Opening more doors with a Masters degree

The Master of Science (Management) programme is designed to help graduates gain a competitive advantage in the job market by providing advanced knowledge and skills in key areas of management in a multicultural learning environment.

MSc (Management) alum Alexander Kho (class of 2017) shares his journey in pursuing a concurrent degree programme at NUS Business School.

Alexander (right) at an alumni networking event

My name is Alexander Kho, and I’m currently a Management Associate at Ascendas-Singbridge, a leading provider of sustainable urban solutions in Asia.

I was privileged to be awarded the Kent Ridge Undergraduate (Merit) Scholarship, to pursue a concurrent degree programme –  Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) and Master of Science (Management), specialising in Finance and Marketing.

During my undergraduate studies, there were also plenty of overseas opportunities for students to participate. I was at Peking University, China’s leading university, under the Temasek Foundation Leadership Enrichment and Regional Networking Scholarship. Later, I also did a summer programme at the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology.

Besides the many opportunities presented in School, I personally have three key principles that have taken me through my stint here: Network, Knowledge and Reputation.

I was once told, “Know ‘what’ is good; know ‘how’ is better; know ‘who’ is best”, and this has stuck with me since. Personally, I feel social capital gained through a strong network is very important. It could well be from the peers who attend the same class as me, or it could be networking with the past graduates of programmes you attend, or even from having access to the professors. I felt I’ve benefited from all 3 mentioned!

The fundamental difference between a Bachelors programme and a Masters programme lies in their scope of coverage. Understandably, a Bachelors programme would place greater emphasis on equipping students with breadth, of a selected Major. For instance, for students majoring in Finance, core modules include Corporate Finance, Investment Analysis and Portfolio Management and Financial Markets.

On the other hand, to equip myself with deeper financial knowledge through the Masters programme, I took up modules such as Advanced Corporate Finance, Venture Capital, and Valuations of Mergers and Acquisitions. As you can see, knowledge acquisition at in the Masters programme is more specific, and possesses more depth.

In today’s ever competitive job market, I feel having a Masters would help a candidate stand out from the crowd. Being in an Asian society, where a great deal of emphasis is placed on education, wielding a Masters would provide a certain degree of advantage especially with NUS’s global reputation as a leading tertiary institute. Moreover, I think it also shows an individual’s never-stop-learning attitude.

Moreover, Singapore is largely regarded as an access hub for South-East Asia, which corresponds to where I desire to establish my career in, at least for now. Lastly, I feel the MSc (Mgt) programme is really diverse as we had many CEMS MIM students from abroad, who became my close friends during their attachment at NUS!

I have to admit, I took away more than what I had expected to from the programme. The professors were top-notch and the case studies were focused on Asia, which happens to be my area of interest.

Despite not graduating with a robust job market, I had the good fortune of being offered roles within several industries such as banking, real estate and consulting. I truly feel that it is with my Masters degree that proved to open more doors for me.

Today, as a Management Associate in Ascendas-Singbridge, I will be rotating through six departments, over the course of 18 months. Starting out in my first department validated my perceived notions about the programme, where the learning curve is steep, but yet satisfying at the same time. Although my training is not in Real Estate, my colleagues have been ever so ready to aid me should I require any assistance. Looking ahead at the rotations to come excites me and challenges me to grow as a better subordinate, colleague and leader over time.

 

For those thinking of your next steps, I think it is important to be clear on what you want out of the Masters Programme. Deeply consider your personal circumstances and needs. Sort out your objectives and motivations, and from there prioritise how you want to go about achieving those goals.

Ultimately, we all need to keep an open mind, and stay active. Learn from the best in the fields, and actively share your opinions in class and out of class. The background you come from, the context of what you share all contributes towards your peers’ learning. Nothing is ever too minor to be withheld.

Even upon graduation, I believe it is important to continue to be active in the community. Keep in touch with your batch mates, and help the junior batches out in any way that resonates with you. Pay it forward!

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