Local graduates from top schools like Raffles Institution and Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) often choose from two paths to pursue their undergraduate degree: entering a top university either in Singapore, or abroad in countries such as England, America, or Australia. Hear from Keivin Cheng, Megan Chong, and Zachary Tan on why they took the path less traveled to ESSEC Business School, which is top-ranked in Europe.
- ESSEC Asia-Pacific offers an international experience from the comforts of home
- Graduates leave equipped for the global world
- Develops open-mindedness and courage to explore
Working at Dubai-based firm, Artefact as a data consultant means that Zachary Tan needs to navigate through cross-cultural lines on a daily basis.
Thankfully, his years as part of the international student body of ESSEC Business School when completing his Global Bachelor of Business Administration (GBBA) have trained him well for the task, he declares, adding that he might not even be working overseas if not for ESSEC’s influence.
“Part of my desire to work overseas was because of my experience at ESSEC,” he explains. “I realized that there is just so much to explore and experience out there in the world, and I didn't want to limit myself to living in the same country I grew up in!”
Exploring The World From the Comforts of Home
He shares that his interest in exploring the world was sparked as early as when he first graduated from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent). Back then, he knew having a global profile would improve his future employment chances. Fellow ESSEC alumni, Megan Chong and Keivin Cheng, who come from Raffles Institution, shared the same sentiments—but for all three, there was also a strong desire to remain close to home.
The ESSEC Asia-Pacific campus offered them the best of both worlds. Starting at the SIngapore campus would allow them to stay close to their family and friends, but at the same time, still get a glimpse of life overseas by immersing in the school’s international student body.
The three also appreciated how when GBBA students reach their third or fourth year, they can spend a semester on exchange with one of ESSEC’s 175 prestigious partner universities, and enjoy another two semesters at the ESSEC campuses in France and Morocco.
While Keivin and Megan chose to go to the UK to study at King's College London and the University of Warwick respectively, Zachary opted to build his base in Asia and went for a prestigious double-degree program with Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
Developing Cultural Skills for the Global World
Reflecting on his journey at ESSEC, Keivin notes that these international opportunities have trained him to easily “build a strong rapport with just about anyone”. This, he adds, is a trait that serves him well in his current role as a business analyst at BP Singapore Pte Ltd.
Arguably though, ESSEC’s goal of developing global citizens goes beyond merely creating an international environment and offering opportunities for exchange—open-mindedness is also woven into the DNA of the curriculum.
With a learning-by-doing pedagogy and staple of group projects, ESSEC encourages students to improve their communication skills. And by teaching classes like economics, marketing and communications using examples from different cultures, students are encouraged to approach each issue they face with a global mindset.
It also helps that GBBA students must take up French and a third language, Zachary says, adding that he has found learning languages to be “a great way to immerse in another culture”.
Finally, there is emphasis on letting students try their skills outside of the classroom: In addition to corporate internships, they also take on a one-month social work or humanitarian project—an experience that took Megan to Vietnam teaching English to disadvantaged communities.
Building Open-Mindedness and Courage for the Future
Today, the PricewaterhouseCoopers consultant credits volunteer opportunities like these and the people she has met for helping her become “more adaptable to different ways of thinking, backgrounds and cultures.”
“The exposure I got at ESSEC caused me to reflect on my way of thinking and gave me a greater appreciation for diversity,” Megan muses. “I’m much bolder, more resilient, open-minded and understanding now.”
Keivin agrees. “Before coming to ESSEC, I was not as comfortable taking on challenges in life, and I wasn’t as capable of managing setbacks,” he explains, adding that what ESSEC has taught him is the valuable lesson of how to be comfortable with uncertainty.
Lessons like these are why to him, Megan and Zachary, the time spent at ESSEC was not a mere means to an end. Rather, it was a rite of passage to adulthood—one that has both shown them and equipped them with the skills to take on the world.