New mindsets for an evolving world

Speaking to three alumni from the School of Arts and Social Sciences (SASS) at Monash University Malaysia, many insights emerge-graduates need to adopt new mindsets in order to help organisations become more sustainable and competitive.

“For years, companies have been working in the same way,” says Myron Stewart, a graduate from SASS. “But now, they want fresh mindsets.”

During his degree programme, Stewart interned at British American Tobacco (BAT) and later joined the company as a human resources analyst.

“I applied for an HR internship which was called the Diversity and Inclusion Internship. At the time, BAT was running a project to see how they could get more diversity and inclusion in the company.

“They were looking for someone to facilitate discussion about how BAT could relate to different cultures and who could be more open minded about difference”.

“I definitely think my Arts degree, with a specialisation in Psychology and International Studies, gave me an advantage,” Steward says, recalling that his International Studies minor focused on global issues and helped him cultivate a global mindset.

This global focus has been adopted at SASS with International Studies now renamed as Global Studies.

Today, Stewart works as a talent operations specialist, having clocked up four years of experience in human resource management.

“The corporate sector is looking towards the arts now, especially with regards to diversity and inclusion initiatives that companies are pushing for.

“They are looking for arts graduates who are trained to find different ways of working and who can work with different people,” he notes.

For the other two SASS alumni - Dixon Khoo Di Sheng, a creative writer for an advertising and marketing agency and Pamela Choo Pei-Ling, a magazine writer - rapid technological development is the key driver of change in their field.

Choo graduated from SASS with a specialisation in Communication and International Studies. Since then, she has worked in multiple companies in the creative industry including an internationally renowned branding and marketing agency.

“The experience opened my eyes to how important digital media is. When I first applied to the big name agency, I wanted to do television advertising and the interviewer said, ‘No, listen to us. Digital is it and it is going to stay’.”

Nevertheless, the research skills and the interest in research she developed during her time as an undergraduate helped her stay competitive.

“I've become a lot more curious, I want to learn more before I start on any project, and my experience at the agency paid off because before making any pitch to a client, we would need to do a lot of research on their industry’, this is  where the research skills I gained from Monash come in.”

Fuelled by this curiosity and a desire to further her education, Choo went on to complete a Masters in Digital Communications.

Khoo shares a similar experience. Graduating with a specialisation in Communication and Psychology, he says digital communications has changed the industry.

“The digital world, is very results-oriented. It’s no longer about how your clients feel about your writing. Now it’s about whether my writing brings in ‘likes’, interactions, or ‘shares’.

“Because of this, you have to be able to figure out what’s working in the advertising environment in order to decide whether you should emulate it or do something new based on research.”

Crediting his research skills to the work he put in to earn his degree, Khoo adds, “The research skills I learned at Monash taught me how to approach the situation in a very different manner rather than looking at things from a specific angle”. These skills have helped him stay ahead of the curve, an important quality in the chameleon-like creative industry, where staying stagnant and not exploring what works elsewhere can be counter-productive.

As the Malaysian economy globalises with technological advancement at its core, so must education respond. At SASS, its specialisations in Communication, Global Studies, Gender Studies, Film, Television and Screen Studies, Psychology and Writing are addressing these needs.