Linus Lim, CEO of Phillip Tokai Tokyo Investment Management and a Kaplan Industry Advisory Board member, already had a Bachelor of Economics when he decided to pursue his Master of Business Administration (MBA).
Besides career advancement, he also sought to improve his knowledge, particularly in the areas of general business management and entrepreneurship, during the tough equity market conditions of 2003 and 2004.
As the co-chief investment officer at Philip Capital Management, he credits his MBA qualifications for giving him an edge as an investor.
For example, the programme taught him how to evaluate different business models and understand how companies operate, enabling him to take a more critical approach when making judgment calls on where to invest.
He explains that while the management of a company may tell you certain things about their business, his MBA equipped him with the skills to look beyond these statements.
“The wide range of businesses that I analysed during my studies has given me an edge when I review companies and interview their management. The MBA programme presents a more holistic approach, where you’ll start asking different questions and are able to put yourself in the shoes of an entrepreneur. All of that has been extremely helpful,” he says.
Having done his first degree in the UK, he decided to study for his MBA in the US to increase the diversity of his experience.
Looking back, he thinks the programme not only helped him to develop his hard skills and improve his knowledge in these areas, but have taught him soft skills that have also proved to be extremely valuable.
“In the initial stages of your career, a lot of the work you do is an individual effort, but later on your work becomes more team-based. I think the programme helps to change your mindset, from focusing on individual achievement to coordinating between groups of people and motivating them. It helps to prepare you for a leadership position” he says.
He adds that employers are increasingly looking for these soft skills in the financial services industry, as they need people who can help manage transformation in their organisation.
Speaking on the relevance of the MBA programme, Lim believes technology has an increasingly important role to play in business, which is reflected in the modules on managing the digital economy and data analytics for business decision making.
There is also an emphasis on said soft skills, with courses on managing people and organisations, as well as leader identity and leadership. Students are given the chance to learn about innovation and entrepreneurship, and responsible business practices.
He thinks an MBA can be particularly valuable for people working in the financial services sector as it equips them for a broad range of roles, enabling them to adapt to the rapid change that is occurring in the industry.
“I think it is good to be a very skilled specialist within the finance field, but it is also good to supplement this with a general management approach,” he says.
He adds that his own career has moved from focusing on one task to having broader responsibilities over time.
“I was initially focused on Singapore and investing, now my role is geographically broader, all across Asia, and I am not just looking at investments, but am involved in overall leadership and people management. There’s a greater focus on strategy rather than pure execution now,” he says.
Lim advises anyone considering an MBA to use the opportunity to get out of their comfort zone and explore new areas, stating that, “An MBA is meant to be challenging. It should challenge you intellectually and lead to you asking better questions. I chose to challenge myself and do certain things that I had no knowledge of.”
He believes this approach is particularly important if someone’s reason for pursuing an MBA is career transformation, or to use the qualification as a stepping stone into a different area of the industry.
He adds that people should also take the opportunity to learn from fellow students by talking to different people of diverse backgrounds with various skill sets.
Overall, Lim believes an MBA qualification can help people accelerate their careers. “If you have demonstrable people skills and leadership skills, as well as good business sense, an MBA is an asset that places you in good stead for future jobs,” he says.
Kaplan offers students in Singapore a 15-month MBA programme through Newcastle Business School at Northumbria University (NU) in the UK, with dual accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, putting it in the top 1% of elite business schools worldwide.
It places a strong emphasis on experiential learning, with students having the opportunity to put the management and organisation theory and principles they’ve learned into practice through hands-on projects.
The programme’s modules cover a wide range of topics, including accounting and finance, strategic business management and the global business environment.
Kaplan also offers a Double Master’s Degree programme through Murdoch University –Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Human Resources Management (MHRM). Increasingly, companies are leveraging unique forms of organisational design and people management practices to attain competitive advantage. These qualifications are best suited for individuals working in business management and human resource management, who are ready to progress to more senior level management positions.
The Double Master’s Degrees aim to equip graduates with the knowledge and skill sets to move from transactional people management practices to transformational practices. Graduates from this programme will be conferred two Master’s Degrees, both the MBA and MHRM.