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The DMT study tour was both enriching and an eye-opener as business owners shared experiences and learnt from each other, MEK ZHIN reports.

TAKING a 13-hour non-stop flight and then following an itinerary which requires you to hit the ground running at 5.30am from the airport itself with 19 complete strangers, is not something most people would do on an ordinary basis.

As such, it was definitely a good call to stop at Stonehenge right after leaving the city as the cold blustering winds blowing across the rolling hills served us well in lieu of toothpicks, propping our eyes open on that first day!

This was the start of the famous DMT Study Tour – the fifth of its kind (ST5) – a unique tradition started by its namesake, Datuk Michael Tio, chief executive officer and group managing director of PKT Logistics.

Everyone in the group, consisting mostly of business owners at different stages of their respective businesses, was there to learn about the 21st century way of management, a subject Tio was considered an expert on.

The tour followed the template of PKT’s well-known company trips around the world, and embodied Tio’s management principles in some ways, particularly the way it was structured to promote bonding and shared moments.

ST5’s busy schedule started from the historical Windsor Castle to the equally historical Roman baths in Bath, with a stopover at Stonehenge in between. The group was also taken on a whirlwind tour around the picturesque Cotswolds region to the postcard perfect Portmeirion village as well as London and Manchester.

The most memorable part of the trip, however, was undoubtedly the hike up the 1,085m Snowdon, the highest peak in England and Wales (this is the same mountain which Edmund Hillary trained on for six months before going on to become the first man to conquer Mount Everest).

The group also had the opportunity to visit the University of Gloucestershire to attend its Executive Management Programme which included a corporate tour to Spirax Sarco, an internationally recognised brand for industrial and commercial steam systems.

A networking session with local business personalities as well as a separate one with a few of the Malaysian students studying at the university was also organised, and last but not least, the group was introduced to the university’s Doctorate of Business Administra­tion (DBA) programme.

There may have been many merry moments immortalised digitally, but it was really what went on in between that made up the most valuable takeaway lessons during the 10-day journey for the participants.

Constant discussions, sparked by the management topics everyone was assigned to study each day, took place whenever members of the group came together; these became invaluable sharing sessions that acquired even more depth, thanks to the vast and varied collective experience of the ST5 participants representing a diverse range of industries.

What set the discussions apart from the usual seminar or workshop was the fact that everyone freely and openly shared their thoughts and opinions, without any distractions, interruptions, prejudices, or typically in the world of business, fear of what another competitor would do with such information.

Working hard as well as playing hard together in a closely-knit group for days on end seems too simple a formula to create such an effect, but surprisingly, it works. By the end of the trip, everybody had gained 19 newfound friends who had every indication of remaining as such for a long time, and who will probably continue sharing and enriching each other’s lives beyond the 10 days spent together in Britain.

One of Tio’s most prominent lessons is that a sustainable and successful business is one that continuously moves up the value chain and improves itself at its core.

He also recently posted in a closed group that the upcoming sixth study tour in October would be the last of its kind, though not the last of the trips.

Putting two and two together, one can only surmise that these tours are evolving into the next phase under Tio’s guidance.

One can only imagine what the future will bring and in retrospect, whether these study tours will be regarded as the jump point of something greater to come.

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