Tuesday, March 3, 2009

E-Week 2009 @ Grandhall, Multimedia University

I'm finally back with more great stories to share!

"E-Week 2009: Beyond The Sky" A name that would freak me out whenever I seen and heard. At the same time, it's one of my toughest experience that I'd gone through. Just to fill you guys that do not know what E-Week is, E-Week is an educational exhibition that has been organised by Engineering Society annually. "Beyond the Sky" is our theme for this year, which relates to astronomy.

I'm going to write my whole experience of organizing this event here. It would probably be a very long post.
Well, me, Wong Zhi Qin is the Director of E-Week 2009. It definitely sound good to me, but "With Great Powers, Comes Great Responsibility". It was not any easy job. I was firstly assigned by my president to take lead in this event. Engineering Society, or also known as ENGSOC will usually have another person to take charge as the director for the event. However, since this year we are lack of potential candidate and it was sort of a engsoc trademark event. We decided to use our existing committee members in organizing this exhibition.

Within a week time, I managed to complete a proposal with the help of Kit, for his "Beyond the Sky" concept, and Kent for his sponsorship scheme. We had a few meetings to plan out how do we want to carry out this BTS concept. It was beautiful. Aside from completing this proposal, there's still a lot of paper work to do. Filling up official documents of Students Activity Department, witting official letters for sponsorship, official invitations letters for government bodies, official invitation letters for private exhibitors. Most of the letters had to be written from scratch since the previous year committee board didn't passed down much of those written letters for us as a reference.

Some of my opinion on preparing a good proposal. I did not know anything about preparing a good proposal at first, but I know if the proposal is not out. None of my plan can be actually executed. Just think of proposal as a written paper that you want to show the authorities on what you're planning to do, and how are you going to execute your programme. And think of it this way, if you're reading a proposal, what will you be wanting to know? Firstly, of course the background of your group, club or society. Then, introduce your concept of idea. Next, include in all the important relevant details, to support your main concept. Insert in a good budgeting, I would always throw in a 25% of the actual budget. If you're looking for sponsors, include in a good sponsorship scheme. What do private companies want? They want ADVERTISING, giving them tickets for dinner, appreciation token, etc does not attract them. They want good advertising. So, crack your head for a good advertising strategy, good advertising strategy earns you good sponsorship value. *In times, I still find networking is very important. If you've connection from the company you're seeking for sponsorship, you would stand a 50% higher chance to get it.

During the initial state of executing our plans, I find dealing with the university's related department is actually more troublesome rather than the government bodies and private companies. Since all the letters had to go through the head of students activities department, they are very sensitive with every detail in the letter; how you form your sentence for instance. I wasn't so happy that I had to go back home, get it changed, print it out, then queue for the long line before entering the head's room again. I didn't get it right after the first time, and I had to go back to change it again. At that point of time, I find the administration was not effective enough. However, I could not put all the blame on the department, they have some very hardworking people there. Sometimes they just have to be extra cautious with the students work as it will reflect the university's image. The main thing that I want to say is, there's still a lot of room for improvement on the efficiency of work.


I do learned a lot of talking through the phone, talking through the phone as in for official business reasons. One good advice for everyone, always get to the correct person before you explaining whats the main occasion you called them for. Usually, if we called to a certain company, let's say for sponsorship as an example. You will usually get to the operator before getting to the exact person who is in charge. If you're able to get to the names of the person you needed to get to, that's the best. Otherwise, use some general terms, "Good Morning, could you direct me to the head of your marketing department?"politely, and do try to sound as sweet as possible, if you get a chance to ask the operator on the department head's name, do ask so!

And let's say you are not talking to the operator for some smaller company, always know who you're talking to. You definitely don't want to waste your time on explaining things to a person that does not hold charge. Ask politely "Good Morning, I'm Wong from MMU, how should I address you?". People would definitely feel comfortable if you mentioned them by their names. Know what you need to deliver, explain and don't waste their time on your hesitation. Thank them gracefully, as if they've helped you a lot on solving your problems.


Before the semester break arrived, my president called for another meeting. The meeting turned out to be a blast to me. Well, I did not expect to receive remarks from my president that I always keep work to myself. The thing is I can't manage to put trust in my committee to carry out the work for me, and I am a no good person in delegating job. I think my committee would definitely see that in me. [That's my weakest point] Too afraid of them didn't carry out the work as i expect them to be. However, they proved me wrong during the four days work. [Thank you so much to all my working committee, GREAT JOB!] I was speechless that time, and was quite defensive and sort of in denial of that statement. But of course, my president has no intention of doing bad remarks on me, he just hope to see that I wouldn't be too burdened with all the work.

The main key to good communication is to hold a productive meeting session. Often we see in school that people are not punctual to meetings, people play a fool during meeting and talk craps. My concept of having a good productive meeting is keep the meeting hours short, brief and straight to the point. Getting people to attend the meeting punctual is really a hard time, and we don't like to start a meeting till everyone arrive, caused otherwise he or she would missed out some of the important points. [Just came to mind, my greatest apologies for the last minute cancellation of meeting which not happen only once.] Chairman or secretary should always prepare the agenda before meeting, and assign to those who are in charge to prepare before attending the meeting. Thus, no time is wasted on thinking on what you need to inform the others. Communication breakdown is one of the main reason which leads to a badly organised event.

Don't ever call a company, and start with "Hello, I'm Wong from MMU, and we are looking for sponsors." You will get this, "Oops, beep beep beep...". Don't be surprise, with the status of the economy right now, approaching for sponsors is hard.
From my experience, meeting up with the person in charge is always the best. When you're asking things from people, some personal touch is always good. Asking for sponsorship through the phone is always a bad choice. Set a appointment with him, telling him you are organizing this event and he might be interested to join this event that you're organizing, so that you can further explain to him what your event is all about and it wouldn't take much of his time.
With a good sponsorship scheme, and a good presentation. Your percentage of earning a good sponsorship should get relatively high.

Meet up with the correct person. Phone calls to the government bodies would just be a waste of time. Your calls with be redirected for several times, on hold for at least 10mins, ... ... . But of course not all. Dealing with Agensi ANGKASA Negara, or also known as National Space Agency and National Planetarium was easy if you get to the correct person. Mr Redzuan from the National Planetarium was assigned to help us during E-Week. He offers us the best help he could give and did actually assisted and giving me advice in organizing this event. [My greatest gratitude to you, Mr Redzuan!] Arranging programmes with him is really easy, cause usually, mostly government officers will say no to almost everything. But yeah, he is way out of the box, a good mentor and a good friend.

I had a shock of my life dealing with the Jabatan Pelajaran Putrajaya. It was firstly appeared to me JP Putrajaya was the most efficient office compared to JP Selangor and JP Kuala Lumpur. I went to meet with the Pengarah Pelajaran of Putrajaya, along with my official permission letter from the Kementerian Pelajaran, and our official invitation letter with our program flow schedule to discuss with them whether are they able to send in students to participate in our exhibition. Since the first man is out, the second man came to discuss with me. It was Pn Farizah, she was very nice, without much of a problem, she decided to arrange 4 buses of students in(around 160 students, which was very good for me.). However, the official letter I obtained from Kementerian stated that only students from Selangor district gave me much of a problem. I made a few phone calls, to make sure I am able to get another letter for students from Putrajaya District. Well, Pn Farizah said she will proceed with the preparation work, but I need to get her the letter, otherwise she will be in trouble. Of course, I don't want to put her in a bad situation, but I was glad she trusted me and helped me in arranging the students.

On the second day of the exhibition, 4pm. I got a call from a school from SK Putrajaya, inquiring what time that the bus will arrive to pick them up tomorrow to attend to our exhibition. I wasn't sure with the JP Putrajaya arrangement, so told her I need to make a few phone calls and get back to her once I get things cleared. I called, they are very blur with what's happening asking me whether I sent in all the letters and stuff. I said yes. After that, they said they will get back to me once they checked with their advisor. 15 minutes later, I got a call and was informed that the 4 buses was being canceled. They gave me stupid reasons, but the fact is their lower officers did not carry on his work on informing the schools. Even the Pengarah didn't knew that they canceled the buses. Luckily, one of the secretary from JP Putrajaya, Ms Ida was my life saver. She helped me out a lot, and even waited till after office hours just to get my problem solved. She managed to convince her superior to send in one bus. I'm very grateful for what she had done for me.

I would like to forward my greatest gratitude to Mr. Patrick and Mr. Jefferson from Motorola, Penang for being very understanding of my situation and I am trying my best to offer them what's worth for their sponsorship. And to Jati, for giving us a simple and quick financial support. Also to National Space Agency and National Planetarioum, Mr Redzuan and their crew for offering us a very good hand in filling up the Grandhall, setting up all the exhibits. To Stargazer Scientific, Ms. Cho and Mr. Allen, for giving us their support and bringing in their telescope for the superb night stargazing. Thanks to Ms Teoh and Mr William on their informative and interesting talk. As well as Melaka Planetarium, Ms Carmen, Ms Xiao Shan and Mr. Chong for joining us in E-Week. Special thanks to Astronomy Club USM, Dr Chong and Mr Stefan for bringing in all the interesting activities for the students, teaching them to build their own water rocket and spectrohelioscope. Tzu Chi Foundation on bringing environmental awareness to the students by emphasizing on recycling.

Apart from that, thank you to Mr Omar from Student Activities Division, for giving us good guidance and keeping us to do things professionally. To our Deputy Dean, Dr. Yusoff Alias for supporting our event, and made a lot of things easier for us. Last but not least, to all my lovely working commitee, Jun, Chew, Ryan, Lawrence, Jeeva, Elaine, Xiang, Adai, Yogg, Ragu, Bala, Yuwen, Niz, Nicole, Cynthia, Ying, ....there's more... [gosh, I'm bad at names.] It's great to have all of your support! Great Work everyone!

Do visit http://engineeringsociety.blogspot.com for more write ups.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is definitely a great job from you! -Li Ting