Biz Alumni 18 April 2018

A finance major to an advertising guru at Facebook

NUS BBA alumnus Chirag Murarka (class of 2017) is currently an Account Manager at Facebook Singapore focusing on the South Asia region. Having graduated as a Finance major, Chirag talks about the interesting route and experiences in NUS Business School that has led him to his current role in digital marketing – which he absolutely enjoys.  It is completely true what they say – “More often than not you end up working in a field completely different from what you studied in university.”

Chirag attending his work orientation at Facebook’s HQ in Menlo Park

My current role in Facebook mainly involves developing advertising strategies for growing businesses on the social media platform. It was a newly created role at Facebook and I chanced upon it on LinkedIn, got a referral through an acquaintance and ended up bagging the opportunity after seven rounds of interviews! Facebook’s comprehensive training program really helped me transition from a university graduate to a working professional.

Like most people, I was partly clueless as to what I wanted to do after college but thrilled about the opportunity of being accepted to study at such a reputed university – NUS.

In my first year, it was easy to decide what I’d specialise – I was always good with numbers, so I decided Finance was my way forward. The first couple of years went by in a flash as I tried to juggle between co-curricular and academics – I realised I was lagging behind on the “bell curve” when it came to grades as well as cracking those highly competitive summer internship opportunities in Singapore.

Chirag in Barcelona during his student exchange programme

The inflection point came after I completed my student exchange programme in Barcelona at the ESADE Business & Law School where I not only met people from all walks of life but also with driven mindset. I realized what’s common amongst people even from different cultures –  having a determination to be successful.

Returning to Singapore for my third year, I started working on my career with a laser-sharp focus. Instead of just chasing for the usual highly sought after banking internships, I decided to tap on the diverse skill sets that I had developed during my time at NUS and shifted away from having a fixed mindset. With NUS Business School’s flexible programme structure, I actively pursued internships not just across different industries such as payments, venture capital, technology, start-ups but also across different functions such as marketing, operations, sales, investment, and business analytics.

I ended up working at various places such as Ernst & Young under the Tax and Regulatory Services team, learning about business development and community services at Uber, handled marketing in start-up Finimize to help with their growth strategy, as well as pricing and investment strategy at American Express and Dymon Asia Capital. At that time, my personal belief was that I should work hard and learn as much as I can from any opportunity that knocks on my door rather than pursuing something that I wasn’t even sure I was meant to do.

In my final year, I also took on a field service project with Venturecraft Group, an early-stage venture capital firm in Singapore and my team researched on the Funding and Merger and Acquisition landscape in Southeast Asia. Apart from learning more about the region, what I really learned was how to leverage on strengths of your different team members and work together to achieve the common goal.

Project group for Chirag’s field service project

At my opportunity at Facebook, with the wide range of experience cutting across different industries and functions, I was able to translate all that I’ve picked up along the way to how I currently conceptualise and plan digital strategies of highly growing businesses across different verticals ranging from e-commerce, education to health tech, and fintech.

What I really resonate with is Steve Jobs’ quote- “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards”.

Looking back now, what I know for a fact, is that the NUS Business School’s curriculum is structured in a way that allowed me to identify my strengths and weaknesses in my first year as I undertook various courses ranging from marketing, finance, management, and operations. Through my sectional classes and interactions with profs, it changed me from someone who used to accept how things are, to someone who questions everything.

To current Biz School juniors and even incoming students – I have never have been a huge advocate of only getting good grades from the get go. Personally, I feel that building a solid academic foundation would better showcase a person’s consistency and ability to apply what is learnt into the “real world”. Think of the semesters as a fixed period of time that you have (12 weeks) to work on four to five different projects (or modules) to explore and figure out your strengths.

Chirag (centre) with his family during the 2017 NUS Commencement ceremony

Lastly, think about your Uni time as a three-to-four year journey towards your end destination. What’s critical is to figure out what you want that destination to be and how should the journey look like. The earlier you figure this out the better. It is alright, even if you are not sure, and that is the beauty of being in NUS Business School – with the many resources, mentorship programmes, career advisers, profs, and fellow seniors and peers, talking it through will definitely help eliminate what you do not want, as a starting point. ”

For more information on the NUS BBA programme, please visit http://bba.nus.edu/.