Graduate Showcase

SMU's unique pedagogy and holistic education prepared these graduates to excel in the world beyond the university. See what they have to say about their transformational journey through SMU, their careers today, and how studying here will prepare you to succeed in life too.

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Lim Sok Tin Jessie
Resourcer,
DN & Associates
Lorraine Tan
Executive Director,
Goldman Sachs
Yam Yujian
Executive Property Market Analyst,
Urban Redevelopment Authority
Lau Chee Chong
Practice Trainee,
Drew & Napier
Dhilshara E Menon
Learning & Development Program Specialist,
Credit Suisse

Lim Sok Tin Jessie

Resourcer,
DN & Associates
Bachelor of Business Management
  • Student Experience
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At SMU, I was involved in the AIESEC club, which sparked my interest in events management and naturally steered my career path towards the tourism and hospitality industries. My time at AIESEC was definitely one of the best moments in my student life.

At SMU, I was involved in the AIESEC club, which sparked my interest in events management and naturally steered my career path towards the tourism and hospitality industries. My time at AIESEC was definitely one of the best moments in my student life as I learnt a lot during the overseas volunteer expedition. It made me more grateful for what I have and allowed me to appreciate the little things in life. The friendships that I forged there are irreplaceable and are still going strong. As the Program Director for the Asia Pacific Exchange Leaders development Seminar 2004, I had the opportunity to organise events such as the Gala Dinner, Global Village for the 7-day seminar involving 200 delegates.

On a volunteer trip to Chiang Mai, we built a dormitory from scratch, played with the local children, taught them English and cooked the group’s meals. The most memorable incident during that trip was when our vehicle got stuck in mud in the midst of a steep turn during heavy rainfall. We could have fallen off the slope with just a slight careless move, the visibility was terrible and everyone was scared and tired. We eventually made it to the hill tribe village by walking all the way up to the top. It was definitely a nerve-wracking ordeal, but one which I learnt tremendously from.

Lorraine Tan

Executive Director,
Goldman Sachs
Bachelor of Accountancy & Business Management
  • Student Experience
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Learning in two areas that I am interested in means I can walk both roads without sacrificing my potential in either. Armed with these dual competencies, my skill set is now broader, and gave me the flexibility to traverse across and integrate different disciplines.

I was attracted by SMU’s broad-based curriculum, which was modeled after the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The curriculum equipped students with a holistic skill set comprising hard knowledge (analytical thinking and problem solving) and soft people skills (communications, leadership and teambuilding).

My double-degree in Accountancy and Business Management also provided me with a richer and well-rounded education. Armed with dual competencies, my skill set is now broader, and I have the flexibility to traverse across and integrate different disciplines.

In SMU, you are expected to participate in class discussions and group interactions. It may seem intimidating at first, but over time you will learn the art of communications—how to tailor your message to fit your audience, how to develop your sense of presence during your presentation, how to manage yourself during a stressful setting.

This is the very skill that you would use daily at the workplace, and is especially important nowadays when leaders are expected to not only have the ability to analyse thoughtfully but also to communicate clearly and persuasively.

Tips for a first year student at SMU:

  • When in doubt, choose the path that keeps the most doors open.
  • Explore all avenues and resources that can help you better understand what you are getting yourself into.
  • Go out, have fun (responsibly) and enjoy the journey.

Yam Yujian

Executive Property Market Analyst,
Urban Redevelopment Authority
Double Degree in Economics and Business Management
  • Student Experience
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Don’t hold back, go out and experience everything that SMU can offer.

SMU brought me places, now I shape my career with fresh perspectives.

"Don’t hold back," is Yujian’s advice to anyone joining SMU. "Go out and experience everything that SMU can offer." He certainly lived by his words, having won a URA Scholarship to support his studies, been on the Dean’s list three years running for his academic prowess, served as President of SMU’s ‘extreme sports’ club and won the Dean of Students Award for contributions to student life twice. He graduated with a double degree in Economics and Business Management, both with summa cum laude distinction, and he won the JP Morgan Best Economics Student Award.

He feels that one of the things that helped him get so much out of life at SMU is the good fit of the University’s pedagogy with his personality. "The way the lessons were taught, fits the way I learn," he says, elaborating that he learns best through interactive discussions rather than through listening to lectures and reading books.

This ‘fit’ enabled him to excel academically while also putting considerable effort into his Co-Curricular Activities, including leading a trekking expedition to Mount Everest Base Camp and Islands’ Peak in Nepal. "If you’re passionate about something, you just push," he says when asked about his zest for life. He won a place in the Hitachi Young Leaders Competition, which took him to Hanoi, Vietnam, to brainstorm on solutions to global problems with other students from around the world. Then when he went to the University of Pennsylvania on a student exchange, he extended his stay to explore the US with his friends.

Yujian feels that his journey through SMU was the perfect preparation for working life. He says the academic knowledge he gained is directly relevant to his career – first as a real estate analyst with the Urban Redevelopment Authority and now as Senior Economist with the Monetary Authority of Singapore. He also feels that the ability to multi-task, to lead teams and work collaboratively with individuals from diverse backgrounds, all developed through SMU’s holistic educational experience, helped him to hit the ground running and quickly get ahead in the workplace. "SMU brought me places," he concludes, "Now I shape my career with fresh perspectives."

Lau Chee Chong

Practice Trainee,
Drew & Napier
Double Degree in Law and Business Management
  • Student Experience
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During the moot competition in Minsk, Belarus, I was up against a Russian opponent who spoke in Russian while I spoke in English (in the presence of a real time translator).

It was an incredibly challenging experience and constitutes for me a truly international experience.

I chose SMU because I wanted to try out the interactive, project-based system of learning after having spent 12 years of my life in the lecture-based Singapore school system. The greatest benefit I got out of SMU was the international exposure it gave me even before work life started, which has enabled me to become a better professional and human being.

Having always been a climbing enthusiast, I joined the SMU Climb Team. Our expeditions took us beyond Dairy Farm in Singapore, bringing us to places like Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Krabi just to name a few. I led two OCSPS to Cambodia (SMU Impact I and II), which allowed me to give back to the world in whatever little way I could. Our team helped build parts of a local school and through our humbling interactions with the local students it made us realize the kind of privilege living in Singapore affords us. The experience reinforced in us the concept of philanthropy.

One of my most memorable experiences in SMU was taking part in the International Youth for Peace competition in Minsk, Belarus. On the first day of the competition (before the competition started proper), we had to present a short presentation on our own Singaporean culture. Seeing the myriad of cultures from all over the globe and how inspiring the participants were when speaking about their own cultures, we were forced to re-examine our own uniquely Singaporean identity. We eventually decided to talk about Singlish and how it was something that tied all Singaporeans together. After that, many of our fellow participants came up to us and told us of their versions of Singlish, such as Franglish (French English). It made me realise that in an increasingly globalised world, vestiges of our traditions and history will always remain in our language and our common experience.

During the same moot competition, I was up against a Russian opponent who spoke in Russian while I spoke in English (in the presence of a real time translator). With very little common ground in language we had to compete based on common understanding of the issue in dispute. It was an incredibly challenging encounter and in my mind truly constitutes an international experience.

Also, I had the great pleasure of going on exchange to Emory University in Atlanta, USA. That same summer, I also interned for a month at Duane Morris LLP in New York City. During that time, I had the opportunity of interacting and working with law students and lawyers of different backgrounds, cultures and from all over the world. Whether it was in my Public International Law classes or various client meetings, I was exposed to so many different worldviews on what people thought was right and wrong and it helped me expand my own mental horizon.

From SMU I have understood that it’s important to prioritise what you truly love and work hard to excel in it. I worked hard to get accepted into the Business Management and Law double degree programmes. Today, I find that the double degree programme has helped me develop complementary skills that help me stand out. The countless projects sharpened my soft skills and today help me navigate easily through my professional life. SMU has enabled me to become a skilled, well-travelled and broad-minded individual and I will be forever grateful for this. I urge all prospective students to make the most of their student life and to study hard while not missing out on valuable opportunities that life in SMU can give them.

Dhilshara E Menon

Learning & Development Program Specialist,
Credit Suisse
Bachelor of Science (Information Systems Management)
  • Student Experience
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I chose SIS because I liked the blend of courses offered. I was never an intensely technical person so taking up a degree program that gave me a blend of business as well as IT content seemed to be a wise choice.

A Different U: An Unforgettable Experience

Most things about SMU were quite extraordinary to me. It was the first time I was living away from home, managing my own finances, and sharing an apartment with friends. All of these experiences were defining. I would dare to say that what I learnt outside the classroom has proved to be of more value than what I learnt in. By this I do not mean to belittle the academic content at all. This is something SMU excels at and rightly so. In addition to my primary major in Information Systems, I had the opportunity to take on a second major in Law. It was an uncommon combination but I learnt valuable skills through my law major and was provided with a very different perspective. However, after leaving university, the people who stand out are those who can take the content and apply it with a fresh perspective and that is a fine skill that SMU teaches its graduates.

Words of Advice

The next four years aren’t just about the grades you achieve or the job you get at the end. University is about reinventing and refining the best of who you are. So throw yourself into every experience, push your limits, explore the boundaries and dare to go beyond them. One of the best pieces of advice I received was "be the best at everything you are given to do—because you know you can be." Never let any one person define your path for you.

Andre Lim
Social Enterprise Policy Officer,
Ministry of Social and Family Development
S. Sri Saravanan
Global Senior Purchasing Manager & Strategy Owner (Fluid Dispensing Systems),
Leading FMCG Organisation
Sim Chin Ta
Senior Associate,
PwC LLP
Gan Xiu Ling
Senior Investment Analyst,
Business Investments, Neptune Orient Lines Ltd
Jenn Lim
Management Consultant,
Deloitte Consulting

Andre Lim

Social Enterprise Policy Officer,
Ministry of Social and Family Development
Bachelor of Social Science
  • Student Experience
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SMU’s interactive pedagogy taught me to think independently and on my feet - you really have to participate in class, speak out and stand up for yourself and your opinions.

Career guidance helped me to better market myself on paper and in person.

Thinking of applying to study at SMU? Let me tell you why it was my choice and why I’d recommend the experience to you – if you’re up to the challenge.

For a start, you get to study on a city campus, right in the middle of where it all happens. Then there’s the seminar-style interactive pedagogy with small class sizes: no long droning lectures every day at SMU! It’s a practical, rather than theory-based, holistic education -- with community service, overseas internships and exchanges and a wide range of Co-Curricular Activities. All that and a very flexible curriculum, with multi-disciplinary options for second majors and double degrees.

As part of my Social Science degree, I took up a double major in Marketing. I had a good interest in social issues, hence I took Social Science. I don’t think anywhere else would have given me the flexibility of taking such an unconventional combination. It led me to understand my keen interest in business principles and desire to make a positive impact on society. It also gave me a wider choice of career options. Without taking a second major, I would probably not even have thought of applying to, nor possessed the credentials for jobs with a business focus.

For me, maintaining balance at SMU was important - both working hard and playing hard. I found my Co-Curricular Activities really enriching. I joined the Social Science Society, became a peer helper, led a University YMCA overseas community service expedition to Shanghai, went trekking and even climbed Mount Kinabalu with SMUX, the extreme sports club. I liked the combination of outdoor pursuits, exploring and helping others to be happy.

The rigorous coursework at SMU gave me drive which helped me adjust better to the workplace demands I face today. SMU’s interactive pedagogy taught me to think independently and on my feet - you really have to participate in class, speak out and stand up for yourself and your opinions. Career guidance helped me to better market myself on paper and in person. Plus the industry exposure helped me become more active and effective in learning about working life and finding jobs. My student exchange experience, too, in Vienna, gave me a whole new perspective in life, helped me to rethink what kind of life I really wanted to live and reinforced my belief in myself.

S. Sri Saravanan

Global Senior Purchasing Manager & Strategy Owner (Fluid Dispensing Systems),
Leading FMCG Organisation
Double Degree in Economics & Business Management
  • Student Experience
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Talents all over the world are coming here. Why should I go somewhere else?

Once you step into the working world, it's about being able to talk to people.

Although I was really good at my studies, I was not an outgoing person. SMU had brought out my latent personality.

The School of Economics is really diverse, and the opportunities to work with faculty helped me understand how people from different walks of life think about different things. It's really important because communication is all about what people perceive and not about what you think.

Be open to life and let life take you to where you are destined to be.

Sim Chin Ta

Senior Associate,
PwC LLP
Double Degree in Accountancy and Business Management
  • Student Experience
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The knowledge I gained from the different business disciplines of SMU (e.g. Law, Accounting, Finance, Operations) allowed me the versatility to work in two different departments within PwC and excel as an accounting professional.

Meet Chin Ta, a senior associate with PwC. Graduating in 2010 with a Double Degree in Accountancy and Business, Chin Ta is a true double threat, juggling enviable academic accomplishments with the flare and style that comes with years of salsa dancing.

Looking back at where it all started, Chin Ta is quick to recount the "Being Different" campaign as the reason why he chose to take up SMU’s offer. "I was impressed by SMU’s emphasis on extra-curricular activities and soft skills as part of one’s personal development in University. That was important to me; having a school that recognises not only the academic aspect of a tertiary education but also having a holistic education," he says.

Chin Ta credits the versatility of education in SMU for affording to him a wealth of career options. Having a Double Degree enabled him to apply for jobs in either discipline. In addition, after starting his first job as a Transaction Advisory (M&A) associate in PwC, he cites the knowledge and training from each discipline as enabling him to work in two different departments (one focusing on accounting and the other focusing on business strategy) during his first year in PwC. "The knowledge I gained from the different business disciplines of SMU (e.g. Law, Accounting, Finance, Operations) allowed me the versatility to work in two different departments within PwC and excel as an accounting professional." he says.

Over the course of his education, Chin Ta was also actively involved in various Co-Curricular Activities. He alludes to his involvement as a dancer and choreographer with SMU’s salsa dancing club, Caderas Latinas, as being responsible for his transformation, blossoming from a shy and introverted person, into the confident, stylish young man we see today. In addition to being a great form of exercise, dancing allowed Chin Ta an outlet for his creative energies, and became a platform of friendship and bonding for his team. Three years after graduation, Chin Ta is true to his passion and remains connected to the club, by teaching, choreographing, and dancing for the club on a weekly basis.

As an artistic director for SMU Arts Festival 2013, Una Noche En Havana, Chin Ta feels privileged and rewarded by the many leadership opportunities available in SMU. To his juniors, he says, "Study hard, but don’t forget to play hard as well. Take the opportunity to be a leader during your four years in school because it is going to help you in your career later on.

Gan Xiu Ling

Senior Investment Analyst,
Business Investments, Neptune Orient Lines Ltd
Bachelor of Science (Economics)
  • Student Experience
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We embarked on Project Yun as our community service project - the three-week stay in the mountains during winter was life-changing, not only because we tried to do our part to better the lives of people living in less developed areas, but also because we learnt many life lessons from the villagers.

During my time at SMU, I was the President of the SMU Business Committee (Bizcom) from 2004 to 2005 and before that I was leading the sponsorship arm within Bizcom. Time spent in Bizcom was great fun but also a lot of hard work as we were constantly organising fund-raising activities throughout the year, such as the annual Freshman Bash, bazaars and industry talks. The experience was like running a small business venture as we built up the Bizcom identity, ensured the continuous success of commercial events and eventually gave back to the student community. Helming Bizcom was definitely an enriching journey and I was fortunate to have a great team with me.

The other two overseas programmes I participated in were the Youth Expedition Project in one of the mountainous villages in Yunnan (Project Yun) and an overseas exchange during fall to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Project Yun was yet another life changing experience for me where different people from various schools within SMU came together, organised the trip, collected donations locally and made a difference to the lives of the villagers. We established a computer lab and library within the community centre, taught English and had a night of cultural exchange with the primary school kids and teachers. The villagers were really appreciative of our efforts, welcomed us and thanked us every time they saw us on the streets. On another learning front, we also had to cope with living conditions markedly different from Singapore, such as sleeping on the floor among haystacks with cotton blankets in sub-zero temperatures at night, using public shower facilities with limited hot water, and having limited access to mains electricity. Our three-week stay in the mountains during winter was life changing, not only because we tried to do our part to better the lives of people living in less developed areas, but also because we learnt many life lessons through the villagers' indomitable spirit to live in what appeared to us as an adverse natural environment, their ability to appreciate nature, and their hunger to learn and grab every opportunity presented to them. I learnt that happiness is never out of reach and can be very simple.

However, the most memorable part of my studies at SMU for me was my overseas exchange programme. When my friends and I shared our overseas exchange experiences afterwards, all of us were still hyped up and excited to recall the crazy things that we had done during those 5‒6 months in a foreign land. To many, Hong Kong was a nearby and familiar destination. However, living there as an exchange student certainly changed my perspective radically. It was a place where exchange students of many other nationalities congregated and I had the perfect opportunity to understand their cultures through dormitory stays, weekend getaways and literally spending most of our waking hours doing fun activities together. At the end of the day, the greatest takeaway was the strong cross-cultural friendships forged. To-date, I am still in contact with many of them and have made trips to their hometowns in the past few years.

If you get the chance to join SMU, embrace all the ups and downs you face on your SMU journey and take the opportunity to push your boundaries in every aspect, be it academically, physically or socially. This is your time to discover your potential during one of the most glorious times of your life.

Jenn Lim

Management Consultant,
Deloitte Consulting
Double Degree in Business Management and Economics
  • Student Experience
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We taught English to a group of Cambodian kids, their passion for learning was very very strong, it was a very humbling experience. It really ignited a passion in me to keep giving to society.

An SMU scholarship really pushes you to limits where you would never have reached, so I am truly thankful for this opportunity.

My journey in table tennis started when I was in primary school. When I came into SMU, I continued participating in the competitions representing SMU in the inter-varsity games.

I feel really privileged to be a Lee Kong Chian Scholar. It put me in a lot of positions of influence where I would not have been if not for the scholarship. I was part of internship programmes that were exclusive to the scholars.

I did an exchange in Montreal, Canada. It was a time of independence. We got to work with people from across the world. I went to Cambodia and we taught English to a group of Cambodian kids. Their passion for learning was very strong; it was a most humbling experience. It really ignited a passion in me to keep giving back to society.

The Lee Kong Chian Scholars' Programme really pushes you to limits where you would never have reached, so I am truly thankful for this opportunity.

Belinda Teo
Senior Auditor,
Ernst & Young
Charlie Yast
Founder and owner,
Unicros Trading
Rachel Yang
Senior Associate (Corporate Tax),
KPMG
Janice Wu
Producer,
Business News, Channel NewsAsia
Nathanael Lim
Justices’ Law Clerk,
Supreme Court

Belinda Teo

Senior Auditor,
Ernst & Young
Bachelor of Accountancy
  • Student Experience
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My superiors recognised these skill sets in me that have contributed to the team. I have constantly delivered presentations to the clients and partners of my company with confidence, and this is definitely a result of the interactive pedagogy I experienced at SMU.

I chose SMU above other accounting schools for three main reasons: I liked the idea of smaller seminar-style teaching, the student population struck me as outgoing, artistic, and fun-loving, which suited my personality; and, of course, the city campus was extremely convenient for me! I went for a degree in Accountancy because of my love for mathematics – although admittedly, the correlation is poor on hindsight – and because it made sense to choose a degree I could make a career out of. I also took a second major in Corporate Communications, and although I did not eventually get into the industry, the communications and soft skills I learned give me an edge in my current vocation.

I also chose to be the Vice President of SoundFoundry, as the society gave me the opportunity to pursue my passion for music as well as perform for the public and various school occasions. I was also given the opportunity to manage a band and led the society in its plans for a year. I made several like-minded friends in the process, too, making my experience in these special programmes invaluable. On top of that, this also led to an opportunity to perform at the Esplanade Concourse – something which I might never have been able to do if not for the support the school gave to my society and me.

And on the other side of my school experience, SMU gave me several overseas exposure opportunities, all incredibly memorable. The New York Business Study Mission was especially eye-opening for me as I had the opportunity to visit several corporations of the creative industry on the east coast, from the media giants like HBO and Ogilvy to an art gallery in Soho – and even the inaugural Julliard School!

In my time at SMU I developed a sense of confidence – the teaching style, activities, and the unique opportunities have all equipped me with the right skills to step out into the society. My superiors have also acknowledged the distinct characteristics of SMU students: those who have constantly lived the school’s marketing motto of "my time – let’s make a difference", those with outstanding presentation and communication skills.

All this is a collation of feedback received from my superiors and peers at my workplace. My superiors have recognised skill sets in me that have contributed to the team. I have constantly delivered presentations to the clients and partners of my company with confidence, and this is definitely a result of the interactive pedagogy I experienced at SMU. SMU has also inspired many others to develop an entrepreneurial spirit, and I, too, hope to begin something that I can call my own someday.

If you’re just about to begin your first year at SMU: embrace and live up to the multi-faceted education that SMU will be giving to you! Don’t be overly driven by the thirst for good grades, because society and the corporate jungle demand and value so much more than that. Begin to recognise what your values are, and be sure to stick with them (this is very important because it’s very easy to waver in the face of societal and peer pressures). SMU breeds trend-setters, not trend-followers. Hold on to that spirit.

Charlie Yast

Founder and owner,
Unicros Trading
Bachelor of Science (Information Systems Management)
  • Student Experience
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I believe that getting fully involved in CCAs and community involvements are equally important as getting good grades. It is through these experiences where you enjoy the real SMU experience, and these experiences are also what will define you and set you apart in life later on.

Why SMU?

I’ve always wanted to do a "Business-IT" program as I was always inclined towards technology and I felt that doing Business with IT was the way to go. SMU’s School of Information Systems was undoubtedly the best place to pursue my aspiration as it allowed me to take many Business modules on top of the compulsory Information Systems modules.

The combination certainly helped in my first job at HP where I played various IT Management roles. I got to handle many different projects and progressed faster because I could appreciate the technology and the business aspect of the job better than my colleagues.

Any unforgettable moments during your SMU days?

I met my wife while playing frisbee at the Bukit Timah Campus Upper Quadrangle!

Other notable highlights were my participation in a community service mission to East Timor in 2004, and my exchange programme in Chicago, US in 2007. I enjoyed learning about the different cultures and they were experiences that I will remember for life.

I believe that getting fully involved in CCAs and community involvements are equally important as getting good grades. It is through these experiences where you enjoy the real SMU experience, and these experiences are also what will define you and set you apart in life later on.

Rachel Yang

Senior Associate (Corporate Tax),
KPMG
Bachelor of Social Science
  • Student Experience
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... SMU’s multi-disciplinary approach allowed me to match my interest in Social Science with subjects which built on my strength in numeracy.

SMU is a place where you can learn what you really want to learn without having any boundaries or restrictions.

Rachel, you have a Social Science degree but you’re working in an accountancy firm. That’s pretty unusual.
I probably took the weirdest subject combination of all SMU students and then, yes, I entered into a corporate field totally unrelated to my university education. I graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science, majoring in Political Science and Finance, and now work at an accountancy firm doing corporate tax advisory with the international corporate tax unit.

Have you always followed "the path less travelled"?
Ha ha, I guess so. I took up my degree because it’s different from what I did at JC (I did double maths and econs). My strength is more numbers-related, while my interest lies in history, political science and the arts. In JC, they don’t usually give you flexibility to explore options; whereas SMU’s multi-disciplinary approach allowed me to match my interest in Social Science with subjects which built on my strength in numeracy. SMU is a place where you can learn what you really want to learn without having any boundaries or restrictions.

But did this multi-disciplinary approach actually prepare you for your job?
Oh yes. Corporate taxation is not just about numbers. There’s a lot of writing, structuring, research and interpretation of the law required on the job as well. And that's where both majors come in handy. My background in finance helped in the number crunching and analysis, and taking the CAT module (compulsory module offered by SIS) was one of the most beneficial modules ever. On the other hand, my political science training has really helped me in using research tools, and more importantly, structuring my reports and writing concisely. Multi-disciplinary learning and interactive pedagogy are the best preparation for the world of work.

Interactive pedagogy? Isn’t that quite scary when you’re a student?
I really appreciate the fact that we had seminar-style lectures, limited class size and class participation. Honestly, it is quite intimidating. But it is probably the best opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and start experimenting with debates and improving on your communication skills and thought process. Especially in social sciences classes, where the class sizes are much smaller than those in the other faculties, you really learn in class when your friends speak out and you’re posted questions from the professors. It really puts you on the spot and forces you to think critically and respond smartly -- and of course it makes you to pay attention in class!

But it’s not all classroom learning at SMU, right?
Yes, right, there are plenty of opportunities to travel and do internships. The most memorable of these for me was my Business Study Mission to Israel. What made it fun was the unconventional method of learning, and Prof Tan Wee Liang is honestly, one of the best BSM profs ever. The variety of companies we managed to visit while in Israel were just so amazing – a food products manufacturer, the famous Israeli aerospace industries, a drip irrigation company, a telecommunications company, and many more. But of course, nothing can beat the camaraderie between the entire class forged during the trip.Three years on, and we still have meet-ups with Prof and his wife. How memorable was that trip? Very.

What would you say to someone who's about to begin his or her first year at SMU?
Four years in SMU ain’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. Pace yourself well, enjoy the run and you’ll see the finish line ahead. But if I could summarise it: spend less time in the library, participate in student life and go for a Prof Tan Wee Liang Business Study Mission ... to wherever!

Janice Wu

Producer,
Business News, Channel NewsAsia
Bachelor of Business Management
  • Student Experience
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I guess I’ve always wanted to be different – and SMU is, as they say, "A Different U".

It appealed to me because of the interactive approach to how lessons were conducted. The whole system of learning at SMU is different.

You’re working in the media now. Isn’t it unusual to take a Business degree and go into a creative career?
I guess I’ve always wanted to be different – and SMU is, as they say, "a different U". It appealed to me because of the interactive approach to how lessons were conducted. Having endured the lecture-tutorial system for two years in my junior college, I wasn’t looking forward to repeating the same experience at university. The whole system of learning at SMU is different.

So you’re a free spirit. Didn’t you find studying at SMU required incredible discipline?
Some of the more unforgettable moments of my undergraduate years were staying overnight on campus to rush for projects and cramming for exams. Because of the fun that we had after class, schoolwork was placed on the backburner – until the very last minute! Thankfully, better foresight and maturity have figured with age!
Seriously, you do have to study hard. Graduating with a stellar GPA has become a non-negotiable, but undergraduates should learn to balance work and play – a skill that will come in useful when they go out to work. But for me the best and most experiences were found outside the classroom; during my exchange in Korea, for example.

Tell me about your exchange programme and why you chose Korea.
I went to Pusan National University, South Korea, in 2003 – way before the Korean Hallyu craze hit our local shores.
South Korea appealed to me because of the ongoing North-South tension on the Korean Peninsula. Since I was unable to visit North Korea, but "burdened" with a budding interest in international affairs, living in South Korea seemed like the next best option. The idea of learning a new language was also exciting to me.

It sounds like good experience for your career in Channel NewsAsia. Is what you studied at all relevant to what you do at CNA?
Well I took a Business Management degree with a major in Marketing. I chose Business Management as I felt it afforded the most versatility for my then-undecided career path. I picked Marketing as my major as I enjoy good copywriting and watching great advertisements! The kind of thinking that developed is directly relevant to working on news programmes at Channel NewsAsia. Also, going back to the SMU approach to learning, especially the interactive pedagogy. I've found that some of the more valuable transferable skills from university to working life are great communication skills and the ability to work with people from all walks of life.That really helps me doing research, communicating with newsmakers and getting along with my colleagues.

Nathanael Lim

Justices’ Law Clerk,
Supreme Court
Double Degree in Law and Business Management
  • Student Experience
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I chose to major in Finance for my second degree in Business Management because I love economics and markets and business in general.

It definitely gave me an advantage in terms of keeping me relevant to the business world.

When I was choosing a university, I wanted to do a double degree (in Business) because I was always interested in business, and I wanted to keep my career options open. I considered all my options, but enrolling in the SMU Lee Kong Chian Scholars' Programme, which required me to do a double degree, decided it for me. The Lee Kong Chian Scholars' Programme had amazing privileges, and I was very thankful for the offer, so I came to SMU. The other reason was that I would be in the pioneer batch of Law students, and I wanted to be involved in something new. It would be cool to be the only kids on the block as well, and being the first kids means you are always the senior batch

I chose to major in Finance because I love economics and business in general. It definitely gave me an advantage in terms of keeping me relevant to the business world. Specific to my Law degree, I could understand balance sheets, accounting terms, and business practices a bit more as well, so it does help me understand my law cases better as well.

My biggest takeaway from the SMU experience is what I've learnt from working with people, which is to be understanding and humble, as not everyone thinks, feels or works like you.

If you choose to study at SMU, take charge of your university life. SMU does have its competitive side, but there are so many positive experiences waiting to happen. Invest in people and relationships, invest in yourself, and learn that the saying is true – the more you put in, the more you get out.

I made decisions in SMU which have changed the course of my life.

Soh Siao Tin
Senior Analyst,
(Located in Beijing, China)
Andrea Loke
Assistant Vice President,
BNP Paribas
Gerald Tan Ziping
Manager, (Employment Facilitation Division),
Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA)
Duke Lim Zhi Rong
Regional HR Business Partner, Asia Pacific,
Mondelez International (formally known as Kraft Foods Global)
Michelle Khoo
Associate,
Goldman Sachs

Soh Siao Tin

Senior Analyst,
(Located in Beijing, China)
Bachelor of Science (Economics)
  • Student Experience
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I was impressed by SMU’s strong ties with the public and private sector, which let students engage in practical industry assignments and internships.

Together with the strong graduate employment record, it really seemed the smart choice for better career prospects.

You have been based in Beijing and Shenzhen before — was the opportunity for global exposure the reason you went to SMU to study?
Not really, I only realised the value of those opportunities later. What attracted me first was the seminar-style teaching and small class sizes – which allow greater peer-to-peer and student-faculty interaction. That appealed much more than sitting in long lectures. I was also impressed by SMU’s strong ties with public and private sector organisations, which enable students to engage in practical industry assignments and internships. Together with SMU’s career services support, it really seemed the smart choice for better career prospects.

When did you get the urge to live and work overseas?
I served two overseas internships in China – one in Beijing and one in Shanghai -- perhaps these gave me the travel bug. But the most amazing experience was my student exchange in Mexico: that really made me start to think about how exciting it would be to work overseas.

All siestas and fiestas?
Ha ha, not just that. It was a great opportunity to be exposed to a totally different culture – I mean totally different – and to people with a very different perspective on life. I loved it so much I even took up learning Spanish. Plus this was an opportunity to do some truly global networking.
tec exchange

Now you have an international career. Is what you studied helpful in your job?
Yes, it really is. I studied Economics and as a discipline it is highly versatile and applicable across different fields, including business, finance, public administration and even normal daily life. I gained an understanding of the concepts of micro and macro economics, built skill sets and learned to apply techniques that can solve practical business problems, and laid the foundations to deal with more complex issues at work.

Above all, it made me seek out experiences where I’ll be taken out of my comfort zone and intellectually challenged, and gave me a passion for learning that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Andrea Loke

Assistant Vice President,
BNP Paribas
Bachelor of Business Management
  • Student Experience
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I underwent an overseas exchange programme at the University of Manchester and completed 60 hours of community involvement in the UK. This unique opportunity opened my eyes and I now view the world with more compassion.

I was attracted to SMU due to its vibrancy and my experience proved that I made the right choice. The tagline "Dare to be Different" connoted a sense of uniqueness and it made me want to be part of it. This spurred me to pursue my interests.

Career guidance helped me to better market myself on paper and in person.

I'm a huge fan of musicals so I was part of the cast of the Stageit musical, "Anything Goes". Subsequently, I joined Stageit's Executive Committee and took on the roles of Front-of-House manager and external publicity manager for the play, "The Sword has Two Edges". In addition, I participated in other memorable initiatives like SMUve, which was SMU’s move to the new campus, Patron’s Day and a couple of live performances under the CCA Soundfoundry. Besides having fun, I thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie and friendships built along the journey.

I underwent an international exchange programme at the University of Manchester, where I completed a module called Leadership in Action. Within this module, I completed 60 hours of community involvement. As the UK is known to be a well-developed country, I never knew that there was so much time and effort involved in tackling some of the challenging issues that the country faces. I volunteered in various community initiatives that improved the environment and helped the homeless. The unique opportunity presented by this joint community service exchange programme has opened my eyes—I now view the world with more compassion, and have developed a heart for people.

I have four pieces of advice for all SMU students. Firstly, participate in the boundless opportunities that SMU provides. Secondly, gain global exposure through the many business study missions and international exchange programmes. Thirdly, strive for leadership positions and broaden your skillsets through case competitions. Lastly, be humble and always eager to learn from your professors and peers.

Gerald Tan Ziping

Manager, (Employment Facilitation Division),
Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA)
Bachelor of Science (Information Systems Management)
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Back then SMU was only two or three years old but it had already amassed a good reputation for being different.

The seminar-style lessons and numerous presentations also built up my confidence in seeking clarifications, raising issues and presenting solutions to audiences in any platform.

What made you decide to take up the Information Systems Management course at SMU?
I first heard about the unique pedagogy in SMU from my Polytechnic lecturer. Back then SMU was only two or three years old but it had already amassed a good reputation for being different. After hearing from a close friend who had joined SMU before me about the way lessons were conducted, the interactive seminar style learning and real-life projects, it became clear that to me that SMU was a different kind of institution and thus became my choice. SMU emphasises a lot on active student life; there is so much we can learn from our student life, beyond our textbooks. In fact, the first thing I did after matriculating was to check out the various interest and sports clubs. There were many interesting choices and luckily, there was no limit to the number of student bodies or interest groups that one could join

Was there something particularly extraordinary or unforgettable you did or achieved during your time at SMU?
I chose the Information Systems Management (ISM) course as it was a logical progression for me. The ISM curriculum complemented my Diploma in Business IT from polytechnic. In today’s business world, where IT is an enabler of innovation and an integral part of business operations, knowledge of how IT can enable organisations to succeed is critical. I also took a second major in Management. The second major allowed me to delve deeper into business and management which I felt could benefit me, especially if I wanted to start up my own business.

What would you say to someone who’s about to begin his or her first year at SMU?
Congratulations! You made a good choice, one which will give you many opportunities to learn, excel and shine. No two persons’ journey in SMU is the same - your SMU experience is what you make of it. Speak up and study hard, but play even harder! You will definitely remember and learn to cherish your SMU experience.

What would you say you have gained from your years at SMU?
Practical skills, friendships and experiences. Every module, every lesson is relevant in SMU, especially the general electives. As a student, though the core modules make up the basic skills and knowledge you need, the general electives and cross-faculty courses are the ones I remember most deeply. Those were the courses which were very interesting and also made me more adaptable towards learning new things, which is a trait much needed in today’s working world.

Duke Lim Zhi Rong

Regional HR Business Partner, Asia Pacific,
Mondelez International (formally known as Kraft Foods Global)
Bachelor in Business Management
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One of the main reasons why I chose SMU was for its innovative interdisciplinary learning, which allowed me to pursue my interests through a mix of business, art and science modules. It empowered me to do what I like, and gave me the knowledge and experience to lead and make a difference.

One of the main reasons why I chose the Singapore Management University was because of its innovative interdisciplinary learning, which allowed me to pursue my interests through a mix of business, art and science modules. It empowered me to do what I like, and gave me the knowledge and experience to lead and make a difference.

SMU was also one of the pioneers to offer a unique learning experience via seminar-style teaching. This participative style trained me to think on my feet and I learned how to share my opinions with tact and professionalism.

It also helped that my parents were fully supportive and firmly believed that SMU was the university of choice!

I majored in Corporate Communications and Organisation Behaviour & Human Resources, and the double-major options opened up multiple career paths for me when I graduated.

But believe it or not, I failed English at the "O" levels on my first attempt! I had a D7. But I retook English as a private candidate the following year and scored a B3.

I believe in never giving up and seizing opportunities. After I scored a B3, I was offered admission from both NTU and SMU. Ever since I embarked on a journey with SMU, I’ve never looked back.

Michelle Khoo

Associate,
Goldman Sachs
Double Degree in Accountancy and Business Management
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Many employers specifically look out for candidates with an international perspective.

The international component of my SMU education definitely played a part in helping me hold my own against top students from renowned universities around the world.

The world is your classroom
Before entering SMU, I would never have imagined I would be working amongst top finance professionals in the world’s most vibrant financial hub – Hong Kong, much less spend 3 years there. This all started because of SMU’s emphasis on international exposure and experience. The opportunities to live abroad through an exchange programme, familiarise myself with China’s business culture through a Business Study Mission, and gain work experience through an overseas internship were invaluable in laying the foundations for my future career. Looking back, I’m grateful for these opportunities because in a globalised world, we are competing not just against the best in Singapore, but the best in the world.

SMU’s "Can Do" Culture
Thanks to the "can do" spirit of everyone in SMU – from the students to the professors to the administrative staff – I developed the confidence that anything is achievable as long as you set your mind to it. I think the culture of the university and its students make a world of difference. Most universities can probably offer similar "hardware", but it’s really the people around you that will inspire you to go beyond the ordinary. And at SMU, I was constantly surrounded by inspiring characters who dared to take a different path, whether it is working in places from Dubai to Johannesburg, or travelling to remote destinations, or serving underprivileged communities at home or abroad.

Ou Chunhua
Vice President,
J.P. Morgan
Wu Jiahui
Assistant Vice President,
Barclays
Jane Gan
Senior Manager, Strategy & Policy, Innovation & Start-ups Group ,
SPRING Singapore
Timothy John
Associate, Investment Banking,
J.P. Morgan
Benjamin Boh
Regional Director (Strategy & insights),
MacDonald’s Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa

Ou Chunhua

Vice President,
J.P. Morgan
Bachelor of Business Management
  • Student Experience
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Spending a semester at the University of Pennsylvania was the most memorable experience in terms of personal growth. Making new friends from different backgrounds gave me a broader perspective on things, and teaching them about where I was from made me much more self aware and confident.

What made you choose to study at SMU?
I looked around and SMU had a different approach to teaching and learning from what was available at other universities in Singapore then. I felt that the interactive approach and small class size would engage me more and make learning more effective and more interesting.

So what did you study and why?
I studied for a Bachelor of Business Management degree with a double major in Finance and Economics. I was interested in both subjects so this gave me the opportunity to learn in both fields. Looking back however, it was not the content of the courses that I valued most, but learning the ability to switch between topics as well as time management in juggling both courses. At SMU I developed an inquisitive mind, a willingness to ask questions and discuss different possibilities, and learned not to accept the status quo without understanding why.

Sounds serious! For you, was SMU all work and no play?
Ha ha, no! Being part of the swimming team and working on a student magazine gave me the opportunity to get to know my multi-talented and fun schoolmates better outside the classroom. Swimming has been a long-time hobby, which also runs in my family, and so it felt natural for me to be involved in the team. My involvement in Blurt! was different in that it was a new activity, but allowed me to give a voice to topics that were important or were relevant to the school population.

Did SMU broaden your horizons in other ways?
Yes, in many ways. I would not be the person that I am without my experiences at SMU. Spending a semester at the University of Pennsylvania was the most memorable experience in terms of personal growth. I learnt to be more independent living on my own in a different country. Making new friends from different backgrounds gave me a broader perspectiv

Wu Jiahui

Assistant Vice President,
Barclays
Double Degree in Accountancy and Business Management
  • Student Experience
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The vibrant student life at SMU was what really attracted me to the university, which made campus life fun.

There is also the seminar-style teaching in small classes which I found appealing as I am not one who enjoys classes in huge lecture theatres!

Why did you choose SMU? What is it about SMU that appeals to you?
The vibrant student life at SMU was what really attracted me to the university, which made campus life fun. There is also the seminar-style teaching in small classes which I found appealing as I am not one who enjoys classes in huge lecture theatres!

Why did you choose to take up a double degree? Did this give you an advantage, or did you feel like you gained from such a combination of disciplines?
I chose to take up a double degree upon admission into SMU primarily because I wasn’t too sure at that point of time which careers I wanted to pursue. The double degree served as a ‘safety net’ for me in a way, so that I could explore other majors within the Business degree beyond the Accountancy modules. And I think it worked out well because the two degrees complemented each other and I was able to expand the breadth of knowledge in Accounting & Finance.

What CCAs and special programmes were you involved in at SMU? What did you enjoy about them?
During my time in school, I was active in various CCAs and student-led initiatives. I was involved in Samba Masala (a Samba-percussion group), the Gourmet Club and I also volunteered to help out at school events like Convocation, Asoc, and Graduates’ Night. What I really enjoyed about these is getting to interact and work with people outside of classes, and the friendships we forged.

Was there anything extraordinary or unforgettable you did or achieved during your time at SMU?
The most memorable time during my university life is probably my student exchange trip to Mannheim in Germany. The experience was about living and studying in another country independently, and meeting other local & exchange students there. Not to forget the joy of travelling around Europe with friends!

Have what you learnt or experienced at SMU helped you in your current work? And has there been any impact on other aspects of your life?
Definitely, the project work & presentations which we had to do during our school days were beneficial to me now that I’m working. I really appreciated all that SMU has done for me, in terms of learning and the vibrant student life and also the support provided through scholarships. So I am also trying to give back to SMU now that I’ve graduated by volunteering with the SMU Alumni Association (SMUAA) and doing my part as an SMU alumna.

Jane Gan

Senior Manager, Strategy & Policy, Innovation & Start-ups Group ,
SPRING Singapore
Double Degree in Economics and Social Science
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I would advise new SMU students to be open, be present and be grateful for the experience and journey you are able to embark on. You might not know what you want to do with your life at this point but the SMU experience will provide many learning opportunities to help you discover yourself along the way.

SMU was set up just a few years at that time, and offered its inaugural Economics course in the year that I was to enter university. The prospect of a new institution, unencumbered by precedence and with the vision to be "different" attracted me. The pedagogy of developing a business foundation while taking a major in Economics appealed to me. Even till today, I appreciate the breadth of knowledge this has provided me, and how it has enabled me to have a well-rounded understanding of the commercial world.

SMU encouraged students to participate in overseas community service (Youth Expedition Projects or YEP in short) and overseas exchange programmes. The experience and worldview that you gain are things that cannot be taught in the classroom. These fond memories are those you take with you for life. I took part in a YEP to Chiang Mai to build a hydroponics farm and do refurbishments at a school for the intellectually challenged and autistic children. The pre-trip preparations and fund raising gave us a sense of ownership and meaning for what we were about to embark on, and not merely to fulfil a requirement.

Choosing to do an overseas exchange in Sweden was an entirely different experience altogether. This added another dimension to my SMU journey. It wasn’t only an opportunity for international exposure, it was also a chance to learn independence, cultural tolerance and appreciation of your home country.

I would advise new SMU students to be open, be present and be grateful for the experience and journey you are able to embark on. You might not know what you want to do with your life at this point but the SMU experience will provide many learning opportunities to help you discover yourself along the way. Take chances that make you feel uncomfortable and you will learn and grow.

Timothy John

Associate, Investment Banking,
J.P. Morgan
Bachelor of Business Management
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Business Study Missions (BSM) is a very interesting concept. One of the trips was to New York, where we got to meet CEOs and Directors of huge companies.

It's something which gives you a different perspective and opens up your mind to things that you wouldn't even have comprehended or thought about.

I was playing for the Singapore national water polo team. There were five of us and we were all in SMU at the same time. SMU was very supportive of us.

All the employers on the street only have good things to say about the business school. Business Study Missions (BSM) is a very interesting concept. One of the trips was to New York, where we got to meet CEOs and Directors of huge companies.

It's something which gives you a different perspective and opens up your mind to things that you wouldn't even have comprehended or thought about.

Benjamin Boh

Regional Director (Strategy & insights),
MacDonald’s Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa
Bachelor of Science (Information Systems Management)
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I chose SMU because I believed in an all-rounded education, which doesn’t just encompass lectures and exams. I wanted a university education that involves project work, learning from others, working in teams and having candid discussions in class.

When I was in SMU…

I was in the rugby and running teams and I was in the committee for the School of Information Systems. I was also a singer in one of the bands in Sound Foundry. I loved being actively involved in school and I think it’s important that all students do the same to have the all-rounded university experience.

I would say that what you take out of SMU is what you make out of it. Some people go to SMU and expect the university to give them a holistic education (classes should be fun, internships should be aplenty, events should happen every week). My opinion is that SMU provides the platform for you to build your education and your university experiences, so leverage on that platform to make a difference.

A day in SMU is exciting. There are classes in the morning, project meetings in the afternoon, coffee breaks with friends, talks, trainings or band practices in the evening, performances for Convocation to rehearse for… see what I mean?

Why SMU?

I believe in an all-rounded education, which doesn’t just encompass lectures and exams. I wanted a university education that involves project work, learning from others, working in teams, having candid discussions in class, and so on. That is the education style that I felt would help me grow and survive in the corporate world. And that is why I chose SMU.

I took Information Systems and Marketing (two majors). While some might see them as two separate worlds, I see them as synergistic. In a company like McDonald’s, IT and Marketing work hand in hand because IT enables the transactions while Marketing drives the transactions. I think I’ve benefited greatly from taking two majors.

Shirley Leow
Business Analyst,
SingTel
Chanderni Devi, Polo
Account Director,
Ogilvy & Mather Singapore
Peng Li
Assistant Director,
Ministry of Social and Family Development
Tay Yu Xi
Practice Trainee,
Allen & Gledhill LLP
Goh Di Kun
Associate Director (Group Projects & Consulting),
Singapore Telecommunications

Shirley Leow

Business Analyst,
SingTel
Bachelor of Science (Information Systems Management)
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Students are provided with a "training ground for the real world", when given opportunities to work with established organisations.

My education in SMU has certainly trained me to be a critical thinker, and I have learned how to learn and to continue learning.

I chose to study at SMU because of its young and vibrant culture, as well the curriculum’s focus on real-life business applications of IT.

I pursued a degree in Information Systems Management because this degree allows me to be proficient in both business and technology domains. I like to solve problems and be at the forefront of changes, and technology is one of the main solutions to many business problems, as it is often utilised to augment business processes and drive business improvements. Plus, I was confident that the programme had the right blend of business and technology, and would equip me with the right tools, knowledge and exposure to provide value to my future employer.

I was later enrolled in a fast-track master’s programme (sponsored by IDA scholarship) which provided me with an overseas master’s education in information systems. In my two years in the USA, I was exposed to many interesting subjects like ‘Acting in Management’, where I learnt to improve my communication and presentation skills in the corporate world from an accomplished Broadway director, and ‘Consulting in Non-profit Organisations’, that gave me a chance to provide IT consultation services to improve the operations of a non-profit organisation for a semester. With better operations, the organisation was then able to focus more efforts on its activities and campaigns.

Students at SMU are also given many opportunities to work with other organisations in class projects. On one such research project, I worked with OCBC on two-factor authentication, and this project later won a study award. In the 2006 Sino Singapore exchange, we got to host undergraduate students from China, and visit China to share and exchange cultural, educational, and economic insights.

Having graduated with a balanced education in both business and technology, I am versatile when it comes to the type of work I can do. I started out as a business analyst, and worked on system development projects for the first two years of my career.

Then I switched into a more process-oriented role, where I was trained in and practised Lean Six Sigma, a process improvement methodology, via a number of internal process improvement projects. In this aspect, SMU’s mindset, culture, and teaching methods have prepared me to proactively embrace change. As a result, I was able to adopt the role of a change agent who advocates and implement initiatives to improve employee morale and engagement.

Currently, I am part of a team that focuses on operational excellence through the practice of and synergy across process improvements, digital solutions and portfolio management, customer experience and enterprise social network. My education in SMU has certainly trained me to be a critical thinker, as I contribute to operational excellence in all those areas.

Chanderni Devi, Polo

Account Director,
Ogilvy & Mather Singapore
Bachelor of Business Management
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I’ve been told that at Ogilvy, the SMU alumni hired are known to be a unique brand of individuals who are outspoken, opinionated, ambitious, tenacious and passionate in our jobs. Management loves these hallmark traits.

What prompted you to join SMU in its early stages? Did you have any reservations?

I attended a presentation by the first student council president of SMU and was moved by his speech to create something new and different for ourselves, rather than opting for the typical university experiences and degrees you’d find elsewhere. It was refreshing and inspiring, and I felt convinced that if I wanted to make a mark on the world, this was the place for me to start.

My mom was initially apprehensive—SMU had just started a year ago, it wasn’t established, it wasn’t ranked, and my elder sister had graduated from NUS so they felt that was the place to go after college if you wanted a proper career. Somehow, I managed to convince them otherwise. I’ve always been an independent spirit and chose to follow my heart and gut. This has served me well thus far.

Was there something particularly extraordinary or unforgettable you did or achieved during your time at SMU?

I was predominantly involved in setting up and growing the Women’s Soccer Team. From a humble team of 5-8 core committee members, we created Diva-La-Futbol, Singapore’s biggest women 5-a-side soccer tournament that is still going strong today. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved and I look back to those early days with delight.

Does what you’ve learnt or experienced at SMU help you now that you’re working? And has there been any impact on other aspects of your life?

Yes, absolutely. In fact, I’ve been told that at Ogilvy, the SMU alumni hired are known to be a unique brand of individuals who are outspoken,

Peng Li

Assistant Director,
Ministry of Social and Family Development
Bachelor of Social Science
  • Student Experience
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I chose SMU’s Social Science programme for its hands-on approach to learning and because it allowed for a lot of interaction with professors.

There are many opportunities for individualised attention.

SMU gave me the ability to understand issues from the perspectives of many different disciplines, even if I might not be an expert. I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Value often lies more in the ability to ask the right questions and understand the basic tenets of other professionals’ work, even if the details might take time to pick up.

Depth and breadth

I chose SMU for the Social Science programme, which was very hands-on and allowed a lot of interaction with professors. Beyond that, what appealed about SMU as a whole was the freedom to take up any second major or degree with ease and the holistic education that was offered, particularly the vigorous soft skills training - project management, public speaking, career skills, etc. - which are designed into the innovative curriculum.

I took Social Science (Political Science) with Economics as a second major to achieve a balance of both qualitative analysis skills and an understanding of quantitative methods to aid my pursuit of working for an international organisation dealing with development issues, such as the World Bank or United Nations Development Programme, in the future.

The combination of these disciplines exposed me to both the theory and practical tools for policy making which has been invaluable in my current work. And what I found about economics and political science is that you cannot divorce one from the other; the understanding of both, with a dash of behavioural psychology, is essential in sketching out a mental picture of how the world works as a whole.

The big picture

Beyond career, the SMU experience has given me many interesting perspectives and experiences, which has helped me better understand my direction in life and who I am as a person. It has also given me a greater appreciation of Singapore and the unique challenges we face.

Tay Yu Xi

Practice Trainee,
Allen & Gledhill LLP
Double Degree in Law and Business Management
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SMU is also very active in providing career opportunities for the students.

The school maintains very good ties with the commercial sector, so I knew I would be in good hands and landed an internship with Allen & Gledhill LLP, which is a market leader in commercial law.

I read Law and Business Management, with a major in Finance, at SMU because I felt these two degrees were complementary. It is important to understand the context in which the law operates, and I knew that my business degree would help me in my legal career in future. It was hard work but I do not regret taking a second degree. As a trainee at Allen & Gledhill, which is a market leader in commercial law, my knowledge of and training in finance comes in handy every day. I grasp complex financial transactions quickly and, as a result, am able to deliver highly relevant and useful legal research and advice.

Some say that the most important thing you develop at SMU is the confidence to stand up and voice your views; others say it’s a thicker hide! Either way, it’s not marketing hype. After a while, I realised that if I wanted to make the most out of my time at SMU, I had to be constantly engaged in class. That included asking questions when I was unsure about anything, even at the risk of sounding silly. Also, I was encouraged to think on my feet and to critically assess any issue that was raised. This is especially relevant in my work now, where statements and propositions have to be thoroughly questioned and precisely delivered, and where there is no room for error.

The emphasis on commercial law at the SMU School of Law (read together with a Business degree) enabled me to see the law from a specialised angle. My current training builds upon the solid bedrock of legal knowledge and understanding that the school equipped me with.

Of equal importance are people skills. I worked with so many different people during my time at SMU. People come from various backgrounds and have different modes of thinking, so you really have to tailor your communication with them if you want to get your ideas across. This is not really a skill that one can learn in the classroom; it comes only with experience – but SMU provides a great setting for obtaining such experience! This has helped me interact well with the associates and partners that I work with every day in the office, and I am sure it will help me manage my clients in future.

Goh Di Kun

Associate Director (Group Projects & Consulting),
Singapore Telecommunications
Bachelor of Science (Economics)
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SMU fully supports and encourages its students to develop international exposure. My one and a half years spent abroad encapsulate how SMU is about daring to believe and daring to achieve what you want, no matter how intimidating the path may seem at first.

I chose SMU due to its broad-based curriculum and unique teaching style. I was among the earlier batches of economics students enrolled. Many around me were cautious due to SMU’s lack of track record at that time, and advised that I pursue ‘safer’ alternatives. However, I liked how SMU dared to change and challenge the ‘norms’, and how it encouraged its students to do the same.

Initially, I was enrolled in a double degree programme, but along the way I dropped my second degree to pursue a gap year and to take up a job opportunity. This was what I liked about SMU—the flexibility to make changes so that we can adapt and choose the best course of action based on opportunities that come along.

In SMU, I had the opportunity to pursue my interests (beyond academic studies). Together with a group of music enthusiasts, we founded SMU’s string ensemble, Obligato, an avenue for friends to share a love for music. Besides allowing students to pursue their interests in the arts, SMU offered many opportunities for us to participate in social causes. I joined the United Nations Students Association and also had the opportunity to participate in a segment of Peaceboat’s voyage, engaging in socio-political initiatives aboard the NGO’s global cruise. In terms of developing business acumen, the SMU-UOB Entrepreneurship Alliance also gave me an opportunity to learn while consulting a local SME on its expansion plans.

SMU fully supports and encourages its students to develop international exposure. I had the opportunity to complete a gap year, where I spent one and a half years abroad on various internships in China, India and Germany, as well as on an exchange programme at a leading German business school. These experiences encapsulate how SMU is about daring to believe and daring to achieve what you want, no matter how intimidating the path may seem at first.

Harsh Saxena
Senior Consultant,
Carrots Consulting Pte Ltd
Dawn Phung
Senior Consultant,
Corporate Tax Services, Ernst & Young Solutions LLP
Jolyn Chua
Head of Marketing,
Globalroam
Tay Wei Kiat
Co-Founder/CTO,
Oompr! Pte Ltd
Kaushal Dugar
Founder and CEO,
Teabox Inc

Harsh Saxena

Senior Consultant,
Carrots Consulting Pte Ltd
Bachelor of Business Management
  • Student Experience
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SMU’s curriculum was extremely flexible and it allowed me to explore various subjects. It allowed me to experiment, understand what I liked and then excel in them.

SMU presented a different opportunity set compared to NUS or NTU. I joined SMU when it was still very young and the prospect of being part of a university as it built itself was immensely appealing. SMU’s curriculum was extremely flexible and it allowed me to explore various subjects. I started with a Business degree with double majors in Finance and Marketing but graduated in Finance and Operations Management. It allowed me to experiment, understand what I liked and then excel in them. Having double majors helped me increase my avenues for job opportunities as I could target both financial services as well as operation firms.

Having a mother who has a PhD and a father who is a senior armed forces officer, the focus was always on ensuring that I got a top quality education and the foundation to pursue a career that allowed further development. They were extremely pleased to see that SMU offered me the chance to explore various disciplines, pick up extra credits, and be involved in activities.

I was an active member of the SMU Archery club and represented the school in the inter-varsity competitions. I was also a Student Leader and a Senior Facilitator for various leadership activities like the International Freshman Camp and Bukit Timah to City Campus move. I enjoyed the facilitator role as it allowed me to meet more people, interact with junior classes and give back to the school.

The move from the Bukit Timah Campus to the City Campus was an exciting event. I was part of the whole parade that went down Orchard Road and then finally to the new campus. Being part of a batch of students who experienced both the campuses is a rare and extraordinary opportunity.

I learnt many lessons in SMU, and not just academic ones. With the skills that I’ve learnt in SMU, I established Moksh, a Social Enterprise with a group of my SMU friends. We’ve started working with various NGOs in Southeast Asia and delivered projects that create value and sustainable progress in the areas of education and women empowerment. One of the best parts of my SMU journey was finding this group of like-minded friends.

Dawn Phung

Senior Consultant,
Corporate Tax Services, Ernst & Young Solutions LLP
Double Degree in Accountancy and Business Management
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I think SMU pushes you beyond your boundaries, it stretches your limits, and it teaches you that you can be more than what you think you are.

It helps you grow as a person, it makes you confident, it also shows you that there is more to life than just studying and just the books.

SMU offers many opportunities for you to travel overseas. These opportunities include exchange programmes, business study trips and overseas CIP (Community Involvement Programmes). In my case, I went to Philippines and worked with an orphanage there.

I think SMU pushes you beyond your boundaries, it stretches your limits, it teaches you that you can be more than what you think you are. It helps you grow as a person, it makes you confident, it also shows you that there is more to life than just studying and the books.

Jolyn Chua

Head of Marketing,
Globalroam
Bachelor of Science (Economics), Second major in Marketing
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The highlight of my SMU life was my exchange semester in Pusan, Korea, as well as my final semester that was spent with classmates from around the world. Life is a lot more colourful when you embrace opportunities and friendships beyond Singapore’s shores.

I was a host to three German exchange students as part of the SMU Buddy Programme. We visited the local museums and chilled out at the local bars. They were smart, easy-going and adventurous friends whom I still keep in contact with today.

As part of the community service programme, I was also involved in Noah’s Ark, a huge animal shelter in Malaysia. Working with animals is nothing short of a pleasant experience as they are always happy to greet you and have simple wants in life.

The highlight of my SMU life was my exchange semester in Pusan, Korea, as well as my final semester that was spent with classmates from around the world. Life is a lot more colourful when you embrace opportunities and friendships beyond Singapore’s shores.

Make your time spent in SMU count, because at no other point in your life would there be so many opportunities—such as business study missions (BSMs), exchange programmes, internships, countless networking sessions, workshops and more—be presented to you in a single sitting.

And most importantly, do yourself a big favour and go for an exchange.

Tay Wei Kiat

Co-Founder/CTO,
Oompr! Pte Ltd
Bachelor of Science (Information Systems Management)
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SMU has prepared me well for running my own company, Oompr! Pte Ltd.

The SMU pedagogy is one that places heavy emphasis on real-world project works, which helped develop my leadership and management skills.

I chose to study at SMU’s School of Information Systems (SIS) because of its unique yet very relevant pedagogy—one that focuses equally on technical knowledge as well as real-life scenarios and projects. As someone who was shy, I recognised SMU as the best place to work on improving my soft skills, to help me become more vocal and outspoken. I knew that these skills would be useful for my future endeavours and was something that might not be available in other local universities.

My parents had not heard of SMU or SIS before, but once I shared what the course was about and the unique features of SMU, they gave me their full support. My sister was similarly convinced by what SMU has to offer and enrolled in SMU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Business two years later.

SMU has prepared me well for running my own company, Oompr! Pte Ltd. The SMU pedagogy is one that places heavy emphasis on project work, which helped develop my leadership and management skills. At the same time, the various modules offered in SMU are very relevant in the real world. As I run my own company, I draw upon the knowledge and skills I picked up from modules such as Technopreneurship Study Mission, IT and Business Innovation, Digital Media across Asia and Global Software Project Management.

I think my greatest achievement in SMU would be the creation of BookINBookOUT, a used-textbook marketplace for tertiary students. BookINBookOUT helped students gain access to used textbooks that were 10 to 40 per cent cheaper than new ones. Within a year of its launch, more than 10,000 local tertiary students had benefitted from the platform. In 2010, BookINBookOUT was acquired by a local company, which expanded the platform overseas.

Kaushal Dugar

Founder and CEO,
Teabox Inc
Bachelor in Business Management, LKCSB
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I chose SMU [because it] was a brand new university (I joined in 2002, two years after it was founded) and the community was small and tight knit. I was also drawn to its curriculum, which was based on Wharton – a combination of broad-based learning with an opportunity to specialise in a specific area.

Career guidance helped me to better market myself on paper and in person.

I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so business was a very natural thing for me. It was obvious that I would be pursuing a business education and when it came to figuring out which university appealed most, SMU topped the list.

I chose SMU due to a couple of reasons:

It was a brand new university (I joined in 2002, two years after it was founded) and the community was small and tight knit. I was also drawn to its curriculum, which was based on Wharton—a combination of broad-based learning with an opportunity to specialise in a specific area.

I chose the Bachelor in Business Management programme as I knew it would give me a broad idea of business management and principles, and make me a capable leader with a strong generalist skill set. I double majored in Finance and Marketing, which gave me a good foundation in both fields.

My SMU education helped me clinch my first job as a Corporate Finance Analyst at KPMG. I worked there for a year before transitioning to a consulting role—the foundation of which was laid down during my SMU education. Now I have started Teabox, an ecommerce company that is revolutionising the 200-year-old global tea Industry. As the founder and CEO, I have raised huge amount of funding from Accel Partners (a global firm that funded Facebook, Dropbox and Spotify, among other notable Silicon Valley startups).

I hope in 2020, Teabox Inc will be listed on a global stock exchange. That will also mark my 14 years of graduation from SMU!

To all the students who will be joining SMU, my advice to you is not to have fixed ideas—be open to exploring opportunities at SMU. And it might sound ironic, but do not focus a lot on your academic performance—the experiences outside classrooms shape you the most.

Joshua Liaw
Director, Client Coverage, Wholesale Banking,
Standard Chartered Bank
Liaw-Tan Xinhui
Founder and Managing Director,
Little Koala Pte. Ltd.

Joshua Liaw

Director, Client Coverage, Wholesale Banking,
Standard Chartered Bank
Bachelor of Science in Economics
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I found the multi-disciplinary approach and project-based curriculum at SMU attractive. The small classroom size was also appealing as it ensured that one is less able to hide in shadows and therefore, created a participative environment.

My university life was tremendously fulfilling for me. I spent a lot of time in my first year on school and co-curricular activities. I was at Waseda University in Tokyo on a scholarship in my second year and I took the opportunity to indulge in learning and researching about the social history of Southeast Asia and WWII history. In my third year, I was focused on hitting a home-run on my grades and achieved both objectives that I had set for myself at the start of university—a Summa cum Laude award and graduation in three years.

I found the multi-disciplinary approach and project-based curriculum at SMU attractive. The small classroom size was also appealing as it ensured that one is less able to hide in shadows and therefore, created a participative environment.

My parents were supportive of my decision to join SMU, and they have never tried to field me into any particular stream in education. However, my family certainly shaped my attitude towards education, career and most things in life—that is, sheer hard work and sacrifice is necessary to succeed anywhere, irrespective of education or career choices.

To those of you who are going to join SMU, have fun—if you get full scores in every test but do not make lasting friends or have memorable experiences—then you will not be getting the best out of SMU. Also, set goals right before you start your university life (that's when you have the most ambitions and hope), and have a plan on how you want to achieve your goals.

Liaw-Tan Xinhui

Founder and Managing Director,
Little Koala Pte. Ltd.
Bachelor in Business Management
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My experience at SMU was deeply empowering. SMU taught me how to work things out on my own that led me to become a resourceful and confident person. In my new venture, I'm bringing the same pedagogy and belief to the young preschoolers in my childcare centre.

My experience at SMU was deeply empowering. SMU taught me how to work things out on my own, and that in turn, led me to becoming a resourceful and confident person.

In my new venture, I’m bringing the same pedagogy and belief to the young preschoolers in my childcare centre. I’m building a mini-SMU where children are encouraged to try. The same trust that was bestowed on me back in SMU is now given to the children as they explore possibilities in their projects. The authentic hands-on experiences I had are now being planned for them.

When I was in SMU, there were many talks and workshops. During those sessions, we were always encouraged to approach and interact with the presenters. I developed an open mind and an interest in interacting with the people around me. This constant interaction actually led to me meeting my unexpected silent investor!

The finance modules in school also helped my new venture. Now, the need to understand the balance sheet and profit and loss statements are more real than before!

Recently, I met a new undergraduate and my advice to him was to keep an open mind and not be afraid to try. It is definitely true that school is a time when you can fail! Tap on the many resources available and use them to the fullest.