Fresh off the New Year’s celebration, with resolutions still intact, Sternies boarded planes all across the world to descend on Singapore for a two week intensive “Doing Business in…” program. The program in Singapore focuses on deepening the understanding of how to do business in the various countries and cultures across Asia. Through a partnership with the National University of Singapore (NUS) led by Professor Prem Shamdasani – affectionately known as “Doctor Love” – we attended classroom lectures, corporate visits, and cultural treks.
In the classroom, top professors at NUS shared their insights on how business was conducted in each country, often introducing a framework to help capture the best strategy for success. For example, the topic “Non-Market Strategy in Indonesia” was taught through the lens of a case on the importance of identifying stakeholders outside the normal course of business and focusing on meeting their needs. We also participated in a simulation on “Negotiating Across Cultures” that highlighted the subtle but significant differences in style of a traditional Western culture versus that of the East. A new addition this year, we also ventured to BLK 71, the incubator within NUS, to hear from founders on their experience of starting a business in Singapore.
Beyond the classroom, we were treated to three exceptional corporate visits. The first expedition brought us to Marina Bay Sands, the iconic hotel and casino that overlooks the towering Singaporean skyline. Here, we learned how offering an integrated resort experience has powered Marina Bay Sands to success in a country where the gaming industry is highly regulated. After a behind the scenes tour, we took in the magnificent view from the SkyPark while enjoying a taste of the signature Singapore Sling cocktail. Next, Sternies visited the headquarters of one of Singapore’s most admired companies: Singapore Airlines. We toured the facilities and even had the opportunity to watch a few hopeful flight attendants working through their training repetitions. Finally, there was an “experiential learning” happy hour, a treat from the global marketing director of Chang Beer that was perhaps the most popular among students. As beer was passed around the room, students learned about the integrated marketing strategies Chang Beer has taken to regain lost market share and its plan to charge to the top of the beer world in Indochina.
To complement the corporate and classroom experiences, we immersed ourselves in the vibrant culture in Singapore. An operatic light performance at Gardens by the Bay, a vertigo-inducing ride on the Singapore Flyer, an aromatic stroll through the orchid collection at the Botanical Gardens, and more than a few indulgent meals at the outdoor Hawker Centers were just a few of the highlights. Many of the students also took the opportunity presented by a free weekend to explore other countries in Southeast Asia. Popular destinations included Bali, Hong Kong, and Bangkok!
The course ended with a farewell dinner at the ocean-side Long Beach Seafood Restaurant where students tied on bibs, pulled on plastic gloves and were served Singapore’s national dish – chili crab. Doctor Love and his support team certainly made this a once-in-a-lifetime experience that none of us will be forgetting anytime soon!