Singapore b-schools teach the Asian, European and American ways of doing business

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SP Jain, Singapore

Who does not want a ‘phoren’ degree to brag about for the rest of his life. Especially if the foreign country is just a quick six-hour flight away and the local restaurants serve sambar rice. Singapore the shopping haunt for Indians has also turned into a b-school hub. With INSEAD, Chicagobooth, SPJain, setting up shop there couple of years ago and local schools like National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University luring students in large numbers, Singapore is the place to be for management education.

And the push towards this is coming from none other than the government itself. While five years ago, Singapore had 70,000 international students, the government has decided this figure needs to reach 150,000 by 2015.

Why Singapore

Why not Singapore? ask the students who are studying at b-schools there. All students who Pagalguy spoke to had different reasons for choosing Singapore. Mohit Belani for instance, currently at INSEAD, Singapore, says that the INSEAD brand was the drawing factor for him to study in Singapore. INSEAD has a two-campus programme which enables me to study at two places and in two different countries all in a year. Besides, there is diversity here and the course was just a year which works superbly for my needs.A similar sentiment was echoed by Abbas Mantri, who is pursuing Strategy Specialization at Nanyang. I wanted to step out of India and learn in a global environment and there is no better choice than Singapore. This country is close to India and yet offers an international way of teaching.

Continuing on the same line, Anukish Garg from NUS says that he knew that studying in Singapore would give him an Asian perspective to subjects such as banking, etc. and with banks opening operations globally, nothing like getting the real picture while studying. For Purusotam Dabbiru, pursuing an MBA in investment banking and wealth management at SP Jain Centre of Management, the peer group was the deciding factor. In my cohort, the average experience is more than 3.5 years. Learning insights generated are positively correlated to the experience one’s peers bring to the class and this is a big advantage at a b-school in Singapore. Purusotam’s statement is based on the fact that unlike India, all b-schools in Singapore demand a minimum of five years of work experience of interested students.

Diversity in class at Nanyang: Behind row Winston (China), Pramoj (Singapore), Andrew (USA), Mandar (Mumbai). Front row left to right: Reynold (China), Irfan (USA), Greg (Canada), Esmond (Singapore)

Fees/Work in Singapore better

On an average, the fees work out well, say the students. Compared to the US, Singapore is affordable, be it the fees or accommodation rates. For Purusottam, the entire package has worked out to approximately Rs 17,00,000. And this includes my airfare, meals, accommodation etc. For the education I am getting in an international college, it is quite reasonable. For a few colleges in India, it works out to as much. But here I am getting the international exposure.

Since all b-schools in Singapore take only experienced people, many students are able to fund themselves for their MBA and do not have to take huge loans. For Mohit Belani, the fees worked out to around 52,000 Euros. Mohit did not need to take a loan. Having worked before in the US, he had the money on hand.

Alumni of Singapore b-schools, especially Indians say that it is easier to repay loans if you work in Singapore. Alok Sanjyot, alumni from SPJain who passed out in April 2009 says that he was able to repay his education loan within a year after he graduated. Here the standard of living is higher than that of India but one can save enough as well and so the loan becomes less of an issue.

The biggest advantage to studying in Singapore is the possibility of working there as well. Many students opt to work in Singapore which works out better than having a job through placement in an average b-school in India. Singapore, as a working country is also a better option since graduates are able to work in a global environment and make good money. Manu Iyer, who passed out of SP Jain in 2010 worked in Singapore even prior to taking up an MBA. I decided to continue here since the pay is good and the experience of working in a culturally vibrant place is also good. Besides, I am earning very well and can say am comfortable, he says.

Another SP Jain alumni, Aditi Vyas also worked in Singapore post her graduation. After working for a while I took a break but soon after starting to work again. Since then, have done very well for myself. I manage teams and also comfortable with money. With the currency conversion, one stands to gain if employed in Singapore, she adds.

Those still graduating have also decided that it will be work in Singapore for a few years before heading back home. Komal Ahuja studying at the NUS says: Finance is my subject and there is no better place to learn and work than Singapore if you are interested in finance. I will get a good view of the Asian markets. Purusotam,who is part of the Placements Committee at SP Jain has not yet bagged a job himself because he is quite sure that he wants to work outside India. I am searching for job opportunities in the Middle East, Europe or South East Asia. This is because if I work abroad, the opportunities that I hope to get when I return to India are greater and my saving potential will also increase.

Abbas Mantri and Andrew Humphreys from Nanyang come from entrepreneurial families. Abbas says that he would like to explore the opportunity of expanding his family business in Singapore while Andrew says he would like to be placed in Asia for a few years. I am open to a number of big cities such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur etc., Andrew adds.

Faculty/Infrastructure

A prime reason for many students to take up studying in Singapore is the ‘good academic culture’ as well as infrastructure of the schools. Most b-schools there have sprawling campuses and those that don’t have large campuses, have excellent in-house facilities. Besides, faculty and individual programmes are the highlights of b-schools in Singapore.

Aditya Dhawan from INSEAD says that his professors are a class apart. With years of research and /or industry experience behind them, we know we are in good hands academically. Komal Ahuja from NUS says that all her professors are PhD and their teaching methods are inspiring. When you know your professor is so learned and at the same time so approachable, learning takes on a different meaning. Faculty is available any time if we want to chat with them.

A class having fun at SP Jain, Singapore: From left Prateek, Purusotam, Soumya, Varun (behind Soumya) and Rahul


INSEAD has a huge entrepreneurship initiative which is a favourite by like-minded students. The Wendel International Centre for Family Enterprise allows INSEAD to run events and educational programmes that benefit family set-ups across the world. Another called Maag International Centre for Entrepreneurship was launched in 2003 to promote production and dissemination of knowledge in subjects like turnarounds, family enterprise, entrepreneurship, buyouts and private equity.

Nanyang students take much pride in their faculty. The b-school has Asias largest faculty team, with 92% who have Phds from renowned universities from all parts of the world. Says Abbas: Here one can design one’s own learning experience by choosing one’s subjects or electives according to one’s objectives and requirements and there are 90 courses to choose from.

The Asian Business Case Centre gives priority access to Nanyang Business Schools participants, including numerous cases commissioned by the Singapore government that give good insights into the countrys business model.

Singapore works culturally/ for leisure

Singapore works culturally since there is no one dominant community either in the class room or on the streets. With a population of about three million, 2.7 million of whom are citizens and permanent residents the others are foreigners. The Chinese constitute about 78 percent, the Malays 14 percent, the Indians 7 percent, and others 1 percent of the population. This makes the population homogeneous and no one community prevails. There are various pockets where communities like Chinese and Indian can call their own.

The multi-cultural facet of Singapore is a big draw from people across the globe. Chetan Jotwani studying at the National University of Singapore (NUS) took up Singapore because of the diversity. “The diversity in our cohort extends beyond just industry experience to cultural background as well. This takes the learning process to beyond the classroom, as there is a lot of knowledge to be gained from our peers. Personally, I had wanted to pursue an MBA outside India to learn about the business environment in other parts of the world, and the diversity at NUS, as well as the confluence of Asia and the west in Singapore make my choice of joining NUS very relevant.”, he says.

Singapore has a lot of leisure activities to offer students as well. The INSEAD as well as the Nanyang students travel to other Asian countries as part of fun and learning projects. Andrew from Nanyang says that his b-school celebrates every festival, be it Diwali, Chinese New Year or Christmas, since we have friends from different parts of the globe, we have fun at all festivals, he says.

Since most students work in dual campus programmes, leisure patterns change accordingly. (Students of INSEAD studying in France as well as Singapore while students of Chicagobooth study in the US as well as Singapore. Similarly, students from SP Jain study in Dubai, Singapore and from this year onwards in Australia too), Purosotam says that work load in Dubai was comparatively lesser so he went to Abu Dhabi and other tourism hot spots in the Gulf region. In Singapore, we attended different types of training sessions to prepare us for the future, and also networking sessions. We also undertake volunteer work in the city to know it better. Many of our batch mates have also visited nearby places like Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. We combine work and pleasure.

At INSEAD, students say life on campus is varied. Explains Devneet Bajaj, One can join one of the many career-oriented clubs and network in a sector or industry in which one plans to pursue one’s career. This is a mix of both work and pleasure. Mohit says that those interested in sports can represent INSEAD in inter-school matches. Mohit himself is part of the college rugby team.

Among other leisure activities at INSEAD, Fontainebleau participants host large dinner parties in country mansions and include travelling to the Alps for a weekend of skiing; the Singapore social scene includes get-togethers for an evening barbecue by the pool and group trips to one of the many nearby scuba-diving resorts.

If not anything, Indian b-school students in Singapore can just take a walk along Serangoon Road in Little India a place dominated by Indians. There one gets Indian sweets and South Indian rice plate is served on a banana leaf. Besides, there is also the fragrance of Indian sandalwood incense prevailing all around a whiff of home for the home sick.

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