After last year’s successful study trip to Hangzhou China, our destination this year is Singapore. Within 3.5 days (Jan. 20-24), our students and faculty members from 14 different countries visited Port of Singapore (logistics/ transshipment), Singapore Management University (business education), Rolls-Royce (engine manufacturing and service), Grab (sharing economy), Delta Research Center at Nanyang Technological University (Industry 4.0), Twitter (social networking), Sea (e-commerce & gaming), and WingsOverAsia (private jets operations). In additional to oral and video presentations, HR managers from the visited companies also shared hiring and recruiting information. (Twitter actually arranged interviews with five of our students right after the study trip.) Company visits were scheduled during daytime while debriefing sessions were arranged in the evening where students and professors discussed what they learned from the visits. This study trip course exemplifies many of the innovative teaching methods used by NTU GMBA – a very fulfilling experiential learning experience.
The GMBA’s Global Management Practice study trip brought students to Singapore for a 3-and-half-day visit to various companies from Jan 21 to 24. A total of 49 students participated in this study trip, led by the Director of GMBA, Prof. Chialin Chen and the course instructors, Prof. MD Cheng, Prof. Charles Chang and Prof. Miriam Garvi. The GMBA staffs, Ms. Celia Yang and Yvonne Chen went along to make necessary arrangement with the local coordinators.
Our first destination was a visit to Singapore port operated by PSA Singapore, the flagship terminal of PSA International. PSA International is one of the world’s largest port operators, with 81M Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEU) handled in 2018 while PSA Singapore alone handled 36.31M of it. The managers of PSA Singapore gave us a brief explanation about PSA including how the port works, what they have done in the past years, their effort of expanding into Southeast Asia, Europe, Americas and etc, and what makes them success to gain a strong hold as the port operator of choice. Students got a chance to check out the Singapore port from the top floor of PSA Singapore, giving them a clearer picture about the port operation.
After having a seafood lunch at Putien, we departed to Singapore Management University for sharing session by the SMU Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE). We were greeted by Mr. Koh Foo, the director of IIE. The institute is responsible for the overall innovation and entrepreneurship development at SMU. During his session, Mr. Koh Foo shared the work he is currently doing to cultivate talents with innovation and entrepreneur mindset through education and extracurricular activities.
The sharing session was later followed by a startup pitch from a SMU student, presenting about his idea of creating a business that helps to cultivate future talents relevant for the market. It was quickly followed by a brief introduction by Prof Patrick Loh on “AI startup” and his students sharing his business idea to find solution to the F&B industry to promote customer loyalty and ensure business sustainability. Prof Loh also shared his comments on how leaders could enable innovation in their teams.
After the sharing session, we were guided by SMU ambassadors to visit their BIG incubator and the SMU campus. It was amazing to see how the university supported the students by providing ample resources for them to be able to achieve their future career goal. Students were dismissed after the campus tour at around 5pm to explore Singapore.
Students were assigned into two groups on the second day of the study trip. The first group left early morning to Rolls-Royce, one of the world’s leading industrial technology company that involves in civil and defense aerospace as well as power systems business. Students were being welcomed by the officer from Rolls-Royce, Ms. Anne Benguerba before being escorted to the seminar room. Ms. Anne showed us the safety video of the company before leading us to the assembly and test unit to give us a better view of how the aircraft engines are assembled. The company representative also gave a presentation on how the wide chord fan blade is produced and why the company chose to set up its manufacturing facilities in Singapore despite its expensive operation cost. Rolls-Royce also presented its future vision of electrification, digitization and producing cleaner, safer and more competitive power. Students were very engaged throughout the entire visit, asking many insightful questions along the way.
The second group of students visited Grab, a Singapore-based technology company that offers ride-hailing, ride sharing, food delivery service and logistics services through its app. Their office located in the beautiful Marina One West Tower, provides a serene welcoming environment for employees to work. Students were welcomed and introduced to the humble beginnings of Grab and the direction that they’re heading to. Grab integrates multiple easy and convenient services to both Grab Customers and their partners. After learning about the culture and values, students took a tour of their offices and had the opportunity to chat with employees in the breakroom. One of the students even talked to a Grab Employee during their lunch break from their Seattle Office. Students left with small gifts and a better understanding of how Grab is using technology to simplify everyday life.
After visiting Rolls-Royce and Grab, we departed to Nanyang Technological University to visit its Delta Research Center (DRC) and Delta-NTU Corporate Lab. Dr. Jack Sheng Kee, the DRC Singapore Lab Director introduced us to the cyberphysical system, or better known as the IoT, that they have been researching on. DRC focused on three main business categories: Power Electronics, Infrastructure and Automation for sustainable growth. We visited their lab after the introduction which is working on SMART manufacturing. Mr. Jeffrey Soon, leader from DRC, told us that their goal is to achieve SMART manufacturing solution lifecycle. We were also being introduced to the SMART learning app that they are developing for Singapore’s future economy.
In the evening, we were proud to be able to invite Mr. Simon Kung, the Chief Operating Officer of South Asia Telexpress to share his experience working in Southeast Asia. Mr. Simon is in charge of the operation center in the Philippines and Malaysia, which aim to provide cross country and multilingual service for its clients who needed call center services. Mr. Simon shared with us about the company’s decision to set up its call center in these two countries, and the challenges he faced while managing these two companies in different countries with different cultural background. He also gave us good advice on how to look at the potential opportunities existing in Southeast Asia. The second day’s study trip ended with a debriefing session with professors sharing their thoughts about these companies we visited. Each group shared what they have seen throughout these two days before calling it a day.
Third day of the GMP1 study trip began with a visit to Twitter Singapore, the APAC headquarter. It has a very nicely decorated reception with friendly staffs who escorted us to the common area later. Mr. Alan Lan, the head of Greater China of Twitter APAC welcomed us with his sharing on the Asian Millennial, the targeted user of Twitter. Team Leads from multiple departments from Twitter joined us during the fireside chat, sharing their experience while working in Twitter in terms of content creation, sales, partnership and etc. Ms. Alyssa Soh, the Niche APAC lead also shared the company’s success stories to give us better insights into what Twitter actually does. Students were excited to tour around the office, their open-spaced office concept is welcomed by most of us, and the company culture made it a great place to work. The office tour ended with networking session in the common area before we moved to our next destination.
After having lunch at Twitter, we departed to the second company of the day, the SEA group. The company consists of three key units, Garena, Shopee and AirPay. Our host, Mr. Alex Loh, guided us through the agenda for the day, with Mr. Wang Ning, the senior manager of SEA group introduced us to the 3-core businesses that they are running. He also pointed out the rise of E-Sports which is one of their major focus in their Garena division. The session was continued with a panel discussion, answering questions from the floor such as the company culture and what makes SEA group different from its competitors. The SEA officers then led an office tour at Galaxis. Students enjoyed the unlimited snacks readily available in the common area for their employee pantry. We ended our visit at SEA group at around 5pm.
How time flies when you’re having fun! Alas, the last day of our study trip in Singapore. Students loaded their luggage into the bus in the morning to depart from the final company visit to the airport. The trip ended with a tour to WingsOverAsia, a company providing a comprehensive suite of technical support and lifestyle services for private aviation in Singapore. According to our host, WingsOverAsia provides not only aircraft sales but also flight support, fixed-base operator (FBO) facilities and clubWOA membership for everyone who loves to fly. Students are amazed by the different models of aircrafts in the hangar for service and maintenance. They took turns to get down to the aircraft hangar to have a closer look at all the aircrafts available there. According to our host, the company was founded by Mr. Ng Yeow Meng, an aircraft enthusiast who started WingsOverAsia as an online community portal for everyone who has interest in flying which then later spins off into a separate private entity dedicated to provide private aviation service. The company has about 59 members and 20 employees to serve members’ aviation needs.
After listening to the sharing from our host and visiting the aircraft hangar, students broke down into groups to have a debrief session about the company as well as what they have learned throughout the entire study trip. All the students had a great time engaging with our professors to get to know more details about the companies they visited in terms of their business model, strategy planning and etc. Our last company visit ended at around 12pm, with all students bidding farewell to their friends before catching flights back to Taiwan.