The Nanyang Fellows MBA programme at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), which includes topics such as governance and cultural intelligence, has prepared URA director Ms Joanna Lam to be a well-rounded professional in the public service
BY GEL CABOTAJE
July 7, 2021
The Nanyang Fellows MBA programme at NTU’s Nanyang Business School (NBS) equips mid-to-senior level managers, such as Ms Joanna Lam, 44, with essential private and public sector insights and skill sets to enable best business and leadership practices in the public sector.
Ms Lam, with two decades of experience in public service, is currently on secondment from the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). She shares how the Nanyang Fellows (NF) MBA programme, which she completed in 2016, has been instrumental in her career.
What do you do as the director of strategic planning at URA?
I lead a team that reviews the long-term land use plan for Singapore. We examine trends that potentially have an impact on Singapore’s various needs and possible futures, and translate them to land and infrastructure plans to ensure our future generations can continue to enjoy a quality live, work and play environment in Singapore.
What motivated you to pursue the NF MBA programme and continue serving in the public sector?
When I came to Singapore from Hong Kong as a student, I was impressed by how orderly and efficient the city was. That made me want to join the public service – so that I could contribute to making Singapore a great city. Being in the civil service has also allowed me to play different roles. For instance, I was involved in charting out strategic directions for MCI and different public policies. When MCI offered me a scholarship, I thought the NF MBA programme would be a perfect fit, given NTU’s international reputation and comprehensive curriculum.
You took the programme in 2016. How is it relevant to your work today?
The programme covers a wide range of subjects from finance to cultural intelligence and East Asian studies. This made me aware of issues that I might not have come across previously in my career but were relevant in my subsequent postings in the public sector. It also equipped me with skills such as effective negotiation and communication. At URA, when we plan for Singapore’s long-term development, we have to consider and cater to various needs with different constraints. Lessons from the programme have helped me better understand different considerations, and co-create innovative solutions with our stakeholders.
The Nanyang Fellows MBA programme is designed for mid-senior level managers in the public sector and private sector individuals with a keen interest in the public sector. Why would you recommend this programme to civil servants and those working in the private sector?
The programme is very comprehensive as it raises awareness on issues that civil servants may not have come across previously in our career, but can be relevant in our future posting or positions. It also equips students with a range of useful skills such as negotiation and communication. In my case, the finance and governance modules were very relevant when I was posted to Ministry of Finance after the MBA programme. Similarly for those working in the private sector, I’m sure many of the skills and knowledge taught during the Nanyang Fellows MBA programme are applicable too. As a bonus, by interacting and working with Singapore public servants across different sectors during the programme, it also provides a good opportunity to share and understand considerations from different perspectives.
Nanyang Business School is accepting applications for its Nanyang Fellows MBA programme. Visit www.nanyangfellows.com