In September 2016 PricewaterhouseCoopers ranked both London and Singapore as two best cities in the world for opportunities. Coming from one island to another one can really appreciate similar multicultural environment, dynamics and vibe.
I first came across the phenomenon of Singaporean skyrocketing economical development over 10 years ago while translating The Art of Business: In the Footsteps of Giants a truly entertaining and inspiring book by renowned executive management consultant Raymond T.Yeh. The book praised this country so much, that a decade later my expectations were still quite high.
Singapore however truly kept surprising me on the every step of my journey from the minute I left the airport till my last hours in the country. My taxi driver had very strong opinion about Brexit and was indeed very interested in my experiences; hotel porter was able to provide a detailed structure of the unique Singaporean healthcare system and was keen to compare this to the British NHS he had heard so much about. I had no chance to talk to the worker in the birds park, but when I paused by the pond to take some pictures of flamingoes, he approached me and sprayed my arms with mosquito spray. I came to Singapore at the peak of the Zika virus outbreak, and this silent act of caring was much appreciated.
Luckily I was not enjoying Singapore alone. 25 healthcare professionals travelled from different corners of the world to continue MBA in International Healthcare Management programme from Frankfurt School of Finance and Management. This time round we have gathered to understand process management, risks and quality improvement as well as learn about Australian and Singaporean healthcare systems.
This was our fifth module; we have just submitted our business plans and were quite keen to have a break and get together. The team spirit had finally clicked in and the whole module was about team work, recognition and appreciation. We were encouraged by Cathy Jones, visiting lecturer from Melbourne, Australia to drop boring PowerPoint and try alternative presentation methods. With script writing, filming and editing coming on the teamwork agenda, some of the outstanding acting talents were revealed, well worth the Oscars. And Oscars it was!
There is a time to work and a time to play, but Prof. Rainer Sibbel, academic director of the programme, truly mastered this balance by bringing play into the classroom. And trust me this is not a figure of speech. Who would have thought that a bunch of adults could not only get carried away and simulate production line with just a pile of Bristle Blocks, but ask for more! This game taught us fundamental principles of process management, interaction with suppliers and customer relationship. It also highlighted personal teamwork skills. We have challenged this teamwork even further and after the class had locked ourselves in one of the numerous Escape rooms in the city. This was such a great time!
It is common for some of the greatest lessons to be learnt outside the classroom. Just few hours before my flight home I find myself crossing a busy narrow street in China Town. I follow the strong smell of durian peels, take shabby steps to the second floor of a building I hesitate to call a supermarket and here I am – at Singapore’s largest hawker centre – an open-air food court. I am looking for the stall 02-126, first street food stall with a Michelin star where a meal costs just S$2 (£1.10). I am not rewarded with a food this time, all meals are sold out. I find Mr. Chan Hon Meng polishing his kitchen and getting ready for the next day. I sincerely congratulate him on this incredible achievement and leave this place quietly having witnessed a rare example of quality and price commitment yet to be seen in London…