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Value Creation through Transformative Education

12 May 2023

Value Creation is “about making life better for others and making your own life better because of it,” says Prof Gerry George. It is at the heart of everything he does, and his passion has taken him far and wide; from India to the US, UK, Singapore, and now, Malaysia. Here, at the IMU Health, Prof Gerard (Gerry) George has been appointed its Group Managing Director with effect from 9 May 2023.  His role will have him oversee the expansion of the International Medical University (IMU), International Medical College (IMC) and IMU Healthcare.  Prof Gerry has great anticipation for the IMU and he gives us a sneak peek into his thoughts and ambition for the institution.

What has led you to where you are today?
My important life decisions have been based on the opportunity for value creation. I was comfortable in the US, yet I moved to London as it provided a terrific chance to flourish as a scholar and teacher. I accepted the offer in Singapore because it was a golden opportunity to help build a world class  institution from ground zero. Then there was the compelling draw of Georgetown University’s Jesuit education and unparalleled locational advantage in Washington DC, which I converted to a forthcoming book “Venture Meets Mission.”  The book – due out in January 2024 from Stanford University Press – covers how entrepreneurs can work with governments to make a cleaner, fairer, safer, and more prosperous world.  With each of these moves, there was always a greater opportunity to make a positive difference – despite the hardship. Value creation is about making life better for others and making your own life better because of it.
What brings you the most satisfaction?
Seeing people around me succeed. As a professor, the happiest moments are at graduation ceremonies. It’s a joy to see the transformation in students and the pride in parents. As a colleague, I get tremendous satisfaction from every success of our staff, whether it is in getting a research paper accepted or achieving a difficult target. I find meaning in my work when others around me are successful. My mantra is always to help others succeed – and they too will find a way to lift you up.
What are your benchmarks of success?
I look for ‘world class.’  To me, it’s important to be the best I can be, and I hold myself to a standard of performance that is comparable to the best global peers. The IMU has that opportunity to be world class – and I hope to guide the efforts of our fantastic staff towards that goal so that we can continue to deliver compelling value for our students, our staff and for Malaysia.
Who is your role model and why?
I don’t have one person who is my role model – I have many.  I’ve been inspired by students, family, colleagues and mentors. All of us have something unique that we offer, and we must have the humility to understand that we are all fallible. I look for what I can appreciate within each person rather than thinking that I should be like them. I am energised by people who have optimism, creativity, a sense of purpose, and the willingness to put in a lot of effort.
What do you think the future of education will look like and what role does technology have in it?
Universities are developers of talent, and we certify that students have achieved specific learning outcomes. Taking that broad approach means that we are continually changing how we teach, research, and deliver a holistic education.   Technology is helping us transform education – not just since Covid, but for decades. It is taking us down a path to deliver ‘personalised learning’ – where education is what you need, when you need it, and delivered in a format that suits how you consume it.  We are not there yet, but we are certainly on the way there.
What brought you to the IMU?
The IMU is a fantastic opportunity for value creation. It was a complete surprise when IMU’s investors approached me about a potential move to Kuala Lumpur. I knew the move would be disruptive for my family but it was a compelling opportunity to make an excellent Malaysian institution into a world class educational platform.  It’s what I’ve done at Singapore Management University, so I know I can personally add value to the wonderful faculty and staff team here. Over the coming years, I am confident that we will make definitive strides to being world class.
What do you aspire to champion?
I take the ‘developer of talent’ role of universities as the guiding principle – for students, our staff, and our partners. At the IMU, I would like us to deliver knowledge-led, student-centric, transformative education.


First, knowledge-led implies that we conduct basic and applied research using industry-relevant skills and innovation. This means whether you are a professor or a laboratory technician, we should all try to be at the forefront of functional knowledge to be the best in class.


Second, student-centric means being guided by students’ needs as we transform our learning and social spaces, student experience, and the processes by which we help students achieve their learning outcomes.


Third, transformative education is about delivering a holistic academic environment that values functional knowledge, employability, and a mindset for continuous learning and adaptability. It also means that we take a range of students in terms of academic abilities and make them all stronger. We must care about the difference we make in our students as much as we care about their entry qualifications.


Being consistent with the aspiration to be knowledge-led, student centric, and transformative will ensure we deliver world-class education.

How will you apply your philosophy of strategic management, innovation, and entrepreneurship to the IMU?
The IMU has a legacy of pioneering. In fact, the three lines that make up the ‘I’ in its logo symbolises Innovation, Imagination, and Insight. We continue to be pioneers in programme development and teaching delivery, in terms of content and new discipline areas as well as e-learning and simulated instructional technologies. Being a professor of innovation and entrepreneurship, I do constantly think of new ways to create and deliver value. This will help as we develop an innovation and startup ecosystem for students and staff in IMU. I want us to push our innovation agenda by creating a strong connection between student entrepreneurship, faculty research and industry commercialisation.
What are some of your goals for the university’s future?
I have set myself a target of the IMU being ranked as world class across multiple disciplines in research and teaching within the next five years. For that, we must continually hire and develop our talent and innovate across programmes and delivery methods. We also need to add and replenish our learning and social spaces. There are a lot of exciting things ahead for IMU!
What is the DNA that every good university must possess?
Culture beats strategy any day. Having a great culture and work environment is the single most important predictor of a great university. The ingredients of this culture are the 3Cs – collaborate, create and care.


To collaborate assumes that you don’t have all the pieces, so we work with others, across disciplines and business units. Collaboration means partnering with trust and deepening our relationships.


To create is to be generative – both in creating something new and in how we do it.  Don’t just complain about problems, come up with potential solutions. Create a better IMU for yourself, our staff and our students.


To care is about having purpose and ownership of what we do, and taking pride in what we do as a team. Caring is also about how we treat others with compassion and empathy – to treat others the way you want to be treated. We are after all in the business of healthcare education.


Collaborate. Create. Care. That is the DNA we need.

Prof Gerry George was born in Chennai, India and attended the Birla Institute of Tech & Science in Pilani for an integrated Masters in Biological Sciences and Master of Management Studies. He studied for his PhD in Business at Virginia Commonwealth University, in the US, writing a thesis on innovation in biotechnology firms. 

He then went on to be an assistant professor at Syracuse University and University of Wisconsin-Madison where he researched university inventions and startups. In 2005, he moved to the UK to join the London Business School as an associate professor with tenure. Subsequently, he joined Imperial College Business School where he became professor and then deputy dean.

In 2015, he took up an exciting challenge as dean of the business school at Singapore Management University, helping it to achieve a Global Top 50 ranking in both research and graduate programmes. After nearly seven years in Singapore, he had the privilege to join Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, in Washington, DC. There, he led its entrepreneurship initiative. Now as IMU Health’s Group Managing Director, Prof Gerry George describes his latest post as a welcome surprise and a great opportunity to create value. 

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