Asia School of Business

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How the MBA for working professionals led to our career (and personal) growth

If you were to ever stumble on the topic of global cultures around Rafael Boehm, he’s got enough stories to keep you hooked for hours. And if you’d ask Nik Aisyah what she wanted to be when she grew up, like magic, she’d draw you in with her larger-than-life dreams of being a noble, genuine politician. Dreams that started even when she was just 10 years old. For both Rafael and Aisyah, the ASB journey was an unexpected detour that drew them into an unforgettable adventure.

One that goes above and beyond just “climbing the corporate ladder” and involves transitioning into well-rounded, enriched individuals that bring the same tenacity to their personal lives as they do the workplace. “Of course, there are career aspects to enrolling in an MBA,” Rafael says. “But it also goes beyond that.” Rafael’s affinity for looking at both sides of the coin is immediately noticeable.

In fact, even before he could talk about his experience at ASB, he launched into a retelling of his unconventional background. Rafael was born and raised in Germany, but always harbored a deep-rooted interest in understanding and learning about other cultures. Rafael has traveled the world, but one culture, in particular, has always fascinated him.

The Japanese way of life is something that stuck to Rafael very early on and would eventually be the trigger to him moving halfway across the world to study in Japan. On the other side of the world, Nik Aisyah sits in Kuala Lumpur, itching for her chance to shine. “If there’s one thing I know well, it’s that I’ve always wanted to be a leader,” she says with a hearty laugh. “A leader at what specifically, I had no idea.

But I wanted to be in a position where I could use my voice for good, and to steer people in the right direction.” With that being said, and until her late teens, Aisyah longed to be a politician. All of this happened before she fell in love with Accounting & Finance when studying in Australia, which would ultimately steer her to a different path altogether.

From pleasant ‘surprise’ to a life-changing decision

Looking back, Rafael confessed that he had never imagined doing an MBA before his employer suggested it to him. Before embarking on this journey, he had already braced himself for a demanding and challenging time ahead—especially since he had to juggle a full-time position in another country. Much of this changed when Rafael had his first taste of the ASB DNA. “The MIT faculty have this unique way of making everything interesting.

It could be a subject that’s serious and complex—but they’ve always got a way to ‘hook’ you in.” Aisyah’s own experience is similar, but she offers a different observation. In fact, she goes as far as to call her adventure with ASB something as strong as fate. “I always knew that I wanted to work and live in Malaysia, not to go anywhere else. To have the ability to be associated with an MIT education here is amazing.” For Aisyah, it’s a world-class education infused with all the Asian “flavors” needed to start a successful career without leaving her home ground.

Getting your foot in the door, and then some

Although his forte lies in engineering, Rafael was drawn to marketing in the midst of his MBA. “I did some marketing-related research and work in ASB and was really interested in it. So back at work, I actually got involved in some marketing proposals and presentations for my company, and they ended up giving me more responsibilities in that area.”

On the other hand, Aisyah found herself on the fast-track to the top. “The Corporate Finance course that I took helped me so much with the move to another role. Even though everyone in class agreed that it was a heavy course, it helps to move up the ladder because you’re actually understanding the bigger picture and values of the company.”

But even with new responsibilities, more visibility in the workplace, and new roles—both Rafael and Aisyah agreed on one solid conclusion, that the ASB MBA yielded benefits that went above and beyond career-related achievements. What Rafael and Aisyah will never forget are the experiences they’ve shared with their classmates. “The networking is great.

Everyone comes together when we’re working on something and when we’re not, we spend time with each other outside of class.” Aisyah has nothing short of great things to say about her classmates. “When we’re in the midst of residency, it’s like going to therapy,” she says with a laugh. It’s about the positive environment that both the students and MIT faculty members manage to cultivate in their day-to-day lives, one that she misses dearly when she’s away at work.

Rafael & Aisyah’s advice to passionate working professionals

“I found myself stuck for a while with my career. Because of your age, there’s a lot of people that will think you’re too young or that you have lesser years of experience,” Aisyah mulls. But for her, that’s when she decided to ask herself one important question: how do professionals elevate themselves and go beyond the limitations of “experience” to lead an organization?

For Aisyah, that answer lies in understanding the landscape of Asian business, economics, and overall growth. “It’s really an untouched gem. Asia is a great region to focus on, and ASB gave us the best of both worlds when they combined this concept with an MIT education.”

Rafael echoed this perfectly. “It’s not just about short-term career goals. There’s so much more to ASB and what they can teach you because they’re not giving you a career. They’re giving students the opportunity to learn how to get ahead and make something for themselves.”

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