Graduate Studies Blog
THE EMBA MADE ME A BETTER VERSION OF MYSELF
Bill Zorlutuna has led Parker Hannifin’s Asia Pacific growth for close to two decades. The vice president of sales for the Fortune 500 company develops the business from cosmopolitan Singapore, and about a year ago, wanted to deepen his understanding of the region.
It became clear to him that an MBA steeped in East-West perspectives would be a timely supplement to his career. He chose the Nanyang Executive MBA (EMBA) for that reason.
“The Nanyang EMBA marries Asian and global perspectives, both which are vital for my work in this part of the world,” he says.
While impressed with Nanyang Business School’s collaborations that include top international MBA institutions UC Berkeley and the Wharton School, Bill also wanted to continue being at the centre of a fast-growing Asia from Singapore, where the school is strategically located.
The alumnus of Class 2018 adds, “The programme didn’t disappoint. It blended tried and tested global methods with local cultural contexts. An example is the Cultural Intelligence module, which gave me rich insights into business strategies applicable to the diverse Asian countries that I work with.”
Making better choices and real positive change
Bill’s employer, Parker Hannifin, was very supportive of his EMBA journey. In fact, the technology MNC promoted Bill from general manger to vice president when he was halfway through the programme.
“My company recognises the Nanyang EMBA and how it has helped me,” he says. “The programme made me a better version of myself, and I can offer more to my teams.”
For example, Bill now asks more meaningful questions when he works with specialist teams and makes better decisions alongside them. This was after he gained deeper knowledge of various functions—such as finance—through the programme.
“The faculty’s real-world experiences also make a difference,” he says. “They are true educators in that sense and go beyond being just professors with deep subject knowledge.”
Bill explains that the faculty’s experiences allow students to see the connection between principle and practice, “I was able to understand significant concepts quickly during the courses and apply them almost instantly to my day-to-day work.”
The EMBA programme was also a sounding board that enabled Bill to realign his leadership priorities.
Leaders juggle so many things day in and day out that they can sometimes lose perspective. He says, “After the programme, I’ve become more mindful of making the right choices. Choices that keep my organisation’s offerings and solutions relevant in today’s disruptive world.”
Embracing the tech world
Global organisations are familiar with the VUCA world—that of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, where change is the only constant. To gain confidence in addressing these challenges, Bill knew that he wanted an EMBA programme that could sharpen his focus around digital transformation.
With all-encompassing tech modules such as Knowledge and Tech Management and Leadership 4.0, the Nanyang EMBA programme has equipped Bill to lead across digital, people and change management.
He finds that the learnings he has acquired are very practical, more importantly, they produce tangible improvements in projects, which can help his company gain a competitive edge.
“Today, I apply what I have learnt daily, often times even subconsciously!” Bill says. “That is how I know I’ve gotten better at them.”
In good company
Part of what makes the EMBA cohort dynamic is the international quality of the candidates—apart from Asia, they also come from Africa, America and Europe. Bill feels that few platforms bring together such global peers who can debate rigorously across topics.
“Our like-mindedness and learning journey together have created strong bonds and even lifelong friendships,” he says. “It’s priceless. We continue to meet for both social and professional occasions.”
Bill has a tip for aspiring candidates: “Just do it! Like most things in life, there are many reasons to procrastinate. But once you get past the start, which is the hardest part, the journey only becomes more and more rewarding.”
In fact, Bill remains nostalgic about the EMBA experience. He wants to do it all over again: engage in stimulating lessons, listen to diverse views and even be challenged by the intense workload from the course.
He says, “I honestly miss the learning so much that I’m considering enrolling in other Nanyang Business School’s programmes.”