Danielle Purkiss, Class of 2017
As we sat in class on our first day at the National University of Singapore, Dr. Prem Shamdamsani—better known as Dr. Love by colleagues and students alike—asked us each a question: what is your first impression of Singapore? Most of the answers we provided were along the lines of three main observations: Singapore is very clean, very lush, and very flashy.
Over the course of the two week Doing Business in Asia course, Singapore came to be so much more than our original observations. We witnessed firsthand that Singapore is the central hub of Southeast Asia, boasting one of the nicest, most efficient airports in the world. Thanks to Dr. Love and our local tour guides, we learned about some of the extraordinary measures taken by the country’s earlier leaders to transform the tiny city-state into the modern and orderly country it is today, a stark contrast to many of the other countries in the region. As teams, the class took a deep dive into doing business in six Asian countries. Looking for a difficult market with the potential for high rewards given the right, tailored strategy? Korea, Japan, and China should be high on your list. Looking to invest in a growing economy with a bright future? Go with India and Vietnam. Does pervasive corruption with uncertain upside excite you? Indonesia is your place. (Though not purposefully, a major class takeaway was that one should think twice before doing business in Indonesia!)
Outside of the classroom, we sipped on the original Singapore Sling cocktail at the famous Raffles Hotel. We enjoyed some breathtaking skyline views from the Singapore Flyer observation loop as well as from numerous rooftop bars around town. We also explored Chinatown and Little India, strolled through the many types of orchids at the Botanic Gardens, and saw an untold number of deer species, of all things, at the Night Safari zoo. Of equal importance was how very, very well we ate. Between our extravagant daily buffet breakfast, the array of options at the Hawker Centres around town and on campus, the Singaporean chili crab closing dinner, and everything in between, we had our fill.
The food and sites of Singapore more than exceeded our expectations, but what really blew us away were the accomplished and hilarious characters we were lucky enough to have as professors during our two weeks. Few of us have laughed so hard during class as we did at NUS, which is just one example of how crucial the people involved were in making the course so fantastic. The DBi Singapore lessons were insightful and the events were exciting (a corporate visit with Chang Beer executives and endless, free beer? An MBA students dream!), but what really made the class was the group of people along for the ride. Between the professors, the administrators, and the students, it really was an amazing group with which to learn about business in Asia and to explore the one-of-a-kind Singapore.