THE man who helped transform the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS) into a profitable enterprise will use the same formula to turn the fortunes of the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) around.
R Theyvendran, newly elected SICCI chairman and MDIS secretary-general, told BT he intends to replicate the process-driven culture now embedded in the MDIS modus operandi at the chamber.
"For an organisation to be successful, its leaders need to have a clear vision and a strong sense of business acumen," Dr Theyvendran said. "The most important thing where MDIS is concerned, and the experience I have gained to transfer to SICCI, is that we have an objective and process- driven management of the organisation. Personalities must not come into play."
His short-term objectives for SICCI are clear: he wants to increase the membership of the chamber and look at amending its by- laws. To get more members, he revealed that he will look to increasing benefits for them, as well as improve communication by ensuring newsletters are sent to them regularly.
Some of these benefits include providing rebates for SICCI members and their families to attend MDIS courses, for instance, and by looking at trade missions to new markets like Africa to highlight better opportunities for them. He also highlighted more and better-quality talks on relevant and timely topics.
Focusing on process- driven measures and quality assurance initiatives helped Dr Theyvendran turn MDIS around. When he first arrived in 1989, it was losing as much as $60,000 a year and had only six staff. In three years, he built the organisation to a surplus of $1 million. By the end of 2007, MDIS was employing over 250 staff and had more than 10,000 students in its enrolment. At its peak, it even had up to $200 million in cash.
"That is why we have the four-year EduTrust certification and the ISO 9001 certification . . . and the Silver Medal for the Singapore Health Award," he said.
Besides aiming for quality awards and being process-driven, Dr Theyvendran revealed he also focused on the people as they are the "assets and driving force" of any business organisation. Hence, he added that having people with the right skills and for the right job fit are most crucial - something he is keen to build up in the chamber.
"Similarly, at SICCI, my direction is very clear . . . We will tap the strengths of the staff and if they are lacking in any area, we will send them for training."
In addition, he said that SICCI will look into investing in other areas of staff well-being and development. These include getting the organisation to participate in community projects for the benefit of society.
Although SICCI recently lost its CEO to self-help group Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA), Dr Theyvendran appeared unperturbed as the SICCI board is already looking for a replacement.
"I want to get more and more good people around me," he said.
Following this principle, he will also look to better empower board directors by grouping them into various committees and tasking them with specific responsibilities. For instance, Dr Theyvendran said he has already assembled committees to look into the chamber achieving quality certifications and also for them to study any amendments to SICCI's by-laws.
In the long term, he hopes to generate as much income as possible for SICCI and dreams of it eventually owning a clubhouse.