By Alissa Warne (Sept ’18 IMBA)
It seemed like a lifetime ago when fellow MBA candidate Ankit and I started planning a career trek, but last week saw our efforts over the past few months pay off when 38 of us flew to Singapore for an action-packed week of classes and company visits.
“We started planning for our career trek back in November and it was been a whirlwind ride with planning, reaching out to people (more like stalking on LinkedIn), phone calls and setting up meetings ultimately culminating in, what believe to be, an amazing career trek,” said trek co-organizer Ankit Somani (IMBA Sept ’18).
We planned this career trek to coincide with our Short Exchange Week from 21 to 31 May, which was part of IE’s partnership with Singapore Management University (SMU). We had classes every day until lunchtime, after which we visited tech companies to learn more about their business and about working in Singapore. Overall, we managed to visit 7 companies across 5 days!
We kicked off the week with Marketing & Innovation in Asia and a walking tour of Singapore in the afternoon, before getting ready to visit Microsoft. At Microsoft, we were warmly welcomed by the University Recruiting Team (Hui Lin, Yoonah and Anna) and the Global & Strategic Services Partner team (Rebecca and Chris). Rebecca talked about her journey to Microsoft as well as digital transformation and what it means for their organization and their customers.
We then joined IE alumni living in Singapore for a cocktail event, where Eduardo Brandi (IMBA Sept ’18) commented that “being able to chat with professionals working in Singapore, especially former IE students, was one of the highlights of the visit, as well as finding out about job opportunities in Singapore from an insider perspective.”
On Tuesday, we met with Kathryn from executive search firm 33Talent, who gave us an overview of the job scene in Singapore for MBAs, as well as an overview of the tech, finance and consulting sectors. We also found Kathryn’s tips on networking and key skills to succeed in a highly competitive environment useful.
We also caught a glimpse of Singapore’s aerospace industry at Canadian engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney on Wednesday, a visit organised by IE-SMU, followed by a visit to Bloomberg. We learnt more about the Bloomberg Terminal and their future plans for growth, as well as visited their famous pantry!
“Bloomberg reviewed our CVs before the meeting, which had a positive impact on me. It would be great for applicants generally if companies provided individual hiring information to us. In sum, honestly I really enjoyed every company visit since I got something new from them. Even if they are not IE alumni they are very supportive and friendly. I think company visits provide more insight into the Asian environment,” said Takashi Moriguchi (IMBA ’18).
Thursday was also another highly anticipated day with our Leadership & Culture class in the morning, and two company visits in the afternoon to Booking.com and Google. At Booking, we met with VP and Managing Director of Booking’s APAC operations, Angel (EMBA ’11). He shared insights into the travel industry in Asia, the competitive landscape and Booking’s eCommerce strategies.
“It was great to have so much time with a senior guy and he was incredibly candid and open with us. I did not realize how big the Booking operation is!” commented Rossa Mortimer (IMBA ’18).
Personally, this was one of my favourite visits as we could have an intimate roundtable conversation about the future of travel, especially in Asia. Asia is incredibly diverse and it’s imperative that companies have a local approach to cater to each market, and it was interesting to hear about Booking’s marketing strategies to better target customers and innovate, particularly in the areas of AI and data analytics.
At Google, we heard about the hiring process and interview skills from the HR team (Jocelyn) and had a fireside chat with IE alumni Melannie (IMBA ’15). We heard about how she transitioned from a banking career in New York to a HR Business Partner in Singapore – and that it’s okay to not know what you want to do, even as the MBA draws to an end!
“I really liked that Melannie could relate to our current situation of job hunting. I appreciated her honesty and letting us know how to best apply for positions. It was also great to have an office tour of the Google Campus – pretty impressed with the developers’ corner and the vast kitchens!” said Patrick Beer (IMBA ’18).
Before we knew it, Friday was here and we had our last class, Mergers & Acquisitions in Asia. We had a mini-ceremony where SMU presented us with certificates, getting us in the graduation mood for July 19!
We capped off the week with our last company visit, a fireside chat with LinkedIn’s head of Marketing and Communications, Linda (EMBA ’15). It was refreshing to get Linda’s take on workplace trends and her experience at IE, plus tips on how to leverage LinkedIn during the job search and interview process.
“The biggest lesson for me when I finished my Executive MBA with IE and Brown University a few years ago was to expect rejections and be open to possibilities. I was trying to evolve my communications career but it took a while for me to realize that I can continue to shape my contribution regardless of my role. Joining LinkedIn was not intentional but it gave me the opportunity to do what I care about,” said Linda.
“Hearing about IE alumnus’ personal journeys and how they got to where are they now was an enriching experience. I feel that it’s the connections that last longer than most things hold the most value along with the fact that everyone had fun! Definitely worth all the effort we put in!” added Ankit.
Though we were all exhausted as we jumped on the plane back to Madrid, leaving the hot and humid climate of Singapore behind, it was a fun and rewarding week that helped us learn more about APAC strategies for global companies. For me personally, as I was born in Singapore but have never worked there before, the short exchange week gave me an opportunity to see my own culture from a different perspective. Overall, a fantastic week with fantastic people!
“It was extremely useful to see the alumni network at work. I did not realize the significance until visiting these companies and it highlighted to me the power of the alumni and I will certainly be leveraging the alumni network in my subsequent job hunt,” said Rossa Mortimer (IMBA ’18).
Alissa Warne is a current MBA candidate part of the September ’18 intake who is the career rep of her section, the President of the eCommerce Club and VP of the Technology & Innovation Club. She is also currently organizing IE’s first global case competition, the IE Global Innovation Challenge!