Making a comeback

"WHERE have you been?" is surely the first question you would want to ask Daniel Lee, champion of the second season of Malaysian Idol. In the 10 years after his win in 2005, he had worked as a barista at a friend's cafe until his father offered him to take on a seafood trading business.

However, his latest feat is taking on the challenge of returning to study after having left it for more than 15 years. Currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with Open University Malaysia (OUM), Lee said he was quite lost for the first few months.

"I have totally no idea about business. My father started the business and wanted me to continue it, but after a while, I felt my limitations. I didn't know what I could actually do. So I thought I should go back and study.

"Dr Soo Wincci recommended me to do business. She said if I studied that, everything will be linked together and said an MBA is probably the best for me. I thought I will try it and chose OUM because she was also here," he said.

One of the subjects that has really helped him is Human Resource (HR). We would think HR only involves large companies but in fact, small companies also need to hire people. Lee used his experience working at his friend's cafe as the case study in one of his assignments.

"The assignments are supposed to be practical so the answers aren't necessarily from books. But I see the importance of why I have to read the articles and how it can relate to my work, and I am glad I have more than 10 years of working experience," he said.

The thought of an artiste becoming a businessman seemed pretty far-fetched, but Lee believes what you see now is different from the past and is determined to do both at the same time. He said in the past five years he had forgotten he was an artiste which was bolstered by the fact that no one recognised him on the streets. But in the past few years, people started recognising him and wanted him for television programmes and interviews.

"I wanted to give up on singing, and even publicly announced it. But lately, something is telling me to come back," Lee said, adding that he is still thinking of what he should do for his return to the industry.

Whether he wants to pursue a business in music or continue his father's business, Lee believes an MBA will help him think about what he really wants and what he can do with it.

His personal goal is to expand his trading business so it would be able to run on its own while at the same time, enjoy his singing career.

"It is not easy (pursuing an MBA) but trust me, it really helps you. Experience can allow you to become an expert, but it doesn't help you to go further. One thing I learned is education can bring you further. Pursuing an education is ato upgrade what you have learned to another level," he said, adding that he hopes to complete his MBA between two and a half and three years.