17 January 2021 Talk Series Title: Moving towards a resilient and sustainable food security
1. Professor Datin Paduka Dr Fatimah Mohamed Arshad
2. Dr. Larry C.Y. Wong

With insights on resilient and sustainable food security, participants learnt of its importance, especially in the time of a pandemic, when they participated in the webinar titled “Towards a Resilient and Sustainable Food Security for Malaysia in Challenging Times”, jointly organised by Faculty of Accountancy and Management (FAM), Belt & Road Strategic Research Centre, and Center for Entrepreneurial Sustainability on 7 January 2021 via Zoom.

The webinar aimed to enlighten participants on Malaysia’s current food security and the possible solutions to achieve a resilient and sustainable food security. Speaking at the webinar were invited speakers, namely Agriculture and Food Security Cluster of Academy of Professors, Malaysia (APM) Head and National Agriculture Advisory Council Member Prof Datin Paduka Dr Fatimah Mohamed Arshad and ISIS Malaysia Senior Visiting Fellow, Myanmar Praxis Co Ltd Co-founder, and Myanmar Rice Federation Senior Advisor Dr Larry C Y Wong. 

“According to the World Food Summit, food security exists when all people, at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs, and food preferences for an active and healthy life. From here we note, the major pillars of food security are availability; accessibility or affordability; and utilisation or nutrition security,” explained Prof Fatimah. 

“However, when a shock occurs, we see the disruption of this shock towards our food security. In this case, the shock is referred to the Covid-19 pandemic, which we are currently facing. When the pandemic happened, we see the implementation of lockdowns and movement control order (MCO) initiatives issued by the government. These initiatives disrupted the supply chain and caused economic slowdown, which caused loss of income and poverty for many. Having lost their income and jobs, the affected people were subjected to health vulnerability, lower nutrition security and lower affordability to buy food. The disrupted supply chain, on the other hand, affected the availability of food. All of these, when viewed in a bigger picture, brought forth food insecurity,” explained Prof Fatimah. Other implications to food security, as mentioned by her, also included consumption growing faster than production and the need to source from import to meet local demands.

Speaking on a more positive note to assure participants, Prof Fatimah explained that economic growth can contribute to food security. “For instance when a growth-induced policy is implemented, we see economic growth. From there, we see an increase in food productions, farmers’ incomes, and consumers’ incomes. With the increased food production, availability, affordability and nutrition security is assured, which then leads to food security, eventually increasing quality of human capital,” said Prof Fatimah.

On ensuring food stability, she listed various methods, including, diversifying agriculture and employment; monitoring food security and vulnerability; developing risk analysis and management; and reviving access to credit system and savings mechanisms. Meanwhile, methods to ensure food sustainability, as listed by Prof Fatimah, were implementing eco-friendly farm practices; natural resource management; zero-food waste; community-based farming; and community-based resource management

She added, “When we speak about resiliency, we look at these attributes – absorptive capacity, adaptive capacity and transformative capacity. These attributes are connected to resilience-building strategies which consist of tangible measures and intangible measures. Under the tangible measures, we look into the income or savings, assets or capitals, and production or efficiency. The intangible measures will include risk attitude or perception, self-esteem, and faith or fatalism. With these strategies in place, we look into the food and nutrition security indicators, such as child malnutrition, household hunger score, months of adequate food provision, household per capita fund consumption, food consumption scores, and dietary diversity."

Speaking from a practitioner’s perspective, Dr Wong spoke on “Rethinking Malaysian Food Security in the context of Covid-19 and the Future of Food: A Practitioner’s Perspective”. He spoke about the new dimensions and dynamics of food with the focus on future timeline, shared relevant lessons from Covid-19 pandemic to better prepare Malaysia for the future, listed future of food considerations, and shared his thoughts on moving forwards towards a resilient and sustainable food security.

“By 2030, Malaysia’s population will increase pressure on food demand, water use, and energy consumption. We will witness major demographic shifts from the long-term trends of increasingly urban populations, including cross-border migration, driven by conflicts, natural disasters, and the search for better livelihoods which will disproportionally populate the already rapidly growing urban areas. Inequalities and disparities will hopefully be lessened,” said Dr Wong.

He elucidated further, “These challenges will be exacerbated by climate change, which is capable of derailing decades of progress in economic development and food security. In a changing resource-scarce world, we need new models for consumption and production, such as responsible and sustainable consumption and production, and economic transformation, especially rural transformation. Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, such as artificial intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT) coupled with the digitalisation of agriculture, will inevitably drive social change, enabling new ways to optimize efforts to effect inclusivity, resilience, and sustainable food security and transformation.”

Dr Wong also advised that system-based supply chain and trading networks approach must be applied to untangle the complexity of food security and food systems. For managing food system risks, he mentioned that there is a need to understand the interconnected challenge and their consequences in various levels, including global, regional, national (macro), state (meso), and local (micro) levels. 

“When we apply a holistic supply chain perspective, it highlights the need to focus beyond agricultural production and look at the challenges, risks, and opportunities along the entire supply chain and across chains (integration of supply/value chains), including future demand and trends. From the pandemic, we note the underscoring of the overarching importance of whole-of-nation and whole-of-society response. There is a need for unified commitments of multi-stakeholders coupled with policy, legal, and institutional coherence. Consequently, we should promote Malaysia’s new narrative – We Feed the World! We are already recognised internationally as the net exporter of food and this has opened up strategic possibilities. Leveraging on this and our other inherent advantages and champion an International Food Security Coalition (IFSC) and move forward,” commented Dr Wong.

The webinar ended with an interactive Q&A session. 
28 March 2021Talk Series Title: "Necessity is the mother of invention." Plato.
Presenter: Dr. Peter Thong

There are strong reasons why certain individuals and organisations are pushed or pulled toward innovation. Certain transformations caused by innovations are phenomenal whereby the outcome can evolve into pillars of employment, empowerment and economic growth. With the aim to expose that concept to more than 100 participants, the Faculty of Accountancy and Management (FAM) and Centre for Entrepreneurial Sustainability (CENTS) jointly organised a webinar titled "Necessity is the mother of invention” on 8 March 2021 via Zoom.

“So many products and services are being made and offered in this world because necessity is the one that created all of these. In this webinar, I would like to show you the journey of different areas which you have not experienced before. I will also highlight the salient point so you can shape yourself for the future, especially after you graduate,” said Dr Peter Thong as he explained his presentation title.

Dr Peter Thong, who is one of the industry advisors for FAM said, “We can’t run away from Covid-19 but we can question ourselves on what can we do? Is there any opportunity that we can tap into? Is there a problem we can solve? These require creativity and we need to think out of the box and invent new things. We must not all the time think of only being in Malaysia, we must think of ourselves as international citizens. Only through this way, we can be part of the world and take part in the world economy and invent new things for the world population to use. This can empower us to create things not only for Malaysia but for other countries as well. We as international citizens must feel that we are part of two countries and we need to see how we can work together to serve the population.”

He also spoke about the Covid-19’s impact on world gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020, takeaway lessons to learn to recover from the Covid-19 impact, ASEAN countries and its unique selling point and its trade with China as well as the four industrial revolutions. 

”Emotional skill is equally important to IQ and adversity quotient especially when one wants to invent something. Digitisation builds skill sets for the future, supports technology adoption by private sector and public sector, promotes lifelong learning and counteracts the brain drain while strengthening regional cross-border digital collaboration and improving the ecosystem for start-ups. 5G commercialisation will redefine the connectivity in Malaysia and create opportunity for invention,” added Dr Peter Thong.

Dr Peter Thong is the first Malaysian to graduate in Industrial Engineering and Management at Aston University, England in July 1970. He chose the course as Singapore was embarking on an Industrialisation Programme during that time. In Malaysia, Dr Peter Thong pioneered the use of steel reinforcing fabric (BRC) for high rise structures and drainage projects. In Hong Kong, he introduced solid state frequency converters to service 84 aircrafts 24/7 in Kai Tak Airport and he was also engaged in a number of projects in the development of Chek Lap Kok Airport in Hong Kong. In addition, Dr Peter Thong initiated the manufacture of steel reinforcing fabric, metal cladding sheet insulated panel systems and wide span pre-engineered buildings in China. Currently, Dr Peter Thong is engaged in advanced technologies in emerging markets.

The webinar ended with an interactive Q&A session.
322 March 2021Talk Series Title: Life in the Investment Industry (Asset Management): World Economy and Market Outlook
Presenter: Mr. Edwin Lee Wai Kidd

UTAR Faculty of Accountancy and Management (FAM) collaborated with the Centre for Entrepreneurial Sustainability (CENTS) to organise a webinar titled "Life in the Investment Industry (Asset Management): World Economy and Market Outlook" on 22 March 2021. The webinar aimed to provide an overall picture to the students about life in UOB Asset Management (Malaysia) and for them to consider a career in an investment management company.

The invited speaker was Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Senior Director of UOB Asset Management Edwin Lee Wai Kidd. He possesses more than 20 years of experience in various financial industries, ranging from banking, life insurance, general insurance, unit trust to capital market. 

In his talk, Edwin Lee first introduced UOB Asset Management and talked about its organisational structure, departments as well as job opportunities. He then discussed the market outlook with a focus on “3R” for the year 2021. “The first ‘R’ is recovery. We believe this is a good year for recovery, especially for economic recovery. The number of COVID-19 cases across the world is reducing. We see things are much more under control now in most of the countries,” he said, adding that the world economy is projected to rebound in 2021 with over 5 per cent of GDP growth.

Elucidating on the second ‘R’—risk-on, he said, “This is a good year for you to take a bit of risk to invest, especially on the investment with higher risk. More and more vaccines are rolled out in the world. What we are seeing is that we are at the first stage of immunisation. We believe that from July onwards, most of the developed nations will have achieved herd immunity. When you are expecting the economy to recover very strongly, you should also expect the corporate profit to rebound. Most of the large companies in the U.S. will resume back to their normal operation towards the second to the third quarter of the year.”

“The third ‘R’ that I would like to share with you today is called rotation. Ever since the crisis took place, back in the first two quarters of 2020, there had been a fair bit of sharp market rebound. We noticed most of the markets that rebounded sharply tend to be concerned about the bubbles created in the market. But the market is not in a bubble,” he said while explaining that the current market and valuation still lag previous bubbles.

He also spoke about the United Global Durable Equity Fund and discussed how Malaysian investors should look into investing in China. He shared about investment strategies and explained how to invest under “Made in China 2025” and invest into the tomorrow of China. The four sectors of the strategies he shared were technology, consumer, clean energy and biotech. He also talked about the United Global Healthcare Fund and the opportunities that will come up when economies begin their road to recovery. 

The webinar ended with a Q&A session, followed by a group photo session. The webinar ended with an interactive Q&A session. 
423 April 2021Talk Series Title: Digital Economy and Design Thinking in support of Post-COVID19 Recovery Efforts Presenter: Prof. Ts. Dr. Murali Raman

A webinar titled “Digital Economy and Design Thinking in Support of Post-Covid 19 Recovery Efforts” was organised by the Centre for Entrepreneurial Sustainability (CENTS) on 23 April 2021. The webinar was hosted on Zoom with an attendance of 106 participants.

The invited speaker for the webinar was Postgraduate & Continuing Education, Asia Pacific University and Innovation (APU) Director Prof Ts Dr Murali Raman. The webinar was moderated by CENTS Chairperson Dr Mohammad Falahat Nejadmahani.

Prof Murali started his webinar by highlighting the new norm of post-covid-19, “Things can't get back to the time where there was no Covid-19. Since last year, students and academics had been anticipating to get back to their normal lives such as going back to colleges or schools to undergo face-to-face teaching and learning. However, this new norm is a good learning process to ensure that we cope with it and change our perspective on how we deal with people during this pandemic period.”

He added, "We always see the Covid-19 pandemic as a negative matter, but there are many positive things that we could focus on. During this pandemic period, we have evolved to become more agile; lifestyle and environment have changed and many innovative ideas have expanded.”

During the webinar, Prof Murali shared five key points with the participant. The five key points focused on key lessons from historical events in the world, from VUCA to VUCA+D world; Digital Economy and Design Thinking – A response to Covid-19; fundamental design thinking (DT) concepts; understanding how design thinking can play a vital role in managing a pandemic and assist in post-Covid-19 recovery efforts and many more.

Prof Murali then moved on to discuss VUCA to VUCA+D world. He said, “VUCA carries the meaning Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. The world before the pandemic was pretty much stable, very consistent and predictable. But due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the world today had skipped its beat, predictability and continuity. VUCA+D: digital disruption has added more topic to the VUCA discussion and has become one of the main concerns among corporate leaders around the world. Economy and climate changes are becoming uncertain.”

Nearing the end of the webinar, Prof Murali shared five key points on the role of the digital economy in aiding pandemic recovery efforts. There were several changes in business modes such as pivoting to online; adopting digital platforms; linking e-hailing service providers by making them part of the supply chain and venturing into new opportunities. He also mentioned that design thinking was essential. It is a collaborative approach to foster innovative solutions for a given problem.

Prof Murali is an experienced Professor with a history of working in the higher education industry. He is skilled in design thinking, digital leadership and mindset change. Besides being a trainer and coach for corporations in Malaysia, he is also a Certified NLP Practitioner. He has also been certified in Design Thinking by the Stanford School (USA). He has solid research achievements with numerous research accolades, e.g. World Innovation Award (Korea), National Outstanding Award for Education Leadership and Gold Medallist at PECIPTA 2013. He has published more than 85 papers in international journals and conferences. 

The webinar ended with an interactive Q&A session.
528 April 2021Talk Series Title: Impactful Research on Sustainable Business: Design Thinking Paradigm
Presenter: Prof. Dr. Sofri Yahya

Design Thinking is a paradigm that focuses on the human being to integrate people, technology and business. The Centre for Entrepreneurial Sustainability (CENTS) organised a webinar titled, “Impactful Research on Sustainable Business: Design Thinking Paradigm” on 28 April 2021 via Zoom. Speaking at the webinar was Universiti Sains Malaysia Graduate School of Business Prof Dr Sofri Yahya who is a Professor in strategic innovation and coach of design thinking and former DRB-HICOM University Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Academic and Research.

As countries around the world face an unprecedented health crisis and domestic business downturns, many were looking for new ways to address the issues. Under these circumstances, it became even more essential to shift our paradigms or revisit the way we perceive research. The webinar discussed the application of Design Thinking as a methodology of conducting research in the areas of business. “This webinar is to upgrade the world’s ability to solve problems through design and thinking. If we apply the methodology properly, it should help researchers to produce research outputs which are not only more meaningful but also more impactful to the stakeholders,” said Prof Sofri.

Another paradigm is also known as personal focused versus stakeholder centred. As a design thinker, there is a need to emphasise more on the stakeholders. “We could get better at solving the right problems. The issue with problem-solving is overlooking the causes as we focused on the symptoms. When you are resolving a problem, it’s important to understand the difference between the cause and the symptom. A symptom is an indicator or a sign that a problem exists. For instance, if your team has low productivity, it is a sign of a problem, unproductiveness does not happen by itself and cannot be resolved by itself. The underlying problem may be due to low morale which is due to heavy overtime, boredom, poor management, low pay and other related factors. In other words, when you resolve an issue, you must address the cause of the problem, not the related symptom. The final cause can be referred to as the root cause,” added Prof Sofri.

Prof Sofri explained, “Clarity is power. The purpose to conduct research needs to be clear and it must have an impact on the society. Anybody can join the debate about the future of humanity, but it is hard to maintain a clear vision. Frequently, we do not even notice that a debate is going on, or what the key questions are. Unfortunately, history gives no discounts. If the future of humanity is decided in our absence because we are too busy with our work, all of us will not be exempted from consequences. As researchers, we cannot give people money, food, or clothes but we can try to offer clarity, thereby helping to level the global playing field.”

He then introduced the topic “Redesigning one’s thinking”. “It’s not only a process or methodology, it is also known as a paradigm. Design thinking is a methodology for creative problem solving that shapes the way we perceive things and how to solve problems and conduct research. Design thinking is a human-centred approach to solve problems innovatively that draws (heuristic) from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people (desirable), the possibilities of technology, (feasible), the requirements for business success (viable) and sustainable,” said Prof Sofri. 

The webinar ended with an interactive Q&A session. 
68 May 2021Talk Series Title: 3+1 R
Presenter: Mr. Edwin Lee

To highlight the outlook of the world economy in the second of quarter 2021 and the investment strategies to profit in a catch-22 situation between worsening pandemic and post-pandemic, a webinar titled “3+1R” was co-organised by UTAR Faculty of Accountancy and Management (FAM), Centre for Entrepreneurial Sustainability (CENTS) and UOB Asset Management (Malaysia) (UOBAM) via Webinar Jam on 8 May 2021.

Invited to be the speaker for the webinar was UOBAM Senior Director-cum-Chief Marketing Officer Edwin Lee Wai Kidd. It was moderated by UOBAM Intermediary Distribution Team member Andrea Chan. Edwin Lee explained, “3R in the first quarter of 2021 refers to ‘Recovering’, ‘Risk-on’ and ‘Rotation’. The next R in the second quarter, ‘3+1R’ refers to ‘Reflation’.”

1st R – Recovery
World economy recovery remains intact despite the uneven speed of inoculations between develop and developing nations. 

2nd R – Risk-on
Typically in an economy recovery mode, risky assets such as equity will perform well and therefore it is not the right time to be defensive, not at least in 2Q2021.

3rd R – Rotation
Despite equity performed well in 2020, it is tilted towards tech related sector which benefits from pandemic play. However as the world is heading towards herd immunity, there is a potential rotation from pandemic play to post pandemic sectors which are the typical old economy sectors. 

4th R – Reflation
Reflation is a stage of economy where the government is spending to prevent its economy from falling into recession and deflation. Typically in this situation, financial sectors like banks and insurance companies (which are part of the old economy) will outperform.

Edwin Lee then moved on to share the three strategies to invest in the second quarter, namely the Rotation strategy, the Barbell strategy and the Evergreen strategy. 
“In the ‘Rotation strategy’, we have been advocating ‘United Global Durable Equity Fund’ ever since the early fourth quarter last year when the vaccination started to roll out. This particular fund has a strategy that capitalises on economies re-open play as well as reflation play. What makes it special is that, unlike all the global equity funds Durable is the only global equity fund that mainly invests into old economies sectors. This is because one of the investment criteria stated that it can only invest into those companies that have proven resilient cash flows across the business cycle,” said Edwin Lee.

He then continued, “Barbell Strategy is for those people who want to invest in the post-pandemic play-old economy such as construction, tourism, hospital and the funeral service, and the new economy-pandemic play (technology). That is what we call the Barbell strategy in which ‘United Malaysia Fund’ is invested in.” 

“Last but not least is the Evergreen strategy. The term evergreen strategy refers to the ‘United Global Healthcare Fund’. It is a strategy that invests into healthcare companies that produce or about to produce an innovative drug or treatment. Unlike many who believe that Healthcare is a pandemic play, United Global Healthcare is a strategy that focuses beyond Covid-19 as the three main killer diseases of the world are still the likes of heart related disease, cancer and stroke. These are the so-called evergreen diseases that kill more mankind in the world than Covid-19,” said Edwin Lee.

During the webinar, he also shared the types of companies that the funds invest and the past performance of the funds. Edwin Lee joined UOBAM in October 2018. He has more than 20 years of experience in the finance and banking industry. Edwin Lee has been a regular speaker by invitation in various public seminars, especially on his forte of China Economy and One Belt One Road forum. He has also been invited by the Securities Industry Development Corporation (SIDC) of the Securities Commission (SC) Malaysia as the facilitator to provide insights on China's economy.

The webinar ended with an interactive Q&A session.
720 May 2021Talk Series Title: Future Proofing our Graduates/Programs for 10-10 MySTIE 2030
Presenter: Dr. Zainal Ahmad

UTAR Centre for Entrepreneurial Sustainability (CENTS) organised a public webinar titled “Future-Proofing our Graduates/Programs for 10-10 STIE 2030” via Zoom on 20 May 2021. The webinar was delivered by Fellow of Academy of Science Malaysia (ASM) Dr Zainal Arrifin Ahmad and moderated by CENTS Chairperson Dr Mohammad Falahat Nejadmahani. More than 80 participants were present and most of them were academics and researchers. 

In his talk, Dr Zainal first introduced the 10-10 Malaysian Science, Technology, Innovation and Economic (MySTIE) Framework, where he mentioned that it was developed by the Academy of Science Malaysia in collaboration with more than 300 stakeholders from all around the world. It was launched by YB Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MOSTI). He explained how the framework could create a vibrant STIE ecosystem and said, “We are looking at different platforms, different people from different backgrounds working together to help with the creation of a socio-economic solution for the country.”

He continued, “The 10-10 MySTIE Framework is to improve Malaysia’s innovative and creative capability. The idea is to enhance economic competitiveness and quality of life. From now and till 2030, most of the initiatives would be based on what you are doing in terms of addressing socio-economic transformation issues for the country. The idea is also to enable key sectors of the economy to become more knowledge-intensive and innovation-driven.” He added that the idea was also about how to work together to build a strong national STIE ecosystem for the robust development of the sectors which could enable shared prosperity for all citizens of Malaysia. He hoped that participants could find themselves in any of the 30 National STIE Niche Areas after the webinar. “These 30 National STIE Niche Areas will change from time to time. It will be reviewed every two years,” he said.

He also said, “You need to be aware of the different technology drivers that the government is focusing on. More importantly, all the different technologies and experts from different technology backgrounds work together because a lot of socio-economic problems and the solutions we are looking for have to be dealt with by the combination of the different technologies.”

He also talked about the application of the 10-10 STIE Framework, and further explained the 30 National STIE Niche Areas for 10 socio-economic drivers. “The challenge is how to map the 10 UTAR disciplines with 74 undergraduate Programmes to the 10-10 MySTIE and 30 Niche Areas. It may not be a perfect match, but at least you are aware of where you can make the most contribution in terms of future-proofing and prepare your students for particular niche areas or socio-economic sectors,” he said.

He advised the participants to review the 10-10 MySTIE Framework in mapping the courses and academic programmes, as well as to conduct a thorough programme review based on Outcome Based Education (OBE) and MQA guidelines, especially focusing on the synopsis, course learning outcomes, and programme learning outcomes.

When talking about the implications of 10-10 MySTIE to grants, research and postgraduate studies, he shared the foreword highlighted by the ASM President Prof Datuk Dr Asma Ismail. “First, build collaborative networks and platforms towards establishing vibrant innovation ecosystems across Malaysia. Second, the government, academics or researchers, innovators, industries and communities must work collaboratively. Third, government grants such as MOSTI, MOHE and any other grants, research, postgraduate studies, training and consultancies will be driven by the 10-10 MySTIE Framework from now until 2030,” he said. 

The webinar then ended with a Q&A session and a group photography session. 
The webinar ended with an interactive Q&A session. 
817 July 2021Talk Series Title: 3+1 R 2.0
Presenter: Mr. Edwin Lee

Mr Edwin shared the 3rd Quarter 2021 Market Outlook and Investment Strategies. Some of the topics covered were R esurgence vs Reopening, Reflation or Inflation and Rebalancing. He also provided insights on United Global Technology Fund, The World Post Covid, High Quality Internet Companies, Cyber Security and Video gaming.

The webinar ended with an interactive Q&A session.
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97 August 2021Talk Series Title: The Awakening of the Dragon
Presenter: Mr. Edwin Lee

Mr Edwin shared his views on the issue related to the China’s strategies in heading back to its Central Control approach instead of market force.
The webinar ended with an interactive Q&A session.
1013 August 2021Talk Series Title: Cultural Diversity & Communication in Organizations
Presenter: Mr. Lim Chee Gay

The Centre for Entrepreneurial Sustainability (CENTS) and FAM jointly organised a webinar titled “Cultural Diversity and Communication in Organisations” on 13 August 2021. Speaking at the webinar was TDCX Group Chief Human Resources Officer-cum-Executive Vice President Lim Chee Gay who spoke about culture and communication, cultural diversity in organisations, and recruitment. In the webinar, Lim also shared his experience of working in Intel, Astro, T Systems, Samsung and AIA as well as TDCX and how cultural diversity and communication are applied in workplace.

Lim gave an overview about TDCX and the work culture in Malaysia. “TDCX Malaysia started in 2001 with 3,600 talents. It has a diverse and multi-cultural work environment with 52 per cent of expat workforce. Our top clients are global internet leaders, global electronics companies, world-class airlines, global exports companies, global vacation rental companies, largest food and beverage companies, luxury vehicles companies and global coffee companies.”

Lim explained diversity, inclusion and belonging in workplace. “Cultural diversity is more towards the country and nationalities. Diversity is everything that makes you unique and it is important to embrace the uniqueness of everyone. Inclusion is about the act of creating fairness in different aspects, such as promotion, fair hiring practices and having equal opportunity. It is important to listen to employees to learn from each other and be better each day. Belonging is when a human needs to belong in their unique way. Diversity is about inviting everyone to the party, Inclusion is about inviting them to the dancefloor and belonging is about allowing them to dance whatever they would like to.”

He added, “It is important to learn and experience different cultures and explore diversity in order to know how to manage your team with diverse backgrounds. Working in a global company will give you the advantage to be exposed to different people from different backgrounds at different situations. Thus, you will eventually learn the differences and strategies at workplace and upskill yourself to become a better you. Continue to sharpen your strategy and exposure if you want to hold a high position in a company. Always think you’re not the best, keep learning and you will be there. Be humble and you will get to your goal.”

The webinar ended with an interactive Q&A session.
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1124 August 2021   Talk Series Title: SMEs Business Sustainability during Global Pandemic
Presenter: Dr. Voon Yuen Hoong    

On 24 August 2021, a webinar titled “Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) Business Sustainability during Global Pandemic” was jointly organised by UTAR Faculty of Accountancy and Management (FAM) and Centre for Entrepreneurial Sustainability (CENTS) via Microsoft Teams.

Invited to be the speaker was Crowe KL Tax Sdn Bhd Tax Executive Director Dr Voon Yuen Hoong. Dr Voon is a fellow member of ACCA, United Kingdom. She is also a member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA), Chartered Tax Institute of Malaysia (CTIM) and Financial Planning Association of Malaysia (FPAM). Besides, she is also a licensed tax agent. Dr Voon is involved in tax compliance for both domestic and multinational clients. Having been in practice since 2003, she has diverse experience in advising clients on corporate tax, tax incentives, pre-Field Audit, IRB audit and tax investigation cases. Her clients include a wide range of private, public listed and multi-national companies engaged in a variety of industries.

Speaking during the opening remarks, Faculty of Accountancy and Management Dean Dr Sia Bee Chuan welcomed the participants and said, “Businesses have been exposed to various challenges during the global pandemic and their responses to this disruption have impacted their resilience as well as their chances to overcome this crisis. SMEs are changing their business models in order to adapt to this changing environment. Service-based industries have been hit particularly hard. The sharing today is certainly relevant as we will gain insight on how to approach the situation based on transformation drivers, readiness to apply digital technology and of course not forgetting from the accounting perspective that Crowe will provide today.”

She continued, “In UTAR, we believe our students should continue to keep abreast with the industry needs and relevance as much as we always aimed to produce graduates who are not only employable and not just work smart but also street smart which is also the faculty’s mission— to be an outstanding business and management faculty of educational and professional excellence with transformative societal impact, nationally and internationally.” Dr Voon began her webinar by sharing the initial stages of the Covid-19 outbreak in Malaysia, the movement control order (MCO) by phase and the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of MCO which have become a standard practice to everyone. She said, “The Covid-19 outbreak has hit a lot of businesses during the MCO period. A lot of businesses were forced to close. Only permitted activities as announced by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) were allowed to continue business operations. But unfortunately under the SOP, most of the businesses were not allowed to operate during the MCO period that is why I say that a lot of businesses were affected. ” 

Sharing the challenges faced by the SMEs in Malaysia, Dr Voon said, “According to the SME Corp Malaysia 2021, 98.5 per cent of the business establishments in Malaysia are SMEs. So you can see how important SMEs are to Malaysia’s economy. They play an important role and most of the SMEs are micro-sized, we call it ‘Microenterprises’. Out of the 98.5 per cent, Microenterprises stand about 76.5 per cent.” She then shared the SMEs’ performance in the year 2020 according to the Department of Statistics Malaysia 2021. She said, “Most of the industries were experiencing a concession period, which means their performance was not as good as those days. Even in terms of exports or employment, their result is negative.”

Moving on, she shared the government’s financial measures, and said, “Due to the many impacts on those businesses out there, our government also considered the difficulties and challenges faced by the businesses. They have come out with different measures either financial or tax measures to assist the businesses. In total, they allocated about RM155.8 billion to those SMEs whether directly or indirectly via Economic Stimulus Packages and Budget 2021.”

She continued to share about the SME loans where the SME owner can consider applying for loans from a financial institution, or government funding or grants if they can fulfil the terms and conditions (T&Cs) set by the government to ease their cash flow burden. She also explained the feature of BNM’s financing facilities announced by the government to assist Malaysian SMEs.

Furthermore, she explained the grant or subsidy offered by the government; the wages subsidy scheme, Prihatin special grant for SME (Geran Khas Prihatin for SME), government stimulus packages and one-off assistance to selected sectors and groups especially the Canteen Operator, Private Kindergarten, Childcare Centre, OKU and Sports Facility Operator who were affected due to the full lockdown.

As she addressed the importance of tax measures which is very useful to the SMEs, she shared about the reinvestment allowance which was specifically offered to manufacturing and selected agricultural activities (T&Cs apply) and the tax deduction for costs of renovations and refurbishment under the exemption order P.U. (A) 381 with the condition that they must get the certification from a licensed auditor. She also shared the Accelerated Capital Allowances (ACA) for machinery and equipment, further deductions for hotel operators for training expenses, tax incentives for flexible work arrangements (FWA), tax rebate for companies and limited liability partnerships (LLP) who commenced new business, a special tax deduction for rental rebates (for SMEs and Non-SMEs) and the Covid-19 related expenses.

Sharing on how SMEs benefit from the tax measures under the stimulus packages, she said, “From the tax compliance perspectives, our government mentioned that they can defer some instalment plan if they want to pay for penalty payment or instalment plan for the outstanding tax. So under these circumstances, they have to estimate the tax payable as precise as they can to avoid paying excess tax credit to the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) in order to save on cash flow. Lastly, all the businesses especially the SMEs must try to comply with all the tax regulations and submit the income tax return on time although they are not doing well because, for late submissions, the penalty range is from RM200 to RM200,000 per return.”

“In terms of tax credits, a company can apply for a tax refund but, bear in mind, that tax refund will take some time. Another option for you is to request for offset as long as you fulfilled the T&Cs. Otherwise, you may just keep the tax credits with the IRB if you don’t have any cash flow problem and offset against your future estimate of tax payable,” said Dr Voon.

She continued, “Another thing that SMEs can look into is the unutilised business losses. The cumulative business losses can be used to set up against the taxable income in the future. Our government actually announced quite a number of special tax deductions. Try to claim it and keep the losses but the life span of the tax losses is capped at seven years. You can keep the tax deduction by now and set off again with the future taxable income in order to save the cash.” She then listed the deductibility of business expenses. She added, “If there are any penalties imposed by the IRB, they allow you to pay in instalment and you can even submit the appeal letter to the IRB to get the waiver or partial waiver on that.”

She summarised her webinar by giving a recap on the economic stimulus packages announced by the government and encouraged the SMEs to take a look at any new policy announced by the government and apply to the relevant authority to overcome the challenges they face during this pandemic period.

The webinar ended with an interactive Q&A session.
12 26 August 2021    Talk Series Title: Fundamental Analysis Methods Adopted by Fund Managers
Presenter: Mr. Yeong Keat Seong

UTAR Faculty of Accountancy and Management (FAM) and the Centre for Entrepreneurial Sustainability (CENTS) organised a webinar with UOB Asset Management titled “Fundamental Analysis Methods Adopted by Fund Managers” on 26 August 2021. The webinar saw over 200 participants from UTAR and its partner universities from Indonesia, namely Universitas Internasional Batam and Universitas Diponegoro. The invited speaker was UOB Asset Management (UOBAM) (M) Portfolio Manager Yeong Keat Seong.

The session started with a welcome address and opening remarks by FAM Dean Dr Sia Bee Chuan. “Although our students may have learned about the latest fundamentals of analysis tools such as financial ratio analysis and common stock valuation models from the textbooks and lecturers, I believe our students should continue to keep abreast of the industry’s needs and relevance. Our University has always been keen to produce graduates who are employable, not just book smart but also street smart. It is also aligned with the faculty’s mission—to be an outstanding business and management faculty of education and professional challenges which have transformative societal impacts nationally and internationally,” she said.

In his talk, Yeong first gave an explanation on fundamental analysis, saying that it is a method of evaluating the intrinsic value of an asset and analysing the factors that would influence its price in the future. He explained the two approaches of the analysis—top-down and bottom-up analysis, as well as the two aspects of the analysis—quantitative and qualitative aspects. He then shared some real-world examples and explained how to make use of economic analysis, industry analysis and company analysis. 

The webinar continued with a Q&A session, where Yeong answered a plethora of questions such as what are the skills and knowledge required to become a fund manager, which valuation model is commonly used in the technology industry, and many more. Armed with this information, participants had a leg-up in not only understanding the fundamental analysis deeper but also learning how to apply them in real life.

The webinar then ended with a photography session.
13 30 August 2021    Talk Series Title: Tips to Develop Effective & Impactful Case Studies
Presenter: Prof. Dr. Dileep Kumar M.  

The Centre for Entrepreneurial Sustainability (CENTS) in collaboration with the Faculty of Accountancy and Management organised a public webinar titled “Tips to Develop Effective and Impactful Case Studies” on 30 August 2021 via Zoom. The webinar, which saw about 100 participants, was presented by Gopal Narayan Singh University, India Pro Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Dileep Kumar. In the webinar, Prof Dileep spoke about the importance of case study; requirements before writing; things to do when writing; eliminating errors during publication; case study in education and challenges and constraints. He also shared some case studies.

Prof Dileep said, “Case studies introduce a measure of realism into management education as it focuses on the application of concepts and sound logic to real-world business problems. It bridges the gap between abstraction and application, and appreciate the value of both. Case study is a common type of project in medical, business, education, technology, law and many more. It proves to be an effective way of learning for students. Some case studies are extremely basic and simple while others require detailed analysis and research. This type of writing usually requires students to work in groups and to answer open-ended questions in order to find a solution for the issue at hand.”

“Case study investigates a particular phenomenon to draw a conclusion. It gathers background information about an event, place, personality or issue in order to identify the root causes and propose a valid solution. It is both an exploratory and descriptive analysis of a problem. When boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident, multiple sources of evidence are used. Case studies are bounded by time and activity, and researchers collect detailed information using a variety of data collection procedures over a sustained period of time. Context is very important,” added Prof Dileep.

“Case study is a discussion, an educational tool to facilitate learning, and an analysis of a real-world situation. It provides a well-researched and compelling narrative about an individual or group of people that need to make a decision in an organisational setting. The narrative includes relevant information about the situation, and gives multiple perspectives on the problem or decision but does not provide analysis, conclusions or solutions. A good case study stimulates an educated conversation and the building of knowledge. Good cases create an interactive, discovery-learning process where students learn to face business situations. Information critical to solving the case should never be contained exclusively in the case’s teaching note because doing so makes for frustrated students,” explained Prof Dileep.

He added, “The three skills needed are critical thinking, analytical ability and problem-solving aside from other necessary skills. In order to write, one must plan and design beforehand. The author needs to figure out methods for collecting information through research. Then, conduct analysis, research the case history and finally present the findings. It may seem like a straightforward process but is it more complicated than it first appears.”

As Prof Dileep explained about the case study protagonist, he said, “A protagonist is needed to make a decision. It is important to identify the protagonist’s roles and responsibilities. This forces the case reader to assume the role of the protagonist and make choices from a particular perspective. Readers should be able to put themselves in the shoes of the protagonist and use the case study details to make a decision based on the protagonist’s perspective. In some circumstances, the writer may need to disguise the featured company, the protagonist’s role or the context of the case study. The role of the case writer is to ask questions, collect data and write the descriptive account of the case study. The primary responsibility is to accurately present facts and data that fulfil a specific teaching objective. A case writer ensures the case is original, timely and based on carefully research data. A case writer also participates in any type of consultative role.”

Prof Dileep advised, “Make sure your language and sentence structure is simple and to the point. Keep an eye out for mistakes. A perfectly spelt but poorly chosen word can sometimes create more confusion than a misspelt one. Choose the right tone as it influences audience perception and it will increase your chances of success. Avoid hedging and hesitant language, keep it simple and focus on your strengths. Tailor your information and how you will present it to the specific audience.”

Prof Dileep obtained his PhD in Organisational Behaviour and Organisational Culture from Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala, India in 2006. He has written 80 short case studies in the area of OB/HR and Management, 152 international and national peer reviewed journal publications (including 51 ISI and Scopus Publications), and 56 online publications. He has presented 55 papers in international and national conferences and the papers are published in the conference proceedings. Prof Dileep is a voracious case writer. He has written 4 case study books titled 50 Short Case Studies in Business Management, Case Studies in OB, HRM and Management, Short Case Studies from Executives, and Say No To Precarious Working Conditions. He has published several case studies in international journals including Emerald Emerging Marketing Case Studies. The case studies included in those books provide better perspective of various issues in the business field. The cases are written from the field of Organisational Behaviour, Human Resource Management, Marketing, Business Ethics, International Business, Strategic Management, Business Laws, Sociology, Psychology and General Management.

The webinar ended with an interactive Q&A session.
14 2 September 2021    Talk Series Title: I, Save in Private Retirement Schemes (PRS): The #YOLO Style
Presenter: Mohamed Farith Mohamed Jamal

With the aim to learn about money management techniques, a financial education webinar titled “I, Save in PRS: The #YOLO Style” was co-organised by UTAR Faculty of Accountancy and Management (FAM), Centre for Entrepreneurial Sustainability (CENTS) and Private Pension Administrator Malaysia (PPA) via Zoom on 2 September 2021.

Invited to be the speaker was PPA Learning and Engagement Manager Mohamed Farith Mohamed Jamal. He is a Shariah registered financial planner (Shariah RFP) and certified training professional (CTP) holder with years of experience in financial services and the capital market industry. In addition, he is a former member of the Malaysia Shariah Financial Planning Development Committee.

“PPA is the central administrator for the PRS industry. It acts as a one-stop centre for retirement learning and PRS and provides services with any of the eight PRS Providers. The initiative that PPA do to grow the industry includes marketing campaigns, digitalisation via PRS online service, continuous retirement education and financial literacy initiative and collaboration with stakeholders, for example with the universities,” said Mohamed Farith.

Defining YOLO (You Only Live Once), he said, “Some people would define YOLO as ‘living life to the fullest’. Some might say YOLO is ‘living in the moment’ and also ‘doing the things they love the most’. Because no one knows what is going to happen tomorrow. Living in the moment brings more joy into our lives. In short, YOLO is all about now and nothing else matters.”

Sharing about financial literacy among youths (age below 35), he said, “Thirty per cent of youths use three or more e-wallets, while 93 per cent own at least one e-wallet. Twenty-nine per cent only realised the importance of emergency funds since the MCO started and sixty per cent cannot survive only on savings beyond three months. Forty-seven per cent spend exactly or more than what they earn and last but not least, the most worrying part— fifty per cent have not started retirement planning.” He advised the participants to pay attention to their money, make sure they have enough money when the time comes.

As he spoke about financial management for young graduates, he explained how one can save for the future and still live the YOLO life with LWYM (Live + Within Your Means). He also emphasised the three key areas from short-term to long-term financial planning that one should take note of, namely Money Management, Debt Management and Retirement Planning. He said, “Financial management refers to the efficient and effective usage of money which can be done by understanding the difference between your needs and wants. Needs are goods and services that you require to survive; while wants are goods and services that are not necessary but you desire for.” He then shared the YOLO smart spending concepts, namely Be Smart, Prioritise, Don’t Compare and Live within Your means.

As he explained the short term financial plan— money management, he advised, “Try to minimise inflating spending after you begin to work.” He then proceeded with the medium-term financial planning which is debt management. A short video on good debt vs bad debt was played to understand its differences and to have a better understanding of debt management. He then continued, “So after money management and debt management, now it’s time to talk about the retirement planning for young adults. Most importantly when you start working you need to ask yourself, how much do you actually need to sustain your YOLO lifestyle and retirement?” A short video on “Retirement Planning & Savings with PRS—Episode 1: The Additional 10% with PRS” was played to understand the three key factors, namely adequacy, sufficiency and sustainability.

Moving on to the smart investment concept “I, Save in PRS”, he explained the three smart investment tips that one can consider when it comes to retirement planning which was Pay your ‘Future’ first, Power your savings and Contribute regularly on monthly basis. He then explained how PRS can help to close the retirement savings gap and advised the participants to “start small and start now”.

A short video on “Retirement Planning & Savings with PRS—Episode 2: The Introduction of PRS Industry” was played to provide a further understanding on the features of PRS, its benefits and the flexibility it offers to the public. He said, “PRS is a voluntary long-term saving and investment scheme designed to help individuals save more for their retirement. PRS also intends to enhance long-term returns for members within a well-structured and regulated framework. The PRS regulatory framework is comprised of five key parties, namely Securities Commission Malaysia, PRS Distributors & Consultants, PPA, PRS Providers and Scheme Trustees.”

“These eight PRS Providers provide a total choice of 58 PRS Funds, available both in Shari’ah and Conventional schemes. The selection depends on whether you have specified or preferred PRS funds. If you are familiar with any of the specific funds, you can opt for self-selected funds. If a potential member is unsure, they may choose the default option funds where savings will be allocated based on the member’s age group,” said Mohamed Farith.

He said, “PRS members can switch or transfer their funds. The difference between switching and transferring is ‘Switching’ occurs when a member shifts their PRS savings to another PRS fund of the same PRS Provider while ‘Transfer’ occurs when a PRS member shifts their PRS savings to another PRS fund of another PRS Provider. However, you need to know that transfers can only be instructed between Providers after the first year of subscription to the PRS from the date of the first contribution.” He then shared the top PRS fund performance according to each fund category from its inception until 30 July 2021.

“To open a PRS account, you can either directly go to the Providers; contact a PRS Consultant or Distributor or deal via PRS Online Service. Most people would think that they need a large amount of money to start saving. On the contrary, savings for your future in PRS does not require a large amount of money, you can start building your retirement savings now via PRS Online from as small as RM100,” said Mohamed Farith”

He concluded his webinar by listing the benefits of PRS. He said, “I, Save in PRS now so I can LWYM, to save for the future lifestyle that I want, and at the same time spend my money today because of YOLO; to have sustainable living for at least 15 to 20 years after I stop working because I know I need to have 2/3 of my last drawn salary to maintain my standard of living when I retire; and to have choices of eight PRS Providers and various funds to match my unique investment profile and risk appetites. I, Save in PRS now because I can start as low as RM100 to enrol and top up my PRS savings via PRS Online Service. I, Save in PRS now because PPA will provide lifetime account management and reporting, plus online access to my PRS accounts and treat myself with monthly and grand PRS treats in #ISaveinPRS Treats Contest. In a nutshell, I save in PRS now to live the life that I want to live with.”

The webinar ended with an interactive Q&A session.
15 29 October 2021    Talk Series Title: Sustainability of Businesses during the Covid-19 Pandemic
Presenter: Mr. Karthigayan Supramaniam    

Mr. Karthigayan provided an insight to students on the SMEs business sustainability during pandemic. He encouraged staff to engage in research through collaboration that attracts external grant. He also shared knowledge on the current development in SMEs in fostering greater ties between UTAR and BDO for future research and collaborations. Mr. Karthigayan Supramaniam is an Executive Director of Advisory at BDO in Malaysia. He currently manages a portfolio of internal audit and risk management engagements. He also performs IT General Control audit engagements, supporting relevant statutory financial audits as required and several pre and post Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementation review for public listed companies. He has over 15 years of experience in internal audit and risk management in various industries, including manufacturing, trading, construction, property development, aviation, and oil & gas. Before joining BDO, Mr. Karthigayan was an Audit and Risk Manager at a large diversified group listed on the Malaysian Stock Exchange.

The webinar ended with an interactive Q&A session.
16 5 November 2021    Talk Series Title: Start with Estate Planning, End with Wealth Planning
Presenter: Mr Billy Yong  

Many times people do not realise the importance of estate planning and will writing until it is too late. The deceased would leave their heirs and families in dispute when no proper advice is left for them to handle the wealth. To address this issue, UTAR Centre for Entrepreneurial Sustainability (CENTS) collaborated with the Faculty of Accountancy and Management (FAM) to organise a webinar titled “Start with Estate Planning, End with Wealth Planning” on 5 November 2021 via Microsoft Teams. The speaker was Rockwills Senior Estate Planner-cum-Hong Leong Assurance Unit Manager Billy Yong.

“Estate planning is a part of financial planning. Due to the lack of knowledge, there is currently RM60billion worth of unclaimed money reported,” said Billy Yong.

Citizens and governments alike are seeming to lack knowledge in estate planning. The lack of expertise in this area may lead to estates falling under the wrong hands, thus shrinking the assets’ value. On an individual level, one would end up going through complicated and time-consuming procedures, aside from having the possibility of exhausting the estate value in a short period of time due to the lack of good planning on how to utilise the money.

In recent days, due to the pandemic, more people have realised its importance and have encouraged themselves and family members to write wills. A study by Rockwills showed that more young people are inclined towards writing wills than before.

“Imagine what would happen if there is no proper planning for your legacy? Will there be a dispute between family members or business partners? If there is no planning, it will be difficult for business partners to continue the business when one of them perishes. What would happen if the parents or a single parent meet their end, leaving minor children, elderly family members, or special needs children behind? Another concern would be the possibility of poor management by the children when they receive the assets,” said Billy Yong, addressing the concerns that may arise if the asset planning is not done early. 

“Wills have the power to decide who gets what; what to give and who to take care of. It also ensures the estate is preserved for the family in the future,” he added.

With more than 100 participants, the webinar touched on issues related to assets planning including having a trustworthy executor, the importance of keeping wills in good condition and many more.

The webinar ended with an interactive Q&A session.
17 3 December 2021    Talk Series Title: The Principal Impact of the 2022 Malaysian Budget Proposal
Presenter: Mr Yap Wai Onn    

UTAR Centre for Corporate and Community Development (CCCD), in collaboration with the Centre for Entrepreneurial Sustainability (CENTS), organised a webinar titled “The Principal Impact of the 2022 Malaysia Budget Proposal” on 3 December 2021.

The webinar was delivered by Faculty of Accountancy and Management (FAM) lecturer Yap Wai Onn Yap who is also a chartered accountant and a member of the Centre for Entrepreneurial Sustainability and Centre for International Studies (CIS). He is also a mentor for UTAR's Unovate Centre. The webinar was moderated by Dr Tee Peck Ling and Lim Wei Yin from FAM.

In the webinar, Yap first talked about the key focus and strategy of Budget 2022 which is themed “Keluarga Malaysia, Makmur Sejahtera” (A Prosperous Malaysian Family). “The Covid-19 pandemic has brought hardship to individuals and companies. Presenting a budget will be a great challenge because we are talking about how we can balance our life and livelihood. It is a matter of striking a good balance between our life, our health and livelihood,” he said, adding that the lockdown and restriction have worsened the situation, especially the economic activities of the nation.

He explained that Budget 2022 was built on three key pillars, namely Strengthening Recovery, Building Resilience and Driving Reforms. The budget also anchored three key focus areas, which were Rakyat Well Being, Resilient Businesses, and A Prosperous and Sustainable Economy. He further explained the key strategies for Rakyat Well Being; it included restoring lives and livelihoods, cultivating keluarga Malaysia and building a conducive environment. The key strategies for A Prosperous and Sustainable Economy involved sustainability agenda, bridging the economic gap, fiscal consolidation and revenue sustainability. Last but not least, the key strategies for Resilient Businesses were reviving business capabilities, driving strategic investment and recovering targeted sectors.

He also presented a chart showing the Federal Government’s revenue for the year 2022 where the majority will be collected from income tax, which constituted about 36%. He also presented the Federal Government’s expenditure for the year 2022 and shared the comparison of the Federal Government’s finance from 2019 to 2022.

Yap also explained that foreign-sourced income received in Malaysia is taxable. Besides, he talked about the initiatives proposed in the budget, such as tax relief on the aspects of education fee, employee’s contribution to SOCSO, medical expenses for serious disease, expenses related to electric vehicle charging facility or equipment, contributions to EPF, as well as tax exemption on e-sport tournament prize and many more. He also shared the key focus of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) and presented the summary of the Budget 2022.

The webinar ended with an interactive Q&A session.