EDITOR’S NOTE: The Professional MBA Program at Mays, Class of 2020, is visiting Jakarta, Indonesia, and Singapore on the annual International Field Trip, a part of the program’s International Business Policy course. The itinerary runs Friday, July 25 to Saturday, August 3 with 47 students, Arvind Mahajan, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, and Mike Alexander, Director of the Professional MBA program, attending. Stay tuned for additional segments to their journey, told from the perspective of a student.
Read Part 2 of Unknown in Asia here.
Singapore…the island city-state. The land of heavy regulation, gorgeous views and home of the ~1.5% unemployment rate. This place is amazing, and I don’t want to leave. Just getting off the plane, the ride to the hotel and the hotel have been 180-degree realities of the place we just left. I didn’t know you could take a 2-hour flight and be in an entirely different world. Though Singapore and Indonesia have some similarities: They both have flourishing business districts, tons of people from all over, and everyone is nice.
Everything about Singapore has been great, except for the heat/humidity. I thought I was prepared for it because I’m from Houston, but this is definitely worse. Besides that, Singapore is a melting pot of diversity. Just walking around during my free time, I have seen many different cultures and people. You can be walking in a high-end mall, pop out the other side and be in China Town that fast.
The first night we got to go on a tour of the town with a boat ride on the marina, top deck access at the Marina Bay Sands (the premier hotel, convention center, casino, and mall), and finally the light show at the garden by the bay. Definitely spectacular and memorable. Great way to kick off part 2 of the trip.
On Thursday, we got to meet with Halliburton and M-Daq. Two different companies, a multinational based in Texas and a fin-tech startup about to go IPO. Halliburton took us on a tour of their facility, which was fantastic since I grew up in a machine shop, just not one on this scale. The fact that they do the complete process of CNCing a part to final packaging all in-house is awesome to see. Not only did we see the machine shop, but we also got to see their material testing lab (which is the first time I’ve seen a company with a complete lab since most clients I’ve worked with send their stuff out to be analyzed.) David was a great host and he is so passionate about Halliburton.
After Halliburton, we had a brief detour to a mall and hawker center before heading to M-Daq. M-Daq has to be the smallest company we visited and truly a startup. It was interesting to hear about a foreign exchange problem that I never knew existed. Supposedly retailers and consumers are getting played by banks and credit cards when you buy things in foreign countries because of the exchange rates. M-Daq wants to tackle this by making a platform that overlays on other companies software to provide live data feed of exchange rates so that consumers can purchase things in foreign countries, see the price in their countries currency and fake the transaction as a domestic transaction on both ends so that neither party has to pay the foreign transaction fees. Interesting topic that seems easy to fix but no one is doing it. At the end of the day, we got to network with a few executives in the Singapore area at Level 33. Some we have met before; some we saw again on Friday and some new faces. Everyone was nice and fun to talk to. It’s fascinating to listen to their stories and how they got to Singapore.
On the last day of the trip, we had a non-stop day of activities. My day started out with getting to the venue early with some of my team to get an early start on what is going on to know how to host Microsoft’s very own Richard Koh.
I am a big fan of Microsoft, so it was great to be able to meet him and ask questions about the products and software I use every day. After Richard’s presentation, we got another presentation about PR in Asia by Bill Adams. It was interesting to hear about how public relations works in Southeast Asia and PR stories of various companies. The main thing to remember is to be authentic in your company statements. In the afternoon, we participated in a trash hero cleanup event as our volunteer project.
Trash hero is a non-profit organization that has many outfits around the world. It focuses on cleaning up the environment through trash clean up events in cities. We cleaned up the trash on the beach on the eastern side of Singapore. Volunteering is something that is near and dear to my heart, not just because I am an Aggie, so this was a great event to be a part of and I am glad we did it. We wrapped up the week with a meal at Forlino, an Italian restaurant that overlooks the marina. This was a great way to finish things off. We got to hang out, talk about the trip and reflect on what we learned. Mike [Alexander] and Dr. Mahajan had great closing speeches for us, as did some of us. My classmate, Kenny, wrapped it up nicely with the fact that there are small ships, big ships…but the best ships of them all are friendships.
We definitely bonded on this trip, more than we have before. These types of trips don’t happen very often, but they seemed to always happen at Texas A&M. Between Fish Camp, Transfer Camp and now the professional MBA international trip, I can truly say that this school is definitely a top tier school. This only happens when you have professors and faculty that truly love what they do and are vested in seeing their students grow. I thank Nyetta Meaux-Drysdale, Mike Alexander, Deb Mann, Dr. Mahajan and anyone else in the decision-making process for giving me this opportunity to be a part of a wonderful program.