Celebrating the achievements of alumni in Malaysia

When outstanding individuals receive a world-class education in the UK, the effects can last a lifetime. The Alumni Awards shine a light on the impact that alumni of UK higher education institutions are making in their chosen field, and how this was sparked by their studies in the UK.

Meet this year's winners

Professional Achievement Award

Oon Chern Ein 
University of Oxford

Oon Chern Ein is an award-winning Malaysian scientist working on drug discovery to treat cancer. With patents pending for her drug candidate, Oon Chern Ein has popularised the term ‘molecular targeted therapy’ in Malaysia (where traditional medicine is widely used) through her relentless efforts in science communication and public education, largely focusing on the underprivileged communities. 

Oon Chern Ein believes that the University of Oxford, UK has empowered her with the confidence to disrupt stereotypes on traditional gender roles, advocate for inclusive education and challenge societal mindset on use of alternative medicine as a therapeutic strategy for cancer. Oon Chern Ein aspires to leverage on her international connections and use her skills and experience to build the next generation of ethical scientists, and encourage more participation of females and the underprivileged in STEM in the bid to promote science literacy in less developed parts of the nation and the world.

Social Impact Award

Howe Wong
University of Leeds 

Upon graduating with MEng from University of Leeds, Howe went back to his hometown in Sarawak and worked closely with government agencies to implement several rural electrification projects which have benefited over 30,000 households in the rural non-electrified region of Sarawak. The communities now no longer have to rely on costly fossil fuel generators and enjoy 24-hour electricity.

Achieving great things and making positive changes to the world is important to Howe, who has the urge to improve the lives and livelihoods of people in the state’s poorest communities. Howe is now working to improve and raise the income of the state’s rural communities by working on projects whose unique products can be marketed to the world.

Entrepreneurial Award

Ai Ching Goh
University of Bristol

Ai Ching Goh started her professional career with a degree in Experimental Psychology and a media position at P&G. She quickly discovered her entrepreneurial spirit, and transitioned to a startup mindset. Ai Ching co-founded a web app, which turned into Piktochart, a visual communications tool that makes it easy to condense and consume information.

As a startup that operates from Penang, but serves over 18 million users globally, Ai Ching has taken an unconventional approach to growth. She goes against the grain of what the startup world teaches passionate entrepreneurs in areas including talent management, culture ”pruning" and bootstrapping.

Meet this year's finalists

Among stiff competition from a variety of strong applicants, these candidates stood out. Find out what makes their story unique.

Professional Achievement Award

Lam Shen Fei
Architectural Association School of Architecture

Shen has designed more than 70 projects, ranging from furniture to 42-storey buildings. Shen also lectures in Architectural Design to over 2,000 students at local universities.

Shen found his experience of living in the UK and studying at The Architectural Association School of Architecture to be invaluable. As well as benefitting from exposure to the UK’s heritage and modern architecture, studying at the Architectural Association allowed Shen rich education and networking opportunities which have helped him in his career since graduation. 

Zaid Omar
Imperial College London, University of Sheffield

Zaid Omar is the Director of Student Development at the Ministry of Education, overlooking the welfare and campus activities of over 1.3 million students in universities nationwide. Zaid currently leads national efforts on student empowerment, foremost among which is establishing Students’ Unions in universities in Malaysia.    

Aside from academic excellence and world-class researchers and facilities, Zaid believes the UK campus experience, which promotes vibrant activism and an open and democratic culture for students, played a major part in his career development. The campus ecosystem allows students to flourish in their chosen endeavours, and opens other doors of opportunity for them. Zaid attributes his career successes mainly to the vast experience gathered from his UK connection. Zaid believes students are the foundation of the nation’s future, and how they are nurtured today will bear an indelible impact on tomorrow. With this, he hopes to further establish Students’ Unions in more universities locally, and to continue playing a part in policy-making for the benefit of all students in Malaysia.

Social Impact Award

Sook Wah Ho
University of Essex

Sook Wah Ho, an educator, has been a pioneering force in language education for working professionals, university students and school children in Malaysia. Her accomplishments include the Gamuda English Tests she delivered for Gamuda Berhad which won the 2019 British Council Innovation in Assessment Award, and the innovative ELEx (English Language Experience) Package she chiefly designed for Universiti Putra Malaysia undergraduates, implemented in 2013.

Studying at the University of Essex provided Sook Wah Ho a “breakaway” that propelled into action her two passions: teaching and working with underprivileged children. She plans to start a child-led reading and development centre for disadvantaged children in 2020.

Entrepreneurial Award

Yee Kuan Chua
University of Bolton

Yee Kuan, Chua founded ULTRON® in 2015, a Malaysian sportswear brand aligned with the growing sports industry, focusing on a ‘home-grown’ positioning to match the country’s identity, culture and lifestyle. Since then the company has spread across 12 countries in Asia, partnered with more than 2,500 races, distributing more than 3.5 million pieces apparels across the region between 2015-2019. His success led the brand to a suite of commendations; most recently the Superbrand Award by Superbrand Council International. 

Although not a business major, Yee Kuan credits his success to-date to his self-discipline developed during his UK degree studies. The examinations-driven model of UK education cultivates highly relevant skills and habits such as time and stress management and tenacity. The brand name 'Ultron' was inspired by the same spirit of determination in 'Ultra-marathon'. 

Yee Kuan invented the ‘Lightest Running T-shirt’ awarded by the Malaysia Book of Records, revolutionising the sportswear industry. He is now organising major marathons that unite runners across the country, and sponsoring national athletes for international tournaments with a dream to dress Malaysia’s 1st Olympic gold medallist.

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