Nanyang Business School aims to demystify rapid technological disruptions for business leaders of tomorrow
By Rachel Tan
July 7, 2019
In trying to better understand the rise of technology in this era, how often do we encounter terms such as “blockchain” and “artificial intelligence”, only to be left confounded by technical definitions? It is also difficult to know where to begin unpacking the many drivers of change shaping the landscape of business. Yet, these issues are increasingly hard to ignore, proving integral for business leaders of tomorrow, whether you are a recent graduate or an industry professional with many years of experience. Being able to anticipate and move with the momentum of a fast-changing and complex world is vital.
Nanyang Business School (NBS) recognises that navigating this vast terrain can be daunting. Hence, their graduate programmes aim to guide students by pointing them to key business and technological trends and drawing the related implications within an Asian context.
“What we are seeing is that a lot of technology is being applied to cater to business needs such as driving greater customer intimacy and operational efficiency, but with increased benefits, there is also increased cost and risk,” says NBS’ associate dean of graduate studies Sia Siew Kien.
He also says that the pervasiveness of digital traces means that more data can be used to analyse behaviour and generate insights, and businesses need more efficient ways of processing information.
In general, the accelerated speed of change driven by technology calls for a re-examination of earlier assumptions, as well as an increased readiness to change, to be more agile, and to anticipate what is to come.
“This makes management a lot harder than before,” he says.
As such, NBS offers a suite of four general MBA programmes and five specialised master’s programmes to help their students cope with these major trends while being rooted in fundamental business concepts and practices. Complex issues are approached conceptually to develop students’ strategic thinking and decision making while ensuring that they are not bogged down by excessive technicalities.
Each programme caters to different groups of individuals with different needs, from fresh graduates seeking specific skill upgrades to experienced industry professionals aspiring to progress towards managerial or leadership positions.
Beyond equipping students with relevant business and technical knowledge, the graduate programmes also focus on honing soft skills through highly interactive learning sessions such as business negotiation and leadership coaching.
Professor Sia highlights that these classes are key in helping students gain clarity in who they are, what they represent and what they are passionate about. They need to know the “why” underlying their career pursuits.
“We hope to help them eventually curate their own learning experience by discovering their purpose and what they need and want in life as future leaders,” he says. “It’s more than just knowing the course content. It’s also about doing (execution) and being (self-awareness).”
While MBAs are increasingly common across universities, NBS’ strength is in its heritage as part of a technological university. Its programmes are also always attentive to market trends.
Armed with some of the best researchers in artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, future mobility, and medical technology, NBS is well-positioned to bring experts in the fi elds of cutting-edge technology into the classroom and help students understand how these technologies impact the way businesses operate. In addition, with its extensive network of researchers, tech entrepreneurs, alumni and industry partners, students also have opportunities to connect with the right people in the field.
Prof Sia also highlights the programmes’ focus on the rise of Asia in the increasingly tech driven landscape for businesses. One of the case studies explored in the programmes is ride hailing and app-based services operator Go-Jek and its social impacts in reaching the underserved in Indonesia.
“Technology has a lot of implications in this part of the world,” he says. “We hope our programmes will convey the idea that technology goes beyond just making money. It is also about creating real impacts especially in helping developing economies. It is about finding new ways to do things that were unimaginable before.”