They may already be near the top of their game, but senior executives look to Singapore Management University’s dynamic Executive MBA programme to supercharge their growth into high-demand, future-ready leaders of tomorrow

SINGAPORE (Dec 10): To the observer, directors and C-suite executives seem to have it made, what with their fancy job titles, enviable pay cheques and years of invaluable experience. But senior executives no longer have the luxury of resting on their laurels once they have earned themselves that corner office with plate glass windows — not in today’s age of digital disruption and volatile economies.

Remaining relevant and maintaining a competitive edge during capricious times often entails an investment in personal growth. And the perfect partner for propelling senior executives to the next level is the Singapore Management University Executive MBA (EMBA) programme — designed by business leaders for business leaders.

Making a mark on the international business education milieu is no easy feat. The SMU EMBA programme jumped two places in this year’s EMBA Ranking by the Financial Times, and the accolade is testament to the programme’s high-calibre cohort and curriculum. The programme was ranked 22nd globally, up from last year’s 24th spot in the list. The SMU EMBA draws the cream of the corporate crop, with more than 60% of its candidates being director-level and C-suite executives who possess an average work experience of 20 years in a variety of industries across Asia, the US, Europe and the Middle East.

Bhattacharya: The salary is important, but it is also about the responsibility you get and the value you add to society with that kind of responsibility

To help these high achievers achieve their goals, the SMU EMBA is deeply industry-relevant, as its curriculum is co-designed with the help of 100 senior business leaders and senior executives in Asia. “We wanted to draw upon their combined expertise and experience in the business world and create a programme that is relevant to the industry,” says Professor Shantanu Bhattacharya, academic director of the SMU EMBA programme at the Lee Kong Chian School of Business.

Aimed at fast-tracking, and not disrupting, the careers of high-flying candidates, the EMBA programme takes place over the course of nine weeks of classes in a year. While the majority of EMBA course participants are often senior business executives on track for a C-suite career, there is also a sizeable mix of entrepreneurs and business owners among SMU EMBA candidates. The participants, with their collective years of experience, bring to the class the ability to generate discussions at a much higher level. “That kind of interaction makes for a different kind of learning experience,” says Bhattacharya.

Grooming global citizens

The return on investment is proof of the programme’s success: SMU EMBA grads see an average pay hike of more than 40% within three years of graduation.

This dramatic growth in earnings potential arises, in part, from the programme’s ability to groom leaders for a globalised business environment. The EMBA provides exposure to not only Singapore, but also the three top economies of the world: China, the US and India. The programme has tailored three week-long study trips to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; the Guanghua School of Management of Peking University in Beijing; and the Indian School of Business. In other words, candidates will gain complete immersion in key business environments through the SMU EMBA world-class partner universities.

This year, the SMU EMBA programme was ranked 22nd globally in the Financial Times’ annual EMBA Ranking, up two spots from last year

Bhattacharya points out that the programme is taught by top international faculty from the university, and not just the Lee Kong Chian School of Business. “We have the best faculty from law, accounting and economics,” he says. Students discuss case studies, many of which have been developed internally on Asian companies by SMU’s Center of Management Practice; pick up management concepts and theories; and learn about leadership skills relevant in today’s world.

Bhattacharya’s aim is to have a good mix, not only in terms of gender and nationality, but also work experience and functional diversity. In the class of 2018, for example, 68% are international students from across Asia and the Middle East. “We are completely oriented towards diversity,” he says.

Beyond the bottom line

While increased remuneration and an accelerated rise on the corporate ladder are priorities for candidates, Bhattacharya suggests there may be greater objectives when it comes to a well-rounded business education. “The salary is important, but it is also about the responsibility you get and the value you add to society with that kind of responsibility,” he says.

As such, students also embark on a corporate social responsibility project as part of the programme’s “action learning” experience. It allows students to manage profitable organisations while addressing environmental and societal issues and giving back to society. It is about the balance of the three elements: profit, people and planet. “They are successful captains of industry; they must also understand that it is industry that gives them their success, and that they owe it to society,” says Bhattacharya. For example, alumni of the programme include C-suite executives, senior directors and one who went on to become CEO of a public hospital in Singapore. The way Bhattacharya sees it, the salary hikes that SMU EMBA graduates enjoy also come with a greater social responsibility. “These are leaders of society, and SMU has a role in developing them for these leadership roles. And we are just starting,” he says.

For more information about the SMU EMBA programme, visit or e-mail [email protected]

Enlisting leaders of tomorrow

Designed for global senior leaders, the Singapore Management University Executive MBA programme is a fast track to mastering business innovation and growth.

• The Financial Times ranks it among the top 25 global EMBA programmes;

• Three years after graduation, SMU EMBA grads draw an average annual salary of US$363,014 ($495,582) — the fifth-highest among EMBA programmes worldwide — and see an average salary jump of 43%;

• The programme allows students to keep their careers on track while achieving an EMBA through nine weekly segments; and

• The programme includes key partnerships with leading global business universities in the three top economies of the world.