“EXSAS 50 - A Personal Tribute” will be unveiled on the 21st of April, 2018 during “Majlis Makan Malam EXSAS / AKSHAH”. To find out more about the idea, the objectives and the process that the team went through in putting together the list, we sat down with the project director, Althahir Abdul Rashid (EXSAS 87 / Skylab).

Q: “What was your inspiration for EXSAS 50?”
A: “After reading The Times Magazine 100 Most Influential People In The World 2017, I thought to myself, (Wouldn’t it be cool if EXSAS had a list of this nature?). Once that idea was planted in my mind, I knew that I need to work on it. The thing about having an idea is that you need to provide leadership and management based on common sense and clarity to see it through. Luckily for me, a bunch of us (EXSAS Power Talks 2016/2017 team) were willing to have a go at it.”

Q: “I am sure there are other EXSAS members who have thought about writing a piece on EXSAS / SEMSAS but why do you have to take upon yourself to do it?”
A: “Part of leadership is showing initiatives. Thinking about doing something and actually taking steps to do it are two different things. Besides, it is not like I have to ask permission from anyone. But it is important to follow the proper channel so I did inform the President of EXSAS of my intention and he gave our team his full support. At the back of my mind, I do want to encourage more members to try owning their ideas. We need our keyboard warriors to turn themselves into action heroes.”

Q: “But not everyone can follow your lead!”
A: “It is all about staying within your circle of competence. Actually, I have a very small circle of competence. Fortunately, some elements of EXSAS fall under this circle. I am pretty clear about my competence boundaries and disciplined enough to stay within the perimeter. That’s it.”

Q: “Ok, whatever Warren Buffett wannabe (chuckles)! Back to the list. Did you follow the format of The Times Magazine 100 Most Influential People In The World to a tee?”
A: “Not really. I liked the idea that it was casually written but we add our own twist to make it more personal. We then appended our reason for selection / verdict and a favourite quote of the featured member. Sadly though, we couldn’t get quotes from everyone on the list.”

Q: “Care to elaborate on the process that you and the team followed?”
A: “I have to admit something here … our approach was pretty amateurish. We know nothing about writing something of this nature and there was no formula nor algorithm that we used (we know of none). Mostly, it was just down to personal preferences and intuition based on our main objectives. We started the process by inviting the general members to nominate someone they know within the EXSAS rank to be featured on the list. However, after the deadline we only received five nominations. Obviously, that disrupted our initial plan. We then decided to come up with our own list so I scouted through my phones for names and also received suggestions from others. What would have been an official EXSAS list became a ‘A Personal Tribute’ instead.”

Q: “What was the basis of your selection?”
A: “First, you have to be listed in my phone’s contact list. Secondly, you should not have crossed paths with me. I am just kidding (laughing). Frankly, we just went with the flow. All I can say is that, you will not go wrong with half of the names (the usual suspects). To complete the list we looked for a diverse group of members (male / female / ethnicity) who are making an impact within their industry / organization and represent EXSAS well (the nice surprises). They are not very well-known within the EXSAS circle but whose achievement should be highlighted anyway. Also, I am especially excited that quite a number of personalties on the list have written and published books nationally. To me, they represent what is EXSAS all about.

Q: “What is EXSAS all about?”

A: “I can tell you what EXSAS is not about. We are not elitist. For a start, most of us came from an average family background. After receiving a good education at SEMSAS, we tried to build our own careers and now we are using the EXSAS platform to contribute to our alma mater, community and the nation. Another thing that makes EXSAS unique compared to other alumni is the ease of interaction between the senior members of EXSAS and the junior members.”

Q: “Do you have anything further to add about the process?”

A: “After identifying the personality, I tried to find out what has been the achievement of that person (mostly using google). Since we ‘write first and contact later’, the main content has to be interesting for the average person to read. I would later look for a certain hook to subjects of national interest. Only then we would share it with the selected member for accuracy. Many of them were excited when contacted but a small number of them were indifferent towards the idea. Out of the 50 names on the list, only two were self-written by the personality themselves (Dato’ Imran & TJ) while I wrote the rest. Since the list were not meant for nationwide publication, we did not enlist the service of an editor. So, if you find any grammatical error on the list, its my bad.”

Q: “How long does it take you and the team to complete the list?”

A: “We worked on it sparingly. I would say it took us more than six months.”

Q: “What do you hope to achieve through the list?”

A: “First and foremost, we hope the list will increase EXSAS profile and inspire our members. The underlying objectives would be - to enhance the ethos of EXSAS in general and skew the narrative among EXSAS members towards professional & personal development. When we talk about alumni of elite schools, we normally mention their distinguished personalities and physical assets such as their office building etc. So, in essence we rate personalities and properties higher than the overall quality of the association’s leadership and management skills. And I thought what better way to put EXSAS in the same conversation as the other alumni than by having our own list of distinguished personalities.”

Q: “Ok, that sounds great but you can’t compare the personalities of elite schools with EXSAS, we don’t stand a chance to be taken seriously?’

A: “That is true. Trying to put our list next to personalities of other elite schools / alumni would be an exercise of discomfiture. They have a longer history and highly celebrated personalities. But then again I am not one to sell ourself short so I look at another angle. Books about elite schools are normally written and published “Majalah Jasa” style, which is fine if we are still in SEMSAS . So I am not going to have any of that. I want people to enjoy reading the list, be amused, be informed and give a nod of appreciation to our members. The list is to be seen as fun and easy to read which should endear to the masses since we are not in competition with the elite alumni. And, finally, we have another point which easily differentiate us from the elite schools, we are co-ed! MCOBA / STAROBA / SDARA / ASAS / OPA can’t feature an outstanding female member at the same time TKCOGA / SRIKANDI / PUTERI can’t write about a distinguished gentleman.”

Q: “What’s with the monikers? Aren’t you afraid that you might rub some people the wrong way with the name-calling?”

A: “Let us not take ourselves too seriously. I do think the work we do is serious but there is no harm in taking a light-hearted approach to it. No matter how high up the hierarchy one is currently positioned, it is the core activity of his or her organization that will take prominence. Furthermore, it shows how in tune I am with the featured personality’s selfperception. For example, DS Zohari referred to himself as a ‘Pothole Patcher’ during Power Talks Perdana 2016 and DS Naim has a whatsapp group titled ‘Gomen Bikers’. Don’t ask me how do I know that (hint… Cambridge Analytica). So, I don’t think any of them would be offended by their given moniker.”

Q: “What is your favourite moniker then?

A: “Quite a few actually but if I have to pick one it would be ‘Pothole Patcher’. Can you imagine, The Secretary General of the Ministry of Works, Malaysia carries considerable clout and I get to call him a ‘Pothole Patcher’. That is awesome.”

Q: “Can you give us a sneak peek of the names included in the list?

A: “I am not going to divulge more names other than the four mentioned earlier. All I can say is that you will be proud of the people on the list especially the ‘nice surprises’. You just have to wait for the release of the list.”

Q: “The unveiling of EXSAS 50 is expected to generate some buzz among our members. Are you prepared to receive any backlash?”

A: “Bouquets or brickbats are to be expected, I guess. A list of this nature is always subjective. It is important to note that this list is a personal tribute and it is far from being definitive. Since we are on the topic of divided opinion, I believe in the ‘Net Promoter Score’. I do not think we are going to have an official number for it but as long as the likes outnumber the dislikes, I think we have done our job well. Furthermore, without both positive and negative advocacy, the conversation would be dull and less engaging.”

Q: “I have seen the list and my main grouse would be the omission of members whom I regard as highly accomplished. I am sure many would probably agree with me.”

A: “Your contention is duly noted. As I have explained before, we tried to invite nominations from the general members but we only received five names. So you only have yourself to blame. In order to complete the list, I looked at our two targeted audiences - internal and external. We want to inspire our members (internal) and at the same time we want EXSAS to be recognized by the general public (external). I do not wish for EXSAS to be branded as an elite group, I just want it to be known as a diverse group made up of cool personalities who are living up to our school slogan (Hidup Berjasa). Moreover, even if you expand the list to a 100, you would still will be missing a few names.”

Q: “What do you have to say to anyone who felt slighted because they were not featured on the list?”

A: “I have you at no. 51…”

Q: “Haha. That’s a good one. Do you have anything else to add?”

A: “This list is our token for EXSAS. Rather than using our written ‘gift of gabs’ unproductively, we channelled it to something useful. Personally, I hope more members will come forward to serve EXSAS in the future. It is a great platform to improve one’s talent. You don’t need a position or seniority to contribute. I consider myself as a homegrown talent - whose skills were polished through my participation in EXSAS over the years. It is a two-way process, you bring something in from your professional environment, put it into EXSAS and you take something back to further improve yourself and your professional organization.”

Q: “Hmm… interesting. I never thought that way about EXSAS? I just consider it as a social and networking platform. Any final thoughts about EXSAS in general?”

A: The committee of EXSAS should be perceived as the showcase of talents produced by SEMSAS. As one of the founding members of EXSAS, I hope the next committee will build on the foundation laid and provide the required leadership and management needed to bring EXSAS forward.”

Q: “Well said. That should wrap up our Q & A session. Thank you for your time.”

A: “The pleasure is all mine and Hidup Berjasa.”



Akaun Kebajikan EXSAS

Nama : Persatuan Bekas Pelajar SEMSAS
Bank : Affin Bank Wangsa Maju
No Akaun : 105040031824

Akaun Bank EXSAS

Nama : Persatuan Bekas Pelajar Semsas

Bank : Maybank Berhad, Kelana Jaya

No Akaun : 5623 5750 2760

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