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Courtesy of Sean MacEntee

Courtesy of Sean MacEntee

This is an ever-growing post consisting of  different questions that people have had in the past. A lot of them are relevant to people who are researching or even applying. Hence they are added here. This information can guide you in your research and attempt to figure out what is a good strategy for future career prospects, how to approach a business school application and so on. It’s not a checklist or the How To guide.

A lot of the questions are around NUS Business School.

Also and unfortunately there are no correct answers to the favourite question of salary. You should contact the schools individually for such data and they will readily share this.

Have a new question? Post a comment below.
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#Q1. I am currently working in a semiconductor MNC in India and have about two and a half years of experience (it sounds better if I say 3 years by coming Fall). I am planning to make a career switch, as in, I would want to move into the marketing and strategy side in the technology industry. When I say marketing, I would not want to move into consumer marketing exactly as I would want to be associated with technology – so probably business to business marketing is the right word I guess. I am looking for a switch in function and not industry as such. So, essentially I am looking at roles like internal consultant or market research analyst in technology firms and would like to move into business development roles later on in my career.

Now my question is: Is the choice of NUS in line with my goals? How far can NUS and living in Singapore help me achieve this? And how about the job prospects in Singapore for such roles.? Do students get offers in such roles in the tech industry in Singapore? From your post and from others as well, I get to hear that jobs in marketing/strategy are not that easy to come by without prior experience (any job for that matter at this point of time isn’t easy, but relatively speaking). That’s why I am applying for an mba early in my career, when I am young enough to accept management trainee roles after an mba (like you mentioned in the post). I hope it turns out to be a right decision!

I look forward to hearing your opinions and suggestions on this. Thanks!

#A1. This is a natural switch because you can hardly be expected to work in the same role after attaining a business degree.

Students do get such roles but most of the people who are in tech companies in such roles are quite experienced (minimum of 5-6 years of experience). Also, in such cases they would prefer geographic based experience as well. Singapore is a regional hub for sales & marketing jobs and hence the need for language and region based experience. Honestly, speaking it would be quite tough. So a proper answer to your question is that NUS or even Singapore is probably not a perfect fit ( assuming you would expect a 90% job placement immediately or in about 1-2 months after the course).

However nothing is impossible. Some work-arounds that I can suggest is developing a good network in your industry especially in the APAC region. In case your company has an office in Singapore, you can think of taking up your desired role (if supported) initially there and move on elsewhere later. Simultaneously, you can apply to semiconductor companies for desired roles out there as well. I would suggest researching such companies, talking to people in these roles in those companies there( you can try using Linked In) and also check the job availability frequency there.

#Q2. How did you find the people there at NUS (classmates I mean)? In terms of intellectual vitality, competitiveness, friendliness, team-spirit, global ambition, etc.

#A2. I love this question:) It’s a varied lot out there and you will meet people of varying backgrounds, experience, educational backgrounds, geographies of course and most importantly of different intellectual ability. As a result all the qualities that you mentioned will also vary likewise. You will find a good mix. Any further inputs from me on this point will result in a  racial comment which I am earnestly trying to avoid.

Q#3. How would you rate your peer learning? 3. Has the career services cell improved since the time you went there? Or has it been the same? Especially with regards to alumni networking?

A#3. I learnt a lot from my peers but then again that depends on the groups you choose ( for assignments, group discussions) etc. Don’t go for the seemingly high performers who are just bothered about high grades and their own selfish learning. MBA is a lot about sharing learning and also learning from others. I am glad I had some wonderful friends who would teach me what I lacked and also helped me through some of the courses I thought I’d flunk!

Q#4. Do you have any info about the entrepreneurial scene at NUS, that would be really cool!  

A#4. This is a query which any recent alumni can answer. Unfortunately I don’t know. What I do know however is that NUS B School branding is still lacking in India despite it climbing up many rankings and trailing only IIM-A and ISB in FT rankings. Many Indian recruiters have neither heard of the business school, nor are aware of the standards which is very unfortunate. This will take a long time to change. On the bright side lot of us are willing to take actions which might help in a positive change.

This is quite long back so as far as I remember there are Incubation Centers in NUS. We have a course module for all interested students. Non-business and BBA students also are interested and involved in entrepreneurial activities and there is support for start-ups ( for which you do need to find out details). I am sure you know that it is easy and fast to setup a startup in Singapore which adds to the advantages. Other than this, you will have to talk to some current students and can even reach out to Admissions Office with a specific query(s).

Q#5. I currently have 1 year of experience and would have 2 years by next May before joining in Fall ( August ). Since there is a requirement of 2 years of experience, would I be considered for admission to NUS Business School?

A#5. This is probably stretching it a bit…you should contact the NUS Admissions Office and clarify this from them as they would be the people who would be judging your application at the end of the day.

Q#6. I know everyone probably asks you about the placement scene at NUS Business School, but you did get placed. Is it reasonable to assume that there is a 90% chance that I will get a job at the end of the course if my scores are good?

A#6. I don’t see why. Definitely work on your scores. The top consultancies and banks rely on your ranking in class and scores, but don’t underestimate networking.

Q#7.  How difficult is it to get a scholarship at NUS Business School

A#7. With a very good GMAT score 740 and above you might definitely get one. Else there isn’t any surety and unfortunately Indians don’t have any country-based scholarships. But do check with Admissions Office and they might ask you to apply for one or two.

Q#8. What are the criteria for applying and chances of getting it? How much exactly would be the waiver on tuition fees if we get it?

A#8.I do not have additional info on scholarship. It’s all there on the website with details. Each scholarship has a different criteria and the amount given will also be mentioned. Unfortunately, for most Indians, we don’t have a lot of scholarship options because our country doesn’t support anything like this. I remember people used to apply for ADB but there are some post-MBA work restrictions, so check them out. The  Ian Fergusson scholarship  had the largest amount of $28000 . However it was given based solely on the kind of charity work an applicant has done in the past. ( This is probably not offered any more. Please do check with Admissions Office on this).

I do remember that few people did get some waiver based on their GMAT score ( which was above 700).There is no fixed amount that gets waived off. It’s an individual thing as far as I know . The scholarship results come out pretty late, almost close to joining. In case you have further doubts , you could also use the contact email address given on the website and ask to speak to some one in the Admissions Committee ( phone/email). They would help you as well.

Q#9. What is the average salary for NUS MBA grads aiming for such roles? Sorry if you think I am harping too much on the salary aspect.

A#9. Everybody thinks about the salary. I find it silly to be apologetic about money honestly, because I am obviously investing a lot of money and time into this course. These roles that I am talking about are core Consulting roles. By now you would know that the “Consultant” term is bandied rather freely by a lot of organizations. These  salaries 3 years back were around and above $100k. Please don’t ask me about break-ups and all.You will have to approach a Consultant for that. I am sure the figures might have improved since then . However Singapore was hit by the recession and from what I hear the job market probably still is not back to its old glory.

Q#10. How many students get back to India post their MBA ? What do u you think is NUS‘s brand value in comparison to the IIMs and ISB in India? I ask this because I know that most companies ( like Deloitte, PWC, etc) hire from a select group of business schools and among them too they have their own rankings.

A#10. Unfortunately I do not have figures for this. So I will just state my conjecture. I think less than 50% probably return to India or even lesser, in an average batch with no recession. My batch ( which ended during the recession)  had a large number of people returning to India. However most of these people returned after a year or two of working at Singapore. Few people have even moved in the reverse direction back to Singapore. The reason behind most of the returns is personal than professional. The website ( NUS MBA> Careers ) has some percentages/figures on these. You may refer to them. You may also contact the MBA Admissions Office and enquire if they are OK to share such figures with you. The Office is extremely friendly and helps as much as it can.

Despite MBA having greater returns in long-term than short-term, most of us have financial requirements and need to pay off a loan. I do understand that the US Market is not in great shape. However neither is Singapore . The job market is very mature and you need to be extremely aggressive and networked to land with the offer of your choice. Having said that APAC is rising and is a hot place to be in. Please consider all your options and feedback to make your final decision.

Q#11. What is the current prospects of IT industry in Singapore. I am interested in Finance. So will targeting companies like Cognizant, Accenture etc for a financial profile.

A#11. I think you can directly apply to financial companies. Their job roles are obviously better and it doesn’t make sense to work in Finance in Tech, Outsourcing companies as the profile isn’t great ( unless you’re CFO or slightly lower). You could apply to the Banking domain of these companies but then you’ll get a better deal in terms of role, experience and money at a Finance company. And Singapore is a financial centre.  Also most importantly , these companies have only Sales, Marketing, Consulting arms present at Singapore. So I don’t see a lot of chances of working in Finance department of the IT companies at Singapore at least.

Q#12. What is the job profile in cases like mine (Engineer has around 4 years of IT experience) , who want to amalgamate their IT experience with Finance. What is the average pay package, companies which are interested in recruiting such candidates.

A#12. If you get a good internship in a related company, JP Morgan, Barclays, DSPML, etc and the likes; along with your major in Finance and CFA , and good grades obviously you would probably be offered market rates for compensation. Your IT experience will not make a very big dent. However you need to reach out to people ( try LinkedIn ) to figure out the exact details. I am not in Finance and have no idea of what it is on ground.

Also word of advice – Finance is rigorous, takes hard work, most of your time. The experience and money is totally worth it but please don’t go expecting top investment banking salaries. Very few guys last for a long time there ( performance issues, and people burn out ).  Make sure you know what you are getting into. Do a lot of self research.

Q#13. How much time on an average does it take to repay your loan. I understand it depends on person to person, but a range will be great. say Best case – Worst Case.

A#13. Not expected from someone with Finance knowledge and background :). It is a function of time, how much you can afford to pay in a month and the actual loan you took – amount, rates, duration, etc. So will depend on your that along with your future salary, monthly expenses, and obligations if any. You obviously need to do the Math here after plugging all of this.

2 thoughts on “Q&A

  1. Ooh lots of good information about MBA! It’s startling to see that so many people are experiencing a worse time of paying off their student loans in graduate school than in college, but I guess that does make sense. Do you have any views about full-time versus part-time MBA, or getting certifications instead of going back for the full masters?
    And thanks ever so much for stopping by A Lionheart in London!

  2. Sorry Xixi, I realized that I hadn’t answered your comment earlier.

    The industry or corporate world usually gives preference to people who have completed full-time degrees. ( Operative word is “usually” ). This holds true for MBA and other degrees. It is also a reason why I usually request people to go for the full-time degree if they can afford to ( time, money, effort, etc. ). It just gives a message to everybody who is looking at your resume, that you genuinely wanted that degree. Personally, I have received positive comments about this while making a movement to another group within the org. And that incident just managed to validate my theory.

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