Monday, June 28, 2010

Malaysian Getaways! - Warning: Images are very tempting

Now that exams are all done, and you can even barely remember what course you're taking, I would suggest a beach getaway! Look no further than our own beaches in Malaysia!

Did some research on google and guess what i found??

In general, Malaysia has a tropical climate with temperatures ranging from 21 °C to 32 °C. This sunny country has many beautiful islands and beaches that one can enjoy. Langkawi Island, a duty free island is located to the north west of the country. The west coast of Peninsular Malaysia also boasts many beautiful islands such as Penang Island, Pangkor Island, Payar Island.. The west coast of Peninsular Malaysia is shielded from the strong wind of the Straits of Malacca by the island of Sumatra hence you can visit the islands anytime of the year.

The Malaysian beaches on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia has many unspoilt beautiful islands such as Tioman Island, Redang Island, Perhentian Island, Pulau Lang Tengah and Kapas Island. As this part of Malaysia faces the South China Sea, it is not advisable to visit these islands for sea activities during the Monsoon Season from November to March as the waves can be quite strong during this time.

The island of Borneo is where Sabah and Sarawak are located. Islands such as Turtle Islands, Pulau Tiga, Layang Layang Island, Labuan Island, and the world renown Sipadan Island are located here.

Do think about it! Before you start cramming another semesters worth of info into you, i think you deserve some sun, sand and sea pampering!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Striking work life balance! Do you have that with your job?

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Siew Chin Kiang, Staff Partner of KPMG, shares with Johana Hassan the importance of striking a balance.

Being a fresh and eager young graduate, you are probably wondering: what's the big deal about work-life balance anyway? After all, having a career does not put a stop to life, does it? You fully expect to still have drinks with the gang every other night, sleep in on weekends and head off to the islands when the mood strikes.

Well, think again. Jobs are becoming increasingly demanding; working late into the night and on weekends is part and parcel of climbing the corporate ladder. Don't be surprised if you actually have to be reminded to take time off to enjoy the pleasures of life!

Of course, some companies have unconventional, wacky employee benefits that make working so much fun that you may not even want to leave the office! Take Google, for example. Imagine going down a slide for quick access to the cafeteria, bean-bag meeting rooms and free flow of food. Cool, huh?

" Personal support is provided via special activities such as health talks and grooming sessions. "

Unfortunately, there is no Googleplex in Malaysia and most offices are decidedly staid and proper. However, many international companies do provide a ‘fun' working environment, with video games, lounge and wi-fi for staff so they can work from anywhere in the office. In fact, some companies even allow flexible working hours. The snag is that your mobile phone has to be switched on all the time. But at least you wouldn't be stuck in a 5' by 5' cubicle!

The point here is that a relaxed atmosphere does not mean a laid-back attitude towards work. At the end of the day, your work performance and commitment will determine your career prospects.


One person who is a strong believer in worklife balance is Siew Chin Kiang, Staff Partner of KPMG. Siew is an accountant by training and has been working for more than 20 years. His career at KPMG began right after his Sixth Form examinations. “My parents thought I should get part-time work, so I spent a few months at KPMG. After I got my results and weighed several options, I decided to join the Firm to do my articleship in accountancy.” An articleship means working and learning on the job while studying for professional exams.

Siew did this in the mid-1980s when there was no computer technology to make accounting work easier. “The senior would ask us to open a phone book and add up the phone numbers for us to practise counting fast using calculators!” he recalls. So how did Siew juggle work-life balance then? “In those days, life was simpler, and there were fewer leisure options compared to now.

I could focus on my work and exams, but I still found time to play sports and go on dates,” he laughs. Now that he's holding a senior position in the Firm, Siew still manages to have a life. “I work long hours, but I try to do everything on weekdays. My day usually starts about 8am and finishes at 8pm.

I prefer not to work later than that because my productivity tends to falls after 8pm.” Weekends are reserved for the family and to do the things he enjoys.


Siew says KPMG knows the importance of balancing work and activities that bring staff together beyond the confines of the office.

In this regard, the company provides as much support as possible for staff to manage their personal lives as well as to build their careers. “We organise many activities and also try to accommodate staff requests for certain items which are not on the list,” he explains.

These include departmental trips, gatherings, games and family days. Staff also contribute to society through the Firm's corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

“About 60% of KPMG Malaysia staff are young people between the ages of 22 and 26, so we try to understand their needs and learn the current trends to find suitable activities for them.”

Personal support is provided via special activities such as health talks and grooming sessions. Staff can also access KPMG's myLife website to find out about the many programmes and activities that have been scheduled.

As a Staff Partner, Siew wants the Partners and management team to set good examples for the others, including striking a work-life balance. He adds that people are sometimes so driven by work that they have no time for themselves and their annual leave is not utilised.

KPMG allows its staff to keep an overtime bank of up to 80 hours. “This is good, especially for those who are sitting for exams. They can use the overtime bank to take study leave.” Siew finds that generation-Y has different expectations than the older generation.

“The traditional office environment is not suitable anymore.

Therefore, KPMG makes an effort to provide a work environment that helps staff manage the complexities of work and life. “Everyone should know what's important in life and work, and how to find an equilibrium.”


“Besides academic qualifications, I look to hire people based on their attitude. The technical part we can train, but it's not easy to change attitude. Students with the right positive attitude tend to do better in their careers,” Siew explains.KPMG also has a mobility programme whereby staff are sent to work at KPMG offices abroad for a few years. Two favourite countries for this programme are the United States and the United Kingdom. “Generally, Malaysians don't have problems getting along with people of diverse backgrounds because of our own multicultural society,” says Siew. He himself was in the US for a few years at the start of his career at KPMG as part of the mobility programme.

“It was not only a good working experience, but I also learned to interact with different people and adjust to a different way of life. These are valuable lessons, especially when you are young.”

Everyone should know what’s important in life and work, and how to find an equilibrium.

KPMG encourages its staff to drive their own career development. “From day one, we want you to plan your future so that you know where you want to be in the Firm.”

After being with KPMG for more than 20 years, Siew has found his equilibrium. “What I enjoy the most is dealing with people.

We have lots of young people here and it's interesting to understand what appeals to them, as well the latest trends.”