Together We Gather: A Convergence of Industry and Academia

Last week, Iconix Talent Network invited officials from the Ministry of Higher Education, university staff, as well as various companies including Mah Sing Group Berhad, Top Glove, Maybank and EP-Tec Malaysia, among several others, for a gathering of industry and academia.

Titled Together We Gather, the event was organised to address and bridge the gaps that have been prevalent between the two different worlds of students and working professionals.

The Guest of Honour, YB Datuk Dr Mary Yap Kain Ching, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Higher Education, opened the ceremony with a speech, highlighting the achievements and progress Malaysia has made internationally with its higher education standards, awards and recognition from countries around the world, in developing itself for the future and what would come with it.

Jane Leong, Mah Sing’s director of group strategy and operations, also addressed the audience on new developments. Jane Leong, Mah Sing’s director of group strategy and operations, also addressed the audience on new developments.

This was followed by a virtual discussion on EP-Tec’s interactive SMART Board, where attendees connected their smartphones to the board and typed in responses to some thought-provoking questions provided, relating to issues involving the two groups. This further cemented the perceptions of futurism and developments that Dr Yap had spoken about earlier.

One of the more interesting efforts in bridging the gap between industry and academia involves the Industrial Driven Grad of the Year Award, a competition of sorts, similar in vein to The Apprentice, with various challenges testing the students in different fields, to assess their strengths and talents. The winner will be offered a position at the respective company. was invited as the Official Job Portal & Media Partner, as their platform for jobseekers and employers was also relevant for the parties present, and provides another avenue for fresh graduates to gain employment.

Lunar New Year festivities were also at hand with yee sang. Lunar New Year festivities were also at hand with yee sang.

“We wanted to hear from the horse’s mouth on issues about achieving graduate employability,” said Lily Chan, co-founder of Iconix Talent Network, on why she conceived the event. “We were wondering why the rate of employability hadn't increased, as we were expecting a huge jump, but the rate slowed more than expected. So we wanted to know what were the challenges faced by industry and academia.”

Chan believes this is a step in the right direction, especially with regular support from the institutions and companies; she trusts that the professors and industry leaders will find it useful for their needs. Mei Ng, senior manager, recruitment at Top Glove and Nurhafizah Jafri, administrative officer at Universiti Malaya, both wholeheartedly agree with Chan.

“It definitely helped, because the expectations from industries don't always reach the academics. This is a very good platform, interacting with these sort of events is good. There's so much she does that I need, and there's so much from us that she can leverage on.” Ng said, referring to Jafri.

While they both recognise it’s not a giant leap in connecting the two, they’re glad that it's a start. Jafri further acknowledges that “Every program must have industry feedback,” highlighting the importance of collaborations between the two spheres, something they lament has been neglected for quite some time. Furthermore, the challenges of the future that Dr Yap mentioned in her opening speech would be better addressed with both industry and academia being informed of how each would tackle these upcoming issues.

As Ng succinctly put it, “Let's go forward and see how fast we can move to plug those gaps.”