The SMU MM programme: Is it just a FAD?

By Nicholas Yeo, SMU Master of Science in Management (MM) student

As I sit here penning the experience of my postgraduate life, I can’t help but smile at all the hysterical moments we had as a class. Recounting back from the first day and fast-forwarding the mental video, I’m proud to exclaim that my memory of MM is all about FAD. No, this FAD isn’t a trend. Neither is it a temporary fashion. This FAD that I am speaking of, is about Friends, Activities and Development Classes.


Time is not an accurate measure of friendship but I do believe experiences may fit the bill. As a class, we will all agree we went to hell and back with the intensity of our programme and we bonded deeply through the challenges we faced. We quickly grew to understand and embrace the diversity of our class in project teams, and we had conversations that ran though the night and even extended to a few days. We supported each other through crunch times and celebrated each other’s achievements (and, of course, birthdays)!

SMU MM programme: Nicholas Yeo's surprise birthday celebration

This is a picture of me, being surprised by my friends when I was in the Group Study Room (GSR), discussing yet another project. I was surprised and astonished over the fact that they knew when my birthday was as I kept mum about my birth date. I also remember vividly it was just a few minutes shy away from the end of my day and I thought to myself, “They sure ended it with a bang!”. Although my birthday was over, it was also a just the beginning of the celebration.


Activities are the highlight of the class. We study hard but we play harder. The most memorable activities for me were a Sentosa outing and the Ice-Cold Beer chill out sessions that we have when the going gets tough.

SMU MM programme: Sentosa outing

Everyone had a blast at the MM Sentosa outing!

We had the Sentosa outing in the early part of the year and we had a beach day-out! I remember laughing so hard to myself mainly over the fact that collectively, we did not pack food but did pack alcohol instead. We played ice-breaker games and spent the whole day drinking and partying as a class.

Aside from arranged outings such as the beach day-out, we have random gatherings which we call ‘chill out’ sessions. These usually occurred when the lectures became way too heavy and most of us needed a time out. Typically, a message will come in just a few minutes before class ended and those who felt the need to relax with a drink would ‘sign up’. In my opinion, I felt that these chill out sessions were the highlight of my memories. It is in such gatherings, that I have observed my classmates to be most vulnerable and real. Over time, each of them would start to share more about their personal or sensitive issues, which only helps to bring us closer than before.

SMU MM programme: Chilling out at Ice Cold Beer

SMU MM programme: Chilling out at Ice Cold Beer

The picture above was taken after the first round of drinks, while all were still sober. Subsequent rounds were not as ‘contained’.

Development Classes

You must be wondering what development classes are. Let me explain. At SMU, there are development classes that aim to groom us to be better leaders. These come in the form of seminars and workshops, but the most memorable development class for me was a mental sport—poker.

The idea of the session was to improve our decision making skills, playing with probabilities against outcomes. Essentially, it was poker and this picture was when I lost at the river. I remember the facilitator laughing at me and exclaiming, “Lady Luck!” The game was intense as we were playing within our own groups before the winners from each table were pitted against each other to earn the title of “Poker Champion”. It wasn’t just 10 dollars that was at stake. For some, it was pride and glory.

SMU MM programme: Poker has never been so cerebral... and intense!

Poker has never been so cerebral… and intense!

I wouldn’t trade this year for anything else. Not for a long vacation, a decent career and definitely not for money. I’ve learnt so much, not only from the faculty but also from my friends—so many lessons that don’t just jump out of a textbook. For example, I learnt that a couple of my friends have to accept pre-arranged marriage, and found out more about the struggles of staying away from home for an extended period of time. I even have the chance to attend a traditional Indonesian wedding come January!

Well, a picture speaks a thousand words. Enjoy the gallery and share my joy! Who knows? I might be sharing yours soon enough.

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