Norfarizal bin Othman

MSc Human Resource Management 2004, PhD Human Resource Management 2014

What made you choose The University of Manchester for your PhD research?

The University of Manchester is one of the largest international university in the UK with a very highly-established and very reputable university. The fact that it is one of the international-renowned university and featured in top 100 international university in QS World University Ranking ensured that the teaching quality and student experience are of the highest standard.

I took PhD in Development Policy and Management at IDPM, School of Environment, Education and Development back in 2014 as it is aligned with my areas of work back in Brunei Darussalam, which is in HR planning and management as well as public policy in the public sector.

The city of Manchester itself is one of the largest city in the UK with very attractive landmarks, a haven for halal food, exquisite shopping malls and home to two of the world’s leading English football team, though I’m actually an Arsenal supporter!

What does your current role involve?

I’m currently heading Public Service Department in Brunei Darussalam, an organization that looks after the public sector in Brunei Darussalam, which involves planning, management and development of human resource in the public sector towards achieving competent human resource. I’m also leading my organization towards the improvement of the performance, productivity and the quality of leadership in the Civil Service.

Our focus are to build a modern and effective public service that supports country’s development and to enhance effectiveness of Government rules and procedures to ensure prompt decision making as well providing high quality public services. My organization also aimed to improve the quality of the civil service by reviewing policies and regulations that can be adapted to the current needs in addition to assessing its role in facilitating private sector as the engine of economic growth. In addition, we are also gearing towards the management and development of human resources in order to create efficient, innovative, skilled and qualified workforce equipped with attitudes, values and morals that are necessary to shape a progressive culture.

How has the research you have done helped you in your current role?

During my PhD study back in 2011-2014, I was very fortunate to have Dr Chris Rees from IDPM, School of Environment, Education and Development as my main supervisor. His current background in human resource and organizational change ensured that my thesis on ‘Employee Performance Appraisal Satisfaction: The Case Evidence from Brunei’s Civil Service’ have an excellent mentor as well as able to be completed on time.

The focus of my research was to examine the determinants affecting employee performance appraisal satisfaction in the Brunei public sector using data collected from among public sector employees, with particular emphasis on how performance is viewed and measured in the public sector. My research is quite timely and served as a strong foundation to review performance appraisal system in Brunei’s public sector, and in 2017 after convincing the top policy makers in the civil service, Brunei Darussalam introduced a new performance management system in the public sector that caters for about 50,000 civil servants, and accounts for about 25% of Brunei’s total working population, providing goods and services to the public.

My current strategic role heading the Public Service Department means that we need to ensure that the new performance management system is well implemented and received by the public sector employees. As the new system entails more outcome-based approach over the conventional system, there needs to be a well-executed change management programs so that the new system is well-accepted by the public sector employees.

What advice would you give to someone looking to undertake a PhD in your field of research in Manchester

It is surely an added advantage to have a PhD qualification as it represents the culmination of years of study, commitment, sacrifice, learning and discovery. Doing a PhD is a long and momentous journey and demanded a lot of effort and time. By undertaking a PhD study, it allows me to juggle my precious time between my academic and personal life which is something that I have encountered and acquired over the years of study.

The vast experience of doing a PhD study has taught me the true meaning of discipline, innovation, initiative and perseverance. I have to discipline myself to do my work every day in order to finish writing up my chapters. I have to instill a sense of innovation in my research, so as to be more aspiring and relevant to the challenging academic world. It is down to my own initiative to be involved with countless training, courses, seminars and conferences so as to be exposed to and keep up with the latest research trends. Finally, great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance. Certainly, in the realm of ideas, everything depends on enthusiasm, but in the real world, all rests on perseverance.