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Shanghai Vs. Singapore: Which Is The Best Asian City For MBAs?

ESSEC is building a new campus in Singapore, while SAIF continues to draw international MBAs to Shanghai year-after-year. Which Asian city is best? MBAs weigh in.

Which is the hottest Asian city for young, driven MBAs to launch their careers? BusinessBecause asked MBAs from top b-schools in Europe and Asia to give you insight on which city to move to after (or during!) your MBA.
EMLYON MBA Jean Patrick Tsang said that “Singapore is the Asia for beginners, where East meets West.” So if you don’t have much living experience in Asia, Singapore could be a good place to start, especially because many companies have regional headquarters in Singapore.
Nanyang MBA student Josephine Hong found a long-term career at integrated global healthcare leader Sanofi-Aventis before heading to Nanyang for her MBA. (She didn’t have to go far, of course, since both are in Singapore.) As a product manager at Sanofi, she was able to take advantage of Singapore’s proximity to other important markets by working on marketing programs throughout Malaysia and Brunei.
However, CEIBS MBA student Abhinandan Jaitly said that Shanghai is an exciting city because entrepreneurship is on the rise there. Jaitly worked in Shanghai for a 3-month project and a 2-month internship at electronics giant Siemens China. The city has ever-increasing cultural diversity, he said, and also expanding post-MBA career opportunities.
Bath MBA Wei Chen found Shanghai enjoyable and returned to the city after her MBA to work at Unilever as a brand builder; she previously worked at consumer goods company Shanghai Jahwa before her MBA. Since it was established in 1995, Shanghai Jahwa has grown itself to a 1,000-person company with 4.77 billion of revenue (in Chinese Yen). Unilever has also been an admired employer in Shanghai since it was founded there in 1923!
To be more in tune with top Asian employers like Unilever, ESSEC is building a new campus in Singapore which will be finished by the end of 2014 (they are investing $40 million in this - big news!). The campus will welcome 1,500 students and 30 professors in the leadership and talent hub of Nepal Hill. Nepal Hill is a uniquely Singaporean home to top business schools and corporations: Unilever has already set up shop in Nepal Hill!
As far as social life goes, Tsang said that the multi-cultural society and top food in Singapore can’t be beaten. Tsang would know: he has loads of experience living and working in the country! He is currently at Jaguar Land Rover in Singapore, and previously worked for Ferrari and auto group Renault in Singapore as well before his EMLYON MBA.
There is a strong cross-MBA spirit in Singapore as well - thanks to some of Hong’s work! She was able to unite over 170 students from five Singapore b-schools for a social networking event in January and now is putting together an MBA Olympics event for Singaporean MBA students.
Jaitly said that MBAs in Shanghai have an active social life too, although language can be a major barrier. Especially when doing business or looking for a job, he said he recommends that MBAs learn to read and write Mandarin before making the move to Shanghai.
Top b-school SAIF, of course, helps its MBAs to learn the essential Mandarin language by offering free (yes, free!) Chinese language classes to all international students. This includes the many exchange MBAs that SAIF welcomes each fall from its partner schools. Chinese language instruction paired with the support of SAIF’s Career Development Center helps to ensure a fulfilling professional life for SAIF MBAs!
Although the discussion will continue about the perks of Shanghai and Singapore, the good news is that MBAs in both cities have found rewarding careers and personal lives in either place. If you want to share which Asian city suits you best, share in the comments below!