of Malaysian and global companies. All of them talked about competitive edge, competing globally and the need to nurture quality human capital. Innovation is not limited to scientific discovery only but covers a wider areas including business process, supply chain management, distribution and a host of other areas. The message is very simple, without innovation there wouldn't be competitive edge. Without competitive edge your business is not going to survive! Period.
The MIA Penang annual dinner was held in the evening. What has got dinner to do with innovation? I noted few things. One was the theme of the dinner, Baba and Nyonya Night. The theme allows people to be innovative in choosing their attire. The dinner hall was also innovatively decorated in such a beautiful way in line with the theme. Second was the violin performance. The lady performer was energatic and dancing around in line with the tune of the songs, no longer a violinist stands still! Well, at least for me, violin performer will never be seen in the traditional light again.
So, over two days, I observed professors, lecturers, CEOs, diners, event managers and performers displayed the concept of innovation. Everybody wanted to achieve differentiation and attain competitive edge. I trust this would be pursued by all Malaysians, so that Malaysia will continue to be a great country for a very long time.