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Manchester Business School Educates Top Singapore Execs

Bee Ing Lim, Director of the MBS Singapore Centre, on stressed execs, a flexible EMBA and a Singaporean restaurateur

Manchester Business School (MBS) has offered MBA programs in Singapore since 1992, originally in partnership with the Institute of Banking and Finance.

Demand grew so quickly that they decided to launch their own Centre in Singapore back in June 1999.

The centre is now under the direction of Bee Ing Lim who completed an MBA herself at MBS Singapore in 2003. I talked to Bee Ing about managing executive stress, and running a flexible program in a changing Singapore.

How has the business environment in Singapore changed over the last 20 years?
Singapore is now a world leader in several economic areas: it is the world’s fourth largest financial centre, the world’s second biggest casino gambling market, the world’s third biggest oil refining centre and the world’s fourth largest foreign exchange trading centre. The port of Singapore is also one of the five busiest ports in the world.

Singapore has become a first rate place as a business destination and a regional hub with many corporate headquarters for the region.

What kind of students do you attract from Singapore? Who is a typical student?
Singapore is a cosmopolitan society, home to many multinational corporations. Our student profile mirrors the international communities that Singapore attracts.

The majority of our students, be they Singaporeans or expatriates working in Singapore, are ambitious individuals in their mid-30s working in multi-national corporations like Rolls Royce, Shell, IBM and Citibank. They’re globally connected with high international mobility.

What is different about the Manchester experience in Singapore compared to local business schools such as NUS, Nanyang and also other European schools with Singapore centers e.g. Insead?
MBS has been operating in Singapore for more than 20 years, far more established than most other European business schools. We have a history of understanding the local environment and at the same time, adopting an international perspective.

We are very global and practical in our approach – the Manchester Method – we do not teach the theory of management, but a fusion of varied approaches like project work and action learning.

This is crucial as employers are looking for people who have a global perspective: who can understand what is happening in new markets and can put what they have learnt in practice.

The caliber of our students is also a differentiating factor – they are ambitious executives working in global companies and are encouraged onto our global programme to embed them within management and leadership progression plans.

Our minimum entry requirements and teaching methods mean that we are getting students who are middle to C-suite level professionals. We attract quite a senior cohort of students compared to the local universities here.

What kind of schedule are students on? How do they fit in study and work?
For the part-time MBA programs, students take 2.5 modules in each semester of six months. Each module has one compulsory workshop, two assignments and one exam.

This is the most flexible internationally accredited MBA program in Singapore and tailored to fit the schedules of busy and ambitious executives who travel frequently.

They can take the workshops at any of our other five centers worldwide – in Manchester, Miami, Dubai, Rio de Janeiro or Hong Kong. Our extensive online support ensures that they get access to course materials, discussion forums and the library 24 hours a day, wherever they are.

Do you provide advice on stress reduction?
We do provide advice on stress reduction. In fact, the rigor of our MBA program is a good platform to enhance the skill set needed to balance their careers and other commitments.

We have a global careers service where we provide career coaching and counseling on various topics, as well as frequent networking events and talks for their personal development. Stress reduction is a very valid topic for our students. Recently, we conducted an alumni sharing session where an alumnus shared how he juggled his MBA with relocation to Germany and his family.

Can you provide some recent success stories from the Singapore EMBA?
We’ve had a lot of success in helping large cohorts of engineers build new skills and qualities that they lack, such as finance, marketing, leadership and negotiation skills, so they can be equally capable of occupying general management positions and running companies.

As for starting new businesses, as suggested by our tagline - “Original Thinking Applied” - we constantly encourage our students to be entrepreneurial and enterprising in today’s competitive market place.

We provide them with strong managerial skills so that when they develop ideas, their implementation is likely to be more successful. This is as important as fostering entrepreneurial thought.

In Singapore, we have an example of a highly successful entrepreneur – Mr. Joseph Ong - who used his MBA thesis to grow his restaurant ventures like 1 Rochester, 1 Altitude etc while still doing his job as a regional finance director in Symantec!

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