Tomorrow, finally INSPEM will have a new director: Prof. Noor Akma Ibrahim, a professor of statistics from the mathematics department. Being the previous Deputy Director (before me), she is certainly the natural candidate for the Director's post. There is a sense of relief after some extended period of uncertainty and I will also no longer need to answer the question of who is the new director each time I go to a meeting or meet some people (it can be very embarrassing at times).
Prior to this, I was carrying out the duties of the director and I tried as much not to make major decisions beyond what is necessary then. Officially, it was from 18 March but I was already carrying several different tasks before the date, some of which were very important. For instance, the inauguration of MICEMS happened three weeks after Prof. Dato' Kamel Ariffin's retirement. Much effort was actually put into the event and we managed to pull it off. Some critical discussions were also made for the future programmes of MICEMS. Besides MICEMS, attended other matters that include decisions regarding our EMS-ERCE studentship programs, decisions regarding our ScholarOne usage for MJMS, and discussions of future research collaboration with Securities Commission Malaysia. I am retelling this merely to say we are not sitting idle in the absence of a director and we are trying our best to make things work. No more, no less.
During this period, I attended some meetings that I have not been in before. I learned quite a few things about the running of the university. I'm very much aware of the need to prepare standardised formal working papers or proposals and the need of presenting these papers in a legal-like language (sometimes feeling rather awkward) from my previous experience. Rather new was the different committees (some of which are closely related) each having different purposes. Unaware of some of these, there were instances that I found myself in an embarrassing situation where I presented papers to the wrong committee. Due to my own quiet personality, I often speak minimally during these meetings, watching and learning from others. From all of these, I've learned it is important to be aware of the decision-making structure of the university even if one is not directly involved as such. Some of these structures could also be mimicked at our micro (institute) level and help facilitate matters. Another lesson is regarding the passing down of important decisions or information, which is tricky these days, when one is already information overloaded.
With Prof. Noor Akma on board, I hope INSPEM can now move in full force with her being the new director at the centre of things. I certainly wish that INSPEM will grow further and develop a distinctive rejuvenated identity, in particular with MICEMS.