Interview with Fellows MBA alumna, Col Jerica Goh

Overseeing a naval warship is no easy job. It requires leadership skills of the highest level and the utmost respect from the ship’s crew.

With its focus on cultivating robust leadership and management skills, Colonel Jerica Goh saw the Nanyang Fellows MBA as the ideal preparation for her future role as the commanding officer of the RSS Supreme – the navy’s most advanced warship.

We sat down with Colonel Goh, Singapore’s highest-ranking female naval officer, to look back at her Nanyang Fellows MBA experience.

Colonel Jerica Goh
Head, Naval Training
Republic of Singapore Navy
Nanyang Fellows MBA, 2011

NBS: Why did you decide to do an MBA?

Jerica Goh: I thought it would be good to acquire skills such as management and leadership, which are related to the things that we do in the navy but in a different context.

Was an NTU MBA your first choice?

Yes, NTU was my first choice. I found the design of the Nanyang Fellows programme to be well thought out as it covers various aspects of management and leadership. On top of that, the programme included modules at the MIT Sloan School of Management as well as The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania. Each university focused on different things and it was overall a very valuable and enriching learning experience. We also get to work in teams on live consultancy projects with selected companies that gave us the chance to apply what we have learnt to real situations.

What do you remember about the professors who taught you?

We were very fortunate. The professors teaching were all very experienced, so we learnt a lot from the knowledge they’ve gained over the years.

I remember Associate Professor Patricia Tan, she was always so enthusiastic and brought a lot of life to her accounting lectures. I also remember Professor Hong Hai, who introduced the ancient wisdom of East Asian cultures and how it continues to drive values and practices today. And of course, Professor Lim Chong Yah, a fatherly figure, sharing stories of his work at the National Wages Council and his insights on the economic development of Singapore.

I also particularly enjoyed Associate Professor Sasha Chernyshenko​’s Talent Management module. He had a very candid and engaging way to bring out the ideas and issues of developing and retaining talent.

Where were the participants in your cohort from?

Other than Singaporeans, we had participants from Australia, Cambodia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Korea, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. It was a diverse cohort consisting of people from different cultural backgrounds and work experience.

Was this diversity beneficial to the learning experience?

Yes, it was. We were involved in many case studies where participants brought their different perspectives to the discussion – especially cultural differences. It gives you a glimpse of how they do things in their country.

Were there any lessons you learnt that still stand out for you today?

The key lessons are that we must listen and be responsive to the world around us and that coupled with a positive attitude, commitment and integrity, we can make a difference in whatever paths we take.

What’s your fondest memory of your time at NTU?

It’s the bonds we build with the cohort through the classroom discussions, group projects and also the overseas study trips to US and Denmark.

How has the Nanyang Fellow MBA helped your career in the navy?

Not only did I learn about the workings of the world, the programme allowed me to do a lot of reflections. When working with people, it is important to stick to core values and be authentic. These complement the training that I received in the Navy and allowed me to be a better leader.

What inspired you to embark on a military career?

It was by chance that I got to know about the career option after A levels. Looking back, I’m glad that I joined the navy. I get to play a part in the defence of Singapore, work in a dynamic and fast-paced environment, and, be part of a cohesive team.

What’s it like being the highest-ranking female naval officer in Singapore?

No different from when I was in my previous ranks. (laughs) I continue to focus on completing each task properly, a day at a time.