|The Sun Business/Home
Monday November 28, 1994
Lifetime gain from seminars
In an avalanche of seminar organizer companies (as is being experienced now) one would hit with a thud. Heavyweight Rayma Management Consultants’ seven-year track record should help quell the cynics’ skepticism. SunBiz asked Rayma’s chief executive officer Pat Lu what many have always wanted to know and this is how she defends the whole concept of the kind of seminars she organizes.
SunBiz: What is the main objective of conducting one-day seminars in Malaysia?
Lu: One-day seminars cater specially for the busy executive who want to pick up the latest information, ideas or strategies within a day without, for example, having to read a book which may take days or even months to complete. For the busy executive, other than studying for an exam, how many of us actually complete reading a book on strategic management, marketing or on anything related to one’s work within a day? This is not inclusive of novels of course!
SunBiz: How effective are the seminars in either upgrading the skills of employees or management of a company?
Lu: One-day seminars may be perceived to have the tendency to be very general and broad-based. It depends on the topic and the target audience. Why take two days, a week or more if only a day is required to cover the subject matter? There are many kinds of seminars offered which cater to various needs of the marketplace today. From building awareness to topical issues to industry updates to refresher courses to skills development etc.
The effectiveness depends on the organiser’s objective of running a particular programme, to getting the right consultant/expert/authority in his or her field to run the programme and, of course, targeted at the right audience. At the end of day, if the participants’ objectives of attending a particular programme are met, we have win-win situation.
Then again, one-day seminars could be offered as a “public” seminar where companies, large or small from various industries send their employees to attend a particular programme. Or have the same programme conducted “in-house” to cater to the specific needs of the company to match the current information and training needs of the executives involved in that particular company or department.
We at Rayma did our market research. Our public seminars’ target audience are managerial level to top-level management personnel. They gave us a tall order. They want very specific and focused seminars, the latest topical management development programs that deliver value-added benefits within the shortest period of time. Our seminars must be effective as 80 per cent are repeat clients.
SunBiz: What are the benefits of attending these seminars?
Lu: I speak on behalf of Rayma. Executives go home with the latest strategic information and leading edge management skills where the world’s leading authorities are invited to share their expertise. Recent examples include management guru Tom Peters and the globe’s foremost marketing strategists Philip Kotler, Al Ries and Jack Trout, inventor of Mind Maps Tony Buzan who offers new concepts in brain functioning to achieve peak performance, leadership guru Warren Bennis. Coming soon are competitor analysis guru Liam Fahey, time-based competition guru George Stalk, Jr. …. the list goes on.
At a time when many corporations are closely and skeptically scrutinizing the return on their training dollars, many participants and their employers cited tangible benefits ranging from increased billing and improved customer satisfaction to personal career advancement.
Besides these, participants get to learn from other industries and a chance to network and build business contacts. One-day seminars also save executive time and cut short the learning process.
SunBiz: Why is there a tendency to invite foreign speakers to handle these seminars? Don’t we have qualified speakers to handle these seminars or are our speakers not as good as those from abroad?
Lu: I am sure that our Malaysian speakers can handle seminars as well as foreign speakers. This is a very wrong perception that our local speakers are not as good as those from abroad.
I’ve come across many excellent Malaysian lecturers and public speakers who are just as qualified and who actually put some foreign speakers to shame both in presentation style and content on the same platform.
To answer your question on why the tendency to in invite foreign speakers… it really depends on the seminar topic. Again I speak only for Rayma.
Rayma’s passion is to equip our local Malaysian executives with the latest thinking and leading edge management skills to generate organizational growth and company profitability for long-term national development.
Through our global networking, we regularly invite worldclass consultants to run seminars because they are the specialists and leading authorities in their own fields, recognized worldwide and associated with renowned institutions. They bring with them their vast experiences and also an international perspective as most of them have consulted with Fortune 500 conglomerates.
SunBiz: Are these foreign speakers and their training suitable to the Malaysian work culture when our way of thinking and philosophies are so much different from that of the people in the developed countries?
Lu: Our foreign speakers are always given a briefing on our Malaysian culture and on the latest developments in our country so that they can tailor the seminar to the local market. Our seminars are focused information pertaining to the latest hands-on techniques in the running of a business strategically or competitively.
Based on past experience, there is no clash of cultures. We just want to update and arm our Malaysian executives with the latest “how to’s” that work worldwide. Why re-invent the wheel when you can be a copycat and innovate on it to suit our local environment immediately to get the edge over the competition?
SunBiz: Do you think the knowledge accumulated from these seminars is worth the money paid?
Lu: I believe the knowledge accumulated is worth much more than the seminar fees. It is tiny compared to what you can do with the latest thinking and knowledge gathered first hand.
Knowledge is power. The globalisation of economies, its increasing interdependence, has made the world a much smaller place.
Computers and information technology have hastened the process. This has almost altered the pace and complexity of modern day business. How does the decision maker cope? How does he or she formulate suitable strategies to counter threats and capture opportunities behind daily events? Above all, how do we tap the ideas available in business elsewhere? In a nutshell, through seminars or what I would rather call, executive education.
Let’s look at it from the economic point of view. How often can an organization send its key people overseas for seminars? Apart from the seminar fees, there are the return airfares, accommodation, food, foreign exchange, and not forgetting the flight time which can be put to better use elsewhere.
Converted to ringgit and sen, wouldn’t you prefer to have the leading authorities come to you in Malaysia where you can send a team of six for the price of one going to America for the same programme? I believe in team attendance. It makes the implementation of new ideas easier and creates better teamwork.