My Last Lecture by Prof. Ir. Dr. Mohd Azraai Bin Kassim

Good day all!

Today I had an opportunity to attend Prof. Azraai’s last lecture at the UTM Senate Hall before he retires soon. The talk was so entertaining and informative it did not feel like two hours at all! Basically he advised young academias on career development and challenges and the importance of balance between career, health, and family based on his own experience.


He started on what the junior academics should do at the starting point of their career path in order to become recognised. Learn and seek help from seniors/mentors, always improve knowledge, prepare for back up plans, practice good work ethics, balance between work and life. Once you are at the top, you need to embrace for moments that you will be “shot down” by certain people aiming for the position itself and unpopular decisions made for the better sake of the organization. This is when you need good friends and family for advice and morale support. 🙂

Personally, I think that his set of rules can be extended beyond the academia boundaries since they were quite general and can be applied to any career person. Anyway, here are the full set of rules as set out by Prof. Azraai.

Topic: 20 Rules for Rising to the top in Academia- Learning from Life and My 32 Years at UTM

1. Take charge of your own career path.
2. Learn from seniors and mentors.
3. Practice lifelong learning, read books, and attend courses.
4. Perform your best, network, and enhance exposure to top people.
5. You can never make it on your own! To rise, you need help from top people who believe in you.
6. Do not give up easily if you fail to get a certain position or promotion.
7. Have a plan A, B, or C for your career.
8. Have a high integrity, good reputation, and be ethical.
9. Look after your health, avoid stress, and be strong spiritually.
10. Practice balance between commitments to family, work, and yourself.
11. As you rise higher and higher, different skill sets are needed.
12. The higher you fly, the more you will be shot at.
13. Have close friends who can advise you and help you back on your feet when you face career setbacks and failures.
14. You learn more from facing failures and setbacks than from achieving successes.
15. Never under-rate the power of the internet.
16. Big opportunities don’t come often.
17. What goes up must come down! Prepare for the day when you will have to let go of big posts.
18. Leadership position is not about popularity. It is about doing the right things for the organization!
19. Important to get the right feedbacks in order to enhance your leadership effectiveness.
20. It is LONELY at the top.

P/s: Kindly refer Prof. Azraai’s books (Kepimpinan Akademik di Universiti and Membina Kerjaya Akademia) for further understanding on these points.


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