By Shilpa Ramesh Vaswani, Indian, Nanyang MBA participant, Intake 2012
Geared up for the first day as an MBA student in one of the most prestigious universities of Asia, I headed to the commencement of the orientation program or on-boarding as it is now called! I began to introduce myself as a citizen of India, who actually grew up in Cameroon, Africa and obtained my bachelor’s degree from Miami, Florida, with a multi-faceted experience in banking, retail and non-profit. I realized that I was simply a drop in the ocean of diversity that engulfed my batch of 2012-2013. My colleagues represented 22 countries in five different continents, with extensively rich profiles ranging from those of software engineers, pharmacists, a dentist (yes! But an entrepreneur too!), military and government officials, lawyer, infrastructural engineers, accountants, entrepreneurs, stock traders, mechanical and design engineers, financial analysts, marketing executives, consultants – you name it! My excitement levels just increased ten-fold. The informal networking was such a great start to our new world, a world that would comprise of meaningful and productive cross-disciplinary learning from amongst the classmates, which in essence, is crucial for successful business leaders.
By the end of the first day, most of us had familiarized ourselves to the extensively large (I was told it was 200 hectares!) and maze-like campus and thankfully the informal networking paved way for friends and acquaintances alike. The next few days of orientation entailed a series of activities and workshops. Day 2 was an offsite trip to Labrador Park’s City Beach Resort at Port Road, where a group of professionals arranged indoor and outdoor team-building games and activities- that comprise the adventure part of the program. There were memory games, team races that entailed detecting hidden clues, adventurous blindfold games and a creative master chef challenge (remember those popular TV reality shows!) which infused globally infused gourmet creativity.
That’s me on the right most photo! With the rest of my MBA cohort
The following week started off with briefings into the academic program and the exciting opportunities we are offered including student exchange programs, business study missions, extracurricular student clubs and even internship and job search assistance. There was even a briefing by the existing student committee members who spoke of how their involvement in student clubs has enriched their experience and opened the gateway to a multitude of networking opportunities. Comprehensive workshops were conducted on several key areas including communication and presentation; learning style and personality analysis; organizational simulation of a manufacturing unit; case analysis and discussions; networking and adapting to business practices in different countries; and finally speed reading, which made an amazing difference from 300 to almost a 1000 words per minute. The last day of the orientation included cross-cultural presentations by our class of, depicting an insight into the cultural and business practices in our countriesof origin. There were cultural dances, skits, entertaining videos, informational facts, melodious songs and even regional food and liquor tasting that complemented the exercise. The last bit of the orientation was the icing on the cake with an off-site visit to the Singapore City Gallery, which shows how urban planning shaped Singapore, followed by a trip to the Gardens by the Bay,the newest tourist attraction comprised of manmade super structures of beautiful gardens, and Marine Gardens Drive. Singapore City Gallery was indeed mesmerizing. It consisted of a phenomenal scale model of the entire city including every nook and corner depicting the expertise involved in the infrastructural and contingency planning in Singapore. The Gardens by the Bay consisted of indigenous foliage and a flamboyant variety of flowers in addition to the artificial solar power trees.
Some of the excursions we went to as part of our exploration of the city post -orientation program included visits to the Hawker Street – a mélange of cosmo-Asian influenced Singaporean cuisine; ice skating at Jurong Cube, a hip mall for the youth; Café Azzura at Sentosa Island; an Irish Café at Bras Basah; a sea-food dinner at the East Coast Park organized by the Singaporean students and the Business School; and Clarke Quay, the famous landmark known for food and entertainment- an array of different types of restaurants and social sites lining up the Singapore river, a colorful and zealous atmosphere with globally infused stalls.
Photos with my new peers at the Irish Pub at Bras Basah
My first week at the Nanyang Business School is only an introductory insight to the wonderful world of knowledge, networking and fun which will probably rank among the best experience of my life so far. Singapore feels like the perfect blend of the east and the west. The sunshine induces a warm and welcoming feeling into a world of perfection. Nanyang, with its admirable campus, multicultural student body, esteemed faculty, extracurricular involvement and brilliant staff that constantly aim to buttress the students’ development into successful individuals, –I am definitely looking forward to more as I start my MBA classes the following week.
That’s me making a point during the on boarding sessions!