Singapore Management University (SMU) has rapidly gained international renown for its world-class teaching and research. At its state-of-the-art city campus, it offers a wide range of bachelor’s, master’s, PhD, executive development and other programs through its Schools of Accountancy, Economics, Computing and Information Systems, Law, Social Sciences and the triple-accredited Lee Kong Chian School of Business. It also has over 30 institutes, centers and labs, which consistently generate multidisciplinary research that makes a positive global impact. 

Drawing on its wealth of faculty expertise, SMU focuses on three cross-disciplinary priorities: digital transformation, sustainable living and growth in Asia. “We are encouraging our students to be positive-change agents who deliver meaningful impact for their community and society,” explains President Lily Kong.

“We are encouraging our students to be positive-change agents who deliver meaningful impact.”

— Lily Kong, President, Singapore Management University

One way it does that is by fostering extensive links with all stakeholders, particularly within industry. For example, SMU’s highly ranked Executive Master of Business Administration program has input from over 100 business leaders; its award-winning SMU-X pedagogy sees students working with faculty and industry mentors on local and overseas projects to solve real-world issues; it has work-study internship programs with companies such as Google and KPMG; industry experts provide advice to nearly 300 startups SMU is incubating at the moment; and it collaborates on research with numerous private-sector partners to ensure its practicality.

SMU is also focused on nurturing global-ready, responsible citizens and engaging with the world. 50 countries are represented in its student body of almost 12,000, 40% of its faculty are international and it has 294 partner universities covering all continents. According to Kong: “Global exposure is an integral component of the SMU core curriculum, be it an overseas project, internship or foreign exchange. Our overseas partners have been our close allies in giving students exceptional virtual and remote global learning opportunities amidst the pandemic.”

The Power of Knowledge Creates Opportunities

Interview with Lily Kong, President, Singapore Management University

Lily Kong, President, Singapore Management University

Why does Singapore Management University (SMU) stand out from its global peers?
We have a remarkably close relationship with industry. Our students develop excellent rapport with the world of business, while collaborating employers love our work-ready graduates. Secondly, we cover the spectrum of courses that you would expect but are unique in our focus on three areas: in a world transformed by COVID, digital transformation, sustainability and understanding the potential that Asia has are going to be crucial.

How is SMU prioritizing sustainability and digitalization?
We can make a difference in thought leadership. We have rolled out a sustainability major, are ramping up sustainability internships and our students are helping communities become more sustainable. Our SMU-X projects in this area allow them to get their hands dirty on real-world issues. Research is also important. We are working on helping companies quantify measurable improvements in sustainability, have jointly established the Singapore Green Finance Centre and a third example involves improving the sustainability of urban environments. Digital transformation is such an important area too. We have embedded new courses into our core curriculum, not just on the technical side, but also understanding its impact on wellbeing and so on. We have new programs such as a digital business major and a program on computing and law, be- cause lawyers are going to need to understand artificial intelligence (AI), data governance and similar issues, while computer scientists need to under- stand legal and regulatory frameworks. In research, we have established a Centre for AI and Data Governance and a Centre for Computational Law. These are just a few examples.

How is SMU setting trends in executive development?
Our SMU-ExD team has converted all our custom programs to live online programs and launched new ones in, for instance, digital finance leadership and growing infrastructure. We are also developing asynchronous programs addressing digital transformation, AI and machine learning, product management and cybersecurity.

We are moving to work more in partnership with our clients along a hybridized path. With that model, individual participants can customize how they build upon the foundational knowledge acquired during in-person courses, setting their own pace and selecting modules as it suits them. Technology empowers us to transition from providing learning products to enabling lifelong learning journeys.