A message by the Acting Minister for Social and Family Development Mr Chan Chun Sing at Singapore Polytechnic 53rd Graduation Ceremony on 16th May 2013, was a reality check for me. “The soft skills have to be acquired and have to be refreshed. If not, even with the best degree, we may find ourselves obsolete one day,” said Mr Chan.
I absolutely agree with him. In today’s job market, Singaporeans are faced with ever increasing competition from foreign talents and degree holders are in abundance. Our generation will not be able to hold down any job for long with only one set of knowledge skills. We have to keep learning, explore new knowledge frontiers and upgrade our qualifications or say goodbye to our jobs.
Mr Chan’s reminder was an urgent wake up call for me (and hopefully fellow Singaporeans), given our ‘wait and see how it goes’ attitude. Remaining status quo is not going to make me more marketable to potential employers. I know that I have to prepare myself sooner or later for essential management skills in order to pave my way for more senior career positions.
After my last search for an MBA programme that does not require GMAT, I have been practically sitting on the decision for quite a while. Although it is public knowledge that The University of Nottingham is one of an elite group of EQUIS accredited business schools, ranks in the top 1% of universities worldwide in the QS World University Rankings and is placed amongst World Top 100 MBA (The Economist 2012), I still have some reservations with regards to the returns I can get for my investments on a MBA.
That was when Mr Dennis Foo, a proud MBA alumni of Nottingham University Business School came into the picture. Mr Foo graduated with a Bachelor Degree (with Honours) in Mechanical and Production Engineering from Nanyang Technological University in 1993 and held engineering and operations positions in various American and European MNCs related to hard-disk, IC and lead-frame manufacturing as well as in automotive electronics before taking on an MBA from Nottingham University Business School in 2004, through PSB Academy.
The necessity for a post graduate programme was keenly felt after his eight years’ stay in the manufacturing industry. He felt that it was time to solidify, enhance the working experiences he has gained and re-look at life from a broader perspective by signing up with a reputable Business School that offers a suitable MBA programme that fits his goals.
He openly admitted that embarking on a part-time MBA programme while working full-time was no walk in the park. It was most fortunate that The University of Nottingham offered a part-time MBA programme with a manageable course structure and lesson schedule that allowed him to continue with his commitment to his job. The camaraderie among fellow classmates also helped a lot with psyching their expectations and encouraging each other along the course of their study.
From the lessons, he came to realise that the skills from his basic degree only provided him with 20% of the required knowledge and skills to be an effective and well-rounded engineer. The remaining 80% which included skills like communication of ideas, networking and expansion of personal sphere of influence were very much developed during the MBA programme. The rigorous programme also spurred fulfilling interactions, experience sharing and exchange of best practices among fellow students with backgrounds from a multitude of industries. These were the invaluable real-time “case-studies” that you cannot get from anywhere else. From these exposures, he was able to relate and resolve real-life work situations from varying perspectives.
Back to the million dollar question on the return of investment on the MBA programme, here are his exact words:
What is the MBA payback? Well, I do not believe there is any cast-in-concrete formula but when the prospective job interviewer noticed my MBA education on my resume during my first job interviews after I graduated, he said: “An MBA from Nottingham, interesting!”. Subsequently, I secured the role of a Senior Operations Manager, with a 50% pay increase from my previous job.
When asked for a word of encouragement for new and current students, he used the analogy of taking a flight. Once you have bought your tickets and checked in, make full use of the services and entertainment on board. Do not be pre-occupied with just getting good grades. You should also enhance your learning by interacting regularly with the lecturers, fellow classmates and always remember to network. You will be surprise how some of the contacts you made will help you in the future.
Dennis has come a long way since graduation. Today, he is the VP of Sales in Casem (Asia) Pte Ltd with huge responsibility in sales, marketing and business development of MIT Ltd Group’s contract equipment manufacturing (CEM) business.
Dennis’s personal experience and growth is a positive, real life story of how a MBA programme from The University of Nottingham can increase our competitiveness and pave our way to a better career advancement. Even if you are contented with where you are now, a quality and recognised MBA is still crucial for one to stay relevant.
If you are interested to find out more, there is an upcoming preview of The University of Nottingham MBA programme at PSB Academy, which will be held on 21 June 2013 (Friday), 7pm.
Dennis will be sharing his personal experience at the preview. Join him and many others to discover how The University of Nottingham MBA can benefit you.
For full info about the preview, please click here .
Keep learning or say goodbye? The decision’s up to you!