Should you do an MBA in Asia?

Weakness in the US and European economies has given rise to new trends in business education. According to the latest MBA Applicant Report from Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) and a recent Business Week article, MBA applicants are increasingly targeting b-schools in stronger economies. Brighter job prospects in Asia are also drawing more international MBAs from the West. With these changes afoot, the need for an international MBA to increase competitiveness in a global marketplace has never been more compelling.

So what do these emerging trends in a shrinking world mean to you, an MBA aspirant from the West? We sat down with an American student Brian Atlee, an NUS MBA alumni (2012), to find some answers as to why he chose to travel half the world to do his MBA in Asia.

Excerpts from our conversation with Brian below:

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am originally from the USA and graduated from University of Central Florida. I used to work for SunTrust Bank in the States before my MBA and currently work with Aviva Investors in Singapore. 

NUS MBA USA

Give us an idea of what you currently do. 

I am currently an Associate at Aviva Investors. I work in the investment management industry with a specific focus on private equity real estate investments. Our client base includes separate accounts corporate pension funds, government pension funds, as well as ‘fund of funds’ that we manage. My role includes providing quarterly market updates to our team in Singapore, selection and underwriting of new investments, and the management of existing investments. We invest in strategies across the Asia Pacific region and across all of the real estate asset classes. 

Why choose the NUS MBA over other universities in the US?  

While I was deciding on which MBA to pursue, the key considerations for me were the cost of the programme, international exposure and career prospects after completion of the degree. I found that the cost of the NUS programme to be very attractive, compared to other major schools in the US. I had also always wanted to live and work abroad, and the NUS MBA allowed me to do so. I chose Singapore as it offers a great quality of life and is a central gateway between the East and the West. 

Did the NUS MBA help you towards your career goals? 

The NUS MBA has helped me significantly to secure my current position at Aviva. First, it required me to move to Singapore, which was essential given the location of the role (Aviva Investors offices are in Singapore, London, and New York). Secondly, the real estate focus of my studies qualified me for an internship with Aviva starting in January 2011. The internship was then rolled into a full time position. This opportunity was facilitated through the NUS Business School Career Services Office. 

For prospective students considering an Asian MBA, what would you say is potentially the biggest draw of the NUS MBA?

Interactions with students from all over the world is a very valuable part of the NUS MBA experience. It leads to not just learning how to work with various cultures but also to global life-long connections. I learnt a lot from world-renowned faculty and business leaders who are an integral part of NUS Business School community. As for an Asian MBA, I believe Singapore is a great choice as it is truly the global economic hub of Asia and offers many opportunities to live and work in the dynamic countries around the Asian region. I couldn’t think of a better city to pursue my business education. 

Interested to explore further? Meet us at the QS Top MBA World Tour in Los Angeles on Sept 28th & San Francisco on Sept 29th to learn more about the NUS MBA. And don’t forget to visit our NUS MBA Blog to get a glimpse of the NUS MBA experience!

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