Tell us about your experience of learning and living at ANU?
I choose ANU because of its reputation and expertise in the area of Asian and Pacific economic studies. The high standards and reputation of the department and faculty members are well revered internationally.
I wasn’t an outstanding student or researcher but nevertheless, my climb on the steep learning curve was well supported by the wonderful community at ANU. I received great support from my supervisors, seniors, friends and even the wonderful residential staff at Burgmann College. I guess you can say that the reputation of an institution does not decorate you, but refines you through the thick and thin of your learning journey.
ANU is filled with fantastic activities from academic-oriented ones such as public lectures from Nobel Prize winners; to the hilarious-oriented ones such as Humans vs Zombies. I loved to visit the Music school for events and enjoyed an evening of live music or venture further towards the city centre for a great meal. The university itself is a melting pot of cultures. You experience the warmth of home with the excitement of new cultures every day.
How did ANU shape you?
Intellectual discourse is celebrated and highly embraced at ANU. High quality seminars and public lectures are always available because world leading academics, prominent policymakers and respected activists gravitate toward the University’s esteemed reputation. Through learning by observing, I had a sense of what it takes to be a good researcher.
I used to be afraid of being wrong without understanding that being academically wrong challenges you to explore further about the “truth”. The seminars I presented built my character as an academic and helped me to take ownership on my scholarly voice – this can only be forged by a research oriented culture made available at ANU.
Tell us about your career?
I am currently a Research Fellow in the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies at the National University of Malaysia. My research focuses are in international trade, economic growth and developmental economics. I work closely on the East Asian region and lately, have been venturing into the Latin American scene.
I had opportunities to present my work and was invited as a guest speaker in conferences around the world – China, Mexico, Costa Rica, Singapore etc. and have various publications in peer-reviewed and (modestly) ranked international journals; not too bad for a self-proclaimed under-achiever! Currently I am undertaking a book project on “New Globalization” with IKMAS.
Do you keep in touch with ANU?
Currently I am working with the Alumni Relations team to set up an ANU Alumni Network in Malaysia. I believe there is a need for ANU alumni in Malaysia to get together and forge professional networks with one another. The call for such initiative is strong.
In terms of professional networking, my former supervisor and I are planning on some research collaborations to bridge our institutions through knowledge sharing.
Advice to students?
Like most PhD candidates, I wanted to graduate as soon as possible. I tried to sprint as fast as I could towards the light at the end of the tunnel without even listening to the people shouting – that it is an oncoming train (and not the exit)! For those who are doing a PhD thesis, sometimes you have to pause and look beyond your research work and fully savour the opportunities that ANU has given you in terms of intellectual development, character building and network creation or simply put it, make as many friends as possible!