A day in the work shoes of a Unilever brand manager

At NUS Business School, learning takes place inside and outside of the classroom. A group of year one BBA marketing undergraduates went for a behind-the-scenes tour at Unilever. The students caught a glimpse of how classroom theories are being implemented in businesses. They also get to hear from their Bizad senior, Minh Nguyen, on his personal experiences from what’s it like working in such FMCG organisations. 

BBA year 1 marketing students getting a treat at Unilever’s famed free flow Ben & Jerry’s ice cream

Minh also recounts his days at NUS Business School and shares some tips on the transition from student life to the corporate work place.

Q: How long have you been working with Unilever?
MN: It’s been 3.5 years. I started with Unilever since I graduated from Uni back in 2013. I took leave for 6 months to do an internship, also with Unilever, in my last semester.

Q: And what exactly do you do at Unilever?
MN: My name card says Brand Manager. People might think of that as something glamorous, but I really see myself more as a bouillon-making boy.

Q: What does that entail really?
MN: Every day is different. One, you can meeting all your third party agencies brainstorming on ideas, another day, you’re just caught up with administrative work. Or you just need some quiet time to prepare for a presentation to present to your team. I’m happy to say, I still learn something new every day here.

 

An exclusive peek into Unilever’s Customer Insight and Innovation Centre – mock up of a supermarket

Using technology to gather data and insights to make good brand-related decisions

Leveraging augmented reality to test out brand solutions

Inside the Unilever Food Solutions kitchen – where the chefs innovate and test out food flavours

Q: Did you always know you’d end up a marketer?
MN: My course of study was Marketing. Back in Biz School, students were given very solid frameworks to think strategically for work. You’d see these frameworks in practice when you eventually start working. So it’s important we (as students) had a chance to experience them during school – makes you grounded and systematic when approaching problems. It’s like a prelude to the corporate world.

Q: Any favourite memories from back in Biz School?
MN: It’s the place where opportunities happen! I really loved attending Prof Ang Swee Hoon’s classes. She provided students with the “sweet spot” between solid theory and practical examples. I also enjoyed working on my Consulting Project in my final year. We had to work on a real challenge for a company – that really excited my team. Our recommendations were eventually implemented by the client company, and resulted in good outcomes for them. Couldn’t have gotten any more real and satisfying!

Q: What other activities were you involved in Biz School?
MN: I went on a student exchange programme (SEP) in Lund, Sweden. That is definitely one of my most memorable – being able to live and study in another country. I also got the opportunity to travel around. There’s nothing better than being able to immerse in new culture and meet new people.

Q: Can you share your journey of job hunting leading up to graduation?
MN: Take up internships – the more the better. Choose different ones that allow you to work on different scopes. Follow your passion, or at least something you think you’d enjoy if you’re still uncertain. Be yourself when filling in applications. Don’t put in what you think employers what to hear, rather, make them understand who you really are. I’m sure employers all prefer authentic individuals these days.

Q: How did you eventually end up at Unilever?
MN: I was lucky to be offered an internship at Unilever. With a good performance, I was fast-tracked to the final assessment of their management trainee programme. Fortunately, I passed again! That was also during my last semester, so I didn’t have to worry much thereafter. I was also offered several other positions at Rolls-Royce and VISA. In the end, I chose Unilever as I was comfortable with the work culture at Unilever.

Q: Now that you’re on the other side of the (working) fence. What would you tell students still trying to figure out the corporate world?
MN: Be open to learning new things outside of School. Leave room for failure. Straight A performers with no experience are not as appealing and exciting to meet. Even after you begin work, you need to make time for yourself – work and learn hard. Those who work better are the ones who know how to enjoy life too.

Minh celebrating National Day in the office

Playing hard, working hard. Minh (centre) with his teammates giving back on World Food Day

Q: Indeed, work does not entirely define us. So tell us 3 things about yourself outside of work.
MN: I’m originally from Vietnam but I’ve been studying and working in Singapore for the last 8 years. So Singapore pretty much is my second home. I own a boutique wine shop called Ugly Wine. And I enjoy cooking, especially Italian food, besides running and travelling when I’m free.

Q: What was it like speaking to BBA freshmen?
MN: I like speaking to the freshmen because it gives them interesting insights on what we, marketers, really do at work. Hopefully this little nugget of information will help them in their career choices later. My only advice to students are to keep exploring and follow their passion. They may not be well-paid in the first place but in the long-run they’ll be happy.

Alumni clinch prestigious local technology awards

It has been a rewarding year for Lee Junxian (BBA 2008, S3 Asia MBA 2014) and Justin Lie Wee Chian (BBA 2010) with their e-payment security firm CashShield winning the National Infocomm Awards 2016 and Fintech Awards 2016.

The founders: Irene Brime (middle with red trophy), Justin (to her left) and Junxian (middle with trophy) with the CashShield team

The founders: Irene Brime (middle with red trophy), Justin (to her left) and Junxian (middle with trophy) with the CashShield team

CashShield’s eponymous anti-fraud software product impressed judges at both competitions with its use of data analytics to automatically set its management algorithm.

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Chinese alumni set up entrepreneurship cafés

Led by Alumna and Adjunct Professor Chen Chunhua (Department of Management & Organisation), a group of 55 Asia-Pacific EMBA (Chinese) alumni, has embarked on a mission to build cafes in China that double up as incubators for entrepreneurs.

The Hangzhou cafe

The Hangzhou cafe

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The Hangzhou Cafe

The group recently opened its second café in Hangzhou in early December 2016. The first, based in Nanjing, opened in May 2015. The alumni adopted the brand name “Dreampresso” for the cafes.

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Honouring leaders who make the difference

 

The Eminent Business Alumni Awards recognise the School’s graduates who are not just business leaders, but also make a difference to society.

This year’s recipients were honoured by Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance at an award ceremony held at Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel on 11 November 2016.

The Eminent Business Alumni Awards recipients with the Awards Committee and Lawrence Wong (centre, front row)

The Eminent Business Alumni Awards recipients with the Awards Committee and Lawrence Wong (centre, front row)

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Experiential learning at local and regional competitions

NUS Business School students and alumni participate various international and local case competitions and hackathons. These events give them the opportunity to apply the knowledge they acquired in school and solve real-world business challenges.

Team charts new growth strategies for China Mobile

Team oG Capital clinched the top spot at the Asia Investment Banking Conference HSBC M&A Case Study Competition. Led by Chris Chng (BBA Year 3), the team consists of Andy Soh (BBA Year 3 and Engineering Year 4), Szeto Kah Keong (BBA Year 2) and Goh Chong Wei (Engineering Year 2).

This year, some 60 teams were challenged to identify the UK firms that China Mobile can acquire to expand its business. oG Capital impressed the judges with its realistic valuation assumptions and clarity in transaction reasoning.

HSBC M&A Case Competition team picture

The champions! From left: Chris, Chong Wei and Kah Keong with executives from AIBC, CAIA Association and HSBC.

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NUS Business School delivers strong performance in global Financial Times Executive MBA rankings

We are delighted about the recent strong performance of our executive MBA programmes in the latest Financial Times rankings.

Our Asia-Pacific Executive (APEX) MBA  programme ranks 17th globally, moving up eight spots in the latest Financial Times (FT) Executive MBA rankings. The School’s double-degree Executive MBA programme with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA-NUS EMBA) ranks sixth globally, maintaining its position in the top 10.

FT EMBA RANKINGS

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Capturing the beauty of life

An NUS Business School alumnus and donor, a former politician, a public servant, businessman, poet, photographer, artist, travel enthusiast, lyricist and a writer – Mr Peh Chin Hua is truly a man of many pursuits. His artistic and philanthropic passions converged beautifully at the recent launch of his new book, Wonders of Glaciers – Capturing the Beauty of a Moment.

Published by Shing Lee, the book documents Mr Peh’s travels to the frozen landscapes in Antarctica, The Arctic, Greenland and Iceland. Through his stunning photographs, readers are taken on an exquisite, visual journey into the frozen wonders of the world. His travels to these snowy landscapes have also inspired him to write poems which were turned into lyrics of songs played during the event.

Peh Chin Hua NUS Business School1

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A Millennial Making His Mark

A recent survey by BNP Paribas on Global Entrepreneurs revealed that the millennial generation – those born between 1980 and 1995 – are creating more companies in traditional sectors and the new economy. On average, they launch about 8 companies throughout their careers, compared to 3.5 by the older generation. This sudden and strong emergence of a new generation of entrepreneurs under 35 have been dubbed “The Millennipreneurs.”

One of our very own – NUS BBA (Honours) alumnus Jian Liang Low – is a true blue “Millennipreneur”. Since the age of 5, he has been pursuing his passion for entrepreneurship and in his quest, travelled the world breathing in different cultures and personalities. By the age of 19, he has interned in start-ups, founded a few of his own, worked in a venture capital firm, spoke at international conferences and won international competitions – his experiences span across USA, Israel, China and Asia. Perhaps this is why his latest venture Trabble, a personalised, chat-based Concierge service, caters to global travellers who are looking for quick and efficient travel services.

NUS BBA (Honours) alumnus Jian Liang Low, who is passionate about nurturing entrepreneurs

NUS BBA (Honours) alumnus Jian Liang Low, who is passionate about nurturing entrepreneurs

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Ong Hua Han was deciding between NUS Business School and another university which was nearer home and most importantly, on flatter ground.  Even his family doctor discouraged him from NUS because it would be hard for him to move around its hilly terrain. He was born with a condition called brittle bone disease (Osteogenesis Imperfecta), and moves around mostly on a wheelchair.

H GradThen the BBA office reached out to the family. Its staff invited Hua Han and his parents to the school. Over a cosy tea session, they talked about the challenges and possibilities of NUS – accessibility, safety, health; and how the office could assist him if he joined the school. Then – and his mother fondly remembers – the Assistant Dean, Dr Helen Chai, personally took them on a walk around the school, showing him the routes that were wheelchair-accessible – in her high heels!

He remembers that there was a drop step near the bus-stop he would not be able to negotiate with his wheelchair. BBA Office connected with the now Office of Campus Amenities (then called Office of Estate and Development), and a ramp for wheelchair access was built. The office also, when needed, helped schedule his lessons so they did not run back to back and thus he had time to get to each class on time.

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Thank you, Reedz!

After serving delicious food to the business school community as well as hosting many events for six years, Reedz Cafe@BizSchool is now closing. It did not win the tender to continue with its operations in the school and will make way for a new café come August. We take a walk down memory lane with BBA (2008) alumnus Lee Junxian who co-founded Reedz with Chang Jen Fi (Engineering):

That year in 2010, the MRB Building was in the final stages of completion when the opportunity to operate a café on site became available. Junxian then was still studying on the premises while Jen Fi was just down the road. They remember juggling studies, co-curricular activities and running their food business at the same time.

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Junxian (left) with partner Jen Fi

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