Business education can be intense, but it’s not all work and no play. For three couples, it held the promise of a brighter future not only for their careers, but also their love lives. They now share their experiences as to how some of the most important lessons in life take place outside of the classroom.
Lesson # 1: Trust Your Instincts and Invest Your Time Wisely
If William Tan had not changed his mind and made the switch to the Faculty of Business Administration in 1989, he may not have met his soulmate.
Young, ambitious and eager to learn, William had set his heart on a business degree and a career in finance. Falling in love was not on his list of priorities but little did he know that cupid would strike when he met his first-year classmate, Jane. Their shared career goals and interest in food made them a perfect match. But it was when Jane fell ill with chickenpox at the end of their first year at NUS that their love for each other became stronger.
“I had to miss lectures and tutorials for about two weeks or so, and William visited me almost every day to update me and even coach me in my weaker subjects. My sickness made me feel miserable and uncomfortable but William made me feel loved. I knew then that this was someone who would be there for me in times of need,” shares Jane.
The couple got married soon after graduation and, 25 years on, they are proud parents to four children: one boy aged 19, and three girls aged 18, 14 and two.
Things are definitely hectic in a large family, but the couple take everything in their stride and always makes sure to spend quality time together.
Lesson # 2: Don’t Be Afraid To Take Risks
Spanish engineers Ruben Rodriguez and Carolina Calvo met in 2008 during their exchange semester at the Technical University of Munich in a German language class. When the opportunity arose to go on sabbatical and pursue an MBA, they chose the NUS MBA programme. They didn’t know whether their relationship would work against them in their application, whether they would start at different times, or even if they could both survive taking such an intensive course together. But they went ahead anyway.
“We had been planning this step in our career for a long time. We both wanted to do an MBA and 17 months was a long time to stay apart. It was such a happy coincidence that we both got admitted to NUS MBA together – we got lucky!,” says Carolina.
They got married just two weeks before they headed to Singapore and plunged headlong into their course. Still in the honeymoon phase, both in their marriage and the MBA programme, Carolina and Ruben are enjoying their adventure in Asia.
“I don’t have to see my boss everyday; it’s a great feeling!” Carolina jokes. And she’s quick to add, “On a serious note, it’s really great to be a student again, learning new things everyday.”
Having each other in the same programme but different sections has its pros and cons. Despite working on different things, they still help to check each other’s assignments and can meet more people. But Ruben’s main gripe is that even though they share the same apartment at University Town, they rarely get a chance to spend time together during the week. “Being in different sections makes matching our calendars kind of difficult,” he lamented.
Weekends have become very precious for the newly-weds as this is when they are able to spend quality time with each other. But as the pace of lectures speeds up, it seems more adjustments may be needed. As a result, baby-making plans have taken a back seat for now, even though Ruben has plans to ‘ground a family in Asia.’
Lesson #3: Shared Goals Result in Shared Bonding
Xu Chen and Bi Chao may both come from different parts of China but it was NUS MBA Orientation Week that brought them together. They first met during the tour of the school and had their very first lunch together. What started as a group outing soon blossomed into romance.
Xu Chen explains that having shared goals helped draw the couple closer. “I wanted to expand my global horizons, to understand and explore the world outside of China. I wanted to develop some friendships, as well as seek some career opportunities abroad, if possible. Bi Chao had similar goals, and that’s why we got along well. We both also wanted to take the opportunity to join many social activities and international exchange programmes,” he says.
Their love deepened during a month-long summer exchange programme in Cologne University, Germany, where they met classmates from all over the world. As football fans, they visited famous football clubs such as FC Schalke 04, Dortmund, Paris St Germain, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
“Our time in NUS is filled with happy memories – studying in the library, relaxing and chatting in the student lounge, spending time at University Town, and attending all the countless parties! These memories make NUS very special for us,” says Bi Chao.
After graduation, the couple moved to Beijing, China. They got married last year and began a new life together. In addition to being active alumni members of the School in Beijing, the couple are also keen to start a round-the-world trip that will include Japan, Korea, India, Cyprus, Colombia and Argentina.