Wong Siew Yap

Doctor of Business Administration, HELP University

Wong Siew Yap is currently taking Doctor of Business Administration at HELP University

Share with us the story of your postgraduate journey.

Having retired as the Managing Director of a global manufacturing and distribution MNC in Malaysia, I registered into a DBA programme as a part-time student at HELP University in December 2016 and completed my 10 modules coursework in 2018. I have started my research study with the aim to submit my dissertation in 2020.

I have had a fulfilling working and career life after completing my tertiary engineering studies in 1979. Other than an initial technical role, I had opportunities to head marketing and business development, corporate planning and M&A, regional responsibilities in SE Asia, and being a board member of listed entities in Malaysia, Pakistan and Bangladesh. At retirement from the MNC, I was responsible for entities with a total turnover of MYR1.2 billion, and a combined workforce of 1,100 personnel.

While enrolled in the DBA programme, I am also involved in doing teaching assignments, both in the technical and management fields, sharing both my broad practical experiences and perspectives, while maintaining a penchant for continuous improvement personally.

How did you choose this course and institution?

I am reasonably acquainted with HELP University, it being in the proximal neighbourhood of my home, and having had two of my children successfully completed their pre-university studies at HELP Academy.

HELP University had also provided the initial opportunity for a number of postgraduate teaching assignments in my reach-out to them upon my retirement. Thus two years upon retirement and having the benefit of the experiential teaching, I was ready then to embark on my life-long learning journey.

The DBA programme was at an affordable cost – undoubtedly, it requires my aspiration, discipline, and motivation to learn, re-learn, and achieve more during this life-career phase change.

What research are you currently pursuing?

My research investigates how women’s presence affects boardroom dynamics and effectiveness. It probes into the increasing gender diversity of boards in corporate Malaysia, exploring women directors’ individual perspectives, and seeking their narratives and perspectives of their roles and contributions.

The study also aims to illuminate on what actually transpires inside the boardroom, and enquires into how gender diversity might have intervened and mediated onboard processes and human interactions, team behavioural dynamics, and corporate governance tasks performance.

In essence, all these are now captured through the lenses and voices of the women directors themselves through interviews, allowing for empirical interpretations and descriptions of their experiences in the largely male-dominated boards. The study will contribute to the recent global research call for more qualitative studies to examine the social-psychological development and phenomena in the increasingly women-engendered boardroom environment.

Such better understanding will help board stakeholders and actors to promote better board dynamics and leverage on gender diversity, going beyond just promulgating a target for the increased presence of women on boards as often eschewed in corporate governance codes, and institutional isomorphism.

What is your favourite part about your postgraduate degree?

The DBA programme provides a base and framework for learning/re-learning many subject areas of management, with a focus on current and emerging themes in the 10-module coursework. It infuses on more critical reviews and perspectives of business issues, without being prescriptively nuanced, while promoting reflexive thoughts.

The modules introduce research methodologies, as well as promote extensive literature search in relevant academic journals. All these prepare one to embark on business research in a chosen topic and employing specific or mixed research methods.

Pursuing the DBA allows for self-motivation and achievement-orientation, while energizing the mind and recalibrating thinking processes. It complements the undergraduate/work experiences/management training in the lifetime learning cycle.

In the end, there is also a personal gain of further postgraduate qualification, and offers a choice and opens up the opportunity to be further immersed in academic teaching and research.

If you could change anything about your postgraduate journey, what would you do differently?

It is essential to have a clear purpose/objective of why one would want to do a DBA - it will vary with each individual. We are likely to be mature students with prior tertiary qualifications and work experience, but be prepared to learn and progress independently. The university and lecturers are there to provide guidance and facilitation. The learning is felt more rewarding as it is about discovering and re-learning about oneself.

HELP University is an academic institution to provide the framework and environment for the learning rigour. The facilities and teaching faculty are adequate - the rest is up to us for a richer experience!