SMU Singapore MBA: GyanOne Interview with the Admissions Team

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SMU Singapore MBA The SMU Singapore MBA is a top option for business education in Singapore / Asia

The SMU (Singapore Management University) Singapore MBA is fast becoming a popular program for applicants across Asia. The Lee Kong Chian School of Business, Singapore Management University’s business school, offers the program in a 12 month (full-time) and 18 month (part-time) format. This is one of the few excellent one-year full-time MBA programs in the Asian region. Asia in general, and Singapore in particular, are seeing rising interest in their MBA programs, and the SMU MBA is among the top options for an MBA in South East Asia. The program is relatively young (established in 2008), but its course content, industry links, top faculty, and excellent career services are already placing it high one the lists of MBA applicants. This program is already one of those to watch out for, and we at GyanOne are sure that the SMU MBA will soon scale greater heights. GyanOne interviewed the Admissions Team at the SMU Singapore MBA to explore their perspectives on student opportunities, careers, student life, and application best practices for the program.

The SMU Singapore MBA has been seeing increasing visibility and appeal among Indian students. What is the key value proposition or USP that the SMU MBA has for international students, especially those from South East Asia?

The SMU Singapore MBA has a team of faculty with real-world work experience who are able to impart their deep business knowledge to our MBA students.

This, coupled with a curriculum that is designed with the needs of corporate recruiters in mind, provide a significant boost to our students’ next career move.

How does an SMU MBA compare with other top MBA programs in Singapore? 

The SMU Singapore MBA offers one of the most accelerated MBA programmes in Singapore. Modelled after The Wharton School, it features an interactive style of teaching with a small class size.

As a younger programme, the SMU Singapore MBA is able to offer one of the most up-to-date curriculum that seeks to provide MBA students with the right skills-set to overcome the challenges in today’s complex business world as well as to meet global recruiters’ needs.

As soft skills such as communication, negotiation, critical thinking and leadership are much sought after in MBA graduates by corporate recruiters, the SMU Singapore MBA programme has an additional component featuring these skills, in addition to the traditional hard skills found in most MBA curriculum.

In addition, SMU’s “Case Writing Initiative” produces case studies written on Asian companies and these case studies are used in our MBA programme.

They complement those written on western companies, thus providing a balanced perspective in preparing our MBA students for their next career boost in Asia and beyond.

What learning and exposure does the SMU Singapore MBA offer students beyond the curriculum?

SMU has regularly played host to world leaders, Nobel laureates, business leaders, thought leaders, etc.

In recent months, famous people who spoke at SMU included, Mrs Hillary Clinton, Prof Paul Krugman, Mr. Ratan Tata, Prof Tarun Khanna, and many more. Similarly, Phillippines President, Indonesian Trade Minister, Business Tycoons from Asean, have all spoken here at SMU.

Our students can interact with them and learn first hand from these great minds.

In addition, our overseas business study trips take our students to companies of which they have learnt about in the classroom through case studies. This makes learning very real.

The SMU MBA is noted for its small class size and selectivity. Are there plans to increase this class size?

Our enrollment has been increasing with every new intake due to an increasing number of applications.

We foresee the class size to grow but we are cognizant about the need for a smaller class size which is conducive for greater interaction between our faculty and students, and among students themselves. We will form two classes if the intake size becomes too big.

Technology applicants in particular look at SMU as an excellent option for an MBA. What are the career options that SMU offers to such applicants?

SMU has good relationships with over 2,000 employers and this coupled with Singapore being home to more than 7,000 MNCs, many of which have their Asia-Pacific headquarters here, makes Singapore and SMU the preferred choice of MBA applicants.

What are the particular parameters that are important to SMU as they look at applicants for admissions?

We are seeking candidates who stand out from the pack.  In addition to having a good GMAT test score, we look out for candidates who are from unique backgrounds and will be able to add value to the class.

For example, those with entrepreneurial experience, international work experience, as well as applicants who come from distinctive and diverse industries or professional backgrounds.

The cost of an MBA program is of particular concern for South East Asian students. What scholarships can students look forward to? Are separate need-based scholarships also available or are scholarships based only on merit?

Each SMU Singapore MBA applicant, whether applying for the full-time or part-time programme, has an opportunity to earn more than one scholarship.

We have recently increased our scholarship budget so that we can disburse more scholarship to worthy candidates.

Essentially we have two categories of scholarships which are merit-based.  They include: Leadership, Community Impact and Entrepreneurship.  Those that do not require applications are Diversity (assessed on cultural/industry backgrounds) and Academic Excellence (assessed on GMAT score and other academic achievements).

The other category of scholarships are sponsored by our corporate donors such as BW Maritime (for those working/interested in the energy sector) and MasterCard (for women who have made a positive impact on the community).

We also offer financial aid for needy candidates and the amount disbursed are assessed on a case-by-case basis.

How important is the GMAT score? What other factors can help a candidate make up for a less than average GMAT score?

GMAT score, though important, is not the only assessment tool SMU MBA uses to craft out a diverse class of talents from various cultural and industry backgrounds.  Work experience is important too and a candidate with an illustrious career record is very much valued.

What is the one thing that you wish applicants would do better on their MBA applications

Applicants should be more internationally-aware of developments beyond their home country as sometimes we do come across candidates who seem not to be aware of important world events and discussions during our interview sessions.

What are the placement statistics like? Which sector or location do most graduates find jobs in? How difficult is it for an international student to be able to find professional opportunities in the region?

Our employment statistics for the Class of 2012 show that 80-90% of our MBA students receiving job offers after graduating early this year.

Most of our graduates found jobs in finance, marketing and consulting but generally, we see them filling up positions across the spectrum of job functions.

Typically more than 75% of our full-time students are international, and the fact that the majority of them eventually found employment in Singapore speaks volumes about the ease of getting employment here as an international student.

It is useful to note that as Singapore is home to more than 7,000 MNCs who are always on the lookout for global talents and with no governmental restrictions on white collar foreign employment, these factors do help an SMU MBA graduate in the job hunt.

As Asia is contributing a greater share towards the global economy, we are also seeing more career opportunities in Asia as compared to the US or Europe.


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