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10 Books To Read Before Your MBA Programme

What you get out of your MBA depends a lot on how well you have prepared yourself for the study. While brushing up on the basic concepts of business, talking to the alumni and researching the professors that you would be studying under would definitely help; you could also prep for B-school by reading a bunch of business books.


Here’s our set of recommended reads before you embark on an MBA programme.

  1. Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki

Rich_DadOne of the bestselling books on finance, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki is a must-read for anyone who dreams of building wealth and achieving financial freedom. The book recommends various means to secure financial independence: investing in real estate, starting up and owning businesses, etc. The book is based on Kiyosaki’s childhood upbringing and how the differences in the attitudes of two men (his “rich dad” and his “poor dad”) towards money, work and life, influenced his decisions in life.

  1. Permission Marketing – Seth Godin

Permission_MarketingTraditional methods of marketing such as TV advertisements and online pop-up ads often involve attracting the customer’s attention away from whatever they are doing – watching television or viewing a website. Marketing guru Seth Godin reveals that the traditional ‘interruption marketing’ have become less effective in the modern world, where consumers are overloaded with information. For brands to attract their consumers, they must adopt ‘permission marketing’, which involves selling goods and services only when the consumer has given his/her consent in advance to receive the marketing information.

  1. Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell

OutliersNot a typical business book, but Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the dynamics of professional and business success. Pondering over – ‘what makes high-achievers different’, Gladwell sheds light on the fact that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from – their culture, family, generation, and other factors that may have contributed to their success.

  1. Crossing the Chasm – Geoffrey Moore

Crossing_the_ChasmCrossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customersis a bible for marketing in high-tech industries. According to Moore, there is a gap that exists between the early adopters of high-tech products (the technology enthusiasts and visionaries) and the early majority (the pragmatists). The visionaries and pragmatists have different expectations, he adds, and this book aims to explore that set of differences and suggest techniques to successfully cross the chasm.

  1. Change by Design – Tim Brown

Change_by_DesignDesign thinking is not just applicable to so-called creative industries or people who work in the design field. It′s a methodology that can be used by organisations to improve the quality of their service and rethink their business strategy, according to Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO. In this book, Brown introduces a human−centric approach to problem solving that helps people and organisations get more innovative and creative.

  1. The Art of the Start – Guy Kawasaki

Art_of_the_StartThe Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki is an essential guide for anyone starting anything, be it a home-based business, a multinational corporation or a community group. The book provides insights into the various aspects of starting up such as raising money from investors, hiring the right people in the team, defining the brand and building a community around it.


  1. Never Eat Alone – Keith Ferrazzi

Never_Eat_AloneIn this bestselling book on business networking, master networker Keith Ferrazzi provides insights into the role of relationships in the success of a business. Ferrazzi shares the specific steps and the inner mindset he uses to connect with the thousands of colleagues, friends, and associates on his contacts list, people he has helped and those who have helped him. In the new age of digital media and online connections, Ferrazzi’s advice is even more essential for those wanting to get ahead in business.

  1. The Goal – Eliyahu M. Goldratt

The_GoalA gripping business novel by business consultant Eliyahu M. Goldratt, The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement is about the Theory of Constraints, and overcoming the barriers to making money. The book features key insights on identifying and solving the problems created by constraints.



  1. Getting to Yes – Roger Fisher and William L. Ury

Getting_to_YesOne of the best books on negotiation, Getting to Yes is based on the work of the Harvard Negotiation Project, a group that deals with all levels of negotiation and conflict resolution. The book offers proven, step-by-step techniques to arrive at mutually acceptable agreements in every kind of conflict.



  1. Warren Buffet’s Management Secrets – Mary Buffet

Management_SecretsWritten by Mary Buffet, after having gained insights into Warren Buffett’s philosophies for management, while being married to his son Peter for twelve years, Warren Buffet’s Management Secrets looks closely into Warren Buffett’s life and career, shedding light on his decision-making processes, leadership qualities and strategies that made him the most successful investor of the 20th century.

What are your favourite business books? Don’t forget to share your recommendations in the comments below.

5 Ways to Live Like a Local in Singapore

A metropolitan city-state known for its towering skyscrapers and cosmopolitan culture, Singapore is an amazing place to live and explore. Ranked as Asia’s most liveable city and the world’s third best, it is one of the safest in the world. Being a global financial centre, with a consistently stable government, and a burgeoning technology hub, the city is a much sought after educational destination for international students.

If you are a student living in Singapore, or someone who is considering the idea of pursuing your studies there, then here are a few ways that you can soak in the Singaporean lifestyle and experience the city like a local.

Local in Singapore

Ride the MRT

You haven’t lived the true Singaporean life, if you haven’t been on a commute in the city’s popular subway, also known as the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). Spanning 152.9 kilometres and connecting more than 113 stations, the Singapore MRT is the fastest, easiest and the safest way to get around the city. While there are always taxis to cater to your travel needs, a ride in the MRT is something that lets you feel the pulse of the city and experience the breath-taking views of Singapore’s major landmarks. MRT stations are also known for their remarkable architecture and art installations. The fact that ticketing is done via contactless stored value smartcards, known as the EZ-Link and NETS FlashPay cards, also makes commuting in MRT quite convenient for students, professionals and other regular commuters.

Work and Lounge in Cafes

Whether it’s hanging out with friends in the evening, grabbing your breakfast in the morning or completing your class assignments during the day, Singapore has a slew of cafes that not only offer lively ambience and mouth-watering snacks and beverages, but also provide free Wifi, making them a go-to place for students and professionals to work and relax. Afterglow on Keong Saik Road, Habitat Coffee on Upper Thomson Road, Group Therapy Cafe on Duxton Road, Club Street Social on Gemmill Lane, and Bridge Cafe on Seah Street – these are some of the Singaporean cafes offering free Wifi.

Dance Away the Blues

What makes Singapore such an attractive destination for students and young professionals? It’s got to be the city’s scintillating nightlife. Singapore’s bars, pubs and clubs let you unwind and party hard after a busy day at work. Clarke Quay, Orchard Road, Zouk Club, Chijmes, and Boat Quay – there are endless places to indulge your inner party animal in Singapore.

Go on a Shopping Spree

Think of Singapore and the word ‘shopping’ comes to your mind. From shopping malls to outlet stores, international brands to local products, Singapore has something for every kind of shopper, something for every purse size. Apart from the glitzy malls featuring a wide range of international brands on Orchard Road and Marina Bay Sands, there are also the Mustafa Centre, Bugis Junction and Far East Plaza where you can shop till you drop, without making a big dent in your wallet. Don’t skip the neighbourhood malls like Jurong Point, Bishan Junction 8 and West Mall.

Get Adventurous

Singaporeans love to participate in sports and adventure activities. As a sports enthusiast and thrill-seeker, you’ll have myriad places to get your adrenaline fix. Being an island destination, Singapore is well known for its wide range of water sports such sailing, snorkelling, kayaking and water-skiing. Reverse bungee jumping, indoor skydiving and Formula One racing are a few other unique outdoor experiences worth having in Singapore.

These are just a few of the things that you can do to explore Singapore’s vibrant culture. Share this post with your friends and help them make the most of their stay in the Lion City.

Guidelines For Giving Great Presentations

Presentation skills are critical in the business world. Whether you are an MBA student who has to present an idea in front of the class for an academic project, an executive who has to make a presentation to spearhead the strategic meeting, or a business owner who has to pitch his/her business idea to the potential investors and clients, practising and honing your presentation skill is essential.

So, what is it that separates a good presentation from the one that fails to make a lasting impact on the audience? What are some of the common mistakes that you can avoid? Here are a few guidelines to follow, the next time you are preparing yourself for a presentation.

Great Presentations

The 10/20/30 Rule for PowerPoint

How many slides should you have in the PowerPoint presentation? How much of text should you put on those slides? How long should the presentation be?

Guy Kawasaki, the famous author, speaker, and marketer has framed the 10/20/30 rule for PowerPoint, after having listened to more than hundred presentations by entrepreneurs, during his experience as a venture capitalist. This is what the rule suggests:

10 Slides

‘10 Slides’ is the ideal number for a presentation. If you have 20 or 30 slides for instance, it’s time to evaluate the need for the additional slides. Ask yourself – Is it critical to the message I am trying to convey? Can I do without this slide? Can this point be combined with another point that I have already made in one of the previous slides? Having a number constraint on the slides ensures that your audience stays attentive throughout the presentation.

20 Minutes

20 minutes is the longest time that you should take to speak and convey the message of your presentation. Even if you are given more than 30 minutes to give the presentation, restrict your speaking to 20 minutes and use the remaining time to invite questions from the audience or engage in open-ended discussion. Presentations are powerful when the audience is actively engaged in them and not just playing the role of a passive listener.

30-Point Font

You have restricted your presentation to 10 slides, and have ensured that your speaking doesn’t exceed 20 minutes. But, if your slides are stuffed with content, and with a text of size smaller than 20-point, then your audience wouldn’t be able to closely follow the presentation and read the content on the slides. Guy Kawasaki suggests that 30-point font should be the smallest font size that you should use on your slides to maintain their readability.

“The reason people use a small font is twofold: first, that they don’t know their material well enough; second, they think that more text is more convincing. Total bozosity. Force yourself to use no font smaller than thirty points. I guarantee it will make your presentations better because it requires you to find the most salient points and to know how to explain them well. If “thirty points,” is too dogmatic, the I offer you an algorithm: find out the age of the oldest person in your audience and divide it by two. That’s your optimal font size,” he adds.

Other points to keep in mind:

  • Know your audience well to communicate your idea effectively. Their level of understanding of your subject matter is critical while preparing the content of the presentation.
  • Use images to make your presentation more interesting and visually-appealing.
  • Tell stories to grab the attention of the audience, and to establish an emotional connection with them.
  • The content of the presentation is significant, but so is the level of confidence of the presenter. Speak with passion and conviction.
  • After each presentation, make note of the things that went well and the things that did not. Invite feedback from the audience. It’s the only way to learn and improve your presentation skills.
  • Last but not the least, grab every chance that you get to practise your presentation skills. It’s only by doing it more and doing it often that you get better at this skill.

The Importance of Organizational Culture

Organisational Culture

It’s the quality that binds the organization together, and prevents it from falling apart; a quality that gives the organization the strength to deal with difficult challenges; a quality that makes it stand out from the rest.

Like individuals, organizations too have a unique personality that we refer to as ‘culture’. It’s an invisible yet powerful force that drives the thoughts and actions of each of its members. It’s a system of shared values, beliefs, and goals.

Organizational culture has a huge impact on the company’s ability to succeed and make it big in the competitive world that we live in today. A company without a tangible culture finds it difficult to tap into the full potential of its employees, and to keep them happy. And, that puts both the organization’s and its people’s well being at risk.

Here are some of the reasons why organizational culture plays such an important role in the success of any business:

  • Unity

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog,” Mark Twain had said in one of his famous quotes. An organization, irrespective of its actual size – whether it’s a start-up with 10-15 employees or an organization with a bigger workforce, is strengthened by its unity. The unity results from a solid organizational culture – a set of shared values and principles that the members abide by in every decision that they take. The similarity of thought and action enables the employees of a company to work synergistically, to help each other in their goals, and to stay strong as a group in order to fight against the rival forces.

  • Business Success

One organization that has a palpable organizational culture is Google Inc. One look at the Google products and campuses across the globe, few interactions with its employees, and we would know what the company stands for – Creativity and Innovativeness. Building and maintaining Google’s culture requires relentless effort, as Google’s Developer Advocate Don Dodge explains in this blog post. But, the company very well knows that the secret to its success is its people and the culture they create and maintain.

  • Stability

Author Daniel H Pink in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us talks about the role of ‘Purpose’ in improving the performance of people in the workplace. Lack of purpose and motivation is one of the major reasons why people are often dissatisfied at work and why they quit their jobs and look for greener pastures.

Organizational culture, by its very nature, ensures that the purpose of its members are aligned with the purpose of the organization. And, this compatibility of goals and way of thinking drives the members to perform well, be self-directed, and be loyal to the organization they belong to.

  • Sense of Direction

When an organization has laid out its values, beliefs and goals, its employees have a clear direction to work towards. They can discern between right and wrong, important and unimportant and this clarity ensures a focused approach to work, and a productive use of the organization’s time and resources.

  • Identity

‘Identity’ and ‘brand image’ emerge from an organization’s culture and its people. Apple’s products wouldn’t be known for their ‘perfection’ and ‘enduring beauty’, had it not been for Steve Jobs’ unique way of approaching the technology business, his emphasis on creating products that weren’t just efficient, but also aesthetically pleasing and immaculately designed. It’s the people who create the organization and it’s the organization that creates the ‘brand image’. And, we know what a big role the identity of the brand plays in how well it’s received by the market and how far it goes.

Interested in exploring the topic of ‘culture’ and ‘group behaviour’ in depth? Nanyang Technological University’s Culture Science Institute (CSI) holistically investigates cultural issues of national and global importance, from brain-based, cognitive, evolutionary, behavioural and life science perspectives. To know more, visit

Additionally, the Nanyang MBA at NBS offers a compulsory module on Leading People Globally. Designed to help you with theoretical and a practical understanding of what is required to lead people in organizations, it provides you with detailed insights on an organization’s perspective on talent management.

The programme’s Business Study Missions (local or overseas) also help build a candidate’s cultural intelligence, exposing them to different business, cultural, economic and political environments. It prepares individuals for the global workplace by honing their skills in managing business in different environments.

Have thoughts on the role of organizational culture? Don’t forget to share them in the comments below!

Why do an MBA in Singapore?

You want to enhance your professional profile, and get to the next level of your career. You want to be a leader in your field – develop managerial skills, and boost your knowledge of running a business. An MBA degree, you know, will get you where you want to go. But, you are still hesitant to make the move. And, it’s not just about gathering funds needed for the studies. What you are daunted by are also those never-ending questions related to the MBA.

“In which country should I pursue my MBA?”; “Should I go for full-time MBA or an Executive MBA?”; “Am I at the right stage of my career?”; “How do I prepare myself and ensure that I make the best use of the MBA experience?” – These are just a few of the questions that haunt MBA aspirants.

Continue reading Why do an MBA in Singapore?

Setting BHAGs For Your Career

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living,” said Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and a remarkable leader.

Apart from their exceptional skills and talents, one of the major factors that contribute to the success of powerful businessmen, high-achieving leaders and other extraordinary individuals is their ability to think big. They have a clear and compelling vision that they are working towards, and their day-to-day actions are consistent with that vision they have in mind.

Do you know where you want to be 10-30 years from now? Do you have a big vision that drives your decisions and life choices? If your career goal is limited to ‘getting a job, ‘getting promoted’ or ‘earning a higher salary’, then you won’t get too far in your professional life. You’ll lack the grit to get things done, the strength to push through your fears. You’ll settle for a life that’s less than what you deserve. What you lack is not talent, skill or intellect; but a bold vision statement, a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) as Jim Collins calls it in his book ‘Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies’.


Having a vision for your professional life is essential, no matter which stage of career you are in. So, here are a few steps to help you set BHAGs for your career.

Think Big

“Becoming a CEO of a technology firm”, “Running a retail store that sells rare electronic goods,” “Building technology tools that make education accessible to every child in the world” – your BHAG may seem out of reach, but it’s not out of sight. You can visualize it in your mind, although it may seem complex and daunting at first. Know that it’s the challenge that makes it worth achieving. Aim high and do not settle for a goal that appears too easy and comfortable.

Think Deep

The BHAG should be something that you truly want to do. It should be emotionally compelling to you and well aligned with your passions. Think deeply and get to the core of who you are, and where you see yourself a decade or two from now. It takes relentless effort to achieve your big goals. Choose something that you must do, not something that you think you should do.

Think Long-term

BHAGs are big dreams with a specific deadline. The time limit adds a sense of urgency and pushes you towards the goal. But, they are not goals that you are meant to achieve in a short span of 2-3 years. It may take a decade or longer. So, be prepared for a long, immersive and deeply gratifying ride.

Live your Vision

So, you have set a BHAG for your career. You have pondered over it in depth, written it out on a sheet of paper, and stuck it up on the wall over your desk. Is that all? Do you go about your life as usual? Creating a vision is not enough. You have to abide by the vision, make your present actions and choices consistent to it. You have to work hard towards that vision, break the big goal into small steps that can be achieved over a period of few months or years. You have to shield yourself from day-to-day distractions, not let yourself be deterred by the hurdles that you face on the way.

Stay Inspired

Working towards a Big Hairy Audacious Goal isn’t easy. And, if you don’t have a support system around you, you are likely to falter and feel lost. Find mentors; join hands with other like-minded individuals who are working towards their own BHAGs. It would keep you inspired and help you stay positive and hopeful.

If your BHAG is to be a successful business professional, then the Nanyang MBA can help you achieve that goal. The 12-month MBA programme will help you expand your business knowledge, build your leadership skills, and work under a guidance of qualified international faculty and senior level industry experts.

To know more about the Nanyang MBA Programme, visit:

Attending this intensive course is worth my sacrifice taking Nanyang – Waseda Double Degree

By Jenie Lago, Nanyang Waseda Double MBA intake 2012

Into my second trimester as a Nanyang Waseda Double MBA student, and despite my previous I.T. background, I was really looking forward to attending my chosen elective IT Strategy & IT Applications. As it is an intensive course (over 2 weeks), I know that I will have to put in more effort and sacrifice my beauty sleep, anticipating the loads of reading and studies. However, I just knew it’s going to be worth it! And indeed, it was!

The course instructor was Professor Koichi Matsukawa from Waseda University. A business owner, an academic and an author – Professor Matsukawa has vast experience in IT strategy, consulting and system integration which made the class really interactive as we were able to discuss real-life scenarios from the professor’s experience and from the MBA participants’ as well.

The most interesting part of the course  were the visits to one of the world’s largest port operator, Port of Singapore Authority (PSA), Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) Singapore who is one of the largest shipping companies in the world and lastly to Cisco who is a global leader in the design, manufacturing of networking equipment. The company visits provided firsthand experience on how information technology is utilized and managed by these companies to provide world-class solutions and services.

The picture above shows some of the participants trying out Cisco’s TelePresence.
The picture above shows some of the participants trying out Cisco’s TelePresence.

Cisco Singapore was gracious enough to initiate a call to Cisco Tokyo for the Nanyang MBA applicants to experience Cisco’s TelePresence’s lifelike video!

Students & staff of NYK
Nanyang-Waseda MBA participants & NYK Staff

At NYK Singapore,we learned the company’s real-time ship tracking system and the company’s operation here in Singapore. We even had an open discussion with the top management team to complete the experience.

With seminars and company visits completed,  we were required  to develop a business model and strategic IT application for a chosen company and present it in class. It was a very challenging task given the time constraints – did I say 2 weeks only, right? However,we were able to deliver the required business model and learned a lot from each other’s presentation.

Class participants during the presentation
That’s me! sitting on the front row, second from left.

Over all, it was an informative and challenging course. I was so pleased with the course that I look forward to taking my courses in Waseda University on the third term!

Thank You Matsukawa Sensei!