CEO’s Insight 2003

2003 Annual Report

CEO’s Insight

Dato’ Clement Hii, chief executive officer of private higher education provider SEG International Bhd (SEGi), sees education not just as a business but also a social obligation.

His outlook has helped raise the second board-listed company to new heights since he took over the helm in November 2001, as evidenced by the doubling of the group’s student population from 9,000 then to 18,500 now.

And Hii does not intend to stop there but is always on the lookout for “new frontiers” to tap and expand into.

An exciting development in the pipeline for the group is its new main campus, to be situated on a 10-acre site at the Selangor Science Park, Kota Damansara.

“We acquired the land from the Selangor State Development Corp for RM15mil and have submitted the initial drawings of the campus to the relevant authorities for approval,” he told StarBiz.

“We hope to invest another RM60mil within the next three years to set it up with state-of-the-art technology and equipment,” he said. The construction of the campus would be fundedthrough internal funds as well as bank andequity financing.

Hii said the campus, to be completed in 2007, would be very victorian and colonial in design to provide the students with a unique experience.

He said that acquiring the site as SEGi’s main campus was a sort of “vindication” for the group, as it had always believed in the concept of a city campus whereby convenience for students was the key factor.

“We have been offered cheaper lands but they were away from the city and so we resisted those offers as the location has to be right for our students,” he said, adding that with the acquisition, the long wait for the ideal campus site was over.

He said the new campus would be able to accommodate 12,000 students – full timers as well as adult learners. The campus would be an e-campus with most of the learning materials provided online in an Internet/ wireless environment.

Hii said SEGi had also entered into new market segments focusing on adult learners, vocational trainees and bumiputra students.

“Many big players in the industry are obsessed with full-time students. However, we see a lot of potential in the adult learners market as there are nine million working adults in the country and each of them is a potential customer,” he said, adding that there were 9,000 adults studying part time among its 18,500 students.

In addition, the group’s training centres, particularly those in smaller towns, are also doing very well offering vocational training to those less academically inclined. Hii said the group’s other concentration was bumiputra students, especially those who might not get a place in public universities and those with insufficient funds to go overseas.

“We have made tertiary education to bumiputras as well as non-bumiputras very affordable, coupled with flexible financing and funding schemes,” he said, adding that about 30% of its students were bumiputras compared with the industry average of 10% to 20%.

Hii said the group’s marketing angle was to make education as accessible and affordable as possible by positioning itself in the city, shoplots and complexes.

“In such a competitive environment with new players coming into the education sector, existing players must think of new strategies to increase market share.

“Some of our competitive strategies would be to enter new markets, repackage our products to meet current needs and upgrade our infrastructure and facilities,” he said, adding that SEGi had invested RM8mil in the last two years to upgrade its facilities and equipment.

The group currently has 14 campuses and six training centres throughout the country. Its two most recognisable education brands, Systematic and PRIME, together with MSC International College, Summit International College, IBMS College and IFPA Resources, offer over 100 programmes and courses.

Dato’ Clement Hii

Group Chief Executive Officer

(Source: The Star, Malaysia, starbiz, 9 Feb 2004)