NUS MBA 17 August 2016

A project with a difference

Four NUS MBA students chose to spend the first four months of the New Year making a social impact while simultaneously fulfilling their NUS MBA credit requirements.  Under the guidance of Senior Lecturer Wu Pei Chuan, the team worked on a Management Practicum Project with Daughters of Tomorrow (DOT), a non-profit that helps under-privileged women find jobs to support their families. Its mission is to facilitate livelihood opportunities for underprivileged women, and to support them in building financially independent and resilient families.

Doing so requires not only matching women with existing employment opportunities, but also working with corporate partners to develop innovative programs that meet both the companies’ and DOT’s needs.

Team of MBA students with Carrie Tan (in the middle) founder of DOT and Snr Lecturer Wu Pei Chuan (second from left)

Team of MBA students with Carrie Tan (in the middle) founder of DOT and Snr Lecturer Wu Pei Chuan (second from left)

The Challenge

Since 2014, over 289 women have registered with DOT seeking employment opportunities. But the challenge was to find suitable employers in various sectors who would be able to hire these women. While DOT has tried various initiatives such as networking events, workshops, working with coaching professionals etc., it was looking to increase its reach among potential employers and organisations to increase awareness about its work, and eventually have more corporate relationships to be able to place these women.  This is a first-of-its-kind, employment study landscape project that DOT has done with NUS Business School.

The NUS MBA team, comprising of To Meow Khoon, Soyeon Shin, Masahiro Yamamoto and Sudhanshu Vikram, delved into DOT’s current business strategies and gaps that needed to be fulfilled, by working closely with Carrie Tan, Executive Director of DOT and an NUS alumna. The team explored DOT’s current job-matching process, job market and government support schemes and identified new niche sectors and industries which offered higher employment possibilities for women.

In addition, the team assessed the women’s readiness to work and established connections with new employers from six select sectors to better understand their requirements. The team then did the actual matching of respective needs – bringing together employers and women to facilitate recruitment.

The Outcome

The results have been nothing short of outstanding. DOT gained insights and recommendations from the team’s analysis. Since past year and a half, DOT has placed some 17 women with jobs with various employers, but with the addition of 10 companies surveyed by the students through this project, a few more women have found placements and DOT continues to tap into these new company relationships. DOT has been able to follow-up on the recommendations and use new channels established through the project

The experience has been a win-win for all involved. “When choosing companies to work for our Management Practicum project, DOT caught my attention as I thought it would be challenging to apply my business skills to a non-profit and contribute to society in a meaningful way,” says Meow Khoon. “Despite having no HR background, guidance from Professor Pei Chuan and Carrie helped me learn many critical soft-skills while working on this project – communication skills, collaboration skills, team work and the confidence to be able to solve various problems. It was truly very heartening and satisfying to see the end results”

Teammate Sudhanshu Vikram agrees: “I have always been drawn to companies and projects that champion causes for women and girls. By working with the underprivileged women, I got a chance to develop “active listening” skills, and by working with various industry stakeholders, I also learned to collaborate more effectively across a myriad of industries. The great acceptance and feedback from DOT have been truly gratifying.  If our work could bring a smile to those underprivileged women and take DOT even a step forward in the right direction – that’s real, noticeable impact!”

Senior Lecturer Wu Pei Chuan adds, “This project has not only allowed our MBA students to be involved in a social cause and develop real business skills, but it has also supported DOT in its mission. We hope there is more awareness of the great work that DOT does among potential employers”

Carrie Tan, Executive Director of DOT has been happy with students’ work: “There are many ways for people to give back to the community, and often these ways may not be in ‘direct service’ to the beneficiaries, but through work that helps to change what’s possible for them. This MBA project was very meaningful in the way it helped Daughters of Tomorrow with multiple aspects of data-gathering, advocacy and employer engagement, and we’re glad that it has also added value to the learning of the students.”

To learn more about NUS MBA, click here. For more on DOT, click here.