IESE’s Asia Career Summit (ACS) is the flagship event hosted by the Asia Business Club, giving MBA students the opportunity to network with and learn about top companies in South East Asia. This year twenty-three 1st and 2nd year IESE MBAs and over 15 companies participated in the sixth edition of the summit in Singapore. Raghav Gupta (MBA Class of 2020) shares anecdotes on his experience and learnings from this three-day event.
We had an action packed schedule for this year’s Asia Career Summit (ACS), starting with an informative presentation by Henkel. Rafael Parusel, (Head of Purchasing Logistics APAC) spoke about the launch of Henkel’s global supply chain hub in Singapore and their strategy to merge its supply chain around the world. To me, what was even more interesting was that aside from purchasing, Henkel is currently focusing on how to apply digital transformation into the FMCG industry.
The second presentation for the day was a joint session with IQVIA and Zalora. Sol Magaz, IESE MBA 06 and Senior Principal & Head of Consulting, SEA at IQVIA talked about the history and background of the firm and their groundbreaking range of solutions across healthcare, clinical research and human data sciences. It was inspiring to hear Sol’s passion for the industry and her take on how the diverse requirements and needs of their clients in Asia gives rise to huge opportunities to the consulting arm of IQVIA. Silvia Thom, CTO of Zalora, Asia’s leading fashion e-commerce start-up spoke about her 6-year long journey at the start-up. We learnt that Zalora’s core competency lies in their fulfillment centers and how their operations strategies differentiate them from competitors in a highly congested market. We had the chance to network with the company representatives and these candid conversations provided us with more insights about the culture and opportunities at their companies.
The following session was a working lunch with Sam Neo, Founder of People Mentality Inc, a Human Resources (HR) and Employer Branding consultancy firm. He gave us useful tips on best practices to optimize LinkedIn profiles and stand out in front of recruiters both online and offline, skills that I believe are essential for any MBA student.
Next on the schedule was a company visit to the Google APAC HQ! I remember feeling a childlike excitement as we walked through the office, enamored by the interactive touchscreen panels, Lego-walls, nap rooms and gelato carts. Our host Marc Queralt, IESE MBA 15 (Manager Telecoms, APAC Partnerships) shared his transition from IESE to Google and from Europe to Asia. We discussed careers at Google, work-life balance, 20% projects (Google employees are given flexibility to work on any project for 20% of their time!) and Singapore emerging as a tech-hub for Asia.
Our last stop for the 1st day was an IESE Alumni Networking Session. We were able to meet many local alumni who have been working across different industries and functions in Singapore. Giving us a unique opportunity to expand our IESE network beyond our own cohort, this was one of the most resourceful events of the ACS. During the session, we were joined by Michele Ferrario, CEO & CO-Founder of StashAway, who began his career at McKinsey, and then became an entrepreneur himself. His advice to current MBA students exploring entrepreneurship as a full-time career was “getting things done is better than doing things perfectly”!
We kicked off Day 2 with Restaurant Brands International Inc. (“RBI”), one of the world’s largest quick service restaurant companies. The energy and enthusiasm with which Alba Beqiri (People Business Partner) and Macarena Gracía (General Manager of South Division) presented the exciting opportunities for MBAs at RBI and the fast-paced company culture definitely appealed to many of us.
Our second presentation was with DHL Consulting, where Senior Consultants Vishal Kumar and Chu Phuong Linh shared their experiences and demystified supply chain consulting. As opposed to traditional consulting, supply chain consulting focuses on helping clients improve their operations and supply chain efficiency, which entails putting textbook knowledge from the MBA course into the real world.
From the perspective of both venture capitalists and business owners, our next session was a panel discussion that opened our eyes to the start-up ecosystem in ASEAN. Priscilla Han, Head of Investments at REAPRA, shared her investment strategy and insight on how to identify businesses with promising growth potential. Jay Huang, founder of Pulsifi, and Amrish Nair, founder of Bio-rithm, shared the essential steps from conceptualizing business idea to materializing it into operable businesses, as well as the challenges their companies are facing in the current market.
Following that, we met with Amazon Web Service (AWS). Vincent Petit, Business Development Manager, told us about Amazon’s cloud infrastructure and product portfolio. With a growing popularity of the ASEAN markets, Amazon is looking to further expand its exposure and operations within the region. We also discussed how MBAs can add value within the AWS organization bridging the business and technological expertise required for client servicing in AWS.
Continuing with the e-commerce and digital theme of the afternoon, our next session was by Ashwanth Ramesh, IESE MBA 14 and VP Strategy at Lazada, South-East Asia’s leading e-commerce platform. We learnt about Lazada’s success story and details about their marketplace model and logistics operations. Talking about the strategies adopted by the company, Ashwath gave us his insights on how competition is a critical ingredient to develop cutting edge technology and innovation, especially in the e-commerce industry.
The last session of the day was a special one – Anjaney Borwanker, IESE MBA 03 started his presentation by telling us that his journey at IESE had come a full circle. He was one of the first organizers of the Asia Career Summit and was now presenting at ACS as a recruiter! As the co-founder of Navozyme, a maritime technology solutions provider, he gave us many insights about the industry and how Navozyme aims to revolutionize one of the most traditional industries in the world, using blockchain and digital transformation.
Of course, how could we come to Singapore without sampling any of the local cuisine? We closed the day with a delicious dinner of Hainanese chicken rice planned by some of our classmates.
On our third and last day, we started with a company visit to the Microsoft office. Our hosts, Anna Fourie (APAC University Recruitment Lead) took us through career opportunities at Microsoft SEA while Shirley Strachan (General Manager IoT Device Expert, Asia) discussed the importance of IoT (Internet of Things) and the latest developments in this space. Kshitij Gopal, IESE MBA Exchange 14 also joined us to talk about his career path and company culture at Microsoft.
Next Elena Chow, Founder of Connect One, a talent solutions provider for the start-up and innovation ecosystem, gave us an insightful presentation about the trade-offs one should expect when opting to work in the start-up ecosystem and the trends in the start-up ecosystem in Singapore particularly. For some of us who were still deciding between different career paths, her insights were extremely valuable!
The third session of the day was hosted by Nikhil Kapur, IESE MBA Exchange 15 and Principal and Investments Head at Gree Ventures, a venture capital firm with multiple investments in early stage start-ups across Asia. It was an extremely informative and interactive session, where we discussed about trends in the start-up industry in APAC and the main criteria the VC analyzes before making investments.
We then made our way to the EON Reality office to explore the applications of virtual and augmented reality in real-world situations. Akkireddy Challa (Director Aerospace) shared how the company is building tools with the unique ability to provide experiential training in real-time data-driven applications. We were given the opportunity to try some of VR and AR models for different industries including healthcare, aerospace and construction. This was most definitely the coolest part of the day, where we got to demo simulations of an oil and gas construction site and 3D human hearts!
For our final company visit, we went to Mastercard Labs. Our hosts, Jochen Nimtschek, IESE MBA 03 and Regional Lead Market Development and Tobias Puehse (Vice President Innovation) spoke about innovation in payments and the importance of the digital revolution in the banking industry worldwide. We learnt a great deal about Mastercard’s range of digital payments technologies, from robotics and artificial Intelligence to different contactless payments technologies.
We ended the day and closed off this year’s edition of the Asia Career Summit with snacks and beers at a craft brewery, discussing what a great week it had been filled with inspirational conversations and meaningful connections. We even started planning next year’s summit and hope you can join us!
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