NSTP Interview with Samantha
1. Name, current occupation, education from OUM (eg which degree/ masters/ phd)
Anas Alam Faizli
Project Management Professional with an international upstream Oil & Gas operator
Graduated in Master of Project Management, 2010
Currently pursuing Doctor of Business Administration also with OUM
- Why did you choose to pursue an education at OUM?
I have always had the passion for exploring fields of study other than that of my first bachelor’s degree. Apart from on-the-job training, my personal reading and the minimal research that I am able to do in my personal capacity, I have always had the motivation to pursue them in a formal, academic way. Unfortunately, the nature of my job involves prolonged periods of assignments to local and overseas on-site locations; from fabrication yards (Teluk Ramunia & Vietnam) to other offshore locations. OUM opened the door for me with its non-compulsory classes, which I find a breather from the mandatory weekday night or weekend classes in most other institutions of higher learning. OUM also offered a course (Masters of Project Management) with which I had the aim to study the theoretical aspects of my daily job, at very reasonable fees.
- How has the Open Distance Learning model of education worked for you?
Having been the building block of an institution like OUM, I find the ODL model extremely useful for its targeted clientele; postgraduate, mature students, and working professionals. With a web-based platform at its operational core, it allows students to access study materials virtually, which is evidently convenient for the previously mentioned studentship. I also get to use this platform to co-interact with my program peers, sometimes proving useful to discuss ideas, perspectives, and more importantly, sharing tips on meeting deadlines!
The ODL model is not without its challenges; students need to have a high degree of discipline having lack of imposed supervision and monitoring that a traditional model offers. OUM mitigates this by providing a study guide, which I find extremely useful for independent study and ensuring the syllabus is caught up with. The study guide is a book that stipulates what you should accomplish generally within the semester, and provides you a guideline on what you should have done within a certain time frame.
- What are your thoughts on the Master’s of Project Management?
The syllabus offered covers exactly what you need to know to be well versed in the project management world. The first semester starts you with the principles of project management and also provides you with a business and management sense, with an organizational behaviour subject. From there, it introduces you the basic project management body of knowledge from the risk, quality, safety, contract management, cost analysis, sustainable construction, and change management perspectives. It also gives you some exposure on international project management.
I was also able to undertake and qualify as a professional certificate of Project Management Professional (PMP) from the internationally recognized Project Management Institute (PMI) after graduation, without having to take any additional course or class.
- What are your thoughts on Open University Malaysia thus far?
I am both satisfied with the quality of the contents and syllabus of my Masters program, the discussions and support from the lecturers, as well as the administrative support in dealing with paperwork and course logistics. All this I find is provided at an affordable cost. I have even chosen to pursue my Doctorate (Doctor of Business Administration) here at OUM, which I am currently undergoing. Not only that, I also find myself advocating OUM and the ODL model to relatives, friends and colleagues.
- Could you give us some examples about how your studies have influenced your work or how you handle professional situations?
As initially intended from an academic degree, I was able to utilize the theoretical concepts introduced to me via the MPM program practically, onto my everyday job in an Oil & Gas projects team. Fact is, I have actually been applying fragments of these project management concepts within the projects that I have personally headed, or staffed in as a member. However, having been introduced to a formal body of project management principles from my MPM program at OUM, I was able to look at my consequent projects with a fresh eye, and able to re-structure my previously fragmented concepts into applicable and well structured course of actions. This of course includes better problem solving and mitigating project bottlenecks.
- What were the benefits that you gained / feel you will gain after completing your studies?
The most important benefit I have gained is the theoretical backing of the Project Management Body of Knowledge that I have experienced in my job, prior to undertaking the program. My previous bachelors degree program, though in computer sciences, was not able to equip me thoroughly in project management and execution skills, especially the theoretical understanding behind the industry practices I have picked up along the way as I work. The course enforced my understanding and has made me able to appreciate the practices more and even helped me to improve these practices, in several occasions.
- What are your thoughts on the future of your field, both locally and internationally?
Project Management has always been practiced in Malaysia, and internationally, but was never in the comprehensive and well-organized manners that we see in the project management office setup today. It is definitely a field that has been evolving and has tremendously revolutionized for the past twenty years. Traditionally, only construction-based companies have a project department but the requirements today have spanned onto other industries like IT, Telecommunication, Manufacturing, and even government departments. I believe the field will continue to prosper to an extent where every company will have its own project management office, or at least, outsource such requirements to external project management specialist and consultants. The field is mushrooming and this fact is substantiated by the increasing intakes that OUM registers for its master of project management course. I know this because I have created an online Facebook group http://www.facebook.com/groups/oum.mpm/ and to date there are already 120 members in the group. The group was established to foster better relationship between all Master of Project Management graduates and students. The group aspiration is for all members to participate in the group activity and produce the best Project Managers and Project Management enthusiasts. On another note, you can see the growing requirement for project management from the ever growing recruitments advertisement for project based positions too.
- As you learn more, what are the drawbacks that you notice within your field in Malaysia?
Previously, project management professionals were hired contractually and staffed on an “as-and-when-required” basis. They are usually external individuals staffed from an array of project-driven departments and disciplines such as contracts, safety, procurement, engineering or even the IT department, or existing members of the staff, who simply pickup parcels and fragments of project management skills along the way. The drawback to this is that some projects tend to become “rooms to learn” and may be prolonged unnecessarily, resulting in resource wastage and ineffectiveness. Today, dedicated project management departments are more commonly found to cover this gap, and this is an organizational trend that is fast in adaptation in Malaysia. Having said that, I believe it will still take time for younger professionals especially set to take on project management, blending in with them the experience of the existing professionals, in order to close this project management gap of knowledge.
- What do you enjoy most about your field?
My passion being in a project management setup is that with different project come different challenges. Every project is unique in its own and there is no perfect solution for all answers. Every problem in the project can have ten answers but only one answer is the most accurate at a time given to the situation and can vary from one project to another. My decision making process skills are being tested everyday and that to me is a very big challenge and I have always welcomed challenges.
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