Livin’ la Vida Local

By Claudia Pumarejo, Global MBA 2013-2014, Mexico

After reading about our first week in Singapore, you must be wondering if it’s possible to top that experience. Well, I can assure that – now that the jetlag’s finally gone – it’s only getting better.

This week we learned about Human Resources in Asia from Monsieur Philippe Bonnet, Vice-President of Human Resources for Asia Pacific at Essilor, a world-wide leader in the corrective lenses market. Originally French, Essilor has been able to position in the Asian market itself thanks to its strategic bilateral partnerships and its top of the line technologies. Among other interesting topics, we discussed the shift in leadership style required for Asian managers and the challenges of being or dealing with expatriates. With Bonnet as our professor we had the unique chance of interacting face to face with someone who figures as a character in a business case study used by the most prestigious business schools. He told us firsthand about that particular case and gave us more off-the-record details about the situation, which was a privilege to hear.

On Monday after class, Ingrid, Richard, Naoki and I – the Shanghai Hult Team – had a work meeting to polish our project presentation. Next week we will be presenting it to our class to get some more feedback from our dear classmates. We are sure their bright minds and contributions will be very helpful for making us as well-prepared as possible for the real competition. We have made it a challenge: we will pay for the drinks of whoever raises the most relevant questions.

On Tuesday afternoon we were taken to the Asian Civilizations Museum. I generally enjoy visiting museums, but this time I must confess that I was not very enthusiastic at first. To my pleasant surprise, these exhibits are absolutely on par with those in Paris. The museum is world class, with extensive arts and crafts from the whole region. We first went to South Asia, where we focused mainly on India. It was great to refresh our memories about Indian deities such as Brahma, the creator of the world; Shiva, the destroyer; Vishnu, preserver of the status quo, and Ganesha, remover of obstacles. We also covered some of the story of the Buddha. Then, we went to the China section, where the guide gave us an introduction to its traditional philosophies of Daoism and Confucianism, as well as Mazu, the goddess of the sea, worshiped in southern coastal regions of China and in Taiwan.

We continued our journey to South East Asia and by the end of the visit we were able to tell apart the Buddha figures from Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam.

The next day we welcomed Nicolas Morineaux, Vice President of Finance for the Fashion Division of LVMH in Asia-Pacific. You have probably heard about this company, a huge French conglomerate of Luxury brands. Monsieur Morineaux was amazingly sharp in his talk. He could discuss about operations, distribution, contract law, sales, marketing or any other business topic with great knowledge and understanding. Apart from having a remarkable mind, he was the perfect image of elegance. We could have not asked for a better representative of LVMH.

On Thursday, we had another guest speaker, Olivier Hui-Bon Hua, the GM for Asia of a leading recruitment firm called BeThe1. He told us about his professional path and we got details about some of his projects. He manages three offices with very different profiles: Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore, but he knows his market very well and it was very interesting to have this interactive session with him.

Overnight, the working week was over and it was time for us to relax. We had the perfect occasion to do so when Leonardo Banegas, an ESSEC Global MBA graduate from last batch, kindly invited us to join him for a cocktail. We went to Marina Towers to meet him and we could enjoy the nicest views of the city from one of its top floors.

Leonardo is currently working here in Singapore, he landed a job at one of the big four world-wide consulting firms, KPMG. We were very happy to see him and his insights about the post-MBA life were truly useful. We had the very nice surprise of also seeing again Maryam Mohamed, another alumnus from the last batch, who went back home to Qatar and is now working for the National Financial Regulatory Body. She was on her way to a well-deserved vacation in Bali, when she decided to make a quick stop in Singapore to say hi!

Today, after a day of hard work preparing for what’s coming up next week, I decided to go stroll around the Arab Quarter during some free time. In this very lively place I saw a beautiful Mosque, tried delicious food and, in typical fashion for this very diverse and international city, I found a Mexican restaurant in the middle of the Arab Quarter! Welcome to Singapore!

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