Graduate Studies Blog



“Don’t give up because it’s normal to go through an overwhelming period of juggling work, family and studies—more so in the first few months of the PMBA.”


A few years ago, Dr. Alamelu Ramanathan Kurukal was in a dilemma and couldn’t see the next step in her career. Meanwhile, her aspiration of improving healthcare standards in Singapore through policymaking was growing.

“As a medical doctor by training, I have a genuine desire to have an impact on patients, caregivers, the processes of curing disease and promoting health. My decision to pursue an MBA was hence a combination of my desire to bring change at a wider scale and an interest in institutional change,” she says. “I’ve always aspired to join the public service to serve the community on a systemic level, so that my contributions can have a broader impact on society.”

Dr. Alamelu decided to do a part-time Nanyang Professional MBA (PMBA) in Nanyang Business School due to her hectic schedule. This way, she was able to commit to her work during the weekdays, and then give her full attention in the PMBA classes held on a full-day schedule every alternate weekend.

At the tail end of the programme, Dr. Alamelu made a career switch to Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) as a manager in the Home and Long Term Care department. In her current role, she plans and develops the licensing, inspection and audit processes that are under the Healthcare Services Act. She also reviews regulatory policies and looks into the compliance and enforcement of these standards for home and long term care in Singapore.

She thinks out loud about the turning point in her life: “I was considering the PMBA while dealing with a personal challenge and an NBS Admissions Manager consistently checked up on me and nudged me to take the next step. She got me going with my PMBA applications. I went for it. Little did I know it would give me a huge jump-start that has brought me to my dream career.”


Take a holistic approach to learning

“Attend networking events, participate in case competitions, engage with external professors, talk to keynote speakers and guests, get to know peers such as the alumni”

In the Strategic Management course, Dr. Alamelu learned about the value of strategic insight in diverse markets like agribusiness, household appliances, fintech, and healthcare. Strategic thinking, she discovered, is driven by essential principles and frameworks. “I use these strategy tools today to facilitate my systemic thinking in key issues and improve my analytical rigor,” she says.

The programme has strengthened her soft skills, such as “having the tact and diplomacy to negotiate change with multiple stakeholders,” says Dr. Alamelu. “It has boosted my confidence in leading cross-functional teams too.”

Apart from acquiring skills, Dr. Alamelu is especially grateful for her class mates and their deepening camaraderie. “A few of them are in public service. They readily offered me advice on the interview process; and on how to transition into and navigate my new career path,” she says. “Being able to tap into my peers’ vast experiences and expertise is a very precious benefit.”

Dr. Alamelu says, “The reliable NBS network, which also works as a support group, is one of the greatest gifts from the programme. As we strive to succeed in our personal and professional lives, nothing is more fulfilling than having built lasting and sincere relationships along the journey.”


Never compare yourself with others

“Assess your success based on where you were when you started the programme. Don’t underestimate your achievements. We are all legends in our own right, so get ready to blaze your trail!”

Dr. Alamelu feels that because the PMBA curriculum is so different from her medical degree, the programme turned out to be very refreshing for her. “For me, the learning journey was like a well-deserved break from work or a good time for personal development,” she says. “I looked forward to every alternate weekend!”

This does not mean that it was always easy. Dr. Alamelu notes that the Strategy Projects At Nanyang (SPAN) segment—where PMBA participants work with organisations on real-world challenges—was especially gruelling. “SPAN will put your ethics to the test and train you to manage under pressure,” she says. “There will be difficulties in meeting expectations despite clocking in long hours during weekends, public holidays and after work.”

Her father was her rock-solid pillar of support and continues to be. Dr. Alamelu says, “He constantly reminded me to strike a balance and to not over-exert myself to the point of exhaustion. Without him, nothing that I have achieved would have been possible.”