NTU’s Nanyang Executive MBA programme gives human resources director Judy Heng the tools and strategies she needs to navigate the new normal in business
By Esther Teo
July 7, 2020
With so much uncertainty in the post-coronavirus world, pursuing an Executive MBA (EMBA) may be the last thing on senior executives’ minds.
But human resources director Judy Heng, who works at medical innovations company Edwards Lifesciences Singapore, says she could not have done her Nanyang EMBA at a better time.
The programme is offered by Nanyang Business School at Nanyang Technological University.
“Since starting my EMBA in January, I’ve been more agile and global in my thinking. I’m also more knowledgeable about the ecosystems and developments in different countries, as well as the lessons that we can apply in the corporate world and our personal lives,” the 46-year-old adds.
Such new thinking and strategies are now more essential than ever.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Ms Heng and her team have been working non-stop to respond to the many legislative changes introduced to curb the spread of the virus.
One of their biggest tests was when Malaysia announced its travel restrictions on March 16, leaving Ms Heng with less than 15 hours to retain her company’s more than 1,000 Malaysian workers in Singapore.
It was completely new territory, but Ms Heng felt confident about managing the crisis, having recently taken a module on Agile Leadership. There had been a case study on an American multinational corporation which faced a similar issue in Thailand a few years ago.
“We quickly obtained information from the Ministry of Manpower, workers’ unions and HR contacts from other companies. We then put together a business case for our headquarters in the United States to get their approval for a hardship package, as well as critical support measures for the business and our people,” she says.
Ms Heng’s team managed to retain almost half their Malaysian colleagues.
“This pandemic has put HR at the forefront of crisis management. It’s been a very good test for us,” she adds.
Amazed by how fast she could apply what she learnt to her job, Ms Heng wants to help other talents in her organisation get on board the Nanyang EMBA programme.
She enjoys the way her professors bring to life lessons on Future Technologies, Agile Leadership and Future-Ready Enterprise & Digital Transformation by sharing current business case studies.
In addition to the one-to-one leadership coaching programme, Ms Heng also finds the knowledge sharing among her coursemates — many of them C-Suite and senior leaders in their industries — invaluable.
In March, the programme’s three-week overseas segment at the University of Berkeley in California was cancelled midway due to Covid-19. The students had to return to Singapore to complete the programme via e-learning.
Ms Heng was impressed by how quickly the UC Berkeley professors put together a dynamic online learning curriculum.
“I learnt so much in one week. We did group work via Zoom, and were taught by professors who are investors and mentors of start-up organisations. Thought leaders such as the founders of Yelp, financial technology investors and venture capitalists shared insights into the ecosystem of its innovation in the San Francisco Bay Area,” she says.
Ms Heng is looking forward to attending the second overseas segment at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania next year.
Upon graduation, she wants to continue developing as an inspiring female leader, and to help minorities and women build their careers.
She says: “There are still too few C-suite female leaders in global organisations; even fewer in those with an Asian heritage. I would like to be part of building that success story.”
Visit www.nanyangemba.ntu.edu.sg for more information on the Nanyang EMBA programme.