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Equipping Leaders, Bridging Gaps: Transforming Corporate Malaysia, One Scholarship at a Time

Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

Heriot-Watt University Malaysia (HWUM) and the 30% Club Malaysia celebrated their ongoing collaboration to empower Malaysian women in leadership roles. The celebration, themed “Equipping Leaders, Bridging Gaps,” was held at HWUM’s campus in Putrajaya today.

The event also celebrated the accomplishments of nine exceptional scholars who are recipients of the 30% Club Malaysia-Heriot-Watt University Malaysia Shaping Entrepreneurial Women Scholarship. According to the Women in the Workplace report from McKinsey, in partnership with LeanIn.Org, it is crucial to address the “broken rung” phenomenon, where women in mid-career often drop off the corporate ladder due to various factors such as being looked over where there is no equitable access within their workplace, a lack of confidence, and limited access to skills and learning opportunities. The ‘Shaping Entrepreneurial Women Scholarship’ is designed to address these challenges.

The scholarship empowers women to pursue higher education, even while managing these other responsibilities, allowing them to leap over the corporate ladder This support not only equips them with knowledge but also fosters confidence, skills, and leadership qualities needed to excel and make a significant impact within the corporate landscape of Malaysia.

Currently, within Malaysian Public Limited Companies (PLCs), women hold 30.2% of board seats within the top 100 PLCs, a substantial increase from a mere 13% in 2014. For all PLCs, this number stands at 25%, reflecting a notable progression from 10%. By nurturing these future leaders through scholarships and education, 30% Club Malaysia and Heriot-Watt University Malaysia are not only making progress toward gender parity in leadership but also building a robust board-ready pipeline. Research consistently shows that diverse leadership teams lead to more innovation, better decision-making, and enhanced financial performance.

Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

30% Club Malaysia: The ‘Shaping Entrepreneurial Women Scholarship’

The ‘Shaping Entrepreneurial Women Scholarship’ is a joint initiative by the 30% Club Malaysia and Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh Business School. It aims to empower and support women in their pursuit of higher education, particularly through participation in a part-time MBA programme.

During the event, HWUM’s Provost and Chief Executive Officer Professor Mushtak Al-Atabi, underscored the mutual dedication of HWUM and the 30% Club Malaysia towards fostering inclusivity and progress within Malaysia’s corporate landscape. He placed a strong emphasis on the significance of providing women with equal opportunities in high-level business leadership positions and highlighted the pivotal role played by the HWU’s MBA programme in realising this aspiration.

“This initiative underscores the unwavering commitment of both HWUM and the 30% Club Malaysia to the principles of inclusivity and progress. It also highlights our shared vision for a more inclusive and progressive Malaysia where women are provided with equal opportunities to excel in top-tier business leadership roles.

“An MBA programme through the Shaping Entrepreneurial Women Scholarship initiative is a proven pathway to building successful careers, leading to increasing women representation at senior levels of Malaysian corporates. Most importantly, this will contribute to Malaysia’s aspiration of strengthening the female boardroom pipeline,” added Professor Mushtak.

Dato’ Ami Moris, Chair of 30% Club Malaysia and Advisor at Maybank, said, “The collaboration between the 30% Club Malaysia and HWUM extends beyond providing financial support for these scholarships; it cultivates a community of empowered women leaders poised to inspire others. I encourage companies not only to mentor but also to actively sponsor women leaders in boardrooms and senior leadership positions, underscoring the imperative for deliberate and sustained efforts in placing women with the requisite competencies and skillsets into these pivotal roles.”

The event also featured a panel discussion with outstanding scholars from the Shaping Entrepreneurial Women Scholarship programme. These scholars shared their inspiring success stories, emphasising how the scholarship had served as a catalyst for their professional growth. They provided valuable insights into the program and, most importantly, served as inspirational figures, encouraging and empowering other women to enhance their skills and advance in their careers.

Success Story: 30% Club Alumni with HWUM

‘Shaping Entrepreneurial Women Scholarship’ with HWUM, Yang Fatimah Kamarulzaman is an Internal Auditor at a leading Oil and Gas company. She received a 30% bursary from the 30% Club, a voluntary organisation of senior professionals committed to making business better across more than 20 countries to pursue her Master of Business Administration (MBA) in 2022 from HWUM.

The MBA programme provided me with the knowledge, skills, and credentials that can help me stand out in the job market and advance my career. I gained a deep understanding of business principles and practices and ensured that I am well-positioned to take on leadership roles in any organisation,” shared Yang Fatimah.

In addition, Yang Fatimah shared that The MBA programme provided her with a comprehensive understanding of business functions, including project management, economics, finance, and strategy. It equipped her with skills to analyse complex business problems, make data-driven decisions, and foster collaboration with diverse professionals. These experiences prepared her for workplace challenges, such as managing change, leading teams, innovating, and adapting to a dynamic business landscape, while enhancing critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills essential for meeting workplace demands.

Professor Mushtak stated the 30% Club was launched in Malaysia on 8 May 2015, following the establishment of the 30% Club in the United Kingdom by Heriot-Watt University Dubai Provost and Vice Principal Professor Dame Heather McGregor.

For more information on Heriot-Watt University Malaysia and its world-class programmes, kindly visit

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