NUS MBA 07 June 2018

MBA’s Management Practicum: Applying theories to real-life business challenges

Since The NUS MBA Management Practicum (MP) started five years ago, some 300 projects have been completed with over 100 corporate partnerships across 12 different industries.

The NUS Business School community and corporate partners come together to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Management Practicum

This flagship experiential learning module connects our hotshot consultants-to-be with the corporate community with the goal of developing the next generation of leaders. This dose of reality to solve actual business challenges truly sets the MP apart.

According to Deputy Dean, Professor Hum Sin Hoon, “doing it with real problems adds a completely new dimension to this experiential attempt of ours. Injecting the teamwork into a real-world problem from a company that is willing to take the time and sponsor a team makes a world of difference.”

Teamwork is key

Our MBA students agree.

For many of them, they had to learn a new industry from scratch. This opened their eyes to new possibilities and encouraged them to step out of their comfort zones to take on unfamiliar projects.

“This has been an enriching experience. Aside from learning a lot from my mentor, I have learnt from my team members as well,” said Victoria Chen Ping Yi, NUS MBA-Master of Science in Real Estate Intake 2017. “There is a healthy sense of competition within the team. We all know that after graduation, we may compete against one another in the industry. But working on the same team, we bring out the best in one another.”

The three-month MP was no walk in the park for our students.

According to Darell Kingsley Chung, NUS MBA Class of 2018, “I’m going to be honest here and say it’s really very tiring. However, I speak for my team also when I say that it is satisfying starting a project and seeing it through completion.”

Benjamin Loh Wei Jie, NUS MBA Intake 2017 added, “The learning curve was very steep for us as we had to learn everything from scratch and we had to delve deeply into the complexities of a new industry.”

A fresh perspective

The teams consisted of part time and full time students from over 32 nationalities. The diversity truly added value to the experience from both a student and corporate’s perspective.

Suraj Powar, Senior Manager, Consumer Product and Engineering at PayPal felt the students brought a fresh perspective to old problems. “Oftentimes, when you are working in a corporate environment, you look at problems in a certain paradigm. By changing that paradigm with a set of individuals who come from diverse backgrounds, we get a fresh perspective that helps develop innovative and customer-centric solutions that may get included in our business roadmap and vision.”

Alvin Ng, General Manager, GE Digital concurs. “We got a lot of different perspectives that we have not seen before and that is very valuable. With students coming in and giving us new insights on things, they are contributing to our strategy and execution.”

The right attitude

Besides sharing an outside-in view and questioning the status quo, critical elements that our students brought with them were their energy and enthusiasm.

“When skills, eager attitudes and a strong team culture are brought into a client’s office, it puts the project on the right track,” said Professor Jochen Wirtz, Vice Dean, Graduate Studies.

“NUS is producing students who are a lot more agile in thinking, and can deal with things that are ambiguous. Most importantly, all of them come in with that energy and passion that is infectious,” added Alvin from GE Digital.

A win-win proposition

The management practicum is an opportunity for companies to test-drive our candidates, as they tend to pick projects and topics they would like to work in after graduation.

For example, Goldman Sachs has been working with the NUS MBA for three years. The MP has created a talent pipeline of local university graduates for the investment bank and the partnership has yielded two hires.

Potential employers also get to see how the teams react to the pressure created by ambiguity, a new work scope and time pressure.  For students working with companies such as Expedia, it is an opportunity for them to explore and apply their idea to a new industry.

A word of advice

The experience and mentorship that MP provides is truly priceless as our students step into the real world. Greg Unsworth, Risk Assurance and Digital Business Leader at PWC had these words of wisdom to share.

“First impressions count. That is true. But I would say that second impressions count even more. To me, the first impression that I appreciate is the ability to listen and take in. When you have second interaction, that is when I want to see a little bit of that wow factor, the ability to deal with ambiguity and to come up with some ideas. I can guarantee the second impression is going to be so much better if you do that.”

The MBA students, corporate partners and School’s faculty and staff pose for a shot

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