Date: 7 February 2009
Venue: NUSS Kent Rdge Guild House
It isn’t easy getting ahead in the corporate world. However, MBA students at the NUS Business School can now count on an experienced hand to guide them as they prepare to enter the working world again.
This is thanks to the MBA Alumni Membership Program which was launched at the NUSS Kent Ridge Guild House on 7 February. Over tea, 55 students met their mentors at a welcome tea organised by MBA Alumni-NUS, the MBA Club and Global Alumni Network Office. The mentors are alumni of the various MBA programs who have volunteered to take one or two students under their wing.
Speaking at the event, Prof Kulwant Singh, the Deputy Dean of the Business School, praised the initiative. “The school provides strong academic content, but there are many aspects to the working world. Our alumni help by providing a helping hand and a listening ear.”
Why would successful and busy executives volunteer to mentor? For many, it springs from a desire to help others. Ms Anuprita Bhomick (MBA 2003) benefited from mentors who helped shape her career. She now feels that she, in turn, should help others. Mr Sven Neumann (MBA 2007), who is a real estate Fund Manager, shares similar motives. “I have had very good mentors myself in my professional life,” said Mr Neumann. “It has been very helpful for my professional career and when you reach a certain level, it is good to pass on to others.”
For Dr Peter Mack (Executive Education 1998), a Senior Consultant at the Department of General Surgery at the Singapore General Hospital, mentoring is a natural activity. “As a medical professional, it’s part of the tradition to mentor and to be mentored,” he said.
Mentors help students to increase self-awareness
While some students might look upon mentors as a resource for finding a job, mentorships can be much more valuable than that. Kim Eng Security Research Director and mentor Ong Seng Yeow (UCLA-NUS MBA 2009) said: “Our role is to help students to understand themselves a little better.”
Business coach Pratap Nambiar (APEX-E MBA 2000) added: “I see my job as making them aware of their strengths and giving them an understanding of the business world. I help them to develop a value of proposition for themselves. You are the CEO of your own company. You are the brand. You have to look at how you differentiate yourself.”
The students at the event had high hopes for the program. “I come from the real estate industry, but as a student, it is very hard to keep in touch with what’s going on,” said MBA student Nikhil Jain. “Your mentor can help you to keep abreast of the latest trends.” Fortunately, Mr Jain’s metor, Mr Neumann, is doing a job that Mr Jain himself is interested in going into.
Former army officer Ooi Aik Hwa, who is expecting o receive his MBA this year, said his mentor, Mr Ong of Kim Eng Securities, had been very helpful. “He was interesting, frank and straightforward. He helped to focus on how to get a job.”
Mr Philip Jong is hoping that the mentorship program will help him find a job when he graduates in 2010. However, more importantly, he sees it as an important part of networking. As he moved to Singapore from Korea relatively recently, Mr Jong is also hoping to expand his network in Singapore through his mentor.
The mentorship program at the NUS Business School actually dates back to 2007. The initial program had mixed results, but this year, the organizers are determined to improve the program. Said Mitesh Patel (MBA 2003), the Mentorship Director of the MBA Alumni-NUS: “The main learnings from the mentors’ side is that there is a need to have continuous communication and engagement. When mentees don’t initiate, mentors need to do it.” He notes that the mentor-student relationship is exactly that, a relationship. “It becomes what you make of it.”
The Global Alumni Network Office sees this as a valuable program and they are planning to expand it. The office is actively seeking alumni who might be interested in serving as mentors. For more information, please email Florence Leow.