Student Interview Series: Viona Giovanni Felisiana, SMU MSc in Management

By William Hofmann, ValueChampion

Graduate school is an important investment for an increasing number of Singaporeans. Due to the high cost and potentially high return of obtaining a graduate degree, we were interested to find out how students made their decision to pursue these degrees and how they thought about this investment. With that in mind, we’ve begun conducting an interview series in order to highlight the stories of current graduate students in Singapore.

Viona Giovanni Felisiana is a graduate from the Singapore Management University’s (SMU) Master of Science in Management (MiM) programme. As an interior designer with aspirations of someday running her own business, Viona felt that this degree would help her build crucial business skills. We interviewed Viona to find out more about her decision to pursue the MiM degree at SMU.


What influenced you to pursue the SMU MSc in Management (MiM) programme? What excites you intellectually?

As an interior designer, I design for a living. Beyond my design passion and skill, I felt I ought to extend my knowledge base to include business and management. Since I did not come from a business-related background, I am particularly keen on gaining insights on how businesses operate so that I can maximise my career potentials.


Did you consider any other schools or programmes? If so, why did you ultimately choose SMU?

I considered continuing my studies in interior design before I opted instead for a management programme. I had another local university in mind, but I decided to apply to SMU because of the school’s reputation, which I was familiar with after living in Singapore during my undergraduate career. After more research and testimonials from an alumnus, I was attracted to the SMU curriculum, interactive teaching methodology and culture which made me believe that this programme is the best fit for me.


How would you describe your experience in the SMU MiM?

It is very enjoyable and enriching! What I feel really distinguishes my journey in SMU from my past educational experiences is that SMU encourages a balanced student life. In school, I also gain plenty of knowledge and skills from competent professors who hail from various industries, case studies, and an interactive learning environment which allows me to gain from the different viewpoints of my fellow classmates. I also gained invaluable experience through a Business Study Mission to South Korea which provided me with exposure to global business trends and cultures. SMU also runs frequent activities to support the social lives of students and provide networking opportunities.


What has been your favourite module so far, and why?

Managerial accounting has been my favourite module so far. In this class, I learnt beyond reporting a financial condition, but also how to explore and make decisions based on those reports to improve performance and outcomes. I think it is an essential skill set for starting my own business in the future.


What type of extracurricular activities are you involved with?

I am not involved in any extracurriculars, however I enjoy participating in seminars and workshops, and taking part in organising events initiated by the Master in Science in Management (MiM) cohort.


Did you work before going back to school? If so, where did you work, and how did it influence your decision to return to school for a graduate degree?

I have been working for almost two years as an interior designer in an architecture-and-interior design firm before I decided to return to school. What swayed my decision was a desire to upgrade myself. Coincidentally, I met a MiM graduate who shared with me his SMU experience, which instantly got me excited to join the programme.


What are your career aspirations?

I believe every designer’s dream is to have their own design business since it offers more control in realising your own design vision and a greater sense of satisfaction. To achieve that, upon graduation, I planned to continue to work in the interior design field, towards a managerial level for a few years so that I can integrate my design and managerial skills in practical situations.


How has SMU helped prepare you for this type of career?

SMU has equipped me with comprehensive managerial and interpersonal skills such as leadership and negotiation. I’ve also learnt ways to manage finances, human capital and organisations which could be applied to future professional endeavours. The diverse and customised modules offered by MiM helped me gain a better understanding of various business principles, both from a company and customer/client point of view. After years of focusing on enhancing my design skills, I now have a bigger picture of my industry. The broadened perspective that I’ve gained allows me to complement good design with business principles for higher profitability and brand exposure.


Are there any resources that would help you with career development that you’re not currently getting?

It will greatly help if the programme incorporates an internship module to help students gain real-world experience.


Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I hope to realise my career aspiration of having my own interior design business in five years. I hope to build a dynamic and successful enterprise with a good company culture, solid team and satisfied clients—one that creates a positive contribution to the environment and society.


This article was originally published on ValueChampion and has been republished with permission.