Monday, August 6, 2007
GMBA - Dec 06An exciting part of my first semester was going through the Entrepreneurship course which ran for a whole 3 months as classes for it were scheduled only on Sundays. We had a number of interesting activities that formed a part of it. A versatile and enterprising Mr. Koh Seng Choon, a successful Singaporean entrepreneur took us through it and I must say it was most delightful to interact with him. We not only got a flavour of the Chinese ways but also about their perspective of working with Indians. On the very first day of class, he brought along with him a rattan ball and a marker. He told us that he wanted all of our names to be on the ball by the end of the course. The condition to write on it was to ask him a question in class. He would answer and promptly throw the ball to the person who asked the question. At the end of the course, one lucky person was to get the ball for keeps. This was almost like an election campaign and there was quite a frenzy associated with the event. The one with the maximum number of votes was presented with it by Dr. Vijay Sethi, our Dean. Mr. Seng Choon really put his heart and soul into making the course enjoyable and we all developed a unique bond with him. He also helped some of us get projects with companies for our SGPs. One of the activities that we all did was the “I as the Business” where we each were given a topic and were asked to speak to an audience of investors asking them to invest in our business idea. The focus on brevity was important as he highlighted that in real life, we sometimes get just a minute to convince someone to grant us an appointment.
The next exercise we undertook was called “I as the Investor”. As part of this, we were all given prospectuses of a company. We were to write a one page analysis of whether or not we would invest in it and the reasons for the same. Drafting a covering letter to the management, informing them of our decision, also formed a part of this exercise. We swore not to look up details about the company on the internet or in business papers, so that we would form an independent and unbiased judgement.
The third and most important exercise was to write a business plan – we chose subjects we were passionate about and many of our latent dreams were actually penned down in detail in the form of these business plans. There were restaurants, launderettes, sports parlours and a plethora of interesting business plans. Some of us chose to do it in groups with others having similar interests. I chose to do it alone, and although it was a lot of work to do single-handedly, it was a great learning experience. Again the written plan was accompanied by a 1 min PowerPoint presentation convincing investors to buy our business idea. Mr. Seng Choon went through them in detail and gave us valuable feedback. He liked my concept and I felt satisfied that my hard work had paid off.
As part of the course, we went for two field trips – one to SATS (Singapore Airlines Terminal Services) which is the leading provider of integrated ground handling and in-flight catering services at Singapore Changi Airport and the other to an Indian restaurant in Singapore. Both experiences were enriching.
As I look back now, I realize that the course certainly helped us imbibe an entrepreneurial spirit and mindset. Becoming an entrepreneur involves great discipline and self-belief. One has to be prepared to deal with uncertainty and often, one has to undertake multiple roles.
An MBA isn’t only about getting students ready for the corporate world and to lead in established organizations but also to equip them sufficiently to be able to undertake their own ventures, be effective managers and business persons and to make a success of them.
Surely, some of us from our batch will undertake such challenges in the future and when we do, we’ll reminisce about our SPJCM days.