Finding local solutions in building Malaysia’s fiber optic network
Manager of the Technology and Innovation Department
Telekom Malaysia Berhad
Muhammad Zaim Halilul Rahuman, Manager of the Technology and Innovation department is responsible of quality and innovation for Telekom Malaysia. As part of the team, building his country’s fiber optic network, Zaim realized that most of the materials used in the process are imported from overseas. Joining the Global Leaders for Innovation and Knowledge program, Zaim initiated idea for his Capstone Project to help find solutions for procuring materials locally in his native country. Ultimately, he believes his project will promote entrepreneurship and create jobs in Malaysia.
―Please describe your Capstone Project.
My Capstone Project was about my organization, Telekom Malaysia (TM). I’ve been involved in a lot of procurement activities for materials that we are using for building our network infrastructure. At the moment, we are procuring some materials from overseas and also these materials are off the shelf products. Thus, my idea for the project is to reengineer the procurement methodology by having locally designed and produced materials.
―In your Capstone Project, you state that most of the materials for your country’s fiber network are imported. Why is it important to source or create them locally?
We are procuring materials from Korea, Japan, China and other countries as well due to unavailability of these materials in the country. The reason behind of sourcing these materials locally is the opportunity that we could create for the local manufacturers and entrepreneurs. Not only that, it would create more jobs and business opportunities for local people. TM would be proud to use Malaysian-made products and at the same time the entrepreneurs would have the prospect to market these products overseas. Thus, TM could become sustainable organization and indirectly boosting the country socio-economy.
―Specifically, how can your country better engage and develop local entrepreneurs and manufacturers?
The entrepreneurs have no idea about the right channel or opportunities that are available for them. At the moment, we are trying to work together with government agencies, to help us engage with those interested entrepreneurs. While in TM, we also have our own entrepreneurship development team which is responsible to engage or to seek those who are interested to be part of our entrepreneurship development program. So we look for people and, at the same time, the government agencies help us to connect with these keen entrepreneurs.
―What did you learn by studying the World Bank’s new procurement framework?
This was a suggestion that I received from my Capstone Project advisor about the World Bank’s new procurement framework. I was studying this framework if I could apply some part of the framework to my project since in this project I would be required to do life-cycle cost to estimate the cost of the network infrastructure. Normally, the cost that we calculate would be for 15 to 20 years time period. Since this framework still in development and quite large in scale, I’ve just extracted the essence and few vital concepts into my project.
―The program gives participants the chance to study in different countries. How did moving to different locations help you in your Capstone Project?
To relate to my Capstone Project, once we reached Hawaii, we were given a group project and involved in a real business scenario. It was about a restaurant and the problems they were facing at that time. We had several meeting with the management to find out the issues and based on our study and analysis, we came out with potential solutions that we had proposed to the business owner. This project taught me on how to define an issue, identify the root problem and cause, and then brainstorm for possible solutions. Furthermore, for every solution, we had completed studies about the viability of the solution on how the organization would be benefitted in the long term in case they decided to implement the chosen solution. The viability study will not only cover the financial factor but also will consider other factors such as their customers, employees, working culture, local regulation and so on.
At the same time, we had visited several industries in different countries. They had shared on how they manage their companies and those learnt experience also helped me to generate ideas for my Capstone Project.
―How did interaction with your classmates help you with your Capstone Project?
My classmates really contributed to my project through “Waigaya” session or also known as “Y-Gaya”.Y-Gaya is a method of brainstorming within group of people about a subject. I had invited my classmates for several Y-Gaya sessions and they had responded to my Capstone Project idea by giving comments, suggestions and also by challenging my proposals. It was really interesting because my classmates are from various backgrounds in term of qualifications, cultures and nationalities, and they have different way of looking into issues that I am addressing in my project. Brainstorming and discussing about my project through this session really helps me to improvise my project.
Apart from Y-Gaya, my project advisors had arranged me to be part of “Gemba watching” in order for me to learn from the actual field. “Gemba” means the “real place” in Japanese. So, in Gemba watching, people visit a place relevant to their projects to observe and conduct interviews to gain knowledge about the actual workings of a community, or to learn about the community or organization relevant to the issues. I managed to meet technical experts from NTT and grasp the knowledge and practice of Japanese telecommunication giant on their procurement methodology through this Gemba watching.
―Do you believe your Capstone Project and your participation in this program will ultimately help improve your community?
First of all, I truly believe this program is going to benefit me personally and I definitely would be able to contribute to the community in one-way or another.
This program had helped me to boost my self-confidence as I managed to overcome shyness in public presentation. I had to do a lot of presentations as part of activity in this program and it really helped me to overcome my weakness. In addition to that, I’ve managed to equip myself with management and liberal arts knowledge that I never had opportunity to learn before. It was great prospect for me to develop myself so I could contribute to my organization and community with the learnt competencies.
My employer, Telekom Malaysia had approved my leave to join this program as a self-development training program. As a sign of gratitude, I had decided to do Capstone Project on my company. I hope I could make positive changes and impacts to my company operation by implementing this project.
While contribution for community, my visit to Doi Tung Project in Thailand had really inspired me to help others and the wisdom words from the Princess Mother, who initiated the project, really struck my mind. Her words, “Help people to help themselves” really made me to think a way of helping others. The Doi Tung project is social enterprise that creates job opportunities, develop and reforest the area. After this visit, it really enthuses me to establish platform to help others to help themselves and for this, I am planning to establish a small education trust to help those financially needy students from poor country to continue their studies in tertiary education. By providing a good education for them, they would be able to find a better job and could improve not only their life but also their family’s life in terms of social and economy.
―If you were to sum up the Global Leaders for Innovation and Knowledge program into a few words, what would you say?
This is a really an inspiring program which gave me the lifetime learning experience. It has a great impact in my life and now, I am really encouraged to be involved more in social activities or be part of any social enterprise. Not to forget, I also have made friends from all over the world, friends that I would not forget in my life.