My soul in Academia

and how i plan to soar

Defining my soul.

I think one major issue discussed in this session was how did one get into the academia. Thus, how it shapes one soul and did it play a role towards being successful in this field.  I got into the academia by chance, and I didn’t think that being in this field by chance shaped a different version of who I am and who will I be as an educator nor, will it impede my ability to succeed. Ofcourse, there is no doubt that if one gets into the academia by choice, perhaps they gain a better edge. How could it not be if you were to grow up in a family of educators? Being an academician must have been a familiar case to them and perhaps even better if their parents are currently lecturers too. They will have someone close to refer to and get advice. For the past 10 months serving in this line, I think that being a lecturer by choice gives one an extra edge. It helps one to settle in quickly due to familiarity, being happy as they get to live their dreams and most importantly, to avoid battling their inner demon of ‘why am I here and what am I doing with my life’. Nevertheless, I don’t think that this is a precursor to be successful in this line.

I never realized that understanding ourselves and defining our soul is important. While attending to your session, I think hard about who I am as a person and what is my soul. I mean, how can you shape young minds when you don’t even know yourself? It struck me that defining our soul is truly important. I have always said I am passionate about change. My soul is to be an agent of change where I can create a positive impact on the life of others and that is the main reason why I left my previous job. Although only God knows how much I miss my previous life, but every day of that life reminds me of emptiness. For instance, I don’t feel content making my superior happy, bringing more projects to the company knowing that I could have done something to make sure that none of the construction stakeholder’s gets an upper hand when there is an issue or to sacrifice safety in the name of money.

Today, my soul remains the same despite having a different profession. Being in the academia means I will have more opportunity to create change. I enjoy giving lectures as I know this is my moment to shape the future generation with an open mind culture; where they speak of what they believe. It please me when they question my lecture ‘why this… and why that…’. My husband says I often work too much. I usually have meetings with companies on Fridays, I work closely with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and many other NGOs at night or during the weekend. I do not attend those meetings so that I can secure grants, but I do this because I know that if I work with them, I am giving them an alternative for them to consider change and fulfilling my mission in changing the conventional norm of the construction industry. I don’t mind burning the midnight oil without being paid as I know the output of my research is acknowledged and my views are crucial in changing the Malaysian construction industry. My students will get the opportunity to be familiar with the industry before graduating and they have a chance to improve themselves to better suit the industry demands.

To this, I am very grateful knowing that my soul fits best with the university agenda. I think that creating a change means the ability to be open, to inspire and to work with both academia and industry to ensure that what we do will have positive spill over to the community. Finally, you highlighted on which profession is more likely to be respected by others, is it a prime minister or a professor? To me, the answer is who you are as a person and what is your soul. Because, either way, the soul is the most critical thing no matter what our profession is. You can still do good as a prime minister if you have genuine soul that is defined right because, I feel that having a soul is the ‘it’ thing that motivates one to learn, to grow and to be the best version of themselves.

How i plan to soar without losing my ground

As mentioned above, I plan to soar high in academia by grounding my soul with integrity. Just like having my wedding vows hanged on the wall of my bedroom, I will print and frame the proclamation of my soul in my office so that I will always be reminded of my commitment to the future. I may not look religious, but I believe in the concept of sincerity, blessings and ‘rizq’. As the alignment of my soul to the university agenda is sorted, I now must focus on getting the job done. To do this, no man is an island and I do not wish to work alone. Moving forward, I have three bucket lists in mind.

  • Collaborate with other university. In my case, most of the lecturers who are teaching my subject are those who are counting days to retirement. My niche is a struggle because students do not generally have interest to study economics and strategic business when they took up quantity surveying course. I plan to collaborate with other university as I want to be able learn from the seniors across universities as much as I could before they retire. As time is the essence, I see this collaboration as a strategic platform. This allows me to soak those experience and improve my teaching skills within a short period of time. This collaboration will also provide my students with better learning experience as we are able to integrate class across universities and host competitions. Every lecturer has different strengths be it experience or promoting new stream of thinking. Therefore, my students will be exposed to variety teaching aspects to complement my lacking as a novice lecturer.

  • Collaborate with policy makers I am very fortunate as I am offered a seat at the table with policy makers such as the Construction Industry Development Board and the Ministry of Works Malaysia during the early days of my career. I plan to nurture this relationship and push forward for research that is aligned to the national direction of this industry. This will allow the policy makers to be fully informed on options, opportunities and understanding the consequences of each proposed policy based on the output of our research. This synergy hoped to increase the likelihood of creating a workable yet meaningful policy that stands as a solution instead one that is of temporary bandage.
    • Innovative collaboration and hopefully, creates a spin off with industry players.

    In the spirit of creating a change with positive benefit spill over, I plan collaborate with organizations and scale up my research output with commercial value. As partners, I will have a chance to develop an innovative solution that truly have positive value to customers in the construction industry without having to compromise on ethics. This way, I can also employ my students, specifically those in financial need or those with special interest on big data. Then, I will also have the option to channel CSR of this company towards social NGO activities that I am currently engaged with.

    I believe that these bucket lists will help me to improve myself in both teaching and research while founding a platform in changing the conventional construction industry. However, I must also be aware of my weakness and turn those weaknesses into strength. I recently am amazed by a documentary about Chris Jenner on Netflix where he is able to be the best version of himself as an Olympian by turning his weakness into strength. Two weakness that I aim to change are to stop being a perfectionist and manage my trust issue. I hope to change myself from being too much of a perfectionist by channelling it into the ability to critically view issues from various aspects. More importantly, I have to learn to trust others by helping and nurturing them as it is essential in building the dream team. By achieving the above, I believe that my work will speak for its worth and to soar upwards in the light of achieving designation or fame is never necessary. I believe that if I remain true to my soul, contribute sincerely and to always do by best, I can always count to God for rizq and blessings.

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