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KUALA LUMPUR (June 18): Over 400 smallholder farmers have achieved the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Independent Smallholder (ISH) 2019 certification under the P&G smallholders programme, according to the P&G Centre for Sustainable Small-owners (CSS) Impact Report 2024. Another 400 ISHs are expected to be certified by the end of 2025.

Additionally, 306 certified ISHs have received a total of US$42,630 (RM200,949) in RSPO premium from 2021 to 2023 for their certified palm produce, states the report. Increased earnings as a result of certifications mean farmers are able to improve agricultural practices and serve local communities.

The P&G CSS programme was established by funding from Proctor and Gamble in 2018. It aims to facilitate the production of certified sustainable palm oil from ISH in the districts of Pontian and Batu Pahat.

CSS, which is housed in the Asia School of Business (ASB), ensures farmers adhere to local sustainability standards such as the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) and facilitates certification towards the RSPO ISH 2019. The RSPO ISH 2019 comprises three phases, and may take a farmer up to 36 months to obtain certification.

To further support ISH farmers in their certification journey, Pertubuhan Tani Niaga Lestari Negeri Johor was established by CSS to achieve certification through RSPO and MSPO training. The training helps farmers improve the quality and yield of their oil palm and connects them to local and international markets.

However, achieving certification is not the end of the road, notes the report. Surveillance audits are conducted annually as RSPO certifications are valid for five years. The audits ensure that certified farmers and farms continue to address core sectoral sustainability concerns within the palm oil industry. This includes deforestation, fire, biodiversity loss, peat land drainage, forced labour and land tenure conflict.

The CSS’ continuous improvement programme supports ISHs in their annual surveillance audits to ensure the farmers maintain production of certified produce as well as continue being eligible for RSPO premiums. Good agricultural practices and best management practices training to all ISHs was introduced in 2024 by CSS.

Post-certification selected farms are also modelled as learning farms. The aim for learning farms is to provide a picture of a well-managed palm oil farm, operate as a learning and research centre and facilitate a smooth transition to sustainable agriculture.

Starting from nine farms in 2020, the programme has achieved 250 learning farms in the final quarter of 2023. CCS benefits from 19 control learning farms used for data collection and benchmarking for CCS research. Some key findings that resulted from the research include nutrient management, best farm management practices and yield intensification.

The analysis of data collected from the learning farms also provide insights on the economic and environmental value of growing certified and sustainable palm oil.

Originally published by The Edge

The global landscape is currently undergoing a transformative shift marked by ageing populations in countries such as Japan, South Korea, China and the European Union. This demographic evolution has far-reaching implications, extending beyond these nations to emerging economies like Malaysia, as indicated by data from the Department of Statistics Malaysia

Read the full article here.

Any mention of a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree brings up two things: the return on investment (ROI) and the price tag to achieve it. These inevitably lead to the question: “Is an MBA worth it?”

For Michelle George Tan, “worth it” doesn’t even sum up what her MBA has given her.

Born and bred in Manila, Philippines, she grew up witnessing the benefits an MBA could bring: her father built a family business out of his MBA thesis – one that’s still running today.

This became a major source of inspiration. George knew that an MBA was in her future, but she didn’t know how valuable it would be.

George pictured at the Asia School of Business campus in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Source: Michelle George Tan
The journey to earning an MBA

George’s MBA journey started not with an application to a business school, but by joining a competition.

She took part in a Malaysian bank’s “GO Ahead Challenge” which gathered 60 students from around the world in Kuala Lumpur to participate in business case challenges that even brought them to the shores of neighbouring Indonesia.

At that time, George was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration at the University of the Philippines.

Thanks to the challenge, George was offered a graduate position in Maybank Philippines. Soon after, she was invited to a training opportunity in Kuala Lumpur.

“That was the first time I went out of the country for anything work-related, and I went thinking it was only going to be six months,” says George.

She ended up winning a position in the Malaysian branch, where she would trade in the financial markets for nearly four years.

“But I didn’t see myself doing that for too long; I felt like something was missing,” says George. “Maybe it was the fulfilment aspect – I wanted to do something I felt was more meaningful, and an MBA was one pathway I found that could give me the answer.”

Having been in Kuala Lumpur for so long, George knew she wanted to pursue an MBA here. It was close to home, and there were plenty of opportunities to explore that wouldn’t break the bank.

An MBA often comes with a hefty price tag – the most prestigious MBAs, like one from Harvard Business School, cost US$149,820 for the 2022-23 academic year.

George didn’t have to worry about that though – she got into the Asia School of Business (ASB) with an 80% scholarship.

The school’s one-year, full-time MBA programme features a core curriculum taught by ASB and MIT Sloan faculty, complemented by Action Learning projects with organisations across Asia and beyond.

Students also spend four weeks of immersion in MIT Sloan’s Cambridge, Massachusetts campus.

“That made it really worth it,” says George.

“You get an MIT experience and knowledge by having their professors fly in, but you don’t pay for the same thing in MIT. During the immersion weeks, we would even get classes by highly sought-after MIT professors where even MIT students can’t sign up for those classes.”

Is an MBA worth it? Depending on the quality and range of opportunities available, the answer might change. Source: Michelle George Tan.
Is an MBA worth it? That depends on the jobs you can get

Most of what makes an MBA intense are the many varied business case studies and experiential learning opportunities.

In George’s case, ASB offered Action Learning experiences that took her around the region.

Throughout her programme, she’s worked in a Malaysian financial technology start-up, an Indonesian philanthropic organisation, a Singaporean exchange, and a Malaysian venture capital.

And it’s not just experiences, knowledge, and a network of connections that George is walking away with too – she’s set for a position with her last Action Learning experience company once she’s completed her MBA.

“The programme actually helped me get something concrete out of it, partly because of what I’ve gone through,” says George.

Each of her Action Learning experiences has played a crucial role in equipping her with the skills necessary to take on her new role.

From learning to navigate the start-up scene and finance models to being exposed to sustainability funds, George can pinpoint exactly where she picked up the skills that landed her the position.

“The stars sort of aligned because of those Action Learning projects,” says George. “I was able to excel and ended up getting a job offer. So my MBA experience is really worth it.”

And that’s not counting George’s post-degree salary jump.

According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) Corporate Recruiters Survey 2021, the average starting salary for MBA holders was between 22% and 40% higher than for bachelor’s degree holders.

North American full-time MBA students received a 50% median compensation increase from pre-MBA to post-graduation: from US$80,000 to US$120,000.

Likewise, George is expecting the same jump too, but that’s not all she’s taking away from her MBA.

Is an MBA worth it? Yes, the community you gain makes it so. Source: Michelle George Tan.
More than just professional development

At the start of her MBA journey, she was a competitive and “kiasu” person. “Kiasu” is a Hokkien Chinese word that translates to an extreme fear of losing.

“I felt like to progress in my career. I need to be the best. I need to be right,” says George.

Unlike other bachelor’s or master’s programmes, MBAs are primarily designed to emphasise group work and team effort.

As a programme catered towards those seeking to advance their careers in business and management, especially those hoping for leadership roles in various settings, the ability to lead and be part of a team is key throughout all MBA curricula.

“I remember that in my first year, I had a mindset of, ‘Oh my god, my teammates are slower than I wanted,” says George. “I pulled out my ‘kiasuness’, pushed everyone, and we achieved good results. But I felt distanced from my team; it did not feel right.”

“It is what made me realise that relationships are more important than being right and being fast. That’s actually the best thing I learned.”

Something that many don’t consider when asking, “Is an MBA worth it?” — the friends you make along the way. Source: Michelle George Tan
It’s a bond that extends outside of formal learning environments too.

As much as many view the relationships formed during an MBA as transactional, those who’ve experienced it find genuine, lasting friendships.

For George, being able to stay in ASB’s on-campus accommodation means having more opportunities to be with the friends she’s made during the programme.

Located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur and within the national bank’s learning hub, ASB’s 65,000-square-metre facility makes it one of the largest academic facilities in the world.

Like George, students have the option to stay in a multi-block facility that houses up to 350 visiting and full-time students for easy access to the campus and the community.

“Staying here is part of the experience because you have all these water cooler conversations,” says George. From there, it’s turned into hangouts over the weekends and trips to India and Indonesia, all hosted by the friends in the programme.

George (third from the left), pictured with group mates during her Action Learning project in Malaysia. Source: Michelle George Tan.
A path of personal growth

George’s MBA journey may be coming to a close, but the lessons she’s gained are more than she’d expected when she first joined the programme.

Before the MBA, George didn’t know what she was looking for.

“When I was younger, it was just about finding a glamorous job,” she says.

“But being here and seeing my classmates who are into social impact and having done those Action Learning projects made me realise that I want to do something that gives me the same meaning and fulfilment from those experiences.”

Outside of all the perks for her career, George reflects that she’s grown and transformed as a person too.

“I feel more mature than when I started my MBA and I connect better with people now,” says George. “I have the confidence that I can survive anywhere you put me.”

“I know having a positive career outlook is important, but I feel like the more important thing is developing yourself first as a person because wherever you end up putting yourself, you will survive because you have that confidence. That, to me, is important.”

So, is an MBA worth it?

Looking at every aspect of her professional and personal journey, George’s answer is “yes.”

Read here
Originally published by Study International

Kuala Lumpur, 6 March 2024 – Asia Business School’s Professor Michael Frese, a leading figure in the field of entrepreneurship research, has been awarded the prestigious Global Entrepreneurship Award in Stockholm, Sweden. Established in 1996, the Award celebrates exceptional research that has profoundly shaped the field, and acknowledges Professor Frese’s ground-breaking research and significant contribution of psychology to entrepreneurship theory and to small business development as well as training research for entrepreneurship.

“I am absolutely delighted to accept the Award,” said Professor Frese. Professor Frese’s research delves into the psychological factors that drive entrepreneurial actions and success. He pointed out that his personal motivation for his life’s work stems from his desire to use entrepreneurship research as a powerful tool for poverty reduction. “As a psychologist I wanted to contribute to the economic growth of less-privileged countries. I envisioned empowering individuals through entrepreneurship to actively participate in their country’s economic development,” he explained.

“I am interested in entrepreneurial actions and how to improve them with high motivation and skills by nurturing their self-starting mindsets and future-oriented thinking; a mindset that enables them to develop opportunities, and to anticipate and handle problems, especially in challenging economic environments. I also aimed to increase the number of entrepreneurs in poorer countries to enhance the number of job providers” Professor Frese added.

The Prize Committee that selects recipients for the Award each year, recognized Professor Frese for the originality, impact, and lasting contribution of his research to entrepreneurship scholarship. The prize committee gave the award this year also to Professor Robert Baron.

Professor Ivo Zander, Chair of the Prize Committee explained, “Professor Frese’s research embodies the spirit of the Global Entrepreneurship Award. His dedication to advancing our understanding of entrepreneurship has not only enriched the field and inspired new generations of entrepreneurship researchers, but also empowered countless individuals and communities around the world.”

This prestigious award further solidifies Professor Frese’s standing as the most influential entrepreneurship researcher in Asia and Europe. He contributed nearly 200 peer-reviewed articles to scholarly journals (such as Science, Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Business Venturing, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice), about 200 book chapters, edited and wrote about 30 books and special issues. With over 78,000 citations (h-index=121) he is one of the most cited scholars in entrepreneurship and management worldwide, and his scientific influence counts among the top two percent of management scholars worldwide.

Professor Frese is an essential faculty member of Asia School of Business in Malaysia. His world-renowned entrepreneurship research is well aligned with ASB’s positioning as one of the top-tier business research centres helmed by forward-thinking faculty solving real world problems with its specialists in finance, central banking, fintech, pension funds and regional and global trade and supply chains. ASB also includes experts studying the region’s political economy, and its sustainability in agriculture and businesses.

END.

About Asia School of Business (ASB)
Challenge conventional thinking and create change beyond business. Established in 2015 by Bank Negara Malaysia in collaboration with MIT Sloan School of Management (MIT Sloan), Asia School of Business (ASB) is committed to developing transformative and principled leaders who will create a positive impact in the emerging world and beyond.

ASB offers postgraduate courses (including Asia’s only Master in Central Banking) as well as corporate programmes designed for busy professionals to upskill themselves with short, accelerated courses. Each course is self-contained and crafted to provide leaders with the essential knowledge, skills & tools to navigate in today’s complex world.

To learn more about the Asia School of Business, visit asb.edu.my.

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The world is getting older. With declining fertility rates, many countries in the world are faced with an ageing society and slowing population growth, and in some cases, shrinking demographics.

This trend, spurred by various factors such as lifestyle choices and education levels, is particularly prevalent in advanced as well as major economies in Asia.

Read full article
This article was originally published on The Star Malaysia

Overview

The Research Associate position is hosted by the Asia School of Business (ASB) at the Center for Sustainable Small-owners (CSS) at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The RA will examine the upstream oil palm supply chain and work with existing qualitative and quantitative data collected from a multi-year project. The candidate will be primarily responsible for conducting analysis of existing data sets, assisting and taking leadership in writing manuscripts. The current position is for one years with an yearly renewal The candidate should be comfortable traveling locally within Malaysia.

An ideal candidate will have demonstrated research and leadership in supply chain sustainability. Additional responsibilities may include – meeting project sponsors, stakeholders and assisting research staff in all matters related to the project. Candidates are expected to support center activities when appropriate including presenting results and findings to various audiences. Good presentation skills are desirable.

Requirements:

An ideal candidate would have completed an MS or Masters in one of the fields such as Supply Chain, Sustainability, Industrial Ecology, Social Sciences, Agri-Business or a related discipline. Proficiency with English writing and communication with excellent technical writing skills are a must.

Candidate must have experience with research methodology based on both qualitative and quantitative data, knowledge of statistical softwares and analytics tools is a plus. Preference will be given to those with both methodological and practical work experience.

Interested applicants are urged to submit their resume, cover letter and any relevant additional documentation.

Principal Duties and Responsibilities

  • Understanding different CSS initiatives, their linkage and overlaps by managing deliverables, timelines, managing budget and common resources across
  • On time delivery of quarterly milestones, deliverables and invoices for the program within the assigned and approved budget by sponsor
  • Coordinate with CSS Initiative Manager(s) and report weekly on program status to the Director
  • Developing and implementing strategy for the project team by understanding, highlighting and communicating risks and preparing mitigation plan
  • Develop operational plans for the program that can be tweaked with time and changing customer expectations
  • Responsible for developing, coordinating and preparing of the quarterly report and presentation
  • Ensure CSS internal proposals and payment requests comply with the ASB’s procurement policy
  • Responsible for CSS outreach, marketing activities and developing of marketing materials with the support of team
  • Support digitalization and management of Information and Data for ongoing activities for various CSS initiatives
  • Facilitate the design for a systematic collection and maintenance of all CSS data for operation and continuous improvement
  • Interface with other CSS partners. Communicate, follow up and close CSS expectations in terms of any service and legal agreements including MoA, MoU, NDA etc.
  • Identifying opportunities for project sponsorship and continuous improvement
  • Coordinating and running events and workshops

Qualification & Skills:

Required
  • Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree is a plus
  • Overall more than 10 years of working experience with minimum 5 years of project management experience
  • Experience using any software/tool for PM activities
  • Experience with Data Management
  • Exposure to IT and worked with Software Development Teams directly or indirectly
  • Technical Writing for reports and papers to the board
  • Strong interpersonal, oral and written communication skills in English. Similar skills in Bahasa Malaysia is an added plus.
  • Any training in communication and planning otherwise relevant experience
Preferred
  • Project Management Software and Tool
  • Advance level of usage and data analysis using Excel
  • Be able to write and run queries from Databases
  • Working experience with NGOs, small farmers, or SMEs
  • Conflict management and facilitating large and small group meetings
Specific Tasks
  • Differing solutions requiring the identification of issues, the application of judgement and the selection of solutions within the area of expertise and acquired knowledge.
  • Subject to broad practices & procedure covered by precedents or well-defined policies and managerial directions
Interested applicants are urged to submit their resume, cover letter and any relevant additional documentation.

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