Biz Alumni 07 May 2018

Four lessons from my MBA journey

The NUS MBA programme is designed for highly motivated and talented young professionals who aspire to become future global business leaders. Alumnus Daniel Su Dinh Khanh (Class of 2017) from Vietnam talks about four transformational milestones during his time with NUS Business School.

I joined NUS MBA as the youngest student – 24 years old with two and a half years of working experience. People told me that it was too early to take on an MBA and were worried I could not adapt to the competitive environment, especially since I was enrolled at one of the top MBA programmes in Asia. But there’s a local saying from where I’m from: “One should not ask where the train will take you, rather, ask if you dare take the first step”. With that in mind, I stepped up the NUS MBA train and started my journey.

Looking back, I never ever regret. These are my four key takeaways from my journey of self-understanding:

  1. From geek to chic

I was a geek with a degree in Engineering and two years of IT work experience. My world used to be logically straightforward in a linear fashion. However, the NUS MBA changed my perspective – It cultivated my mindset with strategies and values as part of the thought process. I learnt how to view a problem by asking “why do we need to solve this issue” and “what value can it bring” rather than how can I solve it. I also learnt how to start a business with essential soft skills such as negotiation, interpersonal skills, which definitely complemented my technical skills.

The NUS MBA programme is a great combination between theory and pragmatism. I learnt not only from my lectures, but also from my peers and through case studies. I was taught how to look at problems and opportunities holistically and this really equipped me with analytical frameworks, such as risk assessments, cost-benefit analyses that I can apply to problems and opportunities.

  1. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

Someone mentioned in passing to me that one of the upsides of taking an MBA is the networking aspect. I really had to push myself out of my comfort zone as I didn’t believe it fully. This started with me joining the MBA Student Council where I was the ambassador to liaise with alumni and organise networking events. Then I secured my first internship at Unilever through networking. It was also through that experience that I later met many interesting people and became close friends with.

  1. Humility – an ultimate border where confidence smiles and arrogance smirks

Having a chance to study and work with many talents from all over the world, I realised that my knowledge was very limited. There is always room to learn and develop further. Humility and having an open mindset helped me grow, appreciate changes and become a better person.

  1. Being positive even with intangible results

I know the feeling of staying up late to complete assignments, waking up and rushing to class, and also the feeling of trying hard and failing harder. Failure is intangible and it happened at different points of my MBA journey. With a positive mind, I chose to always see the “invisible” which is the learning opportunity behind each failure. I learnt to accept failure, be positive and keep moving. Sometimes, the experience you gain may not be obvious and immediate, but it will guide and lead you to achieve the impossible in the future.

The time spent in business school helped me understand my strengths and weaknesses, career interests, personal passions, doubts and uncertainties. I am thankful for the journey and look forward to many new challenges after my MBA.

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