EXCLUSIVE – Empowering and equipping the cooperative community in Malaysia through education and IT
Tell us about your role as Deputy Director General (Management) at the Co-operative College of Malaysia (CCM).
I’m in charge of the corporate strategy planning, human resources (HR) and also as the Chief Information Officer (CIO), the ICT strategy planning is under my purview. As the CIO, although I am not an IT person (my background is in business and I have a masters degree in public administration), I have to make sure the IT budget is there and the spending is according to what is requested. Besides that, I also look at how to enhance our business and better deliver our services using IT.
Could you give us a background of what CCM does?
CCM is a training institute for the cooperatives in Malaysia. Currently we have about 10,000 cooperatives. Cooperatives are business entities, a group of people getting together and combining resources to run a business. What CCM does is that we train the board of directors on how to run the cooperatives. The cooperatives have their own principles, in this case, seven of them and whoever forms the cooperatives have to follow the principles. One of the principles is education so that is where the CCM comes in, to provide education for the whole cooperative sector. So we train their board, we train their staff and also train their audit committees. So our target group is quite big, the board alone is about 100,000 and about 6 million cooperative members throughout the whole of Malaysia. We train about 30,000 members every year because our campus cannot accommodate that many people.
That’s why we are coming up with IT initiatives so one of the projects we are embarking on now is a video learning management system whereby students can learn from home. So we record videos as in class and then we upload them to our learning management system so students can learn from home. We cannot train everybody because our resources and training campus space is quite limited so that’s how we use IT to reach out to our students. Our students are basically working adults and we are in for lifelong learning process, there is no age limit. The learning programmes range and vary from two days to two weeks and we have a diploma programme as well.
Could you please share with us some of the projects that CCM is working on now?
We have this mobile application initiative whereby students can do their registration and check on the status of their applications, which also helps simplify their application process.
For our training in IT, throughout the year we have lots of programmes, such as how to blog and how to do marketing through using IT. We also have programmes on how to use Google, especially when there are specific tools that Google offers that many people may not know about. There are also programmes on how to do marketing through Facebook and other forms of social media.
The world is moving towards a digital economy. How does CCM help in preparing its students to become more familiar with ICT and applying the relevant skills in their training?
Our college has a centre which conducts IT programmes, the Centre of Information Technology and Communications, they conduct about 40 programmes every year all related to IT. For myself, I am in charge of the IT Department, which is taking care of the infrastructure and systems for the college. The Centre for IT, they do the training.
CCM was placed under several government ministries before and in 2009, placed under the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs (KPDNKK). How closely does CCM work with KPDNKK and does CCM work with other government ministries?
We are one of the agencies under the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs (KPDNKK), so one of the sectors under this ministry is the cooperatives. There is a National Cooperative Policy 2011-2020 whereby a blueprint has been planned out that by 2020, the cooperative sector should contribute RM 50 billion to the GDP. One of the ways to achieve this target is through training and human capital development. That role is being played by the CCM, to look into providing human capital so that is why we train the board of directors and the school leavers.
How long have you been in the current position and what are some of the challenges you face?
As the CIO, about 5 to 6 years. IT is very fast-paced, especially with IoT and the Internet is part of our everyday lives and has changed the way we live. One of the challenges is to make sure that the Internet is up and available at all times, so the infrastructure is quite a challenge. The bandwidth is getting bigger and the second challenge is to take care of security with all the staff using their own gadgets and devices.
The third challenge will be skills, with new technologies such as cloud, how to constantly equip our staff with the latest technologies and to impart them with the skills required. With technology, there will be something new every few months and it is a constant chase to be ahead of the curve. We need to provide the skills required to use tools such as social media as well.
My last challenge will be system integration. Legacy systems are not compatible and difficult to integrate with newer ones.