SAN_December_2012.pngBy Jenn Wood
25 September, 2011


I am a trailing spouse. I prefer the term “trailing talent,” coined by CRCE, because it lends a certain je ne sais quoi. I had a solid career back in the US and I had no plans to leave it… but fate intervened as it did for many reading this article. And I found myself in Singapore with a unique and unexpected situation… free time and flexibility.  But what to do with it?


I went to work not long after arriving on the island. I’d always had a job, so I went with what I knew. I joined CRCE and went to work finding an opportunity. I found myself transitioned out of IT marketing and into general management out of necessity rather than choice, but I rolled with it and had an amazing time working at the American Association of Singapore (AAS).


Thoughts on a Career Transition 

I realized earlier this year that I hadn’t really capitalized on my time in Singapore. With the luxury of domestic help and a husband who travels regularly, I have more free time than ever before. This got me thinking, what can I do now to ensure I return home professionally strong and ready to capitalize on my time abroad?


I thought about a career transition; transitioning into HR seemed like a possibility and I found Temple University offering a 10-month Masters in HR designed for people looking to go into the field. After much soul searching, I realized I wanted to stay in marketing, but the idea of higher education really struck a chord in me.


Pursuing an MBA 

And it didn’t take me long to come up with a solution that was right for me. For a small island, Singapore has a wealth of universities offering MBAs, online MBAs, executive MBAs (EMBA) and even mini MBAs. I admit I was overwhelmed with the sheer volume of choice available. CRCE had a recent networking night with Temple University talking about this very topic and it did an excellent job of summing up the benefits.


Here’s what I liked about the idea of pursuing an MBA (or other higher education, for that matter):


  • Career development - this shows future employers that I’m serious about my future and willing to invest time and resources in getting to the next level. 
  • Opportunity to develop new skills - I’ve spent 15 years focused on getting better at my job. How great would it be to learn the other areas of business so I could be a more strategic thinker! 
  • Financial return - I admit it, I’d like to make more money.


Who knows, we may stay in Singapore for a long time. If we do, I have built a network of peers from the program and other alumni so I can advance my career here.


EMBA at Temple University 

I did my research and I decided on Temple  University to pursue my executive MBA (EMBA). The executive program is on two weekends a month plus two week day evenings and it’s done in 14 months, which suited my lifestyle. I don’t have time for a full-time MBA and I like to be able to travel. This program enables me to pursue an EMBA while still having flexibility. I liked that Temple University was research-driven, which means it has professors who publish a lot of research so they are experts in their field, and it has a cutting-edge curriculum.  I also liked that Temple University is ranked in the top
five EMBA programs in Singapore as per the Financial Times. If I’m going to invest my time and money, I want to learn from the best. 


Level of Commitment and Costs

If you’re considering an MBA or other Master-level degree, be prepared to do some homework. It’s an investment, after all. First, decide what type of program works for you. Is full-time an option? Is part-time a better fit? Does the program require you to travel to another country for part of the program? What about strictly online?


Next, see what type of network the program offers.  You learn as much from your peers as you do from your professors, so you want a program that is going to give you a diverse peer group.


Cost is obviously a consideration, and you’ll find programs ranging from a few thousand dollars all the way up to nearly $180,000. Like anything else, you get what you pay for…but caveat emptor applies, too. The Council for Private Education (CPE) has implemented new rules to protect you from having your money lost if a university pulls out of Singapore, but it doesn’t stop the university from choosing to leave at the conclusion of the program. The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior, so do your proper due diligence.


Last, be sure a Masters or MBA is something that’s right for you. Don’t do it for any reason other than your own growth and professional development. At the end of the day, you get out of it what you put into it.  If this sounds like something that’s right for you, then go for it.
There’s no time like the present.