SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business celebrates 20th Anniversary with ten specially curated business seminars

The SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business (LKCSB) welcomed its first batch of a little over 300 students in August 2000 and today, the School has an enrolment of 3,000 students and over a hundred full-time faculty members with postgraduate degrees. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the School in collaboration with the Office of Alumni Relations, launched the webinar series “Ideas Shaping Tomorrow” to engage students and alumni, and to promote continuous learning.  Held virtually between 3 September and 17 December 2020, the seminar series comprises ten sessions discussing current and trending business topics.  The speakers were specially curated from SMU alumni with relevant industry experience in the respective topics.

We speak with Professor Shantanu Bhattacharya, LKCSB Deputy Dean of Programmes, to find out more about the school’s 20-year journey and the webinar series.

Question:  How has LKCSB evolved over the years?

The evolution of LKCSB is multifaceted and represents the contributions of the different stakeholders in the School’s growth. LKCSB was our University’s first school to be inaugurated (in June 2000) and began with a focus on undergraduate (UG) education, with a difference: in contrast to the standard UG deductive methods of teaching, our UG programme was designed to be much more interactive, with small classes. The UG programme was set up along the lines of Wharton’s UG programme, with a focus on the development of the student’s self-learning capabilities. To date, our UG programme still showcases many other innovations, including the proximity to the industry, the international experience, and the innovative self-learning and self-driving mindset.

From the student experience perspective, we have added world-renowned postgraduate (PG) programmes over time. We began with the MSc in Applied Finance (MAF) and MSc in Wealth Management (MWM) programmes, which are among the world’s best programmes in financial management. We also have top-ranked general management programmes like the Master of Business Administration (MBA), Executive MBA (EMBA) and the Master in Management (MiM).  In the Financial Times’ ranking 2020, the MWM  programme is ranked third in the world and first in Asia, the EMBA programme is eighth among Asian business schools, with the MiM  programme holding the same spot among Asian universities.  We have added the MSc in Qualitative Finance (MQF) and Global Master of Finance (GMF) programmes to the Finance suite. The specialised Masters programmes MSc in Innovation (MI), MSc in Communications (MCM), and Master of Human Capital Leadership (MHCL) rounds out our offerings at the Masters level. All our Master programmes are unique and differentiated by features like international segments, interaction with the industry, and cutting-edge pedagogy with a focus on Asian content.

Equally important, we have enhanced our research capabilities to be one of the globally recognised institutions for business research. Our faculty strength has grown manifold over the years, our colleagues have made significant contributions to business school research and academic literature, as well as in terms of thought leadership.

At 20 years old, we are still a very young school, and our capabilities are growing. We now have a well-recognised academic PhD programme, and researchers engaged in more applied outcomes in our professional doctoral programmes. Overall, the School’s evolution has seen added capabilities in both education and research, along with the engagement with the industry and the community. The LKCSB is highly aware of the need for relevant research and programmes, and we have continued to engage with the industry and community in our activities. We hope to continue to evolve to add value to the industry and society with our activities and provide more value for our stakeholders.

Beyond the evolution of the programmes and the research agenda of the School, there has also been a continuous refinement of the culture within the school. We value highly the traditional skills of our faculty in conducting cutting-edge research and bringing the best of their applied knowledge to the classroom. However, we also find that the culture of the School’s constituents is more attuned to making a difference in management practice and thought leadership, rather than individuals focusing solely on their core strengths in research and teaching. The shared values of the School are aligned to the need for more industry engagement, broadening our appeal internationally, being innovative in all our activities, and working across disciplines to provide more holistic educational programmes and research solutions.


Question: What can we look forward to in the “Ideas Shaping Tomorrow” webinar series? 

The set of planned webinars showcases the thought leadership of our faculty on the important managerial issues of tomorrow. Our colleagues showcase their cutting-edge research, and talk about current and future management practices, as well as advancements that are useful for alumni to keep abreast of in practice.

In the big picture, management education is evolving to be a continuous learning process, with analytical techniques and business practices evolving rapidly. The benefits of continuing education are evident both for the short term and for the long term for our alumni. In the short term, the alumni can learn concrete skills or the need for concrete re-skilling for immediate business improvements, or to understand the needs of existing and new customers.  For the longer term, alumni can choose to either invest in themselves or in their colleagues to support the expanded organisational plans for the future.

The webinar series is also an important networking opportunity with other alumni, and a platform where they can learn about business practices in other industries. The connections can reveal new potential partnerships and value-adding opportunities. From the university’s perspective, it is a very valuable opportunity for us to network with our alumni, provide value to them and engage them with the research expertise of our faculty. We do value our alumni’s engagement with the School and our faculty, and the opportunity to connect with them through this webinar series can certainly help our faculty identify applied research questions for the future.


Question : How has the 20th Anniversary celebrations been affected by the current pandemic situation? 

Ideally, we would have liked to have a homecoming celebration with all of our alumni, which was one of the main events that we were planning. Given the Covid-19 situation, we invited alumni to share memories of the times they spent at the former Bukit Timah campus as well as the current SMU campus, through photos and videos. A yearbook incorporating these memories and a commemorative 20th year celebration video has also been prepared to mark this milestone.

Those interested to attend the webinars up till 17 December may register here.