IN recent years, organisations have begun focusing more on competencies rather than merely on credentials. Soft skills like strong leadership and innovative problem solving skills have become as sought after as academic excellence, if not more. Therefore, it is worrisome that the rate of unemployment among youths is increasing, not just due to COVID-19 but to a regrettable lack of soft skills. In conjunction with Malaysia’s 63rd Merdeka celebration Merdeka, Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) launched the YSD THRIVE programme, previously known as the Scholarship Development Programme (SDP) with a 3-day hybrid development course which took place from 24th to 26th August.
Every year, YSD awards approximately 400 scholarships and bursaries to deserving students. However, only up to 30 YSD Excellence scholarships are awarded each year to ensure that more attention and focus is dedicated to developing these bright students to become more wholesome and well-rounded individuals.
Beyond strengthening the community by supporting Malaysia’s bright young minds through education, YSD aims to boost the confidence of these young scholars and prepare them for challenges in their careers as future leaders at Sime Darby. The 3-day development course exposed scholars at the pre-university and undergraduate levels to comprehensive modules in goal setting strategies, leadership and team synergy cultivation, productivity enhancement, and personal development planning. All scholars also had access to sharing sessions regarding career development tips with former YSD scholars and Human Resources (HR) teams of Sime Darby companies.
Embodying this year’s Merdeka theme of Malaysia Prihatin, the scholars obtained hands-on experience in engaging with and providing aid to the underprivileged while being involved in environmental conservation efforts. This included a visit to Carey Island for mangrove planting at the Sime Darby Plantation Mangrove Research Centre and an educational visit to the Palm Oil Experience Centre (POEC), among others.
Apart from providing insight into community work and contributing positively to society, these activities deepened the scholars’ understanding of the community and environment so that they can be compassionate leaders. Across the 3 days, the programme saw a participation of 42 attendees, including the scholars, alumni and representatives from Sime Darby.
“During the community work sessions, we saw the scholars of different races engaging with and providing aid to Orang Asli students. This is a beautiful representation of strength in diversity in conjunction with the 63rd Merdeka Day,” said YSD Chief Executive Officer Dr. Yatela Zainal Abidin.
“The new YSD THRIVE Programme offers a more comprehensive learning experience specially designed for YSD Excellence Scholars. It improves our annual scholarship development programme by introducing two new elements that would be available throughout the students’ respective scholarship periods — high-potential mentorship programme with former and current YSD scholars, as well as Sime Darby managers as career mentors; and access to an e-learning platform. The 4 existing elements — tailored soft-skills training, resilient leadership through sharing sessions, industrial internships at Sime Darby companies and volunteering initiatives through YSD Huluran Kasih programme — have also been enhanced to achieve better results,” she added.
Real life stories
The YSD THRIVE programme is tailored for YSD Excellence scholars who pursue their studies locally and abroad. This year, the programme involves 28 students including 12 newly awarded scholarship recipients who will commence their A-Level programme locally in August and undergraduate studies in the UK and China commencing October 2020.
Scholar Wan Hani Syafiqah, 20, who is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree at London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE), shared that the virtual sharing session with Sime Darby Plantation Group Managing Director, Mohamad Helmy Othman Basha has inspired her to optimally perform in life.
“I had difficulties in securing a scholarship even after obtaining 4As for my A-Levels. Therefore, when YSD awarded me the YSD Global Excellence scholarship, I was overjoyed. During the virtual sharing session with Helmy Othman Basha, I learnt that he took on roles that were outside his area of expertise while completing his studies in the UK. From this, I learned that it is important to challenge myself and take on new responsibilities, even when they are out of my area of expertise,” she added.
“As a guy who always dreamt of reaching the stars, I have finally found my path to achieve it. I am very grateful to YSD for giving me such a life-changing opportunity of being part of this innovative company. Over the course of three days, we had the opportunity to familiarise ourselves with the different departments across the Sime Darby companies. It was truly an eye-opening experience learning about so many fields of expertise within one organisation from the HR teams. I am extremely gratified and excited about my future at this top global company,” said Theivanehsan Subramaniam, 19, who is currently in a second year A-Level scholar at Kolej Yayasan UEM (KYUEM).
To date, YSD has awarded 4,460 scholarships and bursaries worth RM289.9 million to young Malaysians, mostly from middle to low income families. The foundation will be formally opening applications for its scholarship and bursary programmes in March 2021. Some of the notable programmes available include the YSD Excellence Scholarship Programme, YSD Bursary Programme for students with disability and those from the B40 families, and YSD Skill Enrichment Programme for vocationally inclined students.