● By Charisma Rossilia
Being the national connectivity and digital infrastructure provider as well as Malaysia’s leading integrated telco, Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM) makes the call of duty to ensure its pipeline of digital talent is fully equipped with the necessary aptitude and attitude. Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) Sarinah Abu Bakar shares more about it.
How is TM supporting the nation in developing talent for the future workforce?
Telekom Malaysia aspires to be the enabler of a Digital Malaysia. We are responsible for nurturing talent for the country. We provide scholarships to Malaysia’s best students to enter local and overseas universities. TM has spent more than RM600 million on scholarships since 1994.
We also cater to the more needing group of students, providing financial support to B40 students. Not only that, we have a STEM programme that encourages knowledge on science and technology, engineering and math to students, and we also have a programme that encourages women in engineering.
For graduates looking for a job, TM has a programme called ELIT. This is the second year of us doing this programme, and we are very proud of it. ELIT is an eight-month training programme that provides graduates with knowledge on technology know-how and soft skills training to increase their marketability. Towards the end of the programme, we aim to get all the trainees ready for the job market.
In your opinion, what are the in-demand skills hiring managers look for in candidates?
As we know, technology evolves very fast and the rate of change is rapid. The skill sets that you have today can be diluted over time. In TM, we spend a lot of time upskilling our employees.
We don’t only pay attention to the skill sets that candidates have but also their learning agility. The aptitude of learning is key. Technology literacy is very important too. You have to know the technology you want to be in. Besides that, digital literacy is crucial in this evolving industry. Having a basic understanding of Cloud, AI and computer science will definitely be beneficial for you.
People nowadays say that soft skill is the new hard skill. Having the ability to speak clearly and to put your thoughts into words is important. Other crucial skills are critical thinking and problem solving, having the ability to analyse a situation, data and issue, synthesising it and breaking down the issues based on your own understanding.
Last but not least, collaborative skills. Being able to work with people is key to a successful career. You have to be able to work well in a team.
How has your journey with TM helped you achieve the heights you’ve reached in your career?
My journey has definitely been very meaningful. I am here to continue my journey and contribute in the transformation to make TM the Human-Centered Technology Company. I am also here to make sure we build business, customers and people to support those businesses and our customers’ aspirations.
I always believe in doing things that matter and doing it right. When you do things with your heart, you will get noticed. I never aspire to be a CHCO but every time I do something, I’ll do it with passion. One thing I like to tell people is to always believe in yourself that you can do it.
In the current digital landscape, what do you think are the job prospects for telecommunication graduates?
There are plenty of jobs for telecommunication graduates now. However, I like to look beyond that. Having a good university degree is important but how you apply it in your work is more important. Nowadays, you don't have a single role in a job. We have a fusion of roles and skill sets. For example, a recruiter today is different from a recruiter back then. Today, they need to know basic digital and marketing skills. As long as you have a relevant university degree and the aptitude of learning, I’m very confident you will get the job even beyond what your degree offers you. It's all about utilising what you have to do something that you like.
In the business world, developing connections is vital. What do you think are effective networking strategies for a recent graduate with little to no experience?
To me, as a fresh graduate you have to start doing and get going. For example, join forums or webinars and build your connection from there. Networking is not just a chat over coffee. When you meet people, take the opportunity to share with them some of the skill sets and competencies you have. Better yet, be involved in projects that allow you to contribute and make your mark. You have to make yourself memorable and this is what I call strategic networking.
Lastly, advice you would give to today’s youth?
Always move forward. Put a target for yourself to learn something new every six months. This will keep you motivated and always on the go. Besides that, reading is also very important. People who read can digest information faster than those who don’t read. You should also invest your time understanding the new technologies as this will help you in the future.
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