Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tun Mahathir interview on meet the boss TV

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Tun Mahathir is both adviser to Petronas and Proton/Group Lotus. As such his views are of interest to me.

Here are a few quotes from the interview.

Tun Mahathir:             Well I used to say that when you are short to be noticed you stand on a soap box.  So for me the Petronas Twin Towers is my soap box, so to speak because then I can be tall and be seen.  So you have to do something that is out of the ordinary so that people will notice you.  When I started as Prime Minister, Malaysia was quite unknown.  People keep on asking, “Where is that?  Where is that?”  So in order to be noticed we have to do certain things that will strike people as something radical and unexpected and because of that they notice

Tun Mahathir: Well one of the things that people must learn is that when going into business the cost you sold much more than what you pretty because there will be pillars. There’ll be a lot of shortcomings and you have to overcome them. It takes a long time before you can really get things running smoothly. So unless you have deep pockets you shouldn’t try to go into things that you really do not have enough knowledge about. But this is a government entity and it’s the government’s policy to introduce industries, heaving industries. We know we took a risk. There have been failures among the projects but there have also been successes.

Tun Mahathir: You have to know where you are going. You have to set a target for yourself and you have to know the environment. You have to have knowledge and you have to learn the skills, the technology or the way of doing things, of managing as it are. There are lots of knowledge input inside a business.

Me (John Mansfield): I have to think that this OU proposal would meet with Tun Mahathir's approval.

It is out of the ordinary. The world will take notice.

There are achieveable targets. Phoenix University has a half a million students on one continent. Why cant we target one million globally?

The project needs deep pockets. Petronas could help here on many levels. They have a private University. They have a huge Motorsport related budget... Why not marry the two?

Proton and Lotus produce design and manufacture cars. They both have motorsport divisions.
If Petronas can pump money into Mercedes and Yamaha projects, why not into this?

Tun, your adviser to both companies. Do the right thing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Open University Business Plan - March 2011

1. Content

1. Content

2. Executive Summary

3. Business Concept and Strategy

4. Organization and Management

5. Revenue Streams

6. Market Analysis

7. Competitor Analysis

8. Market Strategy

9. Risk Assessment

10. Financial Forecast

2. Executive Summary


Knowledge economy.

First world economy.

Three phrases we hear often.

Why? Because we all aspire to be the best we can.

When I worked at Lotus it was a matter of pride that we were considered cutting edge.

My view point is that we should capitalise on that.


By leveraging our technology capabilities with a certificated educational body or bodies and package that capability into saleable modules accessible globally online.

I intend to lead this project.

My background is automotive. I have worked in design for many blue chip automotive companies in Europe, Asia and North America.

I am the Senior Adviser at Backpacking Asia. I have tapped into their expertise periodically, particularly when producing videos and presentations. I consider them part of my team.

In addition I am on the board of a UK media company.

I have identified 4 (four) campuses.


Hethel Engineering centre in combination with the Group lotus Campus.


Johor FIA approved Circuit

North America:

An oval circuit between Ann Arbor and Lansing – For sale $350,000

The Honda test facility California – For sale $3,000,000+

I would expect to be hired by the funding conglomerate on a £100,000 basic annual salary, with an extensive executive package in place.

My team would be my choice chosen by me after funding is in place. Trust me I will employ capable people.

I see funding coming from the Group Lotus owners. Petronas are major share holders. They have an extensive interest in Motorsport. They sponsor Mercedes in F1 and Yamaha in Moto GP. They are very active in Malaysia.

Proton produce production cars and have a Rally team. Tengku Djan, who I would like as a team member is a well known Drift champion.

Group Lotus is in F1 Indy car and many other motorsport activities.

Petronas, in addition have a fully functional private University in Malaysia. When the oil runs out this proposal could have them morph into a world leader in Online Education.

The combination of real world corporations joining hands in a global educational venture should not be underestimated.

3. Business Concept and Strategy

The concept is simple:

Group Lotus develops two engines for their sports car range:

Certified Educational institutions are brought on board to participate in the development.

The Design and marketing process is documented and modulated.

Saleable modules are then approved for sale as educational commodities by the board of Higher education.

These Modules now have educational value.

They are sold online to markets where they are recognised and approved.

3.1. SWOT Analysis


Using the Lotus Brand is a definite plus. Having the funding in place using the financial and educational backing of Petronas is paramount, at least in the early years.

Proton and Group Lotus have a long term plan to participate in Motorsport while actively developing new products which lend themselves to educational modules.

Petronas can participate in Motorsport as more than just sponsors.

3.1.2. Weaknesses

Historically, corporations look on ‘Training’ as a loss making enterprise. This attitude is disastrous.

As yet funding is not in place. A large sum is needed to buy the campuses and upgrade them.

Educational partners will need paying before we sell any products. Presently the funding is not in place.

3.1.3 Opportunities

Phoenix University in North America has approximately half a million students. It operates in a developed market.

This proposal covers North America Europe and Asia. I see the established markets being important. The developing markets in Asia are the most interesting in terms of growth.

One million online students is in my opinion an achievable goal.

3.2.4. Threats

Ferrari . Mercedes. BMW.

All of these companies have the same potential to enter this market.

4. Organization and Management

I would enter Group Lotus as an executive. I would hire from within and without as appropriate. Getting top people will not be a problem.

I have never met an educational entity that did not show an interest in participating in a project like this.

5. Revenue Streams

Using Phoenix University as a benchmark.

One million students = £ 4billion pounds per year (approx)

Using Malaysia OU student fees:

One million students =£ 1 billion pounds per year (approx)

Globally, it would not be unrealistic to expect £2 billion pounds per year revenue from one million students.

A 10% profit margin would give you £200,000,000 pounds per year profit.

I would hope to achieve this within ten years.

This does not include the positive effects this global exposure will have on Proton, Group Lotus, Petronas on their sales of cars and lubricants.

Additionally, I have not included merchandising etc.

6. Market Analysis

The online educational market is well established in America. Phoenix University has half a million students.

Britain has an Open University which partners with the BBC.

Malaysia has several OU facilities.

The online market for education is growing. The internet is everywhere. It is becoming more accessible daily. Online payment is easy.

In the Developing markets Qatar and Malaysia have western University campuses. This trend seems set to continue.

Group Lotus is well known brand globally. This project will bring it and our partners into contact with a paying global audience.

7. Competitor Analysis

Presently, OEM’s have not ventured into education as a core business.

Educational suppliers are more likely to come onboard as partners, as opposed to competitors.

Once we are successful there will be others eyeing the market.

8. Marketing Strategy

Promote Education through Motorsport. On a more rudimentary level F1inschools already does this.

This project will target a more adult audience. We offer a University quality product, which has a tangible value to the student.

Dany Bahar is the Marketing man for Lotus. I would defer to him on the marketing possibilities. Marketing could and should be tide into our partners needs.

9.1. Risk Management Plan

Risk can be a real problem. Banks get greedy and ignore it. The consequences are there for all to see in the global economy. Japan is presently suffering greatly from a tsunami. There is a real possibility of nuclear radiation spreading across the region.

Risk needs to be addressed.

Here is a very simple overview of risk.

Negligible Risk:

Operational performance of a specific area of the business would not be materially affected.

Low Risk

Slight inconvenience / difficulty in operational performance of a specific area of the


Medium Risk

Operational performance of the business would be compromised to the extent that revised

planning would be required to overcome difficulties experienced by a specific area of the


Very high Risk

Operational performance of a specific area of the business would be severely affected with the

business unable to meet a major portion of its obligations and liabilities.

Extreme Risk

The business would be rendered dysfunctional.

With this plan there are several risks:

Initially the cost of set up needs to be covered. As the process of buying the campuses and bringing the educational partners onboard has not begun we are looking at open ended finance.

The possibility of governments preventing the use of the internet for educational purposes is real. Having the courses approved by the appropriate governmental bodies is paramount. Non approval is not an option.

The product needs to be of good quality. This is paramount.

The product should be accessible by handheld devices, accessible globally.

A world war would render most of these devices unusable. Countries falling out with each other and refusing to allow their citizens access to our product is an ongoing risk.

Our products would be non political in nature. Engineering, Marketing, Sport psychology, Law are not political or religious.

The chances of people losing interest in improving themselves by education are very low.


Other OEMs entering the arena: Near future Low Risk/Medium Log Term High Risk


The Likely hood of our partners becoming complacent and dropping their standards should be monitored constantly- Medium risk

The ability to sell online is becoming easier day by day – Negligible Risk


Marketing should be done in tandem with Proton/Lotus/ Petronas.

Motorsport events can and should be utilised. Dealerships should advertise us visually.

Our corporate partners should include us in their marketing.

Over time word of mouth should cement our reputation.


Political instability globally affecting our markets – Low Risk our products are non political/religious.

Virtual learning affected by World War – Could affect ability to sell online –Low (I hope)

Global Economic Downturn-Medium Risk- Our products are competitively priced. We offer a good product. We might even have an upturn in sales during a global recession.

Human Resources

Constantly monitor our employees. Professional development of employees should be under constantly review.

Take customer feedback on lecturers seriously.

Complaints –High Risk.

Deal with complaints promptly. Find root cause :-Lecturer/course/student/other and have procedures in place to deal with the problem.

Key staff recruitment and retention:

Good working environment and rewards. People should be proud to work for us. They should rewarded according to their abilities appropriately.

10. Finance

Shortfall of cash:- Presently a problem. Petronas have the financial clout to alleviate this problem.

A law suit: Possible: We have race cars and workshops on our campuses. Health and safety are issues. Legal documents need to be signed by clients when involved in high risk activities.

10. Financial Forecast

10.1. Revenue

One Million students using Phoenix University figures approx £4 billion pounds a year.

One Million students using OU Malaysia fees: Approx £ 1 billion pounds per year.

10.2. Expenses

Presently I have 4 proposed campuses:


Hethel Engineering centre in conjunction with Group Lotus campus. Cost negotiable.


Johor FIA approved circuit:

Cost Unknown.

North America:

Oval Circuit Michigan between AnnArbor and Lansing $350,000 USA

Honda Test facility California $3,000,000+

Variable expenses:

Costs for staff and educational partners/suppliers unknown at present.

Income/Profit Loss

Initially start up costs will be in the millions.

After ten years profits should be in the Billions and profits in the hundreds of millions:

Example : £2 billion revenue. 10% profit margin.

Profit: £200,000,000

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St Patricks Day. My minimum salary requirements. Make me an offer.

I just thought I'd wish everyone a happy St Patricks day.
It was some years ago on this day that an old manager from Lotus phoned me out of the blue, and had a little hissy fit over the fact that I considered myself management material.
This Man was instrumental in getting the training division of Lotus closed. I personally found him to be an obnoxious egoististical person. Can't get on with everyone!
I got my CRB check back on the 11 March. So I'm clear to work with vunerable people, in the UK at least.

As a person of undoubted management ability, I would like to state here and now that it will require a substantial offer to obtain my services.

A Good company pension.
A comprehensive medical plan.
A company credit card.
Minimum six weeks paid holiday a year preferably more!
A salary commensurate with my undoubted talents. £100,000 (Basic) plus:-
Stock options and bonuses to reflect the success Lotus and Proton will enjoy when I come on Board.

The company will need to talk to my tax adviser in America, before I accept any offer.
I am able to legally work in both the UK and America. I need a visa for Asia.
Lotus. You know how to contact me.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tengku Djan to race in Qatar. How much for Johor circuit? Qatar Education hub.

I see that Qatar are having a Formula Drift race. Most of the racers are American. Two are Asian. Tengku Djan is one of them.

Tengku means prince by the way. Djan is head of Motorsport at Proton, the owners of Lotus. I used to sit about ten feet away from Djan when he was part of Lotus Engineering Malaysia.

I bet Djan can tell me the price of the Johor circuit! I have met with Johor management before. They expressed an interest in buying the circuit for themselves, however, he never gave me a price. Sometimes people can be a bit secretive.

Alex Yoong mentioned it was for sale when I was at the ASLI conference. He might have even mentioned a figure. I forget. It is for sale that much I know!

Djan seems to be a lot more interested in pursuing his dreams ontrack, than helping me promote this project. Understandable, but a little frustrating!

Despite all this, I can still see the vision becoming reality...

Speaking of Qatar the BBC has run an article on their new educational hub
It quotes malaysia as a success with UK Universities operating abroad.

"The host countries, quite reasonably, tend to apply quite a lot of conditions and there have already been some failures where the universities can't make a branch campus work," says Mr O'Leary.

"But Nottingham's campuses in Malaysia and China do well - largely, I think, because graduates get a Nottingham degree and the university uses its own staff."

Newcastle University is setting up in Johor. I'm sure the would be partnering a real world industrial partner such as Lotus. They would probably jump at the chance.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Costs for proposed hardware for the MUM project. BBC article says University Education £50 Billion industry

First Johor Circuit.
Based in the Iskandar region of Malaysia. For sale: Price unknown.
Lots of Land for development. The region is supposedly crying out for high tech projects.


Second Campus: USA California.
Honda have left their Desert testing facility. Cost $3million +
Huge Campus would cost ten times that much to build from scratch.

Third Campus Michigan: Between Lansing and Ann Arbor: Cost $350,000
Cheap, again would cost ten times that much to build from scratch. 

UK Campus : Hethel Engineering Centre: Land gifted by Lotus: On the same site as Group Lotus
Cost to buy:: Not Applicable 
TODAY MARCH 3RD: Group Lotus HQ expansion plans approved

Any introduction to a willing financial partner would be much appreciated.
Using Malaysian OU figures Revenue for One Million full time students about One Billion Pounds.
A 10% profit margin gives 100 million profit.
Using Phoenix figures from America the figures are much higher.
British Universities can now charge £9000 per year to local students. Much more to foreign ones.

A recent BBC article quote:
"Universities are being seen as a key to the new economies, they're trying to grow the knowledge economy by building a base in universities," says Professor Altbach.

Families, from rural China to eastern Europe, are also seeing university as a way of helping their children to get higher-paid jobs. A growing middle-class in India is pushing an expansion in places.
Universities also stand to gain from recruiting overseas. "Universities in the rich countries are making big bucks," he says. This international trade is worth at least $50 billion a year, he estimates, the lion's share currently being claimed by the US.

NYU Abu Dhabi
New York University in Abu Dhabi: The university's president says this is the era of "global networks"