Building the Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow

By Kevin Tan Tee LiangEntrepreneurs are a rare breed of people. They are better known through a variety of labels, such as creators, innovators, problem-solvers, and risk-takers. Yet, a more precise depiction lies in their inherent qualities – being perceived as …

Building the Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow

By Kevin Tan Tee Liang

Entrepreneurs are a rare breed of people. 
SWINSays financial literacy

They are better known through a variety of labels, such as creators, innovators, problem-solvers, and risk-takers. Yet, a more precise depiction lies in their inherent qualities – being perceived as street-smart, well-connected, opportunistic, and enthusiastic. 

This prompts a compelling question: Is a college degree necessary to be an entrepreneur? 

To unravel this myth, it is imperative to first deconstruct the essence of ‘entrepreneurship’. 

In simplicity, it involves identifying commercial opportunities, starting up a business and adeptly managing the associated risks and rewards. 

Success in such an endeavour demands daring intuition, practical experience, and exceptional networking skills – qualities often cultivated in the real world rather than the confinements of classrooms and libraries. 

Given this context, scepticism often arises concerning the value a business degree offers to aspiring entrepreneurs. A university’s role in shaping future entrepreneurs revolves around the seamless integration of three pivotal elements:  technology, people, and society. 


In the entrepreneurial landscape, technology is synonymous with progress.  

Businesses now rely on tech adoption to remain relevant online, connect with customers, and sustain competitiveness.  

At the crux of entrepreneurship, technology’s true importance lies beyond the mere implementation of innovations, but rather through the birth of new ideas. New opportunities constantly arise from technological advancements, helping us to articulate, automate, and advance our business operations and opportunities beyond measure. 

Universities, much like businesses, have experienced much of the same.  

The pandemic highlighted and sped the rate of digitalization. Artificial intelligence’s recent rise has made it all the more clear – change is inevitable. Universities and businesses alike have had to make vast and rapid changes to adapt.  

This is precisely the environment that students are shaped under, encountering various complex challenges and situations. They learn not only its adoption but also how to leverage technology, fostering a creative mindset crucial for entrepreneurship. 


The core of entrepreneurship is the people behind it. 

A college degree is neither a shortcut nor a guarantee for entrepreneurial success. What it does offer individuals are the tools to navigate the challenges inherent in the entrepreneurial journey.  

Fresh graduates represent much more than a mere list of competencies they are often evaluated on. Such an assessment is devoid of the rich experiences they have accumulated from their time at university. 

Academics are an odd bunch.

A diverse collection of practitioners, experts, researchers, and leaders better known as educators. Their roles however expand beyond imparting knowledge, mentoring talent and nurturing people with qualities desired by employers. 

As a collaborative hub, universities attract external projects and industry engagements. This provides students with a valuable platform to explore, take risks, and emphasize learning over the fear of failure that the real world can be incredibly harsh with. 

Entrepreneurial thinking, grounded in concepts like Design Thinking, emphasizes empathy and human-centric problem-solving. Teamwork on the other hand is fostered through capstone projects that consist of real-world consultancy experiences. 

These epitomize the value of people and connectedness which entrepreneurship leverages to be truly impactful. The social capital they build with the faculty, industry partners and peers becomes truly invaluable to their future endeavours. 


The true purpose of entrepreneurship is best defined by its impact on society.  

Beyond knowledge and connections, a college degree gains meaning in its contribution to fulfilling societal needs and wants.  

While technology is a crucial tool, the stark reality of intense competition adds a layer of complexity. The rate of failure for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups in Malaysia ranges from 60-70% is alarming, but unsurprising.  

Every society comes with its challenges and rewards. Though the character may be strengthened by failure, an entrepreneur’s reputation is defined only by success. 

The Growth Mindset, core to education, promotes individual improvement and growth through the science of strengths. Its higher education extension, the Benefit Mindset, encourages learners in this stead to lead and contribute back to their communities.  

Universities, mirroring entrepreneurship, symbiotically serve their communities and society. Graduates are specifically cultivated to be socially aware and adept contributors to the needs of others. 

What a university education eventually offers aspiring entrepreneurs is an invaluable opportunity to harness the necessary business acumen, networks and mindset. 

By prioritizing the education of the people today, we build the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. 

“Everyone deserves an education that is about their own development as a human being. The purpose of education — is for me to become me — in the context of the society that I live, so I can truly contribute to my society.” — Peter Senge 

The Faculty of Business, Design and Arts aims to achieve this through Swinburne’s Vision. People and technology working together to build a better world.