At Limkokwing, we design our students6

At Limkokwing, we design our students

When I say I planned this university by first designing the graduates, I know people don’t understand what I mean. But that’s what I did. 

If you are a designer, you would know what you are going to produce. If I don’t know what I am going to produce, I won’t start.

Like in advertising, where I spent many years managing my own company, you have to study how a product will look as part of a campaign to launch or revive it. That means you actually design what the result will be.

Professors from conventional universities talk about industry not doing its research before starting a university. That point of view is inaccurate.

People from industry do conduct research. The difference between them and the people who run conventional universities is that they do their research very much faster. And they begin their research with the outcome clearly in mind.

For instance in Botswana, a public university there took five years to be established. They were amazed we managed to set up ours in three months and build up an enrolment of 10,000 students in less than two years.

We do it completely differently at our university. We start by looking at the kind of graduates we want to produce. Then we work backwards to put in the processes and build the support systems to ensure we get the desired outcome.

If you are an industry person, you will think like that.

Essentially, when I talk about designing the graduates, it is about creating the ecosystem that empowers students to be the person they want to be and to become better at what they do.

It’s their call and nobody else’s.

Everything that I have done is a reversal of the norm – giving up control rather than imposing control; giving the students the stage instead of owning the stage; letting them run as fast as they want.

When you impose strict rules, you are stopping the students from thinking. You force them to think very little about themselves. You force them to be unattractive, to be very dull people, when they are supposed to be vibrant.

A happy campus

limkokwing campus in cyberjaya

I planned for the campus to be a happy place because creativity is a positive attitude. You can only be creative if you are a positive thinker. 

A good writer will not be able to write well if he is not happy. An artist will not be able to paint well if he is not in the mood.

Creative energy is positive energy and it can only come from people who are happy.

So when I talk to the students, I tell them to design themselves or re-design themselves if they don’t like what they have.

The first step they must take is to discover themselves. To Malaysian students, I say rediscover yourselves. That is because Malaysians are used to being told what they should do throughout their school years.

They have a window of two or three years on campus to do it. 

At the end of their stay, the graduates are simply better than others – they present themselves better, they are more confident, more inspired and therefore more enthusiastic about what they do. The whole personality is different. 

When we held a fashion show for the public, two-thirds of the models were our students. We asked the media after the show who they thought were the best models and they said the students were miles ahead of the professional models.

Our business programme classroom is designed to look like an office. Students go in and sit at a conference table, and the lecturer chairs the session. So the lessons are conducted in a simulated meeting environment.

When it is a student’s turn to make a presentation, he or she will stand and make it. If a student disagrees with the chair, he or she can interrupt him.

Making things happen from inside

I tell our students that they shouldn’t discard what they had learned or what they had become in the 17 or 18 years of their life before they joined our university. They just have to build on what they know and have. 

What they cannot do well they learn to do better; what they know they can do well they learn to do even better than anybody else. 

It always works. Overnight you can see their confidence boosted because they feel that is what they can become – the best version of themselves. 

Somebody will quietly advise them only if they have gone overboard.

In designing the campus, you must be clear about the purpose and the goal you want to achieve. You have to think it through. You have to put in place all the answers before the questions are asked. 

That was why I designed the buildings of the campus and then engaged an architect to do the technical details.

You have to attract the right teaching staff, attract the right administrators, and put in the time to make sure enough thinking is done. 

You will reject what is second best. If you know you can do better, you simply will not accept what comes easy.

Similarly, in an environment like that, the students will know this campus is no piece of cake. This university will not make life easy for them. This one believes in quality.

Our output is good because the input is good.

I have many messages from our former students who said their parents noticed the change in them after they graduated and went home.

They said that when they joined the university, they had no idea of what to expect, meaning they were expecting something to happen to them from outside.

But when they were empowered to decide their future, they realised that they could make things happen to them from inside, and take control of their life.

We produce results like that because we designed this university based on an unconventional blueprint that has largely come out from our experience in industry. We know how it is done, so we know what must be done to bring about the results.

We have been there and done it.

tansri photo

About Tan Sri Lim

Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Paduka Dr Lim Kok Wing, the Founder and President of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, does not fit into any ordinary mould that would describe most entrepreneurs.

His journey has been closely linked with the economic and social development of Malaysia.

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2009 November 2

Tan Sri, my friends and I were really amused when we first saw your campus in Cyberjaya, with that giant cloth wrap. This university has a lot of money to blow on decoration, we laughed. But we soon became aware of the creative purpose of the ‘skin’. It is actually a message that here is the home of creativity and innovation. And that message is repeated everywhere on campus. My friends and I became converts very fast. Truly a remarkable concept to change mindset.

2009 November 2

I just loved all those flags of the countries where Limkokwing students came from. I felt proud each time I spotted the flag of my country, Botswana, fluttering in the wind high up on the pole. I felt at home.

Y.K. Chen
2009 November 2

The industry-within-university concept enabled me to practise what I learn while I learned. It has really benefited me in my business that I set up in China.

2009 December 5

Hi, Tan Sri

I think you have built a great institution. It’s so great that after completing my diploma I’m coming back to do my degree! I am now trying to get all my paintball friends to join. I hope we can have our own Limkokwing team.

Sim Quee Lai
2011 October 12

Dear Tan Sri, Prof.,
I am a 56-year old parent. This is my first time, reading your blogs.  It’s so rich in wisdom and practical advice. I truly am inspired by it all. I too have learnt much from these wise sharings. Indeed, it resonates deeply with me. I only hope, the youth of our dear nation will take to heart, and live out these wise counsels all the days of their life, and so make our beloved country, a better place, we call our home. Tan Sri Prof., good health, and a long happy life be with you, as well, may all your paths and plans to help young people, be smooth and successful.

Sikhumbuzo P Malambe
2011 October 25

Sir, i should start by saying that it is a great honor to seat under the council of such vast wisdom, in a time when we as a human race have place so little value in such matters. I am a student in Limkokwing Swaziland, and though the instution is still taking its baby steps in our country; i know and am certain that this is the start of great things for our country. though thre be many challenges that lay ahead of us, we know that this is our time, a time of visionaries,leaders, creative thinkers and the very future of our country and perhaps our continent. So today as we stand on the edge, we know the time is now, and for that we thank you.


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