Live Updates: Coronavirus Impact On Business Schools

What is the impact of coronavirus on business schools? We bring you the latest updates including campus closures, changes to MBA admission requirements, and more

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COVID-19 Campus Updates For European Business Schools

The coronavirus pandemic has hit Europe hard, but there are signs of recovery as business schools begin to reopen their campuses to welcome MBA students for the new academic year.

The situation is constantly changing and business schools are planning accordingly. Some schools are introducing a hybrid model, combining online learning with face-to-face sessions on-campus, while maintaining social distancing.

Here, we highlight the latest COVID-19 campus updates for Europe’s top business schools. This page is regularly updated with the latest campus reopening plans for MBA students.


COVID-19 Campus Updates: Europe


UK Business Schools


Alliance Manchester Business School

The Alliance Manchester Business School campus is currently closed. The school is working to ensure campus is safe, and social distancing and cleaning measures are in place.

The school’s Full-Time MBA start date has been postponed from August 2020 to December 2020. A statement on the Alliance Manchester Business School website says this is to give the school the best chance of delivering the program face to face, and to allow students from different countries around the globe to arrive in Manchester to start the MBA together.


Cambridge Judge Business School

Classes began on September 28th for MBA students at Cambridge Judge Business School, with a blend of face-to-face and online learning. The term also began in September for other programmes at the business school such as the Executive MBA and Master of Finance programmes.

In line with University of Cambridge rules, all business school students are being asked to attend Cambridge in person as soon as is feasible. Some students felt unable to make such a commitment this year, because of COVID-19, so the deferment rate was higher than normal. The MBA class of 2020-2021 is smaller than the previous year, totalling 174 students.

The launch of the autumn term followed detailed preparation this past summer to ready the school’s buildings in line with coronavirus guidelines of the UK government and Cambridge University. Measures at Cambridge Judge include one-way lifts and stairs, physical distancing signs and procedures, and new self-service rules for the cafeteria. The curriculum has also been modified to reflect the pandemic, including lessons on the leadership implications of managing remote teams.

Applications for the 2021-2022 school year opened on July 1st, and the school says that the number of applications is so far significantly higher than the previous year at the same time.


London Business School

London Business School is following UK and UAE government guidance and is working in partnership with health and safety consultants. The school launched its hybrid teaching model on September 21st 2020.

A school statement confirmed that under the incoming 'tier 2' restrictions in London, universities can remain open and can continue to deliver in-person teaching.

This means London Business School operations will not be affected by the introduction of the new restrictions. The LBS London campus will remain open and students will be able to continue to access in-person teaching. 

The School has introduced a number of health and safety measures to mitigate transmission of COVID-19 among its School community, and conducted several detailed risk-assessments to ensure its London campus is COVID-secure.


COVID-19 Campus Updates For US Business Schools

US business schools opening coronavirus

(©DukeFuqua / via FB)


Business Schools in Ireland


Trinity Business School

Trinity Business School had planned its first semester with a hybrid model in mind, which combines online and face to face elements such as offering online lectures for larger class groupings and face-to-face seminars, tutorials, and laboratory classes for smaller groups. As much face-to-face teaching and learning as possible will be provided under prevailing health and safety requirements. A decision on the second semester will be taken closer to the time.

The University has introduced new measures in Trinity following the Government’s decision to move Dublin to level three of the Framework of Restrictive Measures in Response to COVID-19. In the context of moving to level three, the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science has asked the Dublin universities to reduce student numbers on campus for the coming weeks as part of a wider plan to reduce the number of Covid-19 cases in the capital.

Trinity will welcome new and returning students to commence learning according to the timetables provided. However, following new government guidelines that only teaching which cannot readily be delivered online should be delivered in person, the school will transfer some teaching that had been planned for in person to online.


Business Schools in France / Monaco


HEC Paris

Since July 2020 the wearing of masks is compulsory in all enclosed public spaces in France. On the HEC Paris campus it is necessary to wear a mask when moving through all public indoor areas—campus buildings, restaurants, halls, student residencies—and when sitting in a meeting room, classroom, ampitheater, or residency common room.

All students will be given a health kit, which includes five reusable cloth face coverings and one hand sanitizer bottle per faculty, staff, and degree program students.

Andrea Masini, associate dean of the HEC Paris MBA, explains that despite the COVID-19 crisis, the school had an “unprecedented” number of applications for the September MBA intake.

Students were given the flexibility to either follow their courses in person, following strict government guidelines, or to defer their studies to the next intake. A significant part of the program is being delivered face to face with other courses being delivered online, both in synchronous and asynchronous format.

“Our priority remained the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff,” explains Andrea. “Therefore, we put in place a number of measures aimed at minimizing sanitary risks.

“In addition to that, we deployed a massive testing policy, and asked all our students to provide a negative PCR test before they were granted access to the campus.”


EDHEC

It was a busy summer for the team at EDHEC. The campus team worked to put in place hand gel stations around campus, temperature check cameras at the school’s entrance, one-way corridors, and reduced student numbers.

All students and staff wear masks in class and on campus. Clear, visible communication on hygiene rules and procedures are posted throughout the campus. The City of Nice requires masks everywhere within the city limits, indoors, and outside.

The incoming MBA class of 2021 arrives to begin classes on campus, in person, on September 14th. EDHEC has limited the size of the cohort and expanded classrooms and breakout areas to provide a safe and healthy classroom experience for students in line with government regulation.  

The start date of the MBA was pushed back by 14 days to allow any incoming students to complete any obligatory quarantines. Campus France, a French government agency for students studying abroad also opened visas for international students in time to begin class. 

Any events or classes that cannot be held safely in person will shift to online.


ESCP Europe

ESCP Europe has six campuses across Europe, and campuses are in the process of welcoming students back. The current message is that the schools are welcoming as many students as they can, organizing most teaching on-site. They are also ready for shift to partial or fully online teaching depending on the evolution of the situation on a country by country basis. For example, courses in Madrid had to switch online after two weeks on-campus. 


Grenoble École de Management 

Grenoble has adopted a phased reopening. Between September-and-November, campus is open for students to use, but all classes are 100% online. The school will re-evaluate and implement a new plan by November 1st.


International University of Monaco

The International University of Monaco (IUM) campus has reopened and undergraduate and master’s students started classes from September 7th. The Full-Time MBA induction begins on September 28th.

“This year the teaching method for the MBAs is different from that of the other programs,” explains Dr Marika Taishoff, director of the Monaco MBA.

“While courses in undergraduate and masters’ programs have, due to the pandemic situation, been structured around one-third in-class sessions, one-third online synchronous sessions, and one-third online asynchronous sessions, for the Full-Time MBA we have decided to offer most courses fully in class.”

The Monaco MBA is offered both as a Full-Time residential program and a 20-month Part-Time MBA. The residentially given courses will be made available online for the Part-Time MBA students this year.

Due to students entering from the US, Russia, South Africa, and other countries currently subject to European visa restrictions around COVID-19, IUM has designed the MBA so students can begin their degree online, and as visa restrictions lift join their peers in class.


Applying to business school during COVID-19


Business Schools in Denmark


Copenhagen Business School

Copenhagen Business School already has a full class waiting to start the full-time MBA in October 2020. This will begin fully on campus.


Business Schools in Germany


HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management

German business schools are also planning to open their campuses for in-person classes, though some have delayed the campus start date for students. Germany has opened its borders to international students with a valid visa.

HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management is taking different approaches for different programs. The school’s programs with predominantly European students will begin in September as in-person on campuses classes with a hybrid option for internationals.

As the MBA is heavily international, the school was concerned about incoming students getting visas in time. The school has pushed back the start date for all for-credit MBA classes to January 2021, at which point circumstances depending they will begin on campus.

Students will be enrolled in September and given access to a number of not-for-credit options. These include German language courses, virtual networking and career events, team-building Zoom sessions, and open lectures.


Mannheim Business School

Mannheim Business School is starting with pre-courses online from September to December 2020. Core courses will begin in person on January 11th,


ESMT Berlin

ESMT Berlin’s campus is open for in-class teaching. For students unable to make it to campus for the start of the Master’s in Management program on September 15th, ESMT Berlin has launched the online Master’s in Management Essentials Program alongside Imperial College Business School and IE Business School. 

The online program offers recent college graduates the opportunity to learn essential management skills and earn a certificate from all three schools.

For international students who are delayed coming to Berlin, the Essentials Programs allows them to start online, receive academic credits, and join the class on campus for face-to-face teaching at a later date. 


WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management

WHU in Düsseldorf was among the first of the top business schools in Europe to reopen its campus to MBA programs on July 4. All teaching has since been carried out in hybrid format. 

The school has in place a detailed hygiene and safety plan to ensure safe and smooth teaching. Plexiglass walls were installed in classrooms, one-way systems were established, and the campus was heavily equipped with disinfection dispensers. 

Access to the school’s premises is controlled electronically. Every student is registered when they enter the campus using their electronic card. Students receive detailed instructions before arrival and are asked to download and use the official Corona App, which is promoted by the federal government. 

No parties are allowed, and there are strict rules for extracurricular and social activities as well.

The new MBA intake was welcomed on August 29th with 49 students of 23 different nationalities in the full-time MBA cohort and 92 students of 19 different nationalities in the part-time cohort. 

WHU will also launch its first fully online MBA in October. All lectures on the Global Online MBA will be delivered virtually, and the course can be completed in 18 or 36 months. Students can also take individual core modules with an option to finalize their degree over the course of five years. 


Frankfurt School of Finance and Management

Jörg Werner, vice president for degree programs at Frankfurt, explains that things are looking promising for their 2020 Full-Time MBA intake. Classes begin in October.

Students have been given the choice whether they wish to take their classes in person or online. Each class taught by a professor will be shown live online through a new technology system in which the school has invested to accommodate hybrid teaching.

There is also a comprehensive cleaning and hygiene plan in place, social distancing, mask wearing, and clear Perspex sheets between each place setting in the classrooms.

“We see regulations changing all the time, so we need to be on the safe side and have a concept which also works if there’s a tightening of the situation,” Jörg explains.

The school has also invested in coronavirus tracers. Small devices given to each student, staff member, and faculty. Each device has a unique tracking id linked to its owner, and using Bluetooth logs the details of each device that comes within two meters of it. Those details are then kept on a system for 14 days, making it easy to trace potential infections if a student, staff, or faculty member tests positive for COVID-19. And if things get worse, the school is prepared.

“Should there be another lockdown we stand ready to do everything online,” says Jörg. “We did this in March when there was the decision to close down the schools. There was only one lecture postponed.”


Updates: Coronavirus Impact On Business Schools

coronavirus impact on business schools

©gemphotography


Business Schools in Italy 


SDA Bocconi School of Management

SDA Bocconi School of Management has been gradually reopening since June 26th, 2020 in line with guidance from Italian national and Regional Authorities.  

Life will be different than normal for the school’s incoming MBA class of October 2020. On campus, there are specific guidelines in place to ensure the safety of students. They are—but not limited to—continuous sanitation of all areas, with classrooms and other indoor spaces on campus sanitized several times a day and after each lesson. There is minimum one-meter distance requirement between people in classrooms, the school has a non-stop automated air change, sanitized ventilation system operating 24 hours a day all-year round.

There are also body-temperature scanners for anyone entering campus. There’s also on campus registration via a QR code, and students will have their curriculum split between online learning and on-campus, classroom learning.


Bologna Business School

MBA classes at Bologna Business School will begin on October 5th. Campus will be reopened and the school has rented a pavilion to cater for the required social distancing measures when teaching.

The pavilion has been divided into eight classrooms to accommodate 370 students in a space that can usually host 10,000. Every hour an air recycling system will bring in fresh and clean air to the pavilion.


Read our latest updates on the impact of coronavirus on business schools


This article was last updated Friday October 16th 2020

How Working From Home Is Impacting Our Mental Health

The coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on mental health.

According to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health policy research organization, 53% of American adults have had their mental health negatively impacted because of stress linked to the pandemic. In the UK, the Centre for Mental Health expects half a million more people to experience poor mental health compared to a normal year, due to coronavirus.

Restrictions on travel and social life have left us feeling isolated and despondent; those working from home have new pressures to deal with; and for key workers, the fear of catching the virus exacerbates anxiety. 

Since many employers expect a long-term shift to remote working practices, tackling these mental health issues will be a key challenge for companies to overcome in the next few years.


How working from home is worsening our mental health

The sudden shift to a remote work setup has been surprisingly stressful for many employees, explains Dr Dominique Steiler, professor of people, organizations, and society at Grenoble School of Business. Dominique is also chair of Mindfulness, Well-Being at Work, and Economic Peace. His work involves supporting business leaders as they bring mental health and mindfulness initiatives into the workplace.

Since the pandemic began, he has observed a proliferation in workplace anxiety and depression. There are three ways working from home is damaging our mental health. 

Professor Dominique Selier

First, people seem to feel more alone without the necessary support they need, according to Dominique. The sudden lack of physical connection can leave workers feeling they have nowhere to turn when they feel stressed or anxious. It becomes more challenging to form the strong support network which is crucial for good mental health, Dominique emphasizes. 

Then there's adapting to working from home, which can also contribute to an increased workload. There's the temptation to work longer hours, and for those who don't have a home office setup there's no disconnect between home and office life. Where do you draw the line between working from home and homeing from work?

Thirdly, a new trend of back to back virtual meetings is emerging, which would not be possible in a physical office.

With fewer opportunities for informal catch-ups, many workers are spending more time in these meetings. As well as being a time drain, these video meetings can trigger fatigue and leave participants feeling—ironically—disconnected.

This issue is particularly acute during larger meetings, where the speaker is unable to see individual faces. 

“In a physical room, you can pick up on people’s reactions, and see whether they are engaged,” says Dominique. “But online, this isn’t possible, and it can be difficult to perform your role as leader.

“It causes a sudden increase in your psychological and emotional workload.” 

This all amounts to heightening stress and anxiety levels, which is bad for both long term employee wellbeing and company productivity. So, how can companies overcome it?


500,000 additional people in the UK are expected to experience poor mental health in 2020


Creating better mental health for the virtual office

To overcome these issues companies can make a few practical changes to the hybrid workplace. Introducing policies like requiring a ten-minute break between meetings, and implementing meeting-free days each month can help reduce the psychological pressure of being constantly online. 

Scheduling smaller scale meetings where possible can also improve mental health, by giving participants more space to engage with their team and have their contributions personally acknowledged.

Helping employees maintain boundaries between their personal and professional lives is equally important—particularly for workers without a separate home office. To maintain this balance, the American Psychiatric Association’s Center for Workplace Mental Health recommends keeping a regular schedule, with planned breaks from screens. 

To avoid isolation, it is also important for leaders to schedule time for regular one on one catch-ups with team members. They should also organize social events—in-person where possible, or through virtually.


Mental health & coronavirus stats


The future of mental health at work

These simple changes could quickly boost mental health in the workplace. But Dominique believes that, in the long term, wider systemic change is needed. This needs to come from senior leadership, and form the basis of the values and attitudes of business leaders.

“The main aim of a company should not be to win a competition, but to be part of the social fabric and improve people’s lives,” says Dominique. 


Dominique Steiler quote


French metal working company, ARC-Industries, is a recent example of this. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the company designed and manufactured a contact-free hand sanitizer dispenser. During the pandemic, French hospitals requested a lot of these devices, and ARC-Industries saw a surge in demand for its product. 

When a journalist asked the CEO, Romain de Tellier, whether he would increase prices in response to the unexpected demand, he said no. 

“In my experience, this is a dramatically different way of thinking for a CEO,” says Dominique. “When employees see their CEO behaving that way, it’s positive for mental health.”

Business schools like Grenoble have a role to play in training leaders who can facilitate this kind of environment, he stresses. “If we want to improve mental wellbeing in companies, we have to totally transform the way we are educating people to be leaders.” 


Read more from BB Insights:

Feeling Like A Fake—How ‘Impostor Syndrome’ Impacts Professionals

Why We’ll Be Working From Home Long After Coronavirus


BB Insights examines the latest news and trends from the business world, drawing on the expertise of leading faculty members at the world's best business schools.  

10 Online Courses To Try Before Your MBA

Online courses have sky-rocketed in popularity in recent years, particularly with increasing moves to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic

Dubbed the MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), MOOC sites like edX and Coursera are a people’s platform for free and affordable education. Courses cover an array of subjects—from music theory to data analytics—and are provided by some of the most esteemed faculty on top MBA programs around the globe.

While some people challenge the efficacy of MOOCs, many schools agree that any degree of training to prepare students for the rigorous life of an MBA is worthwhile. Not only can a course sharpen a student’s skillset, it can also give a dull resume a boost. 

Here are 10 online courses that prospective MBA students should consider before going to business school:


10 Online Courses To Try Before Your MBA


1. Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies, Harvard University


©Lyndon Stratford


Platform: edX

Length: 6 weeks (3 - 5 hours a week)

Cost: Free + $125 for verified certificate

Led by Harvard Business School professor Tarun Khanna, this 6-week course focuses on individual agency in a fast-growing economy of emerging markets. The course description outlines Tarun’s ‘interdisciplinary approach to understanding and solving complex social problems.’ 

Students will learn how to find opportunities in fast-growing markets, evaluate those opportunities, and gain a greater understating of commonplace problems and their entrepreneurial solutions.


2. Behavioral Economics in Action, University of Toronto


Platform: edX

Length: 6 weeks (4 - 5 hours a week)

Cost: Free + $140 for verified certificate

This hands-on course begins with an overview of the principles underlying decision-making. Guest lecturers from Harvard, the University of Colorado, and National Public Radio (NPR) weigh in on debates surrounding behavioral economics, as well as experimental design and analysis. For students interested in learning more about the ‘nudging approach’ and other progressive methods of behavioral change, this is the course for you!


3. Corporate Social Responsibility: A Strategic Approach, University of Pennsylvania


©Olivier Le Moal


Platform: edX

Length: 4 weeks (2 - 5 hours a week)

Cost: Free + $50 for verified certificate

This is an introductory level course that covers both the triumphs and pitfalls of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Participating students are sure to have a leg up, as CSR has become an increasingly popular topic that will become indispensable to MBA programs.

The course, which considers key interactions between philanthropy and self-interest, is taught by four instructors from the University of Pennsylvania, University of Connecticut, and Erasmus University.


4. Empathy and Emotional Intelligence at Work, UC Berkeley


Platform: edX

Length: 4 weeks (1 - 2 hours a week)

Cost: Free + $200 for verified certificate

Perhaps the most underrated, least quantifiable skill of them all: interpersonal relations. While students may not encounter a course of this caliber while working towards a degree, this short, 4-week course could make all the difference in facilitating positive relationships with future colleagues, employers, and more.

The course hopes to ‘understand how the skills of emotional and social intelligence support organizational happiness and productivity.’

Empathy and Emotional Intelligence at Work is taught by UC Berkeley’s Dacher Keltner and Emiliana Simon-Thomas, who are also creators of the popular, ground-breaking MOOC, ‘The Science of Happiness.’


READ MORE: Are Coursera Courses Worth The Effort?



5.  Marketing Analytics: Marketing Measurement Strategy, UC Berkeley


Platform: edX

Length: 4 weeks (5 - 7 hours a week)

Cost: Free + $250 for verified certificate

This highly-rated course aims to debunk some of the mystery surrounding the marketing field by introducing strategies to identify trends and track marketing successes. The course spans a mere 4 weeks and intends to serve as a gateway into more advanced marketing courses. Metrics are a main focus here; Professor Stephan Sorger of Oracle, 3Com, and NASA guides students to size and predict future market conditions.


6. Just Money: Banking as if Society Mattered, MIT


©Jirapong Manustrong


Platform: edX

Length: 16 weeks (3 - 4 hours a week)

Cost: Free + $50 for verified certificate

For students interested in learning more about the fundamentals of the US banking system, this course offers a detailed run-down of the roles that banks play in the US economy. Course instructors have extensive experience working in banks globally, with particular interest in discussing the future of banking and financial technologies. The course is lengthy—16 weeks—but asks admirable questions about how banking can address social and ecological challenges in society. 


7. Risk, Return, and Valuation, University of Michigan


Platform: Coursera

Length: 22 hours

Cost: Free + $49 for verified certificate

Here is one of the few graduate-level courses on our list, for students who want to plunge into the waters of the MBA experience. Taught by University of Michigan Professor Gautam Kaul, this 6-week course delves into the link between risk and statistics. Readings and graded assignments are all part of this free course.


8. Keeping up with Change: Issues for the Finance Professional, University of London


Platform: Coursera

Length: 34 hours

Cost: Free + $49 for verified certificate

This forward-thinking course hopes to better equip students with the tools necessary to succeed in a rapidly changing business environment. It is an intermediate course that seems especially tailored for soon-to-be MBA students.

Course modules transverse topics such as strategic planning, recent changes in standards, and corporate governance.


9. Financial Markets, Yale University


©Antonio_Diaz


Platform: Coursera

Length: 32 hours

Cost: Free + $49 for verified certificate

Hosted by Yale University professor Robert Shiller, Financial Markets examines the ‘ideas, methods, and institutions that permit human society to manage risks and foster enterprise.’ The aim of the course is to guide students towards using the principles of market systems to create a better society. This would be an ideal course for MBA candidates who may have been out of a college for a few years and need to brush up on market basics.  


10. Managerial Accounting Fundamentals, University of Virginia


Platform: Coursera

Length: 13 hours

Cost: Free + $49 for verified certificate

Learn more about cost behavior and cost allocation systems with Managerial Accounting Fundamentals. Professor Luann Lynch advises students on conducting cost-volume-profit analysis and employing best-practice managerial decisions.


NEXT READ

Online Learning: Pros & Cons


This article was originally published in May 2018 and was updated in October 2020. 

MBA Lands AirAsia.com Chief Of Staff Job During COVID-19 Uncertainty

Yizhen Fung is three months into her role as a chief of staff at AirAsia.com, the travel and lifestyle app for the airline giant, reporting directly to the CEO.

Even before COVID-19, aviation was rapidly changing and transforming, and in the past few months has seen serious disruption. But Yizhen is no stranger to adverse circumstances, having spent months job hunting in one of the most uncertain job markets for decades. 

Resilience and adaptability have proven to be key to her skill set, both of which she grasped and harnessed during her MBA at Asia School of Business (ASB) in Malaysia, and which will stay with her in a post-COVID world. 


Transitioning into the private sector via an MBA

Fresh out of high school in Malaysia, Yizhen went to study law at the University of Oxford. Graduating from the prestigious program had set her up for a successful career in legal practise: the only problem being, she didn’t want to become a lawyer. 

She returned home to Malaysia, where she started working at the Securities Commission, a regulator for Malaysia’s capital markets, working as an advisor and speech writer for the chairman. 

“I had a reflection that, while the regulator plays an important role in facilitating innovation, the true driver of innovation really lies in the private sector. I wanted to be a part of that,” Yizhen remembers. 

She wasn’t clear exactly which industry or role she was destined for, but knew that, to get noticed by any employer in Asia, she had to get some experience under her belt. 

She spoke to a close friend who had graduated in the inaugural class at Asia School of Business’ MBA, who raved about the Action Learning experience he had got from the program. “I was so impressed with the pan-Asian exposure he got, and how the experience transformed him from a self made entrepreneur to a well rounded corporate leader.” 

It was clear that the ASB MBA could give her a wide-spanning experience across sectors that could set her up for the commercial career she desired. 



Gaining experience through action learning

ASB’s MBA is designed around an iterative, experience-based curriculum which gives candidates exposure to different industries and companies across Asia. Central to this are the five Action Learning projects which each participant takes over the course of the MBA. 

Yizhen describes these as the “jewel in the crown” of her time at ASB, encapsulating what makes the ASB program so unique for professionals like herself looking to launch a career in Asia. 

First, she was able to harness and strengthen her leadership skills. Action Learning projects give students the responsibility of working on real life consulting projects with major companies looking to address certain challenges. 

It pushed her to take initiative and adopt a leadership role which she may not have had experience doing previously. In many cases, working at the client site involved advising clients who were 10 years her senior. 

It taught her to be collaborative, particularly with groups from multiple backgrounds. “Given the diversity of the program, it’s often about learning how to work in a team with any number of personalities that you can get matched up with.”



It also prepared Yizhen to be, as she describes, “ASEAN ready”. 

Given cultural diversity across the Asian continent, Yizhen notes how important it was to get on-the-ground experience working in different countries as part of her Action Learning. This included working at the world’s largest glove manufacturer in Malaysia, a major family owned bank in Thailand, a Thai-owned beverage company based in Hanoi, and a beauty manufacturing company in Hong Kong. 

While the companies and industries were diverse, they all shared a common goal—”All the companies were relatively established businesses, but were all trying to explore new ways of growth.”

At the beverage company, for instance, she was involved in devising a market penetration plan for the beer industry in Hanoi. “We were able to deeply dive into the consumer mindset and map out the customer journey and what would be the best strategy to penetrate.”

As well as helping to give her a good understanding of how business was done across Asia, it also helped her narrow down her career pathways to areas that she knew she was more interested in. 


Job hunting during COVID-19 and finding a role at AirAsia

Yizhen graduated in April 2020, just at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Job hunting became a full-time job in itself. Many employers had frozen hiring amidst the economic uncertainty: she even had a job offer which was deferred indefinitely.   

She was lucky to be able to draw upon several valuable takeaways from her MBA. An entrepreneurial mindset, instilled in her from her first day at ASB, taught her to treat every day like it was the first day. This gave her the discipline to formulate a daily job hunting routine. 

Secondly, a healthy dose of optimism. “It was about how to see a silver lining in every cloud, even with a very bleak outlook.”

She quickly saw the value of having an MBA under her belt. Employers were impressed with her ability to apply specific examples—many from the Action Learning projects—for certain skills or leadership traits. So when AirAsia called, regarding a chief of staff role, she swiftly landed the job.

Given that AirAsia is one of ASB’s corporate partners, and continues to hire ASB MBA graduates, she acknowledges her alma mater played an important part in getting the role. 

AirAsia, as a global leader in aviation, is at the forefront of addressing the challenges that the tourism industry is facing at present. But her MBA has prepared her perfectly for the fast changing culture at AirAsia. “If you dissect the skills I needed to thrive in a volatile environment, it's the ability to learn and unlearn quickly, to adapt to what a new environment needs.”


READ MORE: From Malaysia To MIT Sloan: My Experience On An MBA Sponsored By AirAsia


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