How to Tailor Your MBA Programme

By the SMU Social Media Team

One of the greatest fears a busy professional, armed with years of experience in the workforce, has when considering a Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme is that it may be too generic for his or her needs.

Questions that may spring to mind include: Can an SMU MBA programme be personalised? Is it possible to waive certain core courses if a student has previously studied them during his undergrad programme or has gained relevant experience through work? In fact, just how flexible is an MBA programme for someone juggling a career and family?

According to Dr Ang Ser Keng, there are a number of ways a candidate can achieve personalisation or customisation on the SMU MBA. The first is a choice of electives.

“The candidate would have a wide array of subject areas to select from, and can elect to undertake courses in finance, marketing, strategy and operations,’’ explains Dr Ang.

“The mix of choices will help to equip him/her with the skillsets that are relevant to the career choice.”

Ang Ser Keng

Dr Ang Ser Keng

Dr Ang is the Senior Lecturer of Finance at the SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business. Prior to joining SMU, Dr Ang was a senior investment banker in international banks and had been based in London, Hong Kong and Singapore. He undertook his MBA to change career—from a professional career to investment banking.

“Furthermore, the candidate can supplement the SMU MBA experience with an overseas exchange programme in the major continents in the world including Asia, North America and Europe.’’

These overseas exchange partners, he adds, have been carefully selected to provide students with a different experience. In addition, an MBA candidate can choose to go on a business study mission, seek career guidance as well as attend talks, seminars, and networking events that will provide each MBA candidate with the experiences desired.


Focusing on learning, unlearning and relearning

While some students might be looking to accelerate their MBA programme by opting out of certain modules that they feel they are already proficient in, Dr Ang says a significant value of an MBA programme is learning from one another in class.

“This makes the diversity in an MBA class very critical to the SMU MBA programme, and is something we watch closely in each intake. Given the unique pedagogy of the MBA programme, there will be additional learning for the MBA candidate, even though she/he has undertaken the same course at the undergraduate level.’’

In addition, it is an opportunity for an MBA candidate to learn, unlearn and relearn concepts as well as industry context from a panel of outstanding faculty with strong theoretical and industry groundings. This is especially important when the global economy is rapidly changing.


Juggling an MBA with a full-time job

But just how manageable is a part-time MBA course for a full-time worker? And can one transition from a full-time programme to part-time?

According to Dr Ang, the SMU MBA programme provides some flexibility for the MBA candidate to undertake his/her studies while still engaged in full-time employment.

“However, it is important to highlight that this endeavour requires significant commitment and effort to balance between studies and various aspects of life. The MBA candidate needs to make adjustments to his/her lifestyle in order to do so.’’

A big part of this adjustment, Dr Ang points out, involves prioritisation and making sacrifices, as well as getting support from family, the employer as well as co-workers.

The MBA candidate will also have responsibilities to group mates, faculty and institution to produce high-quality work which is critical to the learning journey of everyone in the programme.

A good example of a student who has managed to maximise his MBA experience is Keeve Tan from the MBA class of 2017. In addition, Keeve served as a career representative on the Executive Leadership Committee (ELC), while actively participating in various social and networking activities at SMU. Keeve is a banker who undertook the programme to enhance his learning and further his career. He is married with a young child.

“Not only did he complete his studies while pursuing his career and taking care of his family, he managed all of them superbly. He made it to the Dean’s list and was even given new responsibilities and progression at work,’’ says Dr Ang.


Find out more about the SMU MBA programme here.