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MBA Jobs: Top Tips For Launching A Career In Asia

Launching a career in Asia is an exciting prospect, but it’s not as simple as that. Cultural sensitivity, trust, and hard work all play a big part

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By  Simon Lovick

Thu Nov 14 2019

BusinessBecause
Asia’s economy is predicted to outgrow the rest of the world in 2020, with the Financial Times dubbing the 21st century, ‘the Asian Age’.  

Professionals from around the world are keen to witness this unprecedented rate of growth, with the potential to capitalize on its thriving economy, making a career in Asia an increasingly exciting and lucrative prospect.  

Cities like Shanghai, Singapore, and Seoul are an exciting gateway into the region for MBA students looking to launch a career in Asia.  

But there’s a few things international students need to know before starting their journey in Asia. 


Asia isn’t all the same

Grouping Asia together as a whole is impossible. 

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With close to 50 countries, accounting for 60% of the world’s population, it’s hardly surprising that Asia has a huge demographic and cultural diversity.  

“Asia is not a homogeneous region. When people talk about ‘going to Asia’, you’re talking about huge differences if you’re talking about China or Malaysia,” explains Tobias Simanowski, project manager at German automotive company Continental. 

Understanding these differences is one of the main principles behind the S3 Asia MBA—on which Tobias was a student—a joint program between the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School, Fudan University School of Management in Shanghai, and Korea University Business School in Seoul.  

Spending a semester at each school, students get a chance to understand the nuances of different Asian cultures and how this affects the way business is done. 

“To launch a career anywhere in Asia, you really need to understand these cultural languages and norms, because it’s so multi-ethnic and multicultural,” insists Brian Hwarngacademic director of the S3 Asia MBA.   


8bac1a70a251fa5e3923e26b303bd8760fdeda0d.jpeg Yann on the S3 Asia MBA


Business is trust-based

One central cultural practice in many Asian economies is that business is based firmly on trust.  

“In Europe or the US, people will do business with companies that have the best products or services,” explains Yann Rebourg (pictured above), an S3 Asia MBA graduate. 

“But here in Asia, they will choose the people that they trust the most.” 

This places great value on building connections and relationships with people, rather than looking for short-term gains. Students in particular must invest time in networking and getting to know people in the business landscape if they hope to launch a career after graduation. 

This trust-based way of doing business really stuck with Yann. 

He stayed on for three years in Asia after his graduation, to continue to build his network. Based in Taipei, Taiwan, he set up two businesses—an online platform for actors and models, and a healthy food delivery service. 

Now working in France as a consultant at Air France, he has brought this trust-based approach home with him—looking for partners he trusts, not just who will offer him the best price.  


c81616ba896da4b87726956ad4a0854ba04b8439.jpg Professor Brian Hwarng


There’s a hard working ethic 

The rapid growth of Asian economies is no doubt down to the hardworking ethic of its workers.  

“People here are very hungry to learn, and therefore they are diligent and willing to endure challenges, because they have the drive to learn and grow,” Brian notes.  

This is demonstrated by the great emphasis that governments in China, South Korea, and Singapore place on education—working to establish their academic institutions on a global level. 

Compared to 20 years ago, when no Asian schools sat inside the Financial Times Global MBA rankings, these three countries now have 11 top 100 schools between them—including both NUS and Fudan.  

MBA students must be prepared for this rigorous approach to work from the get-go in order to get a headstart in business for their post-graduate careers.  


It’s worth immersing yourself

As with many experiences in business, you will learn a lot more by doing than by observing.  

To understand the cultural differences across Asia, to build relationships, and to demonstrate your willingness to work, immersing yourself in the culture is very worthwhile.  

Across three universities in three cities, students have the chance to immerse themselves in different learning and working environments. 

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Victor Dandanell (pictured right), currently in Shanghai on the S3 Asia MBA, reveals how much he learnt about China, and the way business is done there, from the moment he stepped off the plane.  

He went to pay for his first meal with a credit card—and the server demanded he pay through WeChat, the social networking app, instead. It wasn’t a huge inconvenience, but it pointed out the nuances he’d only learn by being there.  

“As a foreigner, you can manage without the local language, but it depends on truly immersing yourself in organizations and groups where you have to try to learn as much as possible,” Victor stresses. 

Victor was aided greatly through the alumni mentoring program on the MBA, where he was paired with an S3 Asia MBA alum with years of experience in Shanghai. This helped him understand everything from the way of life to the cultural norms and approaches to business. 

Something any international student will struggle to succeed without. 

Student Reviews

National University of Singapore - NUS Business School

Emma

Verified

10/12/2022

Blended

marvellous

I have studied at the top university in the world and it was no doubt an overwhelming experience for me. I have gained skills as well as knowledge and it was the aim of this institute to give the insight of the skills besides theoretical learning.

Inayat

Verified

27/11/2022

On Campus

My journey at University of Singapore

1. In my opinion, the library (actually the library) was a great resource and facilitated a great learning environment. 2nd The professors and tutors were knowledgeable in their respective fields and were happy to help and involve students who visited them outside of class. 3. The students themselves were involved in each program in very different ways. You can meet everyone from lazy people to studious people. In my experience, students were motivated by grades and sheer intellect. 4. A myriad of extracurricular activities and facilities were available at a very low cost. 5. Academic performance is rated very high. when I applied to college S., my NUS transcripts had to be standardized in order for them to assign me a US GPA. During this conversion all C's were converted to As

Student

Verified

20/11/2022

On Campus

Prestigious university - learning is in your hands

Pros: - Great branding (one of the top universities in Southeast Asia) - Relatively easy coursework (As a business major, I spend about a third of my week studying and the rest working) - Qualify under the High Potential Individual visa that UK is handing out (all NUS students can apply to get a visa to work/ live in the UK for 2 years). I don’t expect NUS to be removed from this list any time soon given it’s reputation. Cons: - Lack flexibility in coursework (committing upfront on the major you are taking from matriculation

Student

Verified

17/06/2019

Great opportunities,

Perhaps the best part of NUS is the vast amount of opportunities it affords it's students. It's almost as if every week there's a new career fair, industrial visit, hackathon, or any other competition or event for it's students to join. NUS also offers multiple exchange programs ranging from 3 to 12 months (see the NOC programme) to grant it's students a more international outlook upon their graduation. There is a general atmosphere here that employability isn't an issue once we graduate. It's just unfortunate that it seems most students don't utilize these opportunities the best they can, but this attitude is simply a by-product of the results-oriented education system in Singapore that can be chalked up to the lack of diversity in the student body beyond Singaporeans. Perhaps bringing in more international students will help skew the results-focused nature of academics at NUS to a focus on more holistic education and development - what I personally believe a university education is really worth. However, with the right mindset and attitude, I believe NUS can truly offer a world class education, provided you're willing to put in the extra effort.

Student

Verified

5/10/2017

A dynamic and inter-disciplinary experience, that nurtured a love for learning

Coming from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, what I greatly enjoyed was the sheer breadth of courses available within the faculty and encouragement to take courses outside our faculty as well. Courses were always engaging, and professors and lecturers often gave students the freedom to pick topics for their final term papers or presentation and exercise creativity - for example, my interest in Art History meant that I could often delve deeper into this interest in my main academic leanings of Political Science and History. Professors and lecturers made themselves readily available to the students, and were approachable. During my time in NUS, there was a noticeable effort to invest in the students' global experiences (Exchange Programmes, Summer School, NUS Overseas College) - I truly believe that NUS was sincere in allowing as many students to have overseas experiences in spite of financial capabilities, and if one made the effort, the Centre for Future Ready Graduates was useful and invested in the potential careers of students too. When a friend from another local university did a local exchange to NUS, he remarked that NUS students truly loved to learn. I was content being surrounded by people who pursued their Arts/Social Sciences disciplines with a love for the content. It is also dynamic to be in a university that simply has so many different disciplines and faculties - one is just surrounded by people of varying interests and experiences, and forces them to look beyond their majors. Of course, NUS is commonly known for being too theoretical and content-focused. This is up to the students' prerogatives on how they want to exact their education and mould it for their lives, but generally NUS feels comfortable and safe within the academic realm - there is no push towards internships or whatnot that other universities might focus on. This could be a con. Another thing I did not like about NUS in recent times was the blatant grade inflation - that juniors from the 2014/5 batch could have liberties to S/U a lot more modules than their seniors could in some bid to take the focus away from grades, and towards learning and experimenting. Nevertheless, I greatly cherished my time in NUS and would highly recommend it.

Student

Verified

31/05/2019

Transportation

There is an issue of overcrowding during peak hours such as before morning class and lunch time. This results in uncomfortable travelling experience for many students, it also becomes dangerous when the drivers make steep turns and brakes suddenly.

Heda

Verified

5/02/2024

On Campus

never ending accademic excellence

Considering various aspects of my university experience, here is my review as a student at National university of Singapore. NUS is highly ranked globally and has a strong reputation for academic excellence across a wide range of disciplines. The school attracts a diverse student body and offers an international perspective through its academic programs and exchange partnerships with other universities. NUS boasts modern facilities, including libraries, laboratories, and recreational spaces. Accommodation is spacious. However, due to its high reputation, admission to NUS can be highly competitive, making it challenging for some students to gain entry. Singapore is known for its high cost of living, and this may pose a challenge for students on a tight budget, especially those coming from lower-income backgrounds. International students may face a period of adjustment to a new cultural and social environment when studying at NUS.

Tian

Verified

5/02/2024

On Campus

rigorous yet a nurturing academic environment

As a student at the National University of Singapore NUS, I have found it to be a vibrant and diverse institution with a top-notch faculty. The faculty are not only knowledgeable but also approachable and supportive of students' academic pursuits. For me the University is rigorous yet a nurturing academic environment. The student life is rich with clubs and activities, and the accommodation options are comfortable and safe. While tuition fees may vary, there are numerous financial aid and scholarship opportunities available. Overall, NUS offers a well-rounded university experience with modern facilities and a strong emphasis on global engagement. Overall, my experience at NUS has been enriching, and I highly recommend it to anyone seeking a world-class education in a dynamic and inclusive environment.

Gong

Verified

19/02/2024

On Campus

high cost of living

The cost of living at the National University of Singapore (NUS) is quite high for Chinese citizens, especially when compared to living expenses in China. Accommodation, food, and transportation expenses are significant, with rent for a room in on-campus housing ranging from S$400 to S$1000 per month. While there are affordable food options on campus, dining out can be expensive. However, the quality of education at NUS is excellent, with top-notch faculty and resources available to students. The university ranks among the best in Asia and offers a wide range of programs, ensuring a high standard of education. As for student life, NUS has a vibrant campus with numerous clubs, societies, and events to cater to various interests. Chinese students can find a sense of community through cultural groups, while also engaging in activities with local and international students. Overall, despite the high cost of living, NUS provides a diverse and enriching educational experience for Chinese students.

Joel

Verified

19/02/2024

On Campus

dedicated staff

I am a local student studying at the National University of Singapore, I can confidently say that this institution truly lives up to its reputation as one of the best universities in the world. What I appreciate the most about NUS is the quality of education that is offered here. The professors are dedicated to helping students succeed. The curriculum is rigorous and challenging, but it is also very rewarding as it equips us with the knowledge and skills. I really lik the campus itself. It is well-maintained and equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. The campus is also vibrant and bustling with various activities and events. Furthermore, NUS has a strong emphasis on research and innovation, which is evident in the many groundbreaking research projects that are being conducted here. As a student, I feel proud to be part of an institution that is at the forefront of pushing boundaries and making significant contributions to various fields of study.

Shao

Verified

21/02/2024

On Campus

dynamic student population

The diverse and dynamic student population at the National University of Singapore greatly enriches the overall academic experience for me. Interacting with peers from different cultural backgrounds and perspectives broadens my understanding of the world and fosters a truly global mindset. The diverse student body also creates a vibrant campus environment, with a plethora of cultural events, clubs, and activities that cater to a wide range of interests. This diversity not only enhances the social aspect of student life but also promotes collaboration and innovation in academic pursuits. The varied perspectives and experiences of my classmates challenge me to think critically and approach problems from different angles, ultimately contributing to a more holistic and well-rounded education.

Zhang

Verified

21/02/2024

On Campus

numerous opportunities

Studying at the National University of Singapore has been a mind-blowing experience. The rigorous curriculum challenges me to think critically and expand my intellectual horizons. The professors are world-renowned experts in their fields, providing unparalleled guidance and mentorship. The campus is vibrant and conducive to learning, fostering a sense of community among students. The numerous opportunities for research and extracurricular activities have enriched my academic journey. Overall, my time at NUS has been both challenging and rewarding, preparing me for a successful future. I recommend the university to other students

Lee

Verified

23/02/2024

On Campus

expert faculty

I can confidently say that I am proud to be part of such a prestigious institution. NUS offers world-class education with top-notch facilities and resources. The professors are experts in their field and are dedicated to helping us succeed. The campus is beautiful and conducive to learning, with a vibrant student life that offers numerous clubs and activities to get involved in. However, there are some drawbacks to attending NUS. The workload can be overwhelming at times, with heavy course loads and demanding assignments. Additionally, the competitive nature of some programs can create a stressful environment for students. The bureaucracy and red tape can also be frustrating, making it difficult to navigate certain administrative processes. I recommend NUS because it is a fantastic university that provides a high-quality education.

Shreya

Verified

4/03/2024

On Campus

Affordablility and quality

I have discovered the university to be relatively affordable compared to other top institutions around the world. The application process was not hectic, and there are scholarship opportunities available for students in need of financial assistance. Enrolling at the university was an easy process, with helpful staff guiding me through each step. The tuition fees are worth the quality of education provided. The university offers world-class facilities, renowned professors, and a diverse range of courses that prepare students for success in their chosen fields.

Isaac

Verified

4/03/2024

On Campus

enthusiastic school spirit

I am confident in the career success opportunities that the university provides. NUS has a strong network of alumni and industry connections, making it easier for students to secure internships and job placements. The tuition costs at NUS are reasonable compared to other top universities, and there are various scholarships available for both local and international students based on merit and financial need. School spirit at NUS is strong and enthusiastic, with numerous student organizations and clubs to join. The campus is always buzzing with events, workshops, and activities that foster a sense of community and belonging. As a student, I have had the opportunity to gain valuable work experience through internships and research projects, which have enriched my academic learning and prepared me for the workforce.

Maria Vazquez

Verified

4/03/2024

On Campus

global recognition

the examination style at NUS emphasizes critical thinking and application of knowledge rather than rote memorization. The university's rigorous assessment methods challenge students to demonstrate their understanding and analytical skills, preparing them for real-world scenarios. NUS is globally recognized and accredited, ranking as one of the top universities in the world. This accreditation ensures that the degrees and programs offered by NUS are of high quality and recognized internationally, providing students with a competitive edge in their future careers. The university offers a wide range of programs across various disciplines. These programs are taught by renowned faculty members. Accommodation options at NUS are comfortable and convenient, with on-campus residences and off-campus housing options available for students. The university also provides a reliable and efficient transport system, making it easy for students to commute to and from campus.

Tei

Verified

4/03/2024

On Campus

campus look and feel

As a student at the National University of Singapore, the academics here are top-notch. The professors are highly knowledgeable and dedicated, and the coursework is challenging yet rewarding. The campus is located in the vibrant Kent Ridge area, surrounded by lush greenery and stunning architecture. The food options on campus are diverse and delicious, ranging from traditional hawker fare to international cuisines. There are also plenty of cafes and eateries off campus, so you'll never run out of dining choices. In terms of getting around, NUS has a well-connected shuttle bus service that makes it easy to travel between different parts of the campus. Additionally, there are plenty of public transportation options nearby, including buses and the MRT.

Xu

Verified

4/03/2024

On Campus

students taking control

I am impressed by the numerous student leadership roles available on campus. From student clubs and organizations to residential hall councils, there are ample opportunities for students to take on leadership positions and contribute to the university community. Moreover, the university encourages peer-to-peer support through programs like peer tutoring, study groups, and mentorship initiatives. The quality of education at NUS is exceptional, with knowledgeable faculty members, innovative teaching methods, and cutting-edge research opportunities. The university's rigorous academic standards challenge students to excel and think critically, preparing them for success in their fields. Lastly, student life at NUS is vibrant and diverse. From cultural festivals and sports events to academic conferences and community service projects, there is never a dull moment on campus.

Tong

Verified

4/03/2024

On Campus

different support services

National University of Singapore offers a wide range of support services to help students succeed in their studies. Firstly, there is academic support in the form of study skills workshops, tutorial classes, and academic advisors who provide guidance on course selection and career planning. The university also has a well-equipped library with academic resources and study spaces. In terms of personal support, the university has counseling services and support groups for students facing mental health issues or personal challenges. There are also campus health services and a student wellness center that promote physical and mental well-being. Additionally, the university offers financial aid and scholarships to students in need, as well as career services to help students secure internships and job opportunities. The university also organizes networking events, industry talks, and career fairs to connect students with potential employers.

Goettle

Verified

2/04/2024

On Campus

Exchange students

As an exchange student at the National University of Singapore (NUS), I have had an incredible experience studying at this prestigious institution. The university offers a wide range of courses taught by world-renowned faculty members. The campus is modern and vibrant, with excellent facilities and resources available to students. NUS also provides numerous opportunities for cultural immersion and exploration through student organizations, events, and international exchange programs. They have Diverse and high-quality academic programs, World-class faculty members. However Large class sizes in some courses, Competitive academic environment, Cost of living in Singapore can be high and Limited interaction with local Singaporean students outside of classes can be a burden.