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Meet the Scholars!

Posted on 2021-11-15 11:10:30

Up close and personal with 2021’s CIMB ASEAN Scholars.

For six years now, CIMB has been rewarding deserving youths via its CIMB ASEAN Scholarship programme, offering full scholarships that cover tuition fees, living allowances, insurance and other related fees for any field of study at any established university worldwide. On top of that, there will also be internships during study breaks and employment upon graduation, as well as valuable mentorship through a career mentorship programme. Scholars will also receive the opportunity to enter CIMB’s acclaimed management trainee programmes such as The Complete Banker™ (TCB) and TCB Digital, setting them on the right path to career success.

Since being established, the bank has awarded a total of over RM54 million in scholarships for 92 scholars to date. For 2021’s edition, a total of RM5.6 million in scholarships were awarded to 13 youths across the ASEAN region. We got in touch with five of these scholars to get to know them better.

MUHAMMAD ISMAT QAYUM, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL SCIENCE (LSE)
BSC IN PHILOSOPHY, POLITICS AND ECONOMICS

Being a CIMB ASEAN scholar means…

It represents a position of great honour and privilege! There were about 20,000 applicants in my year and only 18 were accepted. That’s an acceptance rate of 0.09%! This is an incredibly competitive scholarship and I am blessed with the opportunity. I can only look at it with gratitude. The team behind the scholarship is supportive and caring. The investment in us is a signal of trust and one mustn’t take that lightly. As a CIMB ASEAN Scholar, we have this great responsibility to create impact and change the financial landscape across ASEAN. Therefore, when I arrived at LSE, I knew I couldn’t waste this chance. To grow in an environment like London, one of the global financial capitals, is a learning opportunity to create an impact when I come to CIMB. Also, in my first month in London, our then CEO YB Senator Tengku Datuk Utama Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz and previous Chairman, Dato’ Sri Mohamed Nazir Tun Abdul Razak hosted a dinner with all the scholars. During my first year, my seniors invited my batchmates to have pizza at their flat. It’s these acts that are a testament to how valued we are at CIMB, that we’re not seen as newbies but are already well-placed in the community.

How I felt going through the process and when I received the scholarship

I can still recall vividly the emotions I felt back in August 2018! Note that this was all pre-COVID so the process has been adjusted since then. I started with the usual applications and essays, followed by a 30-minute phone call. You then partake in games that tested your IQ and EQ. If you did well on those, you are invited to your first interview at the CIMB HQ. If you’re successful in that, you’re invited to the CIMB Bootcamp in Malaysia joined by approximately 50 other applicants. After that you are filtered once more and invited to the final interview stage. If that goes well, you are then sent the acceptance email – phew! It’s a lot, I know; the truth is CIMB’s scholarship process is one of the most rigorous across ASEAN. Before getting the acceptance email, I told myself that it would be a blessing if I made it through. So when I received the email, I was overwhelmed with joy! My parents and brother heard the screaming and joined me in the celebrations. It’s one of those moments you’ll never forget; the accumulation of all the sweat and tears that went into this journey and to finally be vindicated for it all.

The out-of-classroom activity that has helped with my academic life

My volunteering efforts through the LSE Blue Dragon society during my first year and being an LSE Volunteering Ambassador in my second year taught me the importance of teamwork. Volunteering is notoriously difficult as it teaches you about sacrifice and makes you face the real-life constraints of not having enough money. This makes teamwork all the more important, and it translates well in a classroom setting particularly in group projects. My experience as a London Regional Chairperson and Chairperson of the United Kingdom and Eire Council for Malaysian Students also taught me the importance of diplomacy, from how I interact with sponsors to how I listened to a demotivated team member. Being diplomatic enabled me to sharpen my argumentation and rhetoric skills, both paramount in the classroom.

ISABEL JUNE SMALL, MONASH UNIVERSITY
COMMUNICATIONS (MINOR IN INTERNATIONAL STUDIES AND PSYCHOLOGY)

Being a CIMB ASEAN scholar means…

Being a representative of CIMB and its values, investments and future. It is a privilege to hold such a prestigious scholarship. It not only eases the financial burden on my parents but also gives me the opportunity to be a part of a constantly growing environment.

The out-of-classroom activity that has helped with my academic life

I am part of the Mixed Ultimate Frisbee Team meant to represent Victoria at the U22 Australian National championships. This has taught me that you don’t have to be great to start but you do have to start to be great. It is something that stuck with me through a tough semester when I was taking a subject that was outside of my comfort zone. What I learnt on the field has pushed me to persevere and strive to do my best even with an unfamiliar subject.

How being a scholar has helped in my study

It has made it possible for me to study abroad amid a different culture and a vibrant new environment. My time in Australia has been priceless. Also, many students work part-time while studying overseas to help cover their expenses. The scholarship has allowed me to fully concentrate on my studies and extracurricular activities, and get the most out of them.

MADHAV KHANDHAR, UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER
COMPUTER SCIENCE

The out-of-classroom activity that has helped with my academic life

I was very involved in the Model United Nations (MUN) scene, which has allowed me to develop my interpersonal skills, communication skills and general maturity. Being in a room with 40 strangers tasked with discussing world issues and coming up with viable solutions gave me the ability to concisely and accurately make my case, communicate and network better with others. It also gave me leadership skills to choose the right strategy for any given situation. These have helped tremendously during my academic life as they have allowed me to better communicate my skills and needs to people and resources around me to find and make use of the best opportunities available to me. Also, I taught myself programming, and this has given me the logical framework to break down problems into smaller components and tackle them individually, ultimately allowing me to understand my academic work better and work through large tasks without feeling intimidated.

How being a scholar has helped in my study

If not for the scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to afford the tuition fees. Additionally, the scholarship has helped tremendously in making sure that I don’t need to work while I study so I can make the most out of my time at university, working on my studies, extracurricular activities and networking with industry professionals. Furthermore, CIMB has gone above and beyond in investing into the professional growth and development of its scholars, connecting us with mentors as well as organising regular online meet-ups and networking events to ensure that we are on the right track and given all opportunities for growth and learning.

Advice for future applicants

The scholarship value factors outside of your academic life, such as extracurricular activities, work experience, your personal values and the things that motivate you. Therefore, it is important for candidates to genuinely put in the time to think about what wakes them up in the morning and introspect into why they do what they do. It’s important to develop skills or take part in extracurricular activities that give you the chance to gain mastery. It shows the scholarship board that you have a direction and focus which is very telling of the person you’ll be in the future.

NIK ZARIF ISKANDAR BIN SAIFUL JOHAR, UNIVERSITI MALAYA
ECONOMICS

I applied for the scholarship because…

I wanted to lessen my parents’ financial burden, especially with the tumultuous year we had in 2020. CIMB also differentiated itself by providing more than just monetary support; the mentorship and buddy programmes were things I didn’t want to miss out. So not only do you get financial and self-development support, you are also able to connect with like-minded scholars across the ASEAN region.

How I felt going through the process and when I received the scholarship

It was definitely unreal at first, receiving that email from the scholarship team. The few months while being assessed for the scholarship were stressful with all the different stages from the essays to the online games, the case studies and the online interviews, all of which tested different aspects of myself. The fourth stage where we got to meet the other applicants was incredibly daunting especially learning that a lot of them were students at some of the best universities in the world. I am truly humbled and blessed to be given this opportunity by CIMB to pursue my dreams at the tertiary level.

The out-of-classroom activity that has helped with my academic life

Volunteering has opened my eyes to the grit and grind of the marginalised in Malaysia. Not everyone is dealt the same deck of cards, and the best thing one can do is make the most out of it. For the marginalised, their deck of cards isn’t as fortunate but they continue to work hard and persevere to change the livelihood of their families. Learning not to be complacent in times of hardships is something I will keep for many years to come.

RAYYAN BINTI MOHD YUNUS, IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON
ENVIRONMENTAL TECHNOLOGY

Becoming a CIMB ASEAN Scholar

It’s been challenging yet enriching. I gained a lot of new soft skills and learnt more about my own strengths and weaknesses. Meeting new people from different backgrounds has opened my eyes to view the world from a different perspective.

I applied for the scholarship because…

I believe that the best kind of learning is through experiences. My biggest motivation to be a part of this scholarship programme is to gain new skills and knowledge by meeting talented people across Southeast Asia.

Advice for future applicants

Be confident, curious, proactive and as cliché as this might sound – be yourself! The journey is not just about getting the scholarship but it is also to learn more about yourself. You will gain various skills and experiences along the way and that will be the best investment for yourself.

HO REN YEN, UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE
COMMERCE (ACCOUNTING AND FINANCE)

The out-of-classroom activity that has helped with my academic life

Having volunteered for a charity tasked to help Rohingya refugees. These refugees did not have the opportunity to have any kind of formal education yet this is something they constantly strive for. Poor living conditions did not deter them from pursuing their dreams. Having witnessed this enthusiasm and eagerness to learn has served as a reminder not to take anything in life for granted.

The support from CIMB

As a scholar, we get a full scholarship that covers our tuition fees, living allowances, airfares, insurance and almost everything that will be incurred during our studies. We are also connected to a buddy and a mentor who will provide us with tons of invaluable knowledge and career guidance. There are also networking opportunities to connect with like-minded people such as the other scholars and the working professionals from CIMB, giving me the precious opportunity to have a better understanding of the financial and banking mechanisms in real life.

Advice for future applicants

The highly competitive selection process involves an online assessment, interviews, group assessments and much more. It may sound intimidating but believe in yourself and be confident in your unique background and experience. Make sure you research and understand more about the programme as well as CIMB in general. Try to come up with a valid “value proposition” that you are able to bring towards the future growth of the organisation in order to stand out from the crowd. More importantly, be yourself and enjoy the process. It is a great learning opportunity regardless of outcome.

Click here to find out more.

By Mel Sim


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