Soul of Academia


Reflection on Academic Leadership

As an academia with a ‘soul’, I believe that it is necessary to recognize the importance of the journey rather than the destination. Therefore, I really hope by coming years of experience in Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, I will have a prosperous learning journey. As an academic staff also, I believe that it is important for me to value people (students, staffs, colleagues and communities), and to help them to feel empowered and to feel that they belong to where they are. I have a real passion for the job and for teaching and learning. I am more to hands on, and I think that has been an important aspect of my leadership. I also value positive criticism. I prioritize reading, researching, meeting and talking with students and fellow colleagues from inside and outside UTM and I would enjoy talking with them about knowledges, leadership practice, and to exchange professional ideas. Overall, I have seen a lot of leaders with soul of academia that I wish to aspire to and have taken things from them during my previous time and hoping for the same in UTM.

Plan to Soar High in Academia

Every young academic staff needs mentors. Mentors are amazing practitioners who pass on their knowledge through informal conversation and everyday modelling. A good mentor will push you to contribute more to the department and may ask you to help with projects they favour. They might push back and disagree with me, but they also help in developing my educational voice. They are the persons who help sharpen academic blade in young academic staff. For me, good mentors, respects what I am trying to do, and helps to solve the problem using a different perspective. They collaborate and celebrates my successes.I would like to divide my journey in academia into four phases :

  1. First phase is the phase to learn from mentors in academia as well as strengthens my teaching skills by engaging with field -related subjects.

    Perhaps, the most challenging characteristic of academic life is workload fragmentation. As a young lecturer, I will be spending 45% of time on teaching and another 45% on research, with a bit of administrative and support work on top. Also, I will be spending a lot of time writing the grant proposals to keep my career in the air, will received emails and requests to peer-review articles, contribute to edited volumes, present at conferences, sit on committees and give press interviews which will help to recognise myself as an expert in my field of expertise.

  2. Second phase is the phase to strengthen my areas of expertise and conducts networks with people or organization from inside and outside UTM to increase my knowledge and practice.

    As a researcher, I will try to embrace variety of activities and tools to promote my work as well as to connect with other researchers and engage in scholarly discourse. The activities related to promoting my research works involve in all stages of the research process starting from the discovery stage, followed by analysis and writing process, through to publishing and assessments. However, throughout these processes, I guess I might have to be prepared for the lions. People will try to abuse me in various ways: by making myself teach more than agreed, by trying to snaffle some of my funding or resources, by hijacking my research agenda or by side-tracking me for their own purposes. So, I must at all times maintain my vigilance Apart from that, teamwork is the best skill that I must improve to further my success. Joint research and writing may speed up my publication rate, increase the quality of my work and expand my academic networks.

  3. Third phase is the phase to translates my area of expertise to the form of products or patents.

    I will absolutely love this phase, where I can do what I love, and I fight the good fight. During this phase, I can start to contribute to society by applying my expertise in the form of product, books, copyrights, patents and other applications. It might take years to be in this phase however the quality and value is worth waiting or I should call them as intellectual satisfaction and originality. Nonetheless, doing commercializing can be easier said than done considering inherent differences between academia and industry. Commercialization might increase the workload for academic staff and may produce tensions between commercial and research interests. It might be quite a struggle phase for me but it worth to try. So, it is better die trying than live in sleeping (to live my bravest dream).

  4. Fourth phase is the phase to engage in teaching or mentoring activities to train the younger generation or even communities to venture into my area of expertise.

    This is the process of working collaboratively with and through groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity, special interest, or similar situations to address issues affecting the wellbeing of those people. For example, urban gardens can promote young generation to agri-preneur and provide community with opportunities to form connections and friendships with others.

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