A NBS alumni working for Lazada, South-East Asia´s number one e-commerce player, was invited to give a workshop on business analytics and advanced excel to the current batch of MBA students.
Sunny Jain (NBS MBA Class of 2013) has over 6 years of experience of working for technology companies as well as financial institutions. Over the last 2 years he has been working as a pricing manager with Lazada, who recently made it into news with regards to its acquisition by Alibaba.
Sunny provided thought-provoking insight into the ways of working of e-commerce firms, especially with regards to the key performance indicators and the challenges that various firms face to remain competitive. In the second half of the course, he offered an excel learning session wherein he gave sample case questions based on data populated in an excel file.
The current MBA students who signed up for the workshop learnt to build pivot tables and simple statistical data models that allowed them to understand e-commerce dynamics and generated insights pertaining to an annual sales report of a hypothetical company. The speaker proved that Excel is indeed a powerful tool and stated that learning to build complex data models catering to various business challenges is indispensable to be well prepared for the corporate world.
The 3-hours sharing session was very insightful and after multiple “aha”-moments, the participating students left the room with many valuable takeaways from the workshop. Eventually, the lecturer closed the day with the recommendation to spend 5% of earnings every year to upgrade one´s skills – an interesting tip that the MBA students, who are to graduate soon, will certainly take to heart!
On Tuesday, April 12, Nanyang Business school invited to the third session of the quarterly ”CEO Breakfast Series” at the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore to explore challenges and opportunities when doing business India. Panelists, current NBS students, alumni and faculty engaged in a lively sharing session of the benefits of investing in India, discussed obstacles that individual and institutional investors face when entering the Indian market, and outlined the rewards of a long term foothold in the fastest growing economy of today.
Associate Dean of Graduate Studies at Nanyang Business School, Professor Nilanjan Sen, introduced the crisp 90-minutes sharing session on the opportunities and challenges when doing business in India by addressing the current macro- and microeconomic context of the largest Commonwealth country. India is not only affected by the slowing demand of the superpower China, a shrinking export market, and more conservative investment policy of the west but also fights against typical internal challenges of an emerging market. Touching on the 3 dimensions of future growth, Prime Minister Modi´s 3 D, demand growth, demography, and democracy, Professor Sen opened the stage for five expert speakers of Indian descent to present their views on the Indian market, and the prospects for foreign investments.
The majority of panelists who joined the early morning event to elaborate on their experiences with doing business in India has significant professional experience in banking and investment management, or held senior positions with large multinational corporations, so that the audience large benefitted from a pool of real live experiences and insider insights.
Even though India allegedly is the fastest growing economy with a 6-7% average annual growth rate, the seemingly attractive percentage by itself represents a far smaller absolute economic growth in India than a 6-7% growth rate in China. Also, the challenges that institutional investors and multinational corporations face in when expanding into booming markets with large one digit to double digit growth rates are fairly similar. Despite significant differences in the root causes of obstacles, doing business is not less challenging than doing business in other emerging markets.
India scores low on “ease of doing business” due to unusually frequent elections in the different states of its large territory, and political power struggles in the fragmented republic prevent a much needed consistency in decision-making and harms sustainable infrastructure investments. Hence, panelist advise to find a local partner to enter the fragmented and culturally diverse Indian market. Bringing a global brand to India, it is recommended to redesign one´s value proposition for the local market, as for example providing small quantities for daily demand to the the bottom of the pyramid and customise one´s offering for the Indian market to match cultural expectations. When looking for best practices on how to approach, and sustainably attach the Indian consumer in the long run, newcomers to can learn from successful MNCs, as global brands such as Czech “bata” and American “Colgate” are exceptionally well established in India, considering that the brands are commonly recognised for their “Indian” heritage by the local costumers.
When contemplating about gambling on India´s growing economy, panelist recommend to prioritise the prospering logistics industry which significantly benefits from the rise of Indian e-commerce. Further, investments into infrastructure and transportation are especially rewarding as they support the filling of institutional voids, and lay the ground for the country´s road to unparalleled commercial success.
Still, India´s current competitiveness is suffering from a below standard road network and the country is severely disadvantaged by its complex regulatory, taxation and public administration system. MNCs seeking to cater for the needs of the upscaling middle class of Indians, face a series of appointments appointments when knocking on the doors of governmental offices to beg for the necessary approvals needed to start a business, or even wait up to 13 months to simply cut a tree. Panelist report that they have seen peaks of 100 plus approvals needed to get going on an investment project and Foreigners and Indians alike criticise the artificially erected bureaucratic hurdles and missing dynamics of the Indian market, prompted by an unnecessary complexity that foreign investors encounter when dealing with Indian authorities.
Although the challenges highlighted during the 2016 panel discussion have been present for over one decade, they have not been properly addressed so far. Yet, India still promises 7.7% annual growth due to the the peoples’ entrepreneurial spirit and the prevailing start-up culture that builds the backbone of India´s competitiveness and promotes technical innovation and unique solutions to global challenges. In addition, public and private sector joined forces to spot the gap in global manufacturing capabilities and aim to position India in an untapped niche as a specialised manufacturing service provider that might translate to a distinct competitive advantage which will allow India beat other emerging economies in the race for FDI.
Supporters of crisis-prone, but inventive India highlight the public sector´s increasing investments in infrastructure and manufacturing capabilities, and predict a stable upward trend for Indian society and the standards of living, eventually leading to improvements in the ease of doing business. Yet, despite all promising prospects, there are different viewpoints on doing business in India. Experts cast a critical eye on India´s demographics, its sluggish reform progress, and suggest carefulness in dealing with authorities. The tax bureau might have announced taxation reforms and committed to creating more investor-friendly business environment already a few years back, but is actually just about to pass the GST and tax reform bill. While the US Fed hikes interest rates, US foreign investment streams dry up, liquidity flows out of India and tells the uprising country to combat corruption and social unease in its the multi-religious and multicultural Indian society before the money comes back. A nation that is publicly characterised by the lavish lifestyle of its billionaires and their excessive spending rather than a conservative savings policy, struggles to attract investments in the light of previously disappointing foreign engagements.
Going forward, investors are strongly advised to set the right expectations instead of hoping to reap short term profits from businesses in India. First, one has to obtain clarity on the target segments, and business goals, to find its sweet spot in the vast Indian market. Despite continuous progress on the reform and regulation front, India seems to be market that rewards investors to come to stay, and punishes those looking to reap short term benefits. Hence, the recipe for success in India involves a step by step approach that acknowledges the diversity of a country which is best compared to is culinary richness: analyse the customer, understand the recipe to success, select ingredients, cook a sample and then scale-up.
Alumni Leaders Dialogue with Eric Lian, CEO of UOB (China)
The Invitation to the 4th Alumni Leaders Dialogue with Mr Eric Lian, President and CEO of UOB China, was issued to all current graduate program participants of Nanyang Business School. All seats at the NTU campus venue were taken when Mr Lian spoke about the issues oft he banking business in Chinaand the outlook for the fastest growing economy of the world.
With more than 20 years of banking experience in business and risk management, Mr Eric Lian joined UOB in July 2013 and was appointed President and CEO of UOB (China) shortly thereafter. He is also member of the Bank’s Executive Committee.
During the December session of the Alumni Leaders Dialogue series, Mr Lian provided an operator´s view on the banking business in China and helped the present audience understand the status quo of the Chinese economy and outlined his view on the development plans of China´s government.
During his address, the veteran banker shared his expert opinion on the China Banking Landscape, sketched the “One Belt, One Road” Initiative and elaborated on Free Trade Zones within China.
After pointing out the three main aspects of China´s exceptional growth, he illustrated his personal conclusions on the future of China and derived implications for banks or corporations who wish to do business in China.
According to Mr LIan, the internationalization of the Renminbi as the 5th most traded currency worldwide, the tremendous wealth among the people in mainland China, and continuous liberalization of cross-border RMB flows, will be strong growth drivers for the future of China.
“We all know that China does not produce millionaires anymore. They produce billionaires”, said Eric Lian. After a long period of government subsidies over the past years, the country has come to be the world´s second largest and fastest growing economy in terms of GDP measures. Spending money in the desired growth sectors, supporting the development of core industry´s competences and intensively driving up demand, China as thee “factory of the world” has accumulated over-capacities, inefficient structures and unsustainable business practices. Now, a painful period of restructuring causes growth figures to slowdown and makes the world hold its breath. However, China government initiatives such as the “One Belt, One Road” policy, that aims to secure resources, develop the Chinese export markets, and prepares new growth paths to offset over-capacities, clearly signal that China still sets the course for growth.
Besides speaking of China Banking in the macroeconomic context, Mr Lian also gave an insightful introduction into Chinese business culture and frankly presented his view of Chinese investment management practices to the attending students. Other than European clients, Chinese middle class clients primarily focus on investing their savings in stocks but at the same time wish to offset the risk resulting from volatility in the stock market by investing in real estate as early as possible. “If you want to get married in China, you need to own a house”, he explained to the diverse group of international students. Thus, the challenges faced when dealing with clients in China are very different from the needs of clients in other parts of the world.
Responding to questions from his attentive audience, the speaker closed his talk by outlining his response to competition from online banks and e-commerce firms. The disruption caused by digital players forces traditional banks to rethink their strategy, adjust their way of working to the digital reality and restructure not only their product portfolio but also their interactions with customers around the world.
by Vida Zhou Dan, VP for Communications, Chinese, Nanyang MBA Participant, Intake 2011
Consulting as a profession is among the most popular choice by MBA students. While everyone is enthusiastic in pursuing this career, a lot of anxieties or worries about being able to snare a job assignment in this industry prevail, despite the numerous case studies we already did at Nanyang. To address these concerns, the Management Consulting Club organised an event earlier this year to help us, club members, to understand more the intricacies of becoming a management consultant and prepare ourselves to be one. Preparedness they say is the key!
We invited one of our own as our guest speaker, an alumnus who now works as a consultant of Delta Partners, a leading consulting firm, after completing his Nanyang MBA in 2010. We were glad to welcome Italian Mr Angelo Polimeno, formerly based in Italy and is now based in Singapore, yet he travels extensively across continents for consulting assignments.
“As a Nanyang MBA alumnus, I completely understand what you are all going through as I have been in your shoes. Do feel free to ask me questions on these cases we are going to discuss. I will do my best to help as much as I can to show you how to handle the various ‘challenges’ that these cases pose” were Angelo’s opening lines. His introduction made us feel more comfortable to really dig into knowing more about this industry from a practitioner’s point of view.
During the session, Angelo also demonstrated two case studies and coached us on how to deal with these different situations. We eagerly took part in the interactive discussion – from practice details to structural thinking methods, and more. It was a lively session worth doing as Angelo gamely and generously shared his experience and knowledge with us.
After the event, some 20 of us who attended, felt that we should continue to cultivate more of our skills by ‘doing’ more and more case studies, to prepare us to tackle the challenges posed by real life scenarios which consultants must face. Preparedness is key – and this is more emphasized after the event. We were further enlightened and inspired to pursue our aspirations to become a consultant one day.
Don’t get me wrong about my job. It is serious and challenging, but I have to admit, one of the perks of being in a business school is that you get to attend mixers and networking receptions of students and alumni, not to mention at a spanking place at the heart of the central business district – Nueva Cuba at Customs House. Isn’t it exciting?
Approaching Nueva Cuba, where the alumni gathering was held
13th April 2011 was my first day at my new (or old) work place – Nanyang Business School. After a hiatus of more than a year, I came back with a fresh mind and all geared up to take on an entirely different challenge of doing marketing and admissions for the MBA programmes. Though one of my team’s main tasks is to bring in new students to the MBA, I felt the need to mingle and interact with current students and alumni – for the reason that it is a good induction to the kind of environment I will be in, sans the school setting. In a ‘let-your-hair-down’ environment, people at the reception would be more relaxed – breaking barriers and forging new friendships that could be a start of a strong network. Just like me, I am sure that the current students are taking advantage of this networking aspect, too.
Arriving at the venue slightly late (NTU is approximately an hour away from the hustle and bustle of city-life but you will not notice the distance as the campus is very much accessible by public transportation – Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), buses, or cab; on the brighter side, because of its distance from the city, NTU is very conducive to learning – no distractions!), I chanced upon a gentleman who was scanning the crowd in front of him, looking lost. He must have noticed that I looked lost, too. A minute of silence between us, the gentleman decided to break the ice – “Are you here for the NBS event?” Right there and then, I finally found my first liaison to the current MBA students – David Tipton.
David Tipton, a full-time MBA student graduating this 2011, became an immediate acquaintance. We managed to find the NBS group, with the nametags worn by the attendees giving away the hint. We entertained people by telling our funny story of meeting by chance.
As the night progressed, current students, alumni and even a few of the NBS staff present exchanged stories and laughter over a glass of wine, a bottle of beer or even a glass of non-alcoholic drink. I was fortunate to have met alumni who graduated as early as 1996, Ms Gladys Ng, Senior Vice President for Emfore Capital, and Mr Johnnie Gan, class of 2010, who currently holds the post Business and Customer Manager for IBM Singapore. I listened to their animated stories when they were still students, and the challenge of their working environment. Moreover, current students like David Tipton and Mathieu Francois never failed to amuse the group they were in, with their endless anecdotes of student life. Banter and laughter filled the night.
Spectacular views outside of the venue that attendees of the alumni gathering took pleasure in.
I am glad that I made the effort to go, even on my first day. Not only did I learn more of my role in marketing and admissions within a non-work environment, but I was able to forge friendships among the attendees – students, alumni and even NBS staff. It was a first ‘extended day’ on the job that is definitely not wasted.