Graduate Studies Blog



Buffy Kuang already has a master’s degree in economics. Still, she realised that an MBA was a “must-do” when her job scope in American mobility company Dana Incorporated expanded over time.

In 2018, she embarked on the part-time Nanyang Professional MBA (PMBA) programme, acquiring the critical management skills to advance in her career. Today, Buffy is a Senior Customer Service Manager in Dana’s Shanghai-based Sales Operations team, where she works with clients from around the world and the company’s global plants to meet market demand and deliver business growth. During the PMBA programme, she flew to Singapore on alternate weekends while continuing work and life in Shanghai.

Access to a global network and mindset
Buffy’s education – up until her PMBA – was all in China. She knew that in order to thrive in an MNC, she needed to upskill herself in a more diverse education system. She explains, “We’re in a global village today that is always changing. Companies want people with overseas experience and knowledge of the international business world, so I sought to improve myself in those areas even as I see my future in China. Indeed, the international exposure of the Nanyang PMBA broadened my mind and prepared me to address problems on a global scale for my company.”

Buffy was energised by the open-minded collaboration shared among the PMBA cohort: they spoke freely and brought various possibilities to the table based on their unique cultural contexts. She says, “They showed me how an issue could be relooked at in many ways and created a powerful atmosphere for ideation.”

Convenience of part-time learning

“I got the best of both worlds: I could focus on my job in Shanghai for most of the week while getting my MBA in Singapore on alternate weekends.”

“I couldn’t have done it without my company’s support,” she says. “The management entrusts me with a role that requires an understanding of the international market, and they saw that I could hone it with the Nanyang PMBA.”

Before applying, Buffy researched on the faculty and alumni. Everything adds up to the learning experience and the Nanyang PMBA turned out to be so enjoyable that she hardly felt tired from working, flying and studying. “If you feel that the MBA is important, you’ll have the energy to see it through,” she says. 

Better leadership and Personal transformation
With a big picture view, Buffy inspires her teams to go beyond themselves and collaborate across departments. “The world is getting very complex. Departments must come together more to create interdisciplinary solutions. Having the business acumen to contribute to a productive dialogue is crucial in confronting a bottleneck or revenue issue at the management level.”

Halfway through her PMBA journey, Buffy was promoted and currently leads three cross-functional teams. Her leadership has become more effective with improved communication skills. She says, “I explain to my teams how our work influences other departments, so that we can find ways to improve across the board. We also clearly define problems to come up with solutions that are on point.”

While she used to prioritise speed and efficiency at work, the PMBA taught her that fast is not always good. “Quality companies don’t hire people to be fast or to do routine work, they hire people to create value.”

With this revelation, she changed her approach to focus her teams on solving problems effectively, as she believes that is how value is created, “I’ve become a more objective thinker: I’ve learnt that there are many different methods and perspectives – and that they are all valid.”

Now, she makes time to comprehend the larger story that needs to be told, so that it can motivate her teams. “What you give to your team is what you will get from them,” she says.

A fun but challenging environment
As part of the Nanyang PMBA, participants are always encouraged to work in teams and apply what they have learnt to a strategy for an actual company. We didn’t know if we would make it,” Buffy recalls. Her team, which was developing a go-to-market strategy for a baby garment business, persisted by communicating more and constantly refining their aims.

Eventually, they made it. “Our mentor was so excited about our progress and was very proud of us when we presented the strategy,” Buffy says. “There was a sense of achievement in developing a commercial and viable solution for the company. More importantly, the teamwork was very meaningful for us.”

After classes, the cohort often went out for drinks. “Our bonds strengthened as we shared our lives with one another,” Buffy says. The friendships, which continue to endure post-graduation and across oceans, have been encouraging. “We all have different perspectives,” she says, “at the same time, we share a common goal and optimism to succeed.”