Ruel R. Dalangin
Ruel R. Dalangin is the Director of IESE Business School in Singapore.
Hola Ruel, could you please introduce yourself?
Hello, everyone. My name is Ruel Dalangin, and from my surname, those from the Philippines would know that I am originally from there as it is a Tagalog word which means “prayer”. Anyway, I moved to Singapore some 30 years ago to study but decided to stay on afterwards. I got my Singaporean citizenship 16 years ago. I’ve been working for IESE since 2016. Before IESE, I was in Roche Diagnostics for over 20 years.
Can you explain to us the main academic advantages that are offered to foreign students to study at IESE Business School, especially for students from Asia?
At IESE, our mission is to develop global business leaders who can make a positive and lasting impact. To help our students deepen their understanding and knowledge of global business, we create an immersive, international environment in the classroom where they can be exposed to new perspectives and ideas. In our full-time MBA, for example, we have over 55 nationalities and there is a strong emphasis on teamwork. Our students learn how to adapt by collaborating with people from different backgrounds and develop a global awareness. As a school that focuses on the case method style of teaching, students are expected to participate actively in class and contribute to the discussion. For Asian students who may not be used to this methodology, it pushes them out of their comfort zone and provides them an opportunity to hone their soft skills like communication. Additionally, in our programs, there are international elements such as Overseas modules or Exchange programs where the students have a chance to spend time in other parts of the world like Africa or the Americas. This type of global exposure can be incredible and can open future career opportunities.
Since you studied your Master at IESE, can you explain us how was your own experience studying at this Business School?
I completed the Global Executive MBA at IESE in 2013. This MBA program is different from our usual full-time MBA program as it allowed me to continue working and to study at the same time. At that time, I was working for Roche Diagnostics in Shanghai. The Asia-Pacific regional office of Roche here in Singapore sent me to China to help the organization develop the business of laboratory automation and Lab IT solutions in China. I was fortunate to have a very good boss who allowed me to pursue this program at the same time. The Global Executive MBA is in fact the toughest program in IESE. It is very demanding academically as it is a Master degree so we had exams and projects in all subjects. We were not allowed to have more than 6 “C” grades, otherwise we would be expelled from the program. It was also demanding in terms of travel as we had modules in Barcelona, New York, Silicon Valley, Shanghai and Madrid. We needed to be in school for two weeks every two months. In terms of my classmates, it was really great as they were all very serious to learn and came from different industries and from all over the world: Germany, Switzerland, France, Portugal, Venezuela, Peru, Nigeria, Russia, USA, Mexico, Spain (of course), to name a few. But despite of these, we all had a great time, and it was really worthwhile. Until now, we are in touch with each other through the WhatsApp group that we created.
Can you tell us the main activities and services of the IESE office in Singapore?
From Singapore office, we take care of all the business development activities in all Southeast Asian countries plus Australia and New Zealand. We can group these activities and services into three. First, we promote and recruit students for our full-time MBA in Barcelona and for the Master in Management in Madrid. Our full-time MBA in Barcelona has about 360 new students every year and 25% of them are from Asia. Second, we also promote our Executive Education programs which are of two types: Customized Programs for corporations typically for leadership and management development, and International Executive Programs (e.g. Advanced Management Program, Global CEO Program, Program for Management Development, etc.) for senior executives. And third, we take care of IESE alumni in this region by engaging them through various activities but particularly by providing them with continuous learning. Overall, our goal is to develop the IESE brand in this region. IESE is now globally recognized especially because of our rankings. Our full-time MBA has been globally ranked no. 1 by The Economist in 2021, while our Executive Education has been globally ranked no.1 by Financial Times for 6 years in a row: from 2005- 2020. However, in most Asian countries, IESE is still quite unknown.
How do you think companies in Asia value professionals who have completed their postgraduate studies in Business Schools in Europe?
Increasingly, business schools in Europe are gaining more popularity due to the quality of education, class diversity and attractive career prospects. As a result, there are more graduates from European schools who have developed successful careers globally and many who have also returned to Asia. The growth of this alumni base in Asia has helped to increase brand recognition and reputation of these schools among companies in this region.
Since business schools in Europe tend to have a higher level of diversity as compared to business schools in other regions, professionals who have sought out international experience and are comfortable in multi-cultural environments can use this as a point of differentiation and are better positioned for regional roles. Such professionals are also viewed as ideal candidates for companies in Asia that have global operations or have plans to expand overseas.
What recommendations would you give to a Singaporean student who is evaluating options for where to study an MBA?
Our advice is this: You only get to do your MBA once in your lifetime, so choose the business school wisely. If you’re planning to apply for MBA, there are many different criteria for you to consider: rankings, reputation, values, curriculum, location, finances, culture, student life, career prospects… So, think about what is most important to you and identify the schools that match your criteria. Choosing an MBA school is a very personal choice and what is important for others may not apply to you. Spend some time reflecting on what you want to get out of the experience. Although Europe or Spain may not be the first destination that you would consider for your MBA, I would encourage you to explore this option because there are lots of advantages to a European MBA. If you want to challenge yourself, grow personally and professionally, make an impact in your career, then maybe IESE could be the right choice for you!
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