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Graduate studies have burgeoned beyond recognition in tandem with the growth of education and training opportunities throughout the world.
Where graduate studies used to be predominant in the sciences, humanities, and the social sciences, now they are common in the spheres of business, finance, and management. And where theoretical research used to be the norm, aimed at contributing pure knowledge in a discipline, graduate-level studies now routinely focus on applied research to elucidate and contribute insights to improve practice and performance in a profession or a practitioner’s field of endeavor.
Therefore, it is commonplace to see DBA or Ph.D. degrees awarded in fields like management, IT management, organizational behavior, finance, accounting, data analytics, etc. At HELP University, graduate studies take pride of place in the academic programmes.
Graduate programmes are offered under the aegis of the ELM Graduate School. ‘ELM’ deserves a special mention. It stands for Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Management. It is a framework denoting the three elements functioning in tandem to generate productivity and performance in organizations and businesses.
Ideas like those behind the formulation of the ELM framework are a prominent feature of the educational philosophy of HELP University, as they drive its success towards attaining a leadership position in the Malaysian private education sector.
This also explains why HELP University has built its main strengths in management and business-related courses.
The ELM Graduate School offers 13 master’s and 4 doctoral programs; these include special fields like Economic Crime Management, Project Management, Corporate Governance, and the MPhil and Ph.D. degrees in Psychology.
The HELP Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) stands out for popularity, relevance and appeal.
The HELP DBA, with an emphasis on applied research, has gained a reputation for offering working professionals with an interest in management research a new intellectual challenge: to take up doctoral studies.
Typically, candidates would have a practical research question in mind; eg a specific problem from their work environment that they will formally investigate and eventually present in a dissertation, with findings and insights that will benefit their companies.
They also benefit from the collective experience of peers who may bring their significant experience in business in roles with leadership and other strategic responsibilities into the classroom to be studied, shared, critiqued and refined.
They acquire intellectual discipline, higher-order thinking and enhance their conceptual capabilities. Selecting a research topic or investigating a research problem that is directly related to their area of work will also benefit their careers as it enables them to dissect and understand the problems and issues with enhanced clarity and depth, and view them from the appropriate perspectives and prescribe accurate solutions.
The DBA usually appeals to professionals who have more than 15 years experience; they hold good positions and are highly ambitious and motivated.
The DBA is the highest academic qualification in the field of business and management. Unlike the Ph.D., it focuses on practical-oriented research that aims to fulfil the needs of industry and the economy. Although the DBA is more suited to working professionals who plan to advance to higher management positions or be management consultants, the rigour of the DBA qualifies the DBA graduate to be competent researchers and academics.
The experience of a distinguished recent graduate illustrates the value of the HELP DBA.
Dr Grace Lee, CEO of Astro Go Shop, was heading the Finance and Risk Management portfolios at Astro when she joined the HELP DBA programme. For her dissertation, she chose to do a pioneering study of Corporate Risk Governance in 100 Malaysian listed companies. The study provided new insights on risk governance practices and has the potential to help regulators gain a greater awareness of their value. It also helps them to formulate training and development programmes for board directors to enhance their oversight of corporate risk governance.
Although her subsequent promotion as CEO of Astro Go Shop took her away from the risk management repsonsibility at Astro, the significant findings of the study (eg, increasing the role of independent directors or increasing the number of independent directors doesn’t necessarily improve risk governance) served to enhance her awareness of the dynamics of corporate governance and consequently strengthen her role as a CEO.
As Grace is also an independent director and Chairman of the Audit Committee at MaGIC (Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre), the benefits of her insights into corporate risk governance gleaned from her DBA research extend to multiple sectors.
Grace also admits to the benefits of the programme’s rigour:
“It demands a lot of discipline: first, there are the extensive readings, and then you have to complete the assignments which requires case principle application of the readings. I think the discipline that comes with it is good even in the corporate world”.
Further testimony of the value of the HELP DBA is provided by Dr Wendy Liow, Dean of the ELM Graduate School of HELP University:
“The DBA is one of our most popular programmes. People recognise its value and the opportunities it offers for upskilling and career advancement. Business leaders and entrepreneurs welcome the challenge to re-think their ideas and experience with the help of rigorous academic tools and investigative methodologies to offer a different perspective. New dimensions are created to help develop their enterprises, strategies and management styles.
“We normally admit people in the 30-50 age group, many of whom are entrepreneurs and senior level management. In such a diverse environment, they have so much to learn and to share”.
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