CEO’s Insight 2004

2004 Annual Report
CEO’s Insight

Dato’ Clement Hii, Chief Executive Officer of SEG International Bhd, shares his views on the education industry and his many plans to ensure that SEGi remains one of the top private education providers.

Starbiz: What is the outlook for the private higher education industry in 2005?
Hii: Last year was pretty bleak for the industry. Many were caught off-guard by the change in national higher education policies and recorded worse performances than in 2003. I believe 2005 will be a better year, as industry players would have come up with new strategies for business growth. The Higher Education Ministry is also more responsive to the needs of the private education sector. The minister has had a lot of dialogues with players, and is in the process of formulating new policies that will benefit the industry. This bodes well for the sector.

StarBiz: What are the prospects for SEGi in 2005?
Hii: SEGi was affected as well, but not as much as the other players. This was because of our business model, which was put in place two to three years ago when we diversified our market segments. We expect to reap this year the fruits of our labour in areas like our collaboration with institutions in China, Indonesia, Pakistan and India.

StarBiz: In general, what are the growth areas for SEGi?
Hii: Growth areas for the group would be the foreign students and corporate clients segments. We have had inquiries from the Middle East, the Philippines and Thailand to set up collaborative arrangements, and hope to do so this year. We plan to increase the number of foreign students from the current 10% to 15% this year.

We also want to go big into the corporate clients segment. At present, SEGi has 300 Valued Corporate Partners (VCP) and is working together with them to upgrade the skills and academic qualifications of their employees. SEGi started focusing on the corporate education business in the middle of last year. We see a big market in this area – it is an innovative product.

StarBiz: What are your plans for SEGi this year?
Hii: Our plans include a re-branding exercise, to create a common identity and brand for the group. After about four years of merger for the Systematic and Prime education groups, it is about time we have a common identity. We have engaged consultants to see how the exercise can be conducted.

There are also new projects planned. One will be to franchise the Montessori pre-school and kindergarten concept to China. Another new area of growth is edu-tourism, which involves the recruitment of tourists to Malaysia for tours and short courses, for instance, English and information technology courses, and other seminars of interest. Countries we will be targeting include Indonesia, China and India – we have the contact and network in place, and will also be collaborating with tour agencies.

StarBiz: What are the new products in the pipeline for SEGi?
Hii: We have always been strong in business and management courses. New courses for some of our colleges will be in niche areas like law, video and animation, graphic design, and international business. We will also be designing new training programmes for both the public and corporate clients.

StarBiz: In your view, what are the challenges facing the group in 2005?
Hii: For us, it is always a challenge to increase the student population, both local and foreign, in the face of intense competition in the industry. Another challenge will be maintaining our lead in the adult learners segment. One way is to design more innovative packages for this segment.