HELP University reappoints HT Consulting Deputy CEO Vanessa Tan into its IT Industry Advisory Board. 

In 1989, HTC founder Harres Tan extrapolated a technology-driven future from the accelerating growth of ICT in Malaysia. Over the years, he saw a sizeable potential in local talent to spearhead the country's global technology push and has since exerted himself in higher education – becoming the Chairman of HELP University's IT Industry Advisory Board (IAB) in 2012. 

Then-Chairman of the HELP University IT Industry Advisory Board and HT Consulting founder Harres Tan (third from the right) pictured with board members and HELP University academics on 20 March 2012. (Photo: The Edge Financial Daily) 

Deputy CEO Vanessa Tan takes up the baton for HT Consulting 

Harres Tan’s legacy is carried on by HTC Deputy CEO Vanessa Tan when she was inducted as a board member of the IAB back in 2016. After serving a term, she was reappointed in October 2020.  

The IAB is a committee that comprises seasoned industry professionals to serve as liaisons for academics and students to keep abreast of industry developments, economic demands, and societal needs in the information technology (IT) sector. 

Students will find it easier to make the leap from academia to the workforce when there is a strategic alliance between academics and industry experts that helps equip graduates with the relevant knowledge and proficiencies; well-catered to ever-evolving domestic and global trends. 

(L-R) Vanessa Tan, Dr Sien Ven Yu, Dean, Faculty of Computing & Digital Technology and Datin Chan- Low Kam Yoke, Chairperson and Group Chief Executive Officer of HELP International Corporation (HIC) 

Addressing the shortage of skilled IT professionals 

There is a persisting problem that plagues the IT sector; a shortfall in skilled professionals. While it is apparent that technology has advanced by leaps and bounds in the past decade, there is still a lack of suitable talents despite increasing talent acquisition efforts. As a matter of fact, IT-related jobs still top the list of critical occupations in Malaysia, and this alludes to the fact that many companies are neck and neck in building tech teams and enhancing their workforce competencies to meet market demands.  

Recognising there is a role to play in developing and elevating sought-after skills of the workforce, HELP University, hand-in-hand with the IT Industry Advisory Board, is on a mission to facilitate the transition of students in higher education from academia to the working environment. 


Inculcating industry-relevant elements in the curriculum 

Academia and industry can collaborate in many areas, yet importance lies in the teaching-learning process. With the IAB, academics can work hand-in-glove with industry experts to offer curricula that are more closely tailored to the IT sector's needs – critical to producing adept graduates who could easily acclimatise to the workforce dynamics. 

It is doubt-free that changes in technology-driven industries accelerate at a quick pace. Students must be sufficiently informed about these changes, and industrial perspectives facilitate that with high-level advice and direction. In this regard, close consultation between academics and board members before mounting a specific course content in the curriculum helps align classroom teaching to workforce needs, assuring its relevance. On top of that, this affiliation allows for discussion on critical issues and challenges related to different IT disciplines. 

"Our company has seen paradigm shifts and technological trends that have changed the IT landscape forever and even stood in the face of numerous economic recessions. Yet, we have pivoted ourselves to remain strong and relevant to meet our customers and partners' needs." 

"I am delighted to be part of the IAB where board members undertake the role as career advocates to share external perspectives and advice on the curricula of IT courses in HELP University, ensuring that they resonate with industry demands," said Vanessa Tan.


Promising opportunities for collaborations, internships and researches 

In recent years, researchers have shed light on the discrepancy between employer demands and jobseeker competencies. This assertion is attributed to the inadequacy of workforce training in education. In efforts to enhance graduates' employability, these young minds need exposure beyond the classroom to hone the knowledge and skills required for employment. 

Establishing a link between academia and industry opens doors for on-the-job opportunities such as internships, co-op programmes, and summer jobs for students; to immerse themselves in discovering a broader perspective of industry practices and gaining practical experience. This benefits not only the students but academics also find collaborating with industry players provides them the resources to take their research further. 

"We welcome young IT enthusiasts with keen interest to hone their skill set as they gear up to make their mark in the industry. Our very own initiative, the Summer Immersion Program, is an internship placement for students from as early as their first year of undergraduate studies, to put their knowledge into practise; tapping into experiential learning through mentorship opportunities and real-life projects," said Vanessa Tan. 

All smiles as board members and HELP University academics gather for one of IAB’s triannual meetings in 2019. 

More to come 

Moving forward, HT Consulting envisions an opportunity-filled path ahead to develop strategic partnerships with universities and other forward-looking companies with a mutual purpose; to modernise teaching and learning, and to prepare graduates for a successful transition into the workplace. 

Related Institutions: