Embarking on a journey of becoming a Yayasan Sime Darby scholar

Long way to go, but fortune favours the bold!

Posted by Natasha Razak on August 24, 2019

2020 was certainly well-known for its twists and turnsㅡunavoidably a rollercoaster ride. It has been predominated by the infamous Coronavirus pandemic that has affected the majority of the world’s populace directly or not, and still is up until today, or at least at the time of writing this. In one case, it may be one to not be forgotten. Though for some, it may also be a year hoping to be sunk into oblivion as soon as possible. The year in which the word negative was deemed to be the most positive word of all. Nevertheless, we’ve all worked really hard to accept and adapt to the new norms that we’re currently living in. So pat your back, you deserve it, really.

These obstacles, on my behalf, did not deter me nor thousands of other qualified applicants with stellar results to continue striving for our future throughout our post-SPM journey, into embarking the next step of this bumpy yet one that we’re always looking forward to; voyage of life. Ergo, let’s begin, shall we?

I believe it all started the same for most of us and so did our agenda. Soon after the SPM results were announced, we headed straight to applying to multiple scholarship bodies in hope to secure at least one of them. Before anything else, it is best to bear in mind that the major difference between most scholarships application process in 2020 and in previous years was the fact that we completely rely on online alternatives due to the Movement Control Order restrictions imposed by the government; which also means that all of the interviews were conducted virtually. It was such a devastating loss that we were unable to venture the actual thrill of being on pins and needles when being interviewed by the panels physically. Nevertheless, that again did not discourage me from gaining the necessary experience and becoming someone who is better acquainted with a desirable interview skill set.

Back to our main core, this is the phase where you really have to determine what you want to do in the future. Be zealous, firm and competent about your choice and decisions you are bound to make. Despite the crests and troughs, here I am today, grateful enough to be able to call myself a Yayasan Sime Darby scholar. It’s truly an honour for me to share a glimpse of what the application process would be like as a headstart for the future applicants to thoroughly prepare yourselves in high hopes of you replacing this role imminently. Yes, you! Fortune favours the bold, bonne chance!

As an insight, Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) offers scholarships and grants to eligible Malaysians with excellent academic achievements and leadership skills for undergraduate studies and a few other academic credentials in local and international institutions. Yayasan Sime Darby Pre-University Scholarship Programme (United Kingdom) is a bonded scholarship specifically awarded to well-rounded candidates who wish to pursue foundation studies locally, leading to undergraduate studies in the United Kingdom provided that they have accomplished outstanding academic performances, exhibited stupendous leadership qualities, as well as others who have put in their best efforts in extra-curricular activities.

Stage 1

The very first part of this whole process would be filling out the application form which can be accessed through the application portal. Just like any other scholarship application form, you will have to include very concise details like biodata, academic and extracurricular accomplishments as well as your preferred field of study. Make sure you’re always up to date with the deadlines or any changes made on the website and check your email frequently as well in case they need more information, just to be on the safe side! There is nothing much aside from sorting out all the necessary documents required to be emailed together with the main application form. Once submitted, you patiently wait for their reply by email on your application status.

Stage 2

Congrats, you’ve passed the screening part of the application! Now let’s get into the first few steps of the real deal. Stage two would be all about the online ability tests to evaluate your ability to comprehend some logical questions related to I would say, a sensible judgement as well as your competency to correctly analyse statistical and numerical data. You will be given a certain amount of time to complete as many questions correctly for all these assessments so be sure to keep on track of time as well!

Verbal Reasoning Test (VANA)

Here, you’ll be given several text passages followed by one or more statements that require you to make full use of your cognitive ability to determine whether the statements given are logically tallied to what is being stated in the passages or vice versa. The passages could be really lengthy and mind-blowingly confusing but fret not, everything is now at the touch of a button. There are myriad online platforms that are worth checking out which offer realistic questions and timed sets of trials for candidates to better train themselves for assessments just like this one. YSD will also provide a link that will allow you to practice beforehand to get the gist of the pattern and type of questions that will be asked, so make sure to check them out!

Numerical Reasoning Test

As its name suggests, for this part you will have to display your best numeracy skills to solve questions based on charts, figures and quantitative pieces of evidence. It’s undoubtedly common for some, at least by this time to encounter a hard time polishing a few particular rusty mathematical skills after a few months of freedom post-SPM but that should never be an excuse for you to not work your fingers to the bone in an effort to make the most out of this chance of a lifetime. As cliché as it may sound, practice makes perfect. This one works like charm, trust me.

Stage 3

All hail to the next step! Known as the Online Assessment Centre, this stage was absolutely a nerve-racking one, at least for me.

You will be briefed for about 15 minutes beforehand on an essential task that you have to set forth individually, namely the ‘Case Study Presentation’. Here, 30 minutes will be given for you to read through some confidential documents (mine was a very long one) and prepare your materials for your pitch later. As a gentle reminder, the time here will be gone by swiftly, so be prepared to assimilate your skimming and scanning techniques and make sure you write fast too! During my time, I just had a few pieces of paper, a pen and a highlighter in front of me to jot down everything that I feel I should. Not trying to make it sounds complex (read: it might be), but I cannot stress enough how significant it is for you to read and digest every piece of information fast and of course, to figure out solutions quick off the mark in response to the questions assigned for your half an hour pitch about the case study later on. One quick piece of advice, sift through the information to find out which one will be vital for the case studies questions as some pages may not be essential for the presentation!

A HR officer from the Sime Darby Companies will start by asking you some basic introductions related to your general and academic background prior to your session. Now the floor is yours to make the most out of these 30 minutes and unleash all of your inner potentials to show the officer why you deserve this scholarship! Been there and done that, all I can say is a little shiver is normal but don’t get too restless as this might interfere with your presentation and you surely don’t want that to happen, right? Just give it your best shot and you’re good to go!

Upon completion of your session, you’ll be requested to email YSD any material that you’ve prepared during your presentation as I believe, they will use this to evaluate how well you set out your strategies to tackle this task.

Final Stage

If you’ve made it to this point, way to go! This also means that you should not feel comfortable just yet. You still have to go the extra mile and ace the most crucial part of the whole application process, the final interview.

I was interviewed by the CEO of Yayasan Sime Darby, Dr. Hajah Yatela and an officer from Sime Darby Plantation Berhad, who was deemed to be a representative from the company branch that I will be assigned under. It’s safe to say that this might differ based on your preferred field of study as you’ll have to serve the company for a few years upon completion of your undergraduate studies depending on your course and expertise. They will let you know beforehand if you’ll be assigned under one of the two main subsidiary companies of Sime Darby Berhad, namely Sime Darby Plantation Berhad or Sime Darby Property Berhad. For that reason, it is pivotal that you spend some time to sit down and do a little reading about the respected companies because trust me, they will expect you to know a thing or two about their organizations.

Mine was more of a casual conversation where they asked me about my leadership endeavours, the highlights of my academic and non-academic achievements as well as my principle to grow and flourish into an exceptional individual towards achieving my ultimate goals. It was not too tense that I remembered I had fun expressing my thoughts.

Throughout the whole session, I personally think this one question was the most impactful one being asked,

“How do you plan to contribute to Sime Darby Plantation upon your commencement in the next few years?”

This was the exact moment where I completely utilized my research regarding the company. Since my preferred undergraduate degree would be related predominantly to the environment, I didn’t hesitate to reply with a brief but comprehensive answer of contriving more alternatives to renewable energy as to work on par with one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations General Assembly that are proposed to be achieved by 2030 which is Affordable and Clean Energy. The Q&A session usually comes last, so it’s always better to prepare one or two rational questions that can reflect your curiosity in the best way possible.

Above all, I would say that nothing outweighs the idea of you, being genuinely yourself. With that being said, I wish you nothing but the best of luck! Have faith in God’s plans because surely He knows best.