What MBA grads and pirates have in common

by Ponce Ernest Samaniego | MBA Class of 2018 | Student Stories

With those famous words from Steve Jobs, Bill Aulet, MD of MIT’s Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship and author of Disciplined Entrepreneurship, kicked off an exciting week of the Entrepreneurship module for our Class of 2018.

Jobs and Aulet are certainly not advocating for people to attack and rob ships at sea. Instead, they are promoting the rebellious and anti-mainstream pirate spirit that entrepreneurs must aspire towards to challenge the status quo, a key lesson I learned through my MBA at the Asia School of Business.

Learning from the Pirates of Entrepreneurial Hubs

Our Entrepreneurship module was a great follow-on from our US Trek, a two-week exposure trip across three major US cities – from the techy, start-up hub in San Francisco, the global financial capital that is New York, and to public institutions and international organizations headquartered in Washington DC.

By exposing us to a wide range of companies, from start-ups and Fortune 500 companies to government institutions supporting entrepreneurship, the ASB US Trek gave us a better understanding of the options that await after we leave business school. Contrary to popular belief, many MBA students are not merely seeking a promotion at their current company but pursue an MBA to switch careers or explore new industries – something that the US Trek gave us the opportunity to do.

Nurturing Pirates in ASB

Given that ASB itself is a start-up, the pirate spirit is alive and strong in all aspects of the organization. Some of the ways this manifests itself:

  • We co-create our educational experience. We regularly provide feedback directly to our Dean, Prof. Charles Fine, about how things can be improved for our class and subsequent classes. This experience of telling the Dean, an MIT professor with decades of experience, ways he could “do his job better” was initially a culture shock for me, having come from environments with more hierarchical-driven cultures!
  • We partner with the ASB community to impact the region. Not too long ago, a fellow classmate, Dr. Mimi Aminah Wan Nordin, and I organized a 10-day entrepreneurship program for 60 undergraduates from South Korea and Malaysia. ASB provided full support through involvement of faculty such as Prof. Loredana Padurean, Prof. Rajesh Nair, and Prof. Willem Smit in the design and facilitation of the program. Our classmates served as mentors to the younger students and the event was hosted in the beautiful Sasana Kijang, where ASB is currently housed.
  • We attract a particular type of student – unconventional and entrepreneurial. ASB is one of the first business schools that makes exceptions for outstanding students without a GMAT score. Instead, the school looks for candidates who have demonstrated an extraordinary and unconventional career path. This has led to a diverse mix of students, ranging from musicians, physics professors, lawyers, start-up founders to even humanitarian workers with an equally diverse range of skill sets, perspectives, and backgrounds.
  • We have amazing mentors and role models. Finally, ASB’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (IEC) , managed by Prof. Rajesh Nair, is an open resource providing personalized guidance to students at different stages of their entrepreneurship journey. Raj—as we fondly call him—is always one WhatsApp message away from a mentorship session towards building your own business! The dean and professors (who are start-up founders in their own rights) are also readily reachable and are invested personally in our growth.

As a student of a start-up school with the ambition of changing the fastest-growing region in the world, ASB is providing us with entrepreneurial mindsets and skills. These skills will be crucial for shaping the business world, not only tomorrow, but even today.

I’m proud to be an ASB pirate!