Nominees of Great Women of Our Time 2011
CATEGORY: EDUCATION & PUBLIC SERVICE
Adelaine Foo , 34, CEO & Founder of TOC (The Otomotif College)
Looking back, one might think that Adelaine Foo was incredibly foolhardy for jumping into an arena outside her training. The holder of a Masters in Chinese Opera had no management training, nor was she well-versed with the education system or legislation. To make things harder, it took 16 months to obtain a licence from the Ministry of Higher Education to issue a diploma.
“We lived from month to month, survived by doing short courses and kept our headcount very low. My partners and I had already invested a substantial amount so I could not back out. There were many nights spent crying and begging for help.”
More critically, the local automotive industry was hardly a magnet for talent, though she knew plenty of youths secretly harboured a passion for the industry.
Thanks to its stigma as “uncool, low tech and dirty, parents were reluctant for their children to enter this industry because they thought it was a worthless career. The automotive industry itself feels that automotive technology was too simple to require education and qualification,” Adelaine reveals.
In just few years, TOC has given the local automotive industry a dramatic image makeover.
“This new breed of skilled, thinking technicians now earn an average starting salary of RM1,200, with some fresh graduates bringing home up to RM6,000, a huge leap from the paltry RM600 to RM800 that its first batch of graduates earned. More than 2,000 students have gone through or are currently going through their education at TOC. The quality of our education is being recognized by universities around the globe. Our graduates are also slowly being recognized by automotive industries outside of Malaysia as we have begun to place students for their first job internationally.”
TOC is even attracting companies who wish to sponsor individual students or become technology partners. Expanding its second campus to Australia was another major milestone.
By providing a structured channel to develop young people’s passion for cars into a marketable skill, Adelaine hopes to contribute to making Malaysia a future hub for automotive and motorsports studies for local as well as international students. But more importantly, she is grateful for the chance to transform young people’s lives through education.
Being the eldest child in the family probably had something to do with her nurturing instinct. “My mum says you can either teach a person to be good or bad. The right guidance can change a person’s future.”
“When you see someone succeed because of you, there is a glow in your heart that you had a part in that.”
Article source: The Malaysian Women's Weekly