For many Singapore-based students, the idea of leaving such a thriving economic centre to study business seems like a strange idea. Indeed, with the number of world-renowned MBA's with established campuses in Singapore, not to mention the presence of good, local-based schools, it is a natural place to do an MBA.
Kevin Kan, Strategy & Planning Head, HP Services for Asia Pacific & Japan saw no need to leave Singapore in order to continue his education in the kind of international environment he'd become accustomed to at work. "Chicago GSB was the natural choice. Having worked in multinational firms and companies over the last 15 years, a reputable world class post graduate qualification to continue my career on the international stage was an added bonus.
My company's Asian operations are headquartered in Singapore, so the Chicago GSB Asia Campus was situated in the right place at the right time." Chicago GSB's MBA program even gave Kevin the flexibility to take classes in Singapore or London depending on his work schedule.
There are other considerations when deciding where to go to business school: students with young families are often less willing to move overseas than those without. Where you want to work after your MBA is also a major consideration. A top ten program in the US is sure to provide you with a great educational experience and an excellent, albeit mostly-US based network ; for somebody who knows they want to work in Singapore afterwards, it provides no better recruitment prospects than a good Singapore-based MBA.
While Singapore's international nature prompts its natives to stay, it also attracts top-flight managers from all over the world, including the US, where most of the world's top programs are still located. Anthony Defillippo, an American and current student at INSEAD, chose to study in Singpapore because he "wants to be involved in global business; INSEAD's program covers 3 continents and no ethnic group makes up more than 15% of the student body. As graduation draws near, I am 100% certain I made the right choice to attend INSEAD. I can already tell that the diversity, the challenge, and the focus on preparation for the real working-world are going to impact me for the rest of my life in positive and unimaginable ways."
Carolina Clemente a Costa Rican and Italian passport holder agrees with Anthony: "No other business school in the world has the diversity that INSEAD offers. The experience of sharing one very intense year of your life with so many different people from so many different countries and cultures is unique. The opportunity to work in teams with peers from varied backgrounds is of great value both to my personal and professional life, and it has prepared me to perform better in business."
While Singapore is a natural choice for many here, there remain good reasons for going abroad. For one, opening up the prospect of a truly international, long-term career by choosing a programme outside your home country can also have direct financial benefits. According to the 2007 TopMBA.com International MBA Recruitment and Salary Report, which surveyed 489 major employers around the world, the average salary for a newly graduated MBA in Singapore is now US $84,983. The average in the USA and Europe stands at US $93,400,
However the highest base salaries globally are currently those on offer in the UK at US $108,372. And base salaries are just part of the picture. The average bonus for MBAs in international companies is reported at US $24,000, while investment banks are leading the field with average payments of US $46,500. Tapping into this lucrative career market will be an obvious incentive for any potential MBA weighing up the pros and cons of study abroad.
Louis Kay, a Singapore native, chose to attend the Stern School of Business at New York University, where both base salaries and bonuses are amongst the highest in the world. "NYU Stern is in the heart of New York and living in New York has been an amazing experience," says Louis. "I chose Stern because I knew I wanted to have access to the business capital of the world, gain a solid education and interact with a diverse student population. My experience here has been phenomenal."
Mei Yee Lee, also a Singapore native, chose Georgetown University in Washington, DC for similar reasons. "I chose Georgetown because the MBA program has a h5 international focus that is reflected in both the curriculum and the student body. The Global Integrative in the second year of the program exemplifies the emphasis of this international component."
Many students are also turning to Europe, Australia and Canada as alternative destinations for international study. Peter Justin Yu, opted to leave Singapore to undertake an MBA at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Like many, he was originally influenced by rankings, but soon came to see that other, softer, aspects of the MBA were more important.
"Initially, my decision to come to UBC was based on the Financial Times rankings (which were better than that of the universities in Singapore) and that the program was only 15 months long.
After attending 3 months at Sauder I realized the true value of the program is in the culture. The friendly and open atmosphere really surprised me and it is atypical of most business schools. Everybody shares notes, professors present real and interesting research and the seniors are more than willing to teach what they know. "
While Canada is an increasingly popular alternative for Asian students, the US, despite its new tighter visa restrictions, is not, by any means closed to talent. Many, if not most MBA recruiting companies are willing to pay for the cost of obtaining a work permit for bright young MBAs to work in overseas offices. Jayne Pellatt, an MBA recruiter from AT Kearney confirms, "We always seem to obtain work permits. We have not had anybody turned down ...but then we are very stringent in our own selection criteria." In the end, well-qualified MBAs go where they want, regardless of where they've studied.
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