The idea behind a tertiary education, beyond teaching our nation’s young adults the various theories behind their respective fields, is to prepare them for the future. In essence, a tertiary level education should groom students to face the inevitable future, the industry. Street smarts are every bit as important as, if not just a bit more important than, book smarts.
Too often, however, our students are drop-kicked without floats into the deep end of the swimming pool. The analogy is simple. There is a thin line between knowing what swimmers do in the water, and knowing how your body needs to move to stay afloat. Likewise, it takes a student with experience to become a member of the workforce. A proper school should endeavour to equip its students with more than mere lessons on theory – it should seek to give its students a well-rounded experience that they can bring with them when the working world beckons.
That is the idea behind the recent signing for collaborative efforts between the Malaysian Institute of Baking (MIB) and the Advance Tertiary College (ATC), as well as that between the Malaysian Institute of Baking (MIB) and the Manipal International University (MIU). Adding value to education at the fraction of a cost, MIB now offers its students the chance to progress on to a Bachelor (Hons) of Management Studies from St. Mary’s University in Twickenham, UK, the course of which will be conducted in ATC. Similarly, students may also move on to a Bachelor of Business Administration (Hons) with MIU, where they can choose to major in one of three foci: Marketing, International Business, and Technopreneurship. This, of course, breeds a savvy new generation of pastry chefs – all with the skill required of their work, combined with the force of business and management knowledge.
Indeed, while it is imperative that students are taught a skill through which they may earn their living, MIB’s CEO, Mr. Veravikneswaran Channachie firmly believes that there are two sides to that coin.
“We want to make sure our students don’t fall into the Entrepreneur Trap.” He says, in reference to Michael E. Gerber’s distinct definition of what most new entrepreneurs fall prey to. “There has to be progress, and our students must find ways to grow. We don’t want them completely focused on pastries, and as such neglect management skills. They should know how to handle a kitchen, costing and resources, work delegation – all very necessary in the working world.”
What MIB is doing, essentially, then, can be likened to the widening of their students’ scope, therefore providing them with an endless array of possibilities as far as the future goes. “We want our students to break out of the norm and look at things from a global perspective.” Mr. Vera adds.
This is, of course, all in line with the Institute’s current thread of advancement: adding value. Chef Jess Chiam, Chairman of the Malaysian Pastry Alliance, certainly does his part in adding more value to the education of the Institute’s kids – and even for those in the industry.
Having recently joined the staff of MIB full-time as Executive Pastry Chef, the multi-award-winning Chef Jess is currently preparing a brand new series of Corporate Study classes. Set in schedule from mid-October to mid-November later this year, these three-day intensive classes are aimed at an experienced audience wishing to learn more about pastry. Classes include the Art of Pulled Sugar, the Art of Chocolate Showpiece, Modern Wedding Cakes and Modern French Pastries.
Beyond the corporate, Chef Jess is certainly wearing his chef’s toque well in classes. Talented and experienced as he is in competing, the chef is no stranger to winning medals – silver in the Culinary Olympics, Culinary World Cup, and Asian Pastry Cup, and FHA Culinary Challenge as well as World Pastry Cup finalist to name a few. It is expected, then, that he would nurture his students so, and nudge them forward to compete in our nation’s many cooking competitions as well. Already, three of his students are set to compete in the Cake Dressing category of this year’s Culinaire, the cooking competition traditionally held in conjunction with the Food Hotel Malaysia exhibition.
“They have been practicing for months.” He says, tongue-in-cheek, knowingly; clearly, this is someone who has no doubt watched his students through practice, gauged their progress and deemed them worthy. These are certainly exciting times for MIB. The first intake for the MIB-ATC-MIU collaboration course begins January 2014. With that in the calendar, as well as Chef Jess’s Corporate Study classes in the works, there is no lack of excitement for the team, for the industry, and ever most importantly, for the students themselves.