PMBA PIONEER COHORT SERIES: (2) EXPERIENCE BY JERLYN KOH

Jerlyn Koh, Regional Regulatory Affairs Manager, LEO Pharma Asia Pte Ltd, PMBA Class of 2019

Q: Tell us more about yourself.

A: I’m actually a pharmacist by training. I used to dispense in a hospital, but I felt that clinical work might not be suitable for me hence I moved to the business side of the industry. I had the depth of industrial knowledge, but I realised that I didn’t have the breadth. For example, when it comes to finance and accounting, I see a bunch of numbers but I don’t have a clue what they mean. I am inquisitive by nature and I like learning, so it led me to think that I should consider an MBA if I wanted the breadth.
 

Q: Why did you choose the Nanyang PMBA?

A: I’ve been thinking of doing an MBA for two to three years, but I finally decided to go ahead because the longer I wait, the tougher it will be. One of the key benefits of the PMBA is that I don’t have to quit my job. I also wanted to continue my career so that I can financially support myself through the programme without having to rely on my parents or take up a loan. In my current role, I deal with health authorities and my role involves registering and maintaining licences so that the company can continue selling the product in other countries. So, business partnering is very important. That’s where I really felt that I needed to understand about business.
 

Q: The classes are held on alternate weekends, so basically you’d have to give up on certain things.

A: Yes, but it’s worth it. I actually got married while I was in the midst of the course! I did have to give up some of my personal time for classes and project work, but I had a lot of family support so it was doable. The programme duration is 18 months and actually it passes really fast.
 

Q: Were you considering other programmes? There are a lot of part-time MBA programmes out there offered at a lower cost.

A: Other than the Nanyang PMBA, I also was considering other lesser-known programmes with lower tuition fees because I was going to finance this out of my own pocket. I sought advice from friends and figured out that an MBA is something that you would only do once in your lifetime – so I might as well invest in a really good one that is reputable.
 

Q: Where do you see yourself in the next 10 to 20 years?

A: 10 to 20 years is kind of far ahead! I really enjoy what I’m doing now so I see myself staying in this industry and rising up the ranks. The PMBA has helped opened up opportunities for me. For example, I can take on projects from different functions in my company which helps me learn how to be a better business partner. Who knows, I might enjoy it and move to other functions within the industry. Actually, my company has offered me the opportunity to move to another department. I never really considered it, but now that I have gone through the programme, I realise that I can try.
 

Q: What gives you the most satisfaction in your career?

A: I like to feel that I’m an asset to the team. For example, I have something to offer that adds value to the organisation which others don’t possess. I want to be able to contribute more in the areas I’m good at, or achieve better results with the same or less resources. I feel that the PMBA helps me achieve that.
 

Q: How has the PMBA benefitted you so far? What would be an interesting outcome that you’ve experienced from being in the programme?

A: I find that I have more topics to talk about when I meet people! It helps me with my social skills. Sometimes I run out of things to say even with my own friends, and I can pull out something interesting I learnt from class.
 
In addition, I found the Leading People Globally (LPG) really useful and applicable to my career. I was promoted to a Manager at the age of 27. I learnt it the hard way – my first report left the organisation quite soon after because I tend to micromanage. Through the LPG module, I became more self-aware, got to know my leadership style better and became more mindful of others’ styles as well. This helps me in my working relationship with my colleagues. I have a better idea on how to motivate others towards a common goal and drive for results.
 

Q: What are your end goals? Any retirement plans?

A: It’s not really a retirement plan, but I would like to have a good quality of life – meaning that when I age I hope I won’t be a burden to the people around me. I would like to help and contribute in whatever I could. I love travelling, so I hope to be financially able to do that whenever I want.