Academia meets broadcasting

Dr Hamrila Abdul Latif (@Dr Aila Abdul Latif) hosting TVS’ Visi programme.

KUCHING: Despite being new to the broadcasting industry, Dr Hamrila Abdul Latif (@Dr Aila Abdul Latif) has effectively risen to the challenge as a television host for TVS’ Visi programme.

With her vast experience gained throughout her years and currently as a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Economics and Business of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), she is more than capable to tackle this new role.

Having graduated with a Bachelor of Management (Technology) from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, she then took her Master of Science (Management) by research at Universiti Putra Malaysia. This was followed by her postgraduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning from Unimas.

After this, she was a recipient of the Australia Business Portfolio International Postgraduate Research Scholarship Award 2008, which led to her acquiring her PhD in Management from RMIT University, Melbourne in 2012.

She said next year would mark her 20th year working with Unimas, having begun as a tutor way back in 2001.

After completing her PhD, Aila continued teaching at Unimas, filling various roles over the years as programme coordinator, head of department (Business Management), and even deputy dean (Industry, Community Engagement and Commercialisation) for a period of time.

She also has a range of other work attachments and responsibilities, including being associate managing editor for the International Journal of Business and Society (IJBS) and management consultant for Unimas Holdings, among others.

“In 2018 and 2019, I also had an exciting opportunity to work under the mentorship of Datuk Seri Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir, who at the time was the chief executive officer (CEO) of Petronas Dagangan Berhad,” she said.

Reflecting on her life’s journey during a recent interview, she expressed immense gratitude.

“My life is just ordinary, but to me, it is interesting and very colourful because I have had a lot of opportunities to learn from many people and in many places. These opportunities have arisen in a variety of ways,” she said with a warm smile.

The Visi experience

The Visi programme, which airs on TVS for half an hour every Saturday at 11.15am, is a talk show featuring intellectual discussions on current issues such as socioeconomic development.

“We do not want to make it too advanced or complicated; it is more about discussing current issues from the society’s perspective,” said Aila.

For instance, the first episode aired was on the topic of individual financial planning –- a highly relevant topic especially with the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. 

“In that episode, we discussed matters such as the available assistances and moratoriums in a simple way so that it is easy for our audience including the rural community to understand,” she said.

Describing the Visi programme as an eye-opener, she said discussions should be interactive and engaging, balancing a difficult context with understandable and effective delivery to viewers.

According to her, each episode featured an invited guest who would speak about their topic of expertise.

“For example, if an episode is about agri-food or rural development, we would invite someone from the relevant ministry. If the topic is the economy, we would call for an economist,” she said.

Visi televisions host Dr Hamrila Abdul Latif (@Dr Aila Abdul Latif) in a discussion with Prof John Wilson (right), chief executive officer and deputy vice-chancellor of Swinburne University Sarawak, during Visi’s second episode.

Challenges faced

Aila admitted that landing the role as a television host for the Visi programme was something out of her comfort zone initially.

She explained that although she had years of experience teaching students at Unimas, this was a completely different field for her.

“In the first couple of episodes, I was not really used to filming and I remember being distracted by the camera, the crew, and all of that,” she recalled.

However, she quickly grew accustomed to her role and a number of episodes have already been successfully aired.

“Being a moderator is very different. You have to trigger the flow of people’s own thoughts and make the audience understand the topic at hand,” she said.

On her experience with the Visi programme thus far, she said it was very exciting and she managed to learn from each of the guests she hosted.

She said that even though the internet made it possible for anyone to read up on nearly any topic, it would not be the same as having an in-depth discussion with these experts.

A challenge she faced, Aila said, was learning how to shape each discussion.

“As I am hosting, I am also trying to put myself in the shoes of the audience. This is a multifaceted role and I have to look at the topic of discussion from different perspectives,” she said.

“I thank God for this opportunity to work with TVS and also the people in this industry – the CEO, board of directors, and the team,” she said gratefully.

Lifelong learning

With a highly enthusiastic, determined, and humble nature, Aila is a firm advocate of lifelong learning.

According to her, she was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Yet, this had never deterred her from achieving her goals.

“I come from the rural area and I was not born into a renowned family or anything like that. I improved myself by learning from my surroundings and environment continuously,” she remarked.

She said people should always enjoy the learning process and try to bring a positive impact through their actions.

“Don’t worry about being perfect. What is important is that we are all progressing in our own way and on our own paths – so just enjoy your journey,” she advised.

She said learning should be a continuous journey regardless of age.

In order to continuously improve herself, Aila turns to reading – “All the mentors that I have had in my life love reading.”

Aspirations

Thankful to be part of TVS from its early stages, Aila hopes that she will be able to make a significant contribution.

At the same time, she hopes that the Visi programme will be a reference for people in the future.

“While it is relevant to today’s issues, I would say that the programme would be for future reference as well,” she said.

She said it could be a showcase of how Sarawak aimed to develop as well as the efforts undertaken by its people at this point in time.

“This is part of the evidence as to how we are shaping our future,” she remarked.