MY SCHOOLDAYS: 'Be disciplined from start to finish'


KAHLIL Anwar Kamal, 37, did not have to look far in search of his idols. Anwar, as he prefers to be called, found exemplary role models to emulate at home.

"For the past 37 years, my parents have been the dual factors driving me to succeed. Most people look for personalities as idols to aspire to and use their achievements as the yardstick of success," says Anwar.

"But it was my father who told me to reach for the skies and try anything even if it means failing more than once, while my mother made sure that I kept my feet on the ground, that I had a strong foundation and a set of principles of life that are crucial to success."

Anwar began his career in education as a Virtual Medical University project manager at the International Medical University (IMU). In 2002, he was appointed chief knowledge officer and a member of the academic council, senate as well as the executive committee.

He left IMU in 2004 to start the Kuala Lumpur Education City (KLEC) project under KLEC Ventures Sdn Bhd, a private holding company. The project was launched by the government via the Prime Minister's Department and the Higher Education Ministry in 2007 as a private-led initiative aimed at making Malaysia the regional hub of the sector. Epsom College Malaysia is part of the KLEC Group of Companies. The college, which is scheduled to open in September next year, will offer a boarding school experience with a traditional British house system which fosters a sense of belonging and community.

Anwar, who is KLEC group deputy chairman, adds: "The highlight of my career so far is the establishment of the college located on a 20-hectare site in Bandar Enstek near Kuala Lumpur International Airport. This has been an exciting project as I was involved in the initial planning as well as design of the campus, working with both United Kingdom and local architects."

He answers questions on his schooldays:

Yaqin: Which primary and secondary schools did you attend?

Anwar: I was in SRK Batu Lanchang in Penang before moving to Kuala Lumpur and joined Sekolah Sri Cempaka for my secondary studies.

Yaqin: Did you have a favourite teacher and why did you like him/her?

Anwar: My Maths teacher when I was in Batu Lanchang. She was very tough on me and made sure that I worked extra hard to do better. And the truth is, years later, I finally understood what she meant when she kept telling me, "There are no short cuts in Maths. You have to be disciplined from start to finish." She was not only talking about Math, she was talking about life. Of course, at 11 years old, it made no sense at all!

Yaqin: What subject(s) did you like at school?

Anwar: Maths.

Yaqin: Were you rewarded for good performance by your parents? If yes, in what way.

Anwar: Yes. Basically a nice dinner at a restaurant or a movie; sometimes a book. There were, of course, a list of things that I wanted that were normally scribbled on a note and tucked away in my back pocket, but it never got out. I guess the best reward for a good performance is the fact that you had done well.

Yaqin: What was your best (and worst) school holiday?

Anwar: My best school holiday was when I was in Standard Four and I got a chance to go all over the United States with my father, who was recruiting graduate students for Universiti Sains Malaysia then. We travelled to almost all the big cities within two months. And the worst school holiday was the next one, in Standard Five, when my mother made me attend tuition the entire time because I missed classes due to the US trip!

Yaqin: What hobbies did you have while at school?

Anwar: I was crazy about tennis. I had a group of friends who used to gather every weekend and spent all Saturday at Kelab Perdana near the Parliament to play our own mini tennis league.

Yaqin: What was your ambition while schooling?

Anwar: I wanted to be a doctor after my father bought the Learn About the Human Body book and it took me 14 years later (from Form One) to realise that the life of a medical student is not one that I wanted. I had attended one year of medical studies at a university in the UK and two years at a local institution.

Yaqin: If you were to live your schooldays all over again, is there anything you would like to change?

Anwar: Nothing. Sure there were things that I could have done better, times when I should have been more disciplined and opportunities that I should have taken, but I would not be who I am, where I am now, if I had not gone through it as it was.


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