Picking up useful skills

SINGAPORE - For a working adult, hitting the books again can be tough. Ms Gitanjali Surendran relied on the support of her family to complete her MBA programme with the East Asia Institute of Management (EASB).

"It's not easy at times to get back to an intense academic life after having worked for a few years and living in a new place," she says. "Their opinions and support helped me a lot."

The 30-year-old, who moved to Singapore in May 2011 from Bangalore, says her MBA programme has helped her to gain confidence in facing challenges as well as equip her with useful skills for her work. She was working as a design manager in Bangalore.

"It has also helped me develop my analytical and strategic management skills that have been really helpful when handling projects and a business unit," she says. "In addition, studying and working alongside students from all over Asia was a fantastic opportunity to learn about different cultures. Such an experience is essential when working in an international environment."

Ms Surendran, who started on the MBA programme soon after arriving in Singapore and completed it in December 2012, says her time at EASB was spent largely "studying at the library with other students".

She adds: "This daily experience based on sharing, exchanging opinions and helping one another was very enriching. If I had to name one specific project though, it would be a group project for our marketing class. Managing responsibilities, combining each one's work and respecting deadlines have taught me a lot."

Teachers in her MBA programme - Mr Kumaran rajaram, Mr Lucky Cheong and Ms Christina Tay - inspired her. Picking Singapore was the "major turning point" in her life, she says. "Singapore has a great image as an education hub and so many companies willing to do business in Asia have chosen the city-state as their base for all its advantages: great infrastructures and services, safety, stability, efficiency, professionalism and so many others," she explains.

Since graduating from her MBA programme, Ms Surendran has been working for a Belgium-based company, Digilis Group, where she specialises in the field of heritage preservation by way of digitisation and digital archiving.

The company's customers include the Vatican Library and the National Archives of Thailand, she says. "The company also offers digitisation services for companies and individuals willing to change their 'hard' data (photos, maps, albums and manuscripts for instance) into 'soft data' to preserve and consult it more easily.

"In Singapore, Digilis has an office where I am based to better serve customers in the region. As a project manager, my role starts with business development and ends with ensuring project completion and customers' satisfaction." one of the biggest challenges in her position, she says, is to adjust the "company offer, strategy and services to the different markets in the region".

She adds: "A company model can work really well in one place but not in the other. Finding the right partners around South-east Asia is also a very motivating challenge."

Ms Surendran encourages younger working professionals to go back to school. "Learning through academic knowledge is very rare while working but it is very helpful," she says.

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