Pursuing that PhD, a pathway to deeper thinking and innovation

  • Candidates build transferable skills set that cross different sectors
  • Key objective at APU to ensure their research has a key digital application     


Pursuing that PhD, a pathway to deeper thinking and innovationCurrent trends show that many Malaysian professionals are reflecting over a desire to advance knowledge, act on personal ambition, decide over a change of career direction/future career prospects and asses their ability to meet job market requirements.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian government outlined an objective to produce 60,000 PhD holders within three years to meet the nation’s drive to build a sustainable knowledge-based economy. Malaysian PhD holders can contribute to the required expertise as they will be the domain experts with a breadth of specialised knowledge within specific verticals to discover gaps and ideate transformations.

Pursuing a PhD is always based on the basic aspiration to accomplish something large and make an original contribution to a certain discipline, gaining transferrable skills with one’s research passion and subsequently triggering deeper thinking and innovation.

Since its inception in 2013 with the first batch PhD students, APU’s PhD postgraduate programme has seen many candidates from various industries embarking on the PhD journey, which has enriched their overall research capabilities.

I’d like to share some of their stories in the hopes of inspiring some of you to move from thought to action.

Pursuing that PhD, a pathway to deeper thinking and innovationDr. Murugappan Subramanian Chettiar (pic), the Head of Human Capital Division at the Malaysian Communication Multimedia Commission (MCMC), has proved how he managed to strategise human capital development shifts in digital upskilling at MCMC as an outcome of his research experience via completing a PhD in Management.

His research was on the Digital Transformation Leadership Black Box (DTLBB), where he validated previously asserted presuppositions of different types of digital transformations via a new introduction to Process Transformation, Domain Transformation, Business Model Transformation and Organizational Transformation.

By merging the empirical findings for digital leadership, his findings thus provided an opportunity for businesses to put the prerequisite conditions into perspective to better prepare for the digital transformation journeys for the leadership to see through the beginning and sustainable journey towards Digital Transformation.

Pursuing that PhD, a pathway to deeper thinking and innovationBy completing a PhD in Technology in 2019, Dr. Stella Mbau Nyambura (pic) saw her research outcomes bring an impact to localised climate action, regeneration, community-based solutions and climate justice within a global context.

She managed to investigate the use of existing early warning systems in enabling global awareness and developed a framework that helps in the identification of these gaps in sub-Sahara Africa. She had also analysed existing knowledge transfer frameworks for syntropic agroforestry.

As the founder and CEO of LOABOWA, based in Nairobi, Kenya, which aims to enable a “low impact” footprint, climate resilience and awareness, Stella continues to carry out scientific works on Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs), the scenarios of projected socioeconomic global changes up to 2100, typically in SSP2 - Middle of the Road; and SSP3 - A Rocky Road.

Pursuing that PhD, a pathway to deeper thinking and innovationCandidates for APU’s PhD programme come from around the world, and Dr. Rawan Madarmeh (pic, left) arrived from Jordan. She completed her PhD in Technology in 2020, by studying system and process architecture, for the development of an environmentally friendly cheque system, complete with a new systems architecture which falls into the advances of Fintech.

With the theme “Green Cheque System (GCS)”, Rawan utilised software mimicking the Waterfall Methodology to construct GCS operations, providing 14 electronic services cheque users via Internet Banking (IB), Mobile Banking (MB) and ATM banking channels.

Rawan moved on to financial consultancy upon completing her PhD and is currently utilising her research experience to predict the intention, acceptance and adoption of “Green Banking Technology” usage, especially during the pandemic of Covid-19 between 2020 to 2021.

This has been done by studying Performance Expectancy, Hedonic Motivation, Social Influence, and Users’ Attitude Towards Green IT, Perceived Risk, Legislation and Privacy on the clients’ intention and usage behaviours in the banking industry.

Dr Afriza Hani Mohd Sinon (pic, right) who is currently attached to Malaysia’s Public Service Department has completed in-depth research for her PhD on the influence of theory-based digital interventions in reducing non-communicable disease (NCD) risk factors.Pursuing that PhD, a pathway to deeper thinking and innovation

Afriza’s research at the point in time where she was attached to the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development & Cooperatives (MEDAC) aimed to address public health service optimisation via digital means in the country. This extensive research examined the influences of elements of health behavioural change on the usage optimisation to utilise public health services among female users of the Ministry of Health Facebook (MOH FB) platform in Malaysia to curb NCD risk factors.

Her findings were a potential gateway to the intervention efforts of MOH Malaysia in raising awareness and reducing NCD risk factors amongst Malaysian women.

Knowing that the PhD candidates are coming from different professional backgrounds and countries with fast-growing economies, one of the key objectives was to ensure that their research had a key digital application.

I have to say, our APU Post Graduate and PhD teams have excelled with effective time management and constant engagement with the PhD students and this not only allows for seamless completion of the doctoral dissertations but also leads to a continuous working relationship in the post-completion research ventures. Students must be guided with more helpful actions such as scheduling dedicated writing time, reframing difficult tasks as learning opportunities, and developing a work routine.

The greater motivation at APU is to ensure that the ecosystem in place for PhD studies is aligned towards the national agenda to develop a high knowledge based society to drive Malaysia’s digital economy.

Prof. Ir. Ts. Dr. Vinesh Thiruchelvam, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research & Innovation), APU

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