By Jung-Yoon Kim, current full-time SMU MBA student
Dear prospective MBA candidates and marketers all around the world! If you have a burning desire to change your life, please consider joining the SMU MBA programme.
I am Jung-Yoon Kim from Japan, please call me KJ. I’m a full-time student from the SMU MBA intake of 2015, and a member of the SMU MBA Marketing Club. My previous background includes four years in investment banking and two years in the CEO/COO office (Group Strategy). In the past, I mainly did IB business with governments, sovereign wealth funds and financial sponsors in the MENA region. I also implemented firm-wide strategies including subsidiary or investor management, and managed shareholders’ meetings etc. In terms of geography, I used to work in Tokyo, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai on a project basis as well as some short projects in APAC.
It’s been already eight months since my academic voyage started in Singapore, and 10 months after my final two interviews with SMU’s admissions offices in Seoul and Tokyo last year. I would like to share with you my insights since joining SMU MBA. In my first post, I will elaborate on the networking opportunities that I’ve experienced over the past few months.
To begin with, my MBA journey is one with amazing classmates who are always keen to help, cheer me up, and encourage me. My MBA classmates come from many different countries, and span a wide variety of industry experience. In terms of nationalities, we have students from China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Ireland, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Switzerland, and more.
Group projects feature heavily in the SMU MBA workload. In some of the modules, I didn’t feel confident about my understanding and abilities, and I was concerned about how this would impact my contribution to the group projects. However, I shouldn’t have worried. In our project groups, each member has his or her own strengths, and the chemistry of their respective contribution will guide the project to the final destination. I really appreciate those whom I worked with in this period, and I’ve learned a lot from them as well.
The SMU MBA community is relatively small, which makes it easy for us to get to know those from previous batches. Our monthly gatherings are well-attended by alumni as well as faculty members, and these gatherings play a crucial role in building rapport within our community. Some have even found job opportunities through fellow students and alumni.
Outside of our own community, we have many opportunities for strategic networking and socialising with students from other business schools as well. SMU and The Wharton School have a longstanding relationship, and with the launch of the “Wharton Global Modular Course” this year, we had more opportunities to mingle with Wharton EMBA/MBA students. This modular course is one that takes place in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, and the Wharton students attended courses in SMU as part of the Singapore leg of the programme. At its opening reception, I met lots of interesting people from a variety of sectors/industries: NPO/NGO, Navy, Consulting, Venture Capital, Private Equity, Oil & Gas, FMCG etc.
SMU also has a strong relationship with Cranfield University’s MBA programme. Our MBA programme offers a number of overseas exchange programme options which take either one week or three months – I opted to do my week-long exchange at Cranfield. Cranfield postgraduate students also have the opportunity to spend a week at SMU, where they get to experience an Asian perspective on topics like human capital strategy and diversity. The Cranfield student population is very diverse: I met students from UK, Nigeria, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Italy, Cameroon, Uganda and France. During their visit here, SMU and Cranfield hosted a joint dinner session in Chinatown. I really enjoyed talking with the Cranfield students who came from different industry backgrounds, and I think that such exposure opportunities are a precious element of the MBA experience as you can learn new perspectives internally and externally.
In April this year, I attended the INSEAD Asia Business Conference with two of my classmates, Qamar Rabbani and Piyush Rathi. This conference brought together prominent business leaders from the domains of finance, digital marketing and innovation, to discuss how their businesses are managing change within Asia. It was a very good opportunity to talk with the panelists there. I find that these conferences help me to stimulate my creativity too.
After the conference, Qamar contacted one of the panelists, So-Young Kang, CEO of Awaken Group, and we met her individually for exchanging further business ideas. She had spent a majority of her career in McKinsey and then founded Awaken Group in 2004. As my passions include entrepreneurship as well as social impact investment and strategic sustainable world investment, meeting her was helpful in terms of boosting my burning desire for my independent career for the way forward.
Close to home, we socialise frequently with our counterparts in NUS MBA. We have joint birthday celebrations as well as ad-hoc “MBA gatherings”. Such informal opportunities to meet students from other local schools expand our social circles, and also give us additional networking opportunities. This year, NUS and SMU MBA students are sharing a joint module on Private Equity, which 40 students from SMU, NUS and INSEAD will attend.