Slinging it in Singapore
DBi students tried Singapore Slings, other treats and experienced a new culture
Published: Sunday, January 29, 2012
Updated: Monday, January 30, 2012 17:01
When I first starting telling people that I'd be traveling to Singapore for a two week class, their very first reaction I was, "Don't they have a rule that you can't chew gum there?" This statement was quickly followed up by, "Didn't Anthony Bourdain do a couple specials on their food centers?" Yes and yes. However, there's a lot more to Singapore.
The evening before class started, we had an event at the Singapore Flyer, the largest observation wheel (think enclosed ferris wheel) in the world. We waited until the sun went down before we hopped aboard so while we missed the views of Malaysia, we were able to see the entire city lit up for miles (okay fine, meters).
Our classes were held at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School. Our head professor was Dr. Prem Shamdasani. Dr. Prem was an entertaining professor with tons of knowledge about Singapore and doing business in Asia. Singapore is small, at 274 square miles. Every inch is clean and the landscaped to perfection. With a population of five million, Singapore is home to fewer people than New York City. Also, the government runs the country like a corporation. The elected government officials are paid well and given performance bonuses. Imagine that! We also learned that yes, caning is still a form of corporal punishment used in Singapore. Yikes.
Our first corporate visit was to Asia-Pacific Breweries, the home of Tiger Beer. After a tour of the facilities, we happily tested their products. Some of us ‘tested' more than others but we felt we needed to get a full sense of the product assortment. It's all about maximizing the opportunities, right?
We had a second corporate visit to Singapore Airlines. For those of us not lucky enough to have flown Singapore Airlines before, we were blown away by their many awards and focus on service. Their goal to be the best services company in the world versus the best airline says a lot.
One of the most enlightening learning experiences was our lecture on "Negotiating Across Cultures." Like in Stern's negotiations class, we were broken into groups and asked to role play a negotiation. Let's just say that one group was told to be aggressive and the other group was told to be passive and it made for some terrible negotiating. Lesson learned … understand the culture of those on the other side of the table and respect it.
After an afternoon at the Singapore Botanical Gardens, we headed to the Long Bar at the Raffle's Hotel for one of their famous Singapore Slings. It's fruity, it's tasty, it's alcoholic … an MBA's dream. Afterwards, a bunch of us went to the Lau Pa Sat Hawker Centre, one of the many food halls in Singapore. The proliferation of street food got so big in Singapore that the government decided to construct large food halls to bring them all together with running water. This tourist-friendly food hall with hundreds of options could be intimidating but we used the Bourdain method of getting on the longest line. It worked. Deliciousness.
One of my fellow students, Ngozi Ogbonna, shares, "The DBi Singapore program opened my eyes about a region that I was always curious about, but wasn't sure I'd get the chance to visit. Singapore has fast become one of my favorite cities, and I can't wait to come back to continue exploring (and possibly live in) the Asia-Pacific. The program left a life-altering impression."