Axis Tower Level 3, No. 2, Jalan 51A/223, Seksyen 51A, 46100 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia.          +60(3)7682 2232

Category : Blogs

Home»Archive by Category "Blogs"

Quitting your Job to Start your Own Company

  • Posted On December 6, 2013
  • Categorized In Blogs
  • Written By

Quitting your job and starting your own company

This is a thought that crosses most peoples minds at some point in their lives. Some act on it, others don’t. So what is the barrier that seems to stand between the thought and action? Mostly, fear. Fear of failure, fear of losing stability, that regular paycheck. It is a definite risk to leave the comfort of the job in hand for the uncertainty of venturing into unknown territory.

The question is- is the expected benefit worth the risk? Analyzing the status quo, and then comparing it against the perceived benefit of starting one’s own business can answer that question. There are two elements of perceived benefits- tangible and intangible. The measurable benefits are of course the monetary ones- for example, expected returns.

The more challenging ones to identify and weigh are the intangible ones, like satisfaction. How about the skills required to start a company? Bringing a business idea to life involves a lot of different aspects. There is the business angle like registration, taxes, bank accounts and such. Then there is the operational side for example, the location of business. Is it going to be leased or purchased? Another area is the staffing. The product/service itself is a very important area. Then there is the sales and marketing of the product/service.

While making a decision, all these areas should be considered and of course, the skills required to manage all aspects of the business. What are the sources of support available? Evaluating ones monthly financial commitments may also be a good idea. It would of help if one had financial security to buffer some of the risk. Being aware of the all important factor of luck is also very important. Quitting a job and starting ones own business may be a scary thought, but could prove a rewarding one if one has the right mindset and expectations.

What makes a training interesting

  • Posted On December 4, 2013
  • Categorized In Blogs
  • Written By

What makes a workshop, training or seminar interesting?

Too often people walk out of a workshop/training feeling underwhelmed. They don’t feel like that they’ve learnt something new or useful, they feel that it was a waste of their time. The key word to take away is the ‘feeling’. Participants in any seminar remember the experience, how they felt. In reality, the workshop may have been very educational; the facilitators may have been very knowledgeable.

Then why is there is a disconnect in the delivery of the seminar and the experience of the participants? The key is to enhance the experience, while not reducing the focus from the subject. So how can that be achieved? There are many elements that go into creating an interesting seminar.

An analogy may be that of a gift. The gift itself maybe very valuable, like a diamond ring. However, if the ring is given in a paper bag, the person giving the gift should not be surprised if the response is not a very enthusiastic one! Similarly, the subject of a seminar may be a very important one, but without the right packaging, the effect may be less than spectacular. Yes, focus should be given on building the content such as the slides, handouts, etc.

But equal importance should be given to the delivery of this content- the environment, involvement of the participants, the facilitators skills and so on. The environment, or the venue of the seminar, should be one that is conducive to learning and participation- brightly lit, comfortable seating, collaborative seating layout, etc.

For example, a dimly lit warm classroom may induce drowsiness. Another area that should be given importance is the structure of the seminar. It should be designed in a fashion that increases participation from the attendees. A monologue-type seminar would lose the participants interest very quickly. Moreover, the subject may be lost on them once the interest is lost.

So, punctuating the lecture with group activities, discussions, exercises would definitely enhance the learning experience while holding their interest. Such an interactive delivery of the seminar moves the status of the participants from a passive learner to active.

Of course, you could have the perfect environment and the right structure with brilliant content, but still have a boring seminar if the facilitator does not posses the right skills. It is not enough that facilitator is a subject matter expert. He/she needs to keep the audience engaged through interesting dialogue, anecdotes, and relevant examples, with a dash of humor.

The facilitator should be able to humanize the material by talking ‘to’ the participants, not ‘at’ them. He/she should be able to pick up on their cues- both verbal and especially, non-verbal. For example, if participants are not following a particular concept, they will express it- if not verbally, then definitely, through non-verbal cues, like a quizzical expression.

Being open to questions is a big part of the process as well. If participants feel the facilitator is dodging questions or not responsive to them, they will close up and lose interest in the session. These are some steps that can be taken to make a workshop or seminar interesting.

At iKompass we diligently collect feedback from our participants during and after every session to determine their state of mind. The objective is to baseline on what is perceived to be interesting about a session. The above excerpts are from a study of over 30 PMP trainings conducted in Malaysia involving around 400 responses.


Self study or attend class?

  • Posted On December 4, 2013
  • Categorized In Blogs
  • Written By

Self study versus attending a workshop

It’s a question a lot of learners ask themselves and training providers. A difficult one to give a blanket response. While the content may be the same in both offerings, the answer really lies in the individuals learning style. Worskhops are structured in nature. The instructor takes the participants through the concepts in detail, bundled with exercises and discussions.

The participants can benefit from the facilitators knowledge and can also learn from the experiences of other learners. There is constant sharing of information- both formally ( during class) and informally (during breaks). According to our PMP certification instructors in Malaysia, the interactive nature of the classroom allows for immediate clarification of questions and concerns.

On the downside, the classroom will move at a determined pace, catering to the average level of the class. Due to the constraint of time, there is limited flexibility of catering to the different levels of the participants. Some learners may feel the class is moving too fast while others may feel it is moving too slow.

Also, the learners need to take time out of their busy schedules to participate in the workshop- which is usually a full day at the very least, and could go upto many more days, depending on the subject. Self-paced learning on the other hand, allows for a lot of flexibility. The learner can go through the material at their convenience, and the pace that they feel comfortable.

On the downside, such learning requires that the students exercise a lot of self-discipline. Unlike the classroom training, where during a specified time period, they are a captive audience, in the self-study mode, they need to make the time to study. There arises a question of support as well. They need to establish a source of support in terms of clarification of questions during their preparation.

Both modes of learning have their pros and cons. It is upto the learner to figure out how they learn best, and choose the mode that enhances their learning in the most effective manner.


Exam Jitters

  • Posted On December 4, 2013
  • Categorized In Blogs
  • Written By

What to do about Exam Jitters, especially when you are over 30?

After interacting with hundreds of test takers for exams such as PMP certification in Malaysia, wherein the average age is 35, we have collected a set of best practices that anyone planning to take an exam should be aware of.

Exams are stressful for people of any age. Young students who are used to taking exams on a regular basis form coping mechanisms that then become built-in for a longer term. However adults take fewer exams, and hence, don’t have a built in coping mechanism.

Therefore, candidates must be aware of their anxiety and prepare to take steps to recognize, prevent, and reduce it, as the case may be. A moderate level of anxiety is healthy. It can sharpen performance and give candidates that extra boost they need for their preparation.

However, there is a thin line between anxiety and panic. Managing anxiety is much easier than panic. There are two broad areas that must be kept in mind.

  1. Mental preparation
  2. Physical preparation

Mental preparation includes planning, executing, and monitoring the tasks required to prepare for the exam.

Accepting that a long journey comprises of many steps is a crucial part. One cannot reach the goal in a day. Setting realistic goals and staying on the path with determination will get the traveller to their destination and ease much of that dreaded anxiety. The biggest trap to watch out for is waiting for the last moment to do the studying.

Such cramming will only magnify the stress levels sending candidates over that thin line into panic territory, which is much harder to manage. The mind can only absorb so much information at any given time. Studies show that a healthy adult has an attention span of not longer than 40 minutes on one task.

Taking breaks while studying helps the brain to assimilate information easier. Mental aspects aside, the body has physical responses to anxiety, which is called a fight or flight response. When a threat is perceived, the body prepares to flee the scene, or to attack. The warning signs are shallow breathing, faster beating of the heart, sweaty palms and so on.

This response gives one the sense of being out of control, and if unchecked, will lead to that dreaded panic state. Breathing in deeply and slowly counters the shallow breathing, and thus restores the body to the natural state. Another area to remember is the day before the exam. This day should be a relaxed one.

Doing activities that have a calming effect is encouraged. As far as last minute preparation goes, perhaps going through the key points will be sufficient. Learning new concepts is a definite no-no, and might create that fight or flight response. A good night sleep is absolutely essential as a tired body and mind is definitely not going to perform at an optimal level. These are some of the steps that candidates can take to reduce anxiety levels before an exam.

Do Professional Certifications Matter: a Case Study from Malaysia

  • Posted On December 3, 2013
  • Categorized In Blogs
  • Written By

img-cloudIn this study commissioned by iKompass, correlations between certifications and salary are explored. The study group was made of 127 people who were involved in taking up different certifications such as PMP (Project Management Professional) certification, Cloud certification, CCNA etc.
For a small country such as Malaysia that has no natural resources, people are its biggest asset. Just as a country that has oil nurtures its petroleum industry with utmost care, Malaysia nurtures its people by creating an environment conducive to talent. The certifications or credentials one holds presumably plays a big role in decision making related to careers.
The study involved establishing a correlation between the number of credentials and the corresponding salaries people earned. The sample size for the study was all from Malaysia and randomly selected based on similar demographic criterion such as common university education, age, etc.

Leaders of organizations constantly gripe about not having enough talent. With constant change looming over the horizon, it is imperative that one stays ahead of the talent game. This is achieved through upgrading oneself through education. Beyond the industry need for certified professionals, people in Malaysia seem to be intrinsically motivated to learn. 83% of the participants in the iKompass said that they enjoyed the process of learning beyond just landing a job.

Companies spend millions in upgrading their employees skills at all levels. 90% of our participants attended at least 1 in-house training required by the company and 68% of our participants attended a workshop of their own choice. The study also focused on the tangible value that resulted from people undergoing training.

In real terms, the study tracked the career progress of 40 credential holders who attended a PMP training in Malaysia conducted by. As a control group, study included 40 non credential holders from the same organizations as that of the PMP credential holders. This was a between group experiment and both groups had similar age and college education profiles.

The independent variable was the number of credentials along with the a weighting score for each credential based on the perceived importance. The dependent variable was the salary in Malaysia dollars. The study was interested in exploring whether those with higher scores in their credential variable also had a higher salary.

The null hypothesis was that obtaining a credential had no significant impact on salary. The alternate hypothesis was that certifications had a significant effect on salary. After running correlation tests, the study had the following results r(39) = 0.4334 p

In order to determine the value of certifications to the organizations, the study collected data on the revenues/productivity gains and other efficiency measures of departments and business units that the participants worked in. After converting these metrics to a standard score, the study revealed that departments or business units that had more certified people performed better than departments with lesser certified staff.

This lends to the inference that certifications do add value to individuals as well as businesses. The government in Malaysia has a good hold on shaping the path toward skills upgrading in the form of incentives, subsidies and other schemes. For example, the courses offered by approved training providers are funded by the government to cover 50% of the courses fees and 50% of the exam fees under the Critical Information Technology Resource Enhancement Program (CITREP) program.

Having done trainings across different countries, the instructors at iKompass say that participants in Malaysia have the most motivation when it comes to skills upgrading. The PMP classes that iKompass runs in Malaysia has had a 100% pass rate in the last 4 months. The same instructors teaching in other countries including countries in Europe and Americas see an average pass rate of approximately 82%.

With the recent development and growth of Web 2.0 technologies, the country has seen a rapid increase in web based start-ups. This has fueled talent shortage in the arena of web programming for technologies using PHP, Ruby on Rails etc., Training providers have seen a growing interest from people without any programming experience to learn web development. To cater to this market, iKompass has a intensive 4 weeks web developer bootcamp in Malaysia.
In conclusion, for a country with a history of less than 50 years and with a population of less than 5 million, Malaysia relies on its people to propel the economy. With people being its biggest asset, skills, certifications and credentials matter a lot. With the growth in mobile technologies, there is now a rush towards upgrading skills in the domains of iOS and Android programming. iKompass has reported a significant interest for iOS training and Android training workshops in Malaysia over the last one year.

Forget Privacy. This is what the Big Boys want you to believe

  • Posted On December 2, 2013
  • Categorized In Blogs
  • Written By

“Privacy is over. Get used to it” is often attributed to Scott McNealy, former CEO of Sun. Is he right? The statement by Scott McNealy when interpreted as individuals having no choice but to assign very little value to personal privacy lends to the notion that individuals do not value privacy anymore. In this paper, we put forth a contrary view: People care about privacy and online privacy can and should be protected.

The two main concerns of losing one’s privacy are centered on online behavior being tracked and entities monitoring an individual for scrupulous reasons. “Online predators use information divulged in online profiles and social networking sites to identify potential targets” [1]. These generally do not matter until one is racially profiled or considered a threat to security or is a victim of cyber bullying.

A nonchalant attitude towards privacy issues or outweighing the benefits of information sharing over privacy has a tendency to fuel companies increasing their monitoring activities and aggressively selling personal information for commercial reasons. “Letting the guard down on privacy could also cause harm to the most vulnerable section of the online demographic, children and teenagers who share the most information.” [2]

Parents and job counselors have been warning for years that teenagers and young adults must not post unflattering images to their Facebook pages because, even if deleted, they will persist somewhere on the internet and may be found by prospective colleges and employers [3]. One of the problems around private information being misused centers around how companies such as Google and Facebook use posted information.

Instagram, shortly after being acquired by Facebook, issued new terms of service that gave the company the right to use uploaded images without permission and without compensation. Imagine the damage it could do to a teenager who posted an impulsive “dirty” picture and Instagram uses it to advertise a liquor brand. This example reflects the worsening of privacy misuse as a result of unchecked regulation.

The way out of this is education and regulation. In 1597, Sir Francis Bacon said, “Knowledge is Power”. The more informed the society is, the better it can address need for privacy. Consumers will have to be better educated so they can make the right choice when providing information online. Governments can take an active role in how companies use personal information for commercial purposes.

Companies such as Facebook and Google have a lot to gain commercially by loosening the grip on privacy. The title of this essay with a mention of “Get used it” is a reflection of how these companies want consumers to react – a sense of hopelessness about increasing privacy regulations. However, people still care about privacy. In a study by LoyaltyOne of 1000 consumers, 50 percent said they would not give a trusted company their religious affiliation, 51 percent would not give out their political affiliation, 64 percent would not give out their health information and 85 percent would not give their smartphone location and 75 percent would not give out their browsing history. [4]

These numbers indicate that consumers still value privacy. There has to be a balance between information sharing and how this information is used by companies and other entities. Government regulation of companies who collect and share information could be the key.


[1] Wolak J, Finkelhor D, Mitchell K, Ybarra M. Online “Predators” and Their Victims: Myths, Realities, and Implications for Prevention and Treatment. American Psychologist, 2008;63, 111-128.[2] Lenhart A. Social Media and Young Adults. Pew Internet and American Life Project, 2010[3]Mark F. Foley. Technology Law Update February 2013[4]Bryan Pearson, LoyaltyOne