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A Personal Perspective From the Business Education Alliance: Michelle Cheong


Posted September 29, 2017 by Christine Apple - Coordinator, Member Engagement - AACSB International

In this blog series, AACSB reaches out to members of the Business Education Alliance to garner their personal perspectives on business education. We ask educators and practitioners about their professional journey and any insights they can share related to the future of our industry. In this interview, Michelle Cheong, associate dean of postgraduate professional education at Singapore Management University’s School of Information Systems, talks about her experience as a part of AACSB’s Business Education Alliance and its benefits to her institution.

Q: Why did you choose to become an educator?

A: My degree is in mechanical engineering. I wanted to become a teacher, but I worked as a mechanical engineer for eight years, after which I quit to pursue a PhD in operations and then joined the IT school at SMU. I have found the intersection of IT in business exciting. I ask myself every day, “Do I want to go to work?” The answer is “YES!” My focus is training students for industry rather than research—practical skills to apply immediately. Our mission at SMU has been to train future leaders for the economy, for the world.

Q: How do you see SMU leading business schools into the future?

A: We reach out to other IT schools because that is where the world is going. Our business and IT schools need each other for stronger teams with different skill sets. We seek collaborative programs at all levels within our university and also with other universities. The union of IT and business is definitely the future.

Q: When you think about your career as an educator, do you have a favorite memory that affirmed this career choice?

A: I knew I wanted to be an educator, but I didn’t fully understand until I encountered a student who had difficulty presenting. His peers chose him to lead an important group presentation, one that would affect everyone’s grade. I had trouble understanding their choice, so I gathered them to discuss it. They realized this student had a weakness in presenting and wanted to give him this opportunity. That taught me that we can learn a lot from our students. They were the real educators here, not me. This is what it means to be an educator.

Q: Who has served as an inspiration to you during your career?

A: Steven Miller was the SMU dean when I joined—an American who contributed so much to Singapore’s education scene. His involvement made me realize that I, as a Singaporean, was not doing enough. I am thankful for his contribution to a country where he didn’t have to do so.

From the first AACSB events I attended, I developed close connections with others. We shared not just the good experiences but our challenges, too. We openly asked, “How do we do this?” I hope this kind of sharing continues because, when one moves up, the whole network moves up. I’m always willing to share when asked.

Q: What does it mean to you to be among the AACSB Network?

A: Our school was contacted about conducting a Data and Analytics Seminar and realized it was a good opportunity to collaborate and learn from other universities. I enjoyed facilitating the session and have continued to talk on this topic’s challenges. Both SMU and I have benefited; I think the best way to learn is to contribute.

From the first AACSB events I attended, I developed close connections with others. We shared not just the good experiences but our challenges, too. We openly asked, “How do we do this?” I hope this kind of sharing continues because, when one moves up, the whole network moves up. I’m always willing to share when asked.


Michelle Cheong is associate dean of postgraduate professional education at the School of Information Systems at Singapore Management University.

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