Top 10 Inspiring Lessons from Powerful Women

Top 10 Inspiring Lessons from Powerful Women

The business world and most industries are no strangers to gender bias. Even with the advancement of women in several fields, disparity in salaries and representation exist. If you are one of those women who are ready to break the ‘glass ceiling’ and are looking at MBA programmes, here are some powerful role models for you.

  1. Turn adversity into positivity:

Winnie Byanyima arrived in Britain after she fled Idi Amin’s regime in Uganda. She completed her education in aeronautical engineering and returned to her homeland once Amin’s rule collapsed. She found the democratic elections hijacked. That led her to join the movement for liberation, under the Ugandan president Museveni. During her 11 years of tenure in the parliament, she championed ground-breaking gender equality laws and multi-party democracy. Later on, she headed UN task forces on gender and development and climate change issues. Now as head of Oxfam International, she is recognised as a leader who put fighting inequality on the agenda.

  1. Make innovation a habit:

South African entrepreneur Rapelang Rabana has been compared to Marissa Mayer of Yahoo Inc. She co-founded Yeigo, one of the world’s first mobile VoIP applications and was named one of Africa’s best young entrepreneurs by Forbes. In 2013, she launched Rekindle Learning, an online training, and education company. While Rabana promotes the role of women in business, she also keeps an eye out for new business opportunities that involve mobile technology.

  1. Pay attention to every detail:

Kathryn Sullivan was a part of NASA’s first class of female astronauts (1978). She became the first American woman to walk in space. After three shuttle missions, she came back with a keen understanding of how dynamic the earth is, and decided to use the information to help communities become more resilient to climate change and natural disasters. She is currently the US Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere. Her job involves using data from space to understand the climate.

  1. Think beyond money:

Leaving an urban lifestyle for a life in farming in a drought prone area wasn’t easy. Indian Chetna Sinha did just that. Her time spent with women working in the fields exposed her to their daily troubles – from financial hardship to being ignored as prospective businesswomen. This resulted in the creation of India’s first rural cooperative bank owned by a woman. Chetna’s Mann Deshi Mahila Bank assists rural women who wish to acquire micro loans. Following the bank, Chetna set up a toll-free hotline that is linked to India’s Chamber of Commerce so that the women could get advice first-hand.

  1. Be Courageous:

When Beth Mooney became a secretary at a local bank, she could have sat back and been happy with her decent salary and job. Instead, she took a chance to get something better for herself. She visited big banks in her city and asked to be enrolled in their management training programmes. It finally happened after she spent a few hours refusing to leave a bank manager’s office until he relented. They made a deal: she’d get into the programme if she simultaneously studied for an MBA degree. She did. Now she is the Chairman and CEO of KeyCorp and the first woman ever to lead a top-ranking bank in America.

  1. Stay humble:

Cher Wang is a business tycoon’s daughter, so her entrepreneurial ambitions were not a surprise. She co-founded VIA Technologies, a manufacturer of motherboard chips, CPUs and memory. Her mind was on creating handheld computers, which she did soon after at her new venture HTC (High Technology Company). The company started with notebook computers and some of the first touch and wireless handheld devices. Wang has even been on the global Forbes list but can be seen wearing simple clothes and travelling by economy class. She also supports free education. She lives simply but thinks big.

  1. No excuses:

Oprah Winfrey’s success story is a rags-to-riches one. She’s the first African American female billionaire and she had spent her initial years in poverty. She also faced racial discrimination but came out with flying colours because of her determination. When the other kids were busy hanging out with friends or watching TV, Winfrey was working part-time hours as a radio anchor. Then she worked her way up to local TV news and then to a morning talk show, which later became her own – The Oprah Winfrey Show. That shows you that humble beginnings can’t stop you from chasing your goals.

  1. Have no fear:

Being a well-known international journalist for decades long means that people from different generations recognise you. Christiane Amanpour is widely known for her influence in the media and her penchant for reporting from dangerous situations such as the Gulf War in the 90s and other war-torn regions. Amanpour has covered conflicts all over the world. Amanpour has also interviewed world leaders in times of controversy but has kept her approach honest and calm. What makes her reporting stand out from the rest is the boldness and honesty. She is a role model for any women in a risky job with her strength and courage.

  1. Never give up:

Author JK Rowling is one of the world’s most successful authors. She wrote the first Harry Potter manuscript and sent it out to all the publishers. Rejections filled her inbox/mailbox, which she even shared on social media recently, so that other aspiring writers don’t let rejections drag themselves down. Rowling could have stopped. Many writers do. But she didn’t, until she was published. Now she has many published books and is the first person in the world to become a billionaire just from writing books. In other words, never give up.

  1. Patience is a virtue:

Chua Sock Koong is the head of Singapore’s largest telecom provider Singtel. Her story is one of another climb up the corporate ladder from the position of Treasurer to CFO, and then to Group CEO. Even as CFO, Chua was responsible for all the financial functions at the company and industry publications praised her for her broad exposure across all areas of the business. In addition, she played a major role in SingTel’s acquisitions, divestments, and partnerships. So there is a lot to her credit and it was all about taking her career one step at a time.

These 10 amazing women teach us 10 important lessons. Remember them as you continue your path to success. In the mean time, why not take a look at some of the  Nanyang Fellows MBA programme female alumna here:

From the Functional to the Managerial: Make the Transition

From the Functional to the Managerial: Make the Transition

Contrary to the general assumption, making the shift from a technical or functional role to a general management role can be smooth with the right approach. While an MBA for experienced professionals like yourself can help prepare you for the transition, your success also depends on how you adapt to the leadership role.

Here are some pointers:

  • Create a positive culture of trust:

When you were in a functional area, your decisions affected your work and your immediate team usually. But in a managerial role, what you decide may not always appear to be in the best interest of each functional area in your organisation. This is because you’ll be considering the big picture. So, keep things fair and work on building a climate of trust with your employees. Let them know that you are ready to listen to inputs and constructive feedback and make sure you practice it too. On the other hand, if you notice that a worker is trying to ruin the work culture by creating conflicts in the team, take action before things get difficult.

  • Get out of your comfort zone:

Being in a managerial role requires you to prioritise every area of the business that you are looking after. You need to adapt quickly and be open to developing new perspectives – even if it is in the functional area earned you the promotion. That means that you cannot let your expertise cloud over reason and new trends. Don’t make assumptions based on your past. Go with the flow every time you get an opportunity to learn in your new position.

  • Redefine what value means to you:

Revenue is important for the business. Making an impact with each project or task used to be at the top of your priority list. Now, the correct approach is to look at the long term too. Pay attention to the long-term effects of your actions on the entire business. You need to emphasise on long-term success factors such as integrity, good work habits, and client relationship. Once your employees understand that, you are focused on the organisation-wide impact of everything that you and they do, they will be a lot more cooperative, and in turn, team efficiency will significantly improve.

Think about your customers:

During any decision-making, remember that business doesn’t exist without its customers. Competitive advantage is the key to surviving in your space, so you should address a customer-driven, efficiency-oriented strategy as you aim to gain and retain that competitive advantage. Revenue and customers go hand-in-hand.

  • Build and reinforce the team:

Even in the top ranks of a company, teamwork cannot be overlooked. As a manager, you are expected to promote an environment of mutual respect, ethics, and common goals. Are your employees communicating as well as you’d like them to? You need to be observant. A team that functions well is productive and is essential for the organisation’s success. Experts suggest holding team-building activities regularly – such as joint visits to charitable institutions or group sports.

So be willing to lead, open to new experiences and dedicated to value creation. Be ready to understand employees, while facilitating a healthy environment to achieve long-term goals. It is challenging but not impossible once you are armed with an elite MBA degree and all the skills and experiences that come with it.

See the entire list of benefits that you can expect if you attend the Nanyang Fellows MBA programme.

Top 10 Economics Blogs


Every business leader needs to stay up-to-date with the economics world. While academic journals on the subject are abundant, blogs have taken over. You’ll find top economists, academics and the like offering valuable analysis and arguments that you should be reading.

Here are some blogs you need to check out.

  1. Grasping Reality

This blog is called Grasping Reality. It is run by the well-known financial economist and economic historian Brad DeLong, who is associated with the University of California at Berkeley. He was one of the first bloggers in this field and combines the political-polemic style of Blogosphere 1.0 with many links to expand on his points.

  1. Paul Robin Krugman – The New York Times

Paul Robin Krugman is an American economist. In 2008, he was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his contributions to New Trade Theory and New Economic Geography. He writes on a wide range of economic issues including international economics, macroeconomics, income distribution and taxation. Krugman considers himself a modern liberal and expresses strong political views as well.

  1. longandvariable

Tony Yates is a professor in the UK. Previously, he spent two decades working with the Bank of England. He has a reputation for witty commentary and being brutally honest whether it is aimed at market monetarist bloggers, heterodox economists or those opposing central banks. You’ll find lots on monetary policy and macro on the blog too.

  1. mainly micro

This blog by Simon Wren-Lewis is for both economists and non-economists. A professor of Economic Policy at Oxford University, he can keep you well informed with debates on macroeconomic methodology. His posts are long and detailed; so settle down with some coffee.

  1. A Fine Theorem

A Fine Theorem is a summary of economics research conducted by Kevin Bryan, an Assistant Professor of Strategy at the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management. His interests lie in the fields of innovation, micro theory and philosophy/methodology but his posts cover much more than that. For those of you who are research-oriented in your approach, this blog is perfect.

  1. Wall Street Journal

This Wall Street Journal blog keeps up with trends. You’ll find honest insights and analysis that you can relate to both everyday life and the industry. For example, one of the latest posts discusses how more young adults are living with their parents even though this isn’t a recession period.

  1. MISH’S Global Economic Trend Analysis

Although Mish Shedlock is an investment advisor based in the United States, he is an expert at getting the facts and stories from all over the globe. You’ll find everything from the French elections to the economics of Black Friday.

  1. Macro and Other Market Musings

David Beckworth is on the faculty at West Kentucky University (USA) and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute. He’s also a former economist at the US Department of Treasury. He has done research on the assessment of monetary policy, the transmission mechanisms through which it works and its impact on economies. When you follow his blog, you’ll find posts about most countries and continents.

  1. Freakonomics

You have probably read the book, Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven Levitt, an economist at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Dubner, a journalist. Well, the authors created a blog soon after to keep the conversation going that started with their book. This blog stands out for its cool news and fun way of looking at economics. You’ll find plenty of podcasts too.

  1. New Economic Perspectives

This website brings you multiple blogs in one. It offers policy advice and economic analysis contributed by a group of American economists, legal scholars, academics and financial market specialists. They created the blog to focus on the serious challenges facing the global economy after the financial crisis in 2007. You’ll find articles that elaborate on the causes of economic issues as well as suggestions for policymakers. It’s a great site to get many perspectives.

Take advantage of these great resources. The sphere of economics is a fascinating world.

Which are your must-visit blogs? Don’t forget to share your favourites in the comments below.

Investing in Your Employees

Times have changed. Typical employee benefits no longer set apart organisations as they used to. Smart managers have realised that they need to invest more wisely to retain their employees. Continually interviewing and hiring and losing well-trained employees is not a sustainable process.

Here are some ways to keep your employees loyal and motivated.

  • Help Build Their Brands:

Every employee offers something unique to the company. As they work with your clients and build their credibility, they become more valuable. You can do your bit and educate them on using social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter effectively. Guide them on increasing their web presence. Encouraging them to invest in their personal brands is as important as investing in the organisation. If customers know and respect each employee, they will develop a relationship of trust with them and hence, the company.

  • Allot Personal Time:

Time is money. So you need to devote a sufficient amount of it to your employees if you want success for your company. A big reason why employees quit their jobs is a lack of career progression. You need to ensure that they know that it won’t be a problem with you. Take them out for casual lunches where you can get to know more about how things are going at work and what could be changed to align their roles with their goals. Keep an eye out for career development opportunities for every employee that you manage. Invest in business trips and conferences that relate to their area of work so that they can pick up new contacts and the latest information. The idea is to keep a focus on the big picture while keeping every employee’s career development needs in mind.

  • Be Flexible:

Good companies recognise the need to be flexible – especially during major life events such as pregnancy or a family crisis. Being flexible with your employees builds employee trust and commitment and helps you attract and retain talent.

  • Look After Their Well-being:

An employee who is not in a good physical or mental health will not function properly at work. How about investing in a gym or reimbursing them for their gym memberships? Allow work breaks since research has shown that most humans can concentrate for periods of 20 to 90 minutes only. If you don’t like the idea of breaks, your employees will probably take them anyway by doing things like checking their personal emails or texting. It’ll be more conducive to their health to let them walk around, stretch and have a quick chat with colleagues. Some companies even invest in group initiatives such as marathons and feel-good activities like visits to a local charity in order to boost the team spirit. And stay alert on mental health issues because anxiety, depression and other illnesses can affect performance and harm people in the long run. A lot of companies invest in counselling services. Plus, if you think somebody genuinely needs a break, give it to them.

  • Support Their Educational Goals:

Once you know your employees’ goals, you can help them get there. Sponsoring or subsidising graduate school expenses or a certification programme can result in employee happiness and more skills on your team. You’ll already be investing a lot in on-site training but educational goals can be met simultaneously if you can work out a schedule. Another perk of sponsoring employee education is that they’ll remember the favour and add new value to your business.

Did you know that the Nanyang Fellows MBA programme has an entire course dedicated to talent management? Check out details here:

So invest well. Avoid emotional and financial damage by retaining good employees. Give them the responsibility and be there for them.

Making Sense of the Global Workplace





Businesses have been tackling an evolving scenario post the 2008 market crash and the subsequent economic downturns. You’ve probably confronted some of those changes yourself whilst being part of a team. The demand for sales and trading roles isn’t as high as before. Mergers & acquisitions roles have gained popularity. With the jobs market being more stable now, a lot of people are interested in financial training as a key to switch roles or move to a different kind of a company. Reflecting on the globalised nature of the industry, top business schools are welcoming more and more students from around the world. There’s clearly been a rise in internationalisation.

Ethics and responsibility

The effects of economic ups and downs have not stopped impacting world financial centres. That is why there is a big emphasis on risk management, with B-schools updating their regulations curriculum consistently. Ethics is another area of interest that scores high on importance. Sustainability doesn’t lie far behind. What started as a small module in many business schools has become a core subject for many. A good knowledge of mathematical tools, plus a confident grasp of world financial markets, and IT techniques, is your recipe for success here. In fact, your current role has certainly exposed you to these aspects in some degree already. But even if you know it all, you need to know how to use it. An MBA programme such as the Nanyang Fellows MBA aims to create managers who are able to reflect on and look at the implications of their action AND their inaction.

Internal Collaboration

Collaboration and teamwork characterise today’s professional life, regardless of your location. Businesses want their employees to work together and create results even if they are thousands of miles apart. The global workspace now demands that you work together remotely, so a greater focus is given to international teamwork. If a business has teams collaborating efficiently, problem solving and the creation of positive results will come easily.

Knowing how to effectively collaborate is a skill you can nurture every day. Just always be open to spending time with all kinds of people even if you have a language or cultural barrier. Think of the executive who had coffee with a visiting colleague and how he found out that India doesn’t allow people to find out their unborn baby’s gender. That would definitely help him when he’s working on a campaign involving pregnant women in India.

Cultural understanding and agility

Global employers value cultural awareness and agility. You need to be ready to take care of yourself and business irrespective of your surroundings. That means that you could be sent off to live in a remote country for three months and you would have to deliver results while you are sitting there with the local people, eating their local food, speaking their language, and joining them for festive occasions. You may have already spent some time outside your home country, but did you stay there as a mere tourist? Next time you go somewhere, venture to spots that are not traditionally touristy. Who knows? You could find out something that the people don’t like and never repeat it again with clients from that country.

Leadership, consulting and entrepreneurship

Everybody wants to be a leader. The evolution of business and management careers has brought entrepreneurship and consulting to the limelight. It isn’t always about creating great products – it could also be about delivering unparalleled service that impacts multiple countries and thousands of people. The business industry sees people breaking away from the corporate ladder to start their ventures every day. When you choose to do an MBA, you get the opportunity to rethink your career path. Some successful start-ups have started from a college dorm room. So what are you waiting for with your years of experience? Build your business plan and take it from there. See how it goes. If consulting is your passion, then go for it. Once you are into it, you’ll know what is going right and what is going wrong.

The Nanyang Fellows MBA is for seasoned professionals like you, who are ready to embrace these challenges head on. The evolving business world needs well-trained professionals who can combine their experience with top class knowledge. That’s how leaders are born.