By San Peng
For years, Danny Ng ran an IT and computing accessory firm. In tandem with the business, he and his partners also owned an institute providing vocational training for those keen to gain a foothold in the IT industry.
Business was good and he bought two factories in the Seberang Prai Industrial Area located within Malaysia’s northern state of Penang. But like all entrepreneurs, Ng was always on the lookout for opportunities. About 18 months ago, something most opportune did pop up and he grabbed it with open arms.
Many of us have heard of outsourcing whereby companies adopt as an effective cost-saving strategy to farm out some jobs as a cost-cutting measure. Outsourcing also allows a company to be more flexible and efficient about using its human resources.
Ng and his partners, who have been running the IT distribution business for more than a decade, spotted a need in the outsourcing market – for interns – while doing their part to build better relations between China and Malaysia.
That idea became Machoda Academy, which offers a specialised service matching interns to the requirements of small- and medium-sized companies. But with a difference.’
A ‘win win’ scenario
Machoda sources its interns from China – a huge untapped market – and takes the paperwork and guesswork out of the whole experience. The service is more like “professional matchmaking”.
Ng (pic) says: “For example, if a company needs microchip engineers… they are rare. It takes a lot of effort to find them. This is where we come in. We have access to more than 7,000 universities and we can help source for microchip engineers. We will screen the pool of interns and give the company a summary of those who meet its criteria.”
Machoda will set up the interviews and meet a client’s customised requirements for interns. Clients may come along for the interviews.
Ng, who is described by a number of interns Business Circle spoke to as being a “very caring big brother”, shares the story of one of Machoda’s first customers – an app developer. App developers are often lured by other companies, making it difficult to retain talent in an industry in constant flux. The owner of the app development firm followed them to China and was so impressed with the process that he hired a couple on the spot.
Another owner of an advertising agency hired junior art directors on the same trip after sitting in on the student interviewing process.
So, why are the Chinese interns such a success?
“First of all their mentality is different. They are eager. They ask what coursework should we sign up for? How do we equip ourselves for the market? Is English a must?” says Ng, explaining why the Chinese interns’ attitude makes such a refreshing change from other students.
The Chinese students also never once ask how much they are to be paid nor the hours they have to put in, says Ng. At the interviews, the students tend go the extra mile.
Many turn up with portfolios tailored to specific employers. One young woman created a ‘booklet’ showcasing her marketing ideas at the interview for junior art directors. Another young man presented slideshows on his varsity project.
What is notable is how prepared and keen these youngsters are to gain job experience in a different country.
Ng says the process is quite straightforward because the internship programme has Beijing’s backing. Once an intern has been selected, he will be work for a firm for six months and he is eligible for a visa extension for up to 1½ years on employment visas.
Another one of Machoda’s clients – a multinational computing firm based in Cyberjaya (pic) – hired six interns and was so impressed, it is looking at hiring more.
The “professional matching” set-up is seamless with no exploitation on the part of any party. The Chinese universities send professors and visiting lecturers to keep tabs of the interns’ welfare, further enhancing the ‘win-win’ situation.
Machoda’s Chinese partners is one of the country’s largest outsourcing firms and have a reputation to live up to – thereby ensuring that only the best are selected as interns.
Ng admits that the disappearance of flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 227 passengers on board – of whom two-thirds were Chinese – did have a slight impact on the Chinese students’ and their parents’ perception of Malaysia. However most of them still remain fond of Malaysia and view the country as their “second home”.
But Machoda is on a charm offensive. The first batch of interns at the computing firm, for instance, were taken to places of interest in Malaysia, exposed to Malaysian food and given plenty of opportunity to practise their English.
The positive word-of-mouth when they share their experiences of Malaysia has allayed some of the parental fears and many interns are, once again, willing to come to Malaysia to gain valuable international experience.
Machoda Academy can be contacted at +603-7885 0805 while Ng who says he “takes every single phone call” can be contacted at +6019-323 1565. For more information on Machoda Academy, please visit their website.