Tag Archives: International Business

Alex Macdonald Gains International Business Experience in Singapore

Alex is currently completing his joint MAIR/MAECN, which is a Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Arts in Economics. His internship was completed as part of the Singapore Summer Internship Program.

When we discuss the pivot to Asia in international relations, we usually refer to a realignment of US foreign policy. However, over the past twenty years, unprecedented Asian economic growth has led the whole global economy to pivot to Asia. While China usually takes the spotlight, the so-called “Asian Tiger” countries have played an essential role in this transformation. Exemplary of these countries is Singapore, which in the past fifty years has gone from being a minor colonial trading post to becoming one of the world’s most important ports and a major global financial hub.

Alex with some of his Pratt and Whitney co-workers at the Geylang Serai Ramadan bazaar.

This summer I had the opportunity, through S.U. Abroad’s Singapore program, to immerse myself in the vibrant business culture of this incredible country. I spent the summer as a finance and management intern at Pratt and Whitney, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of military and commercial airplane engines. In my role, I was given a variety projects on which to work ranging from regular finance-related tasks, such as maintaining the monthly profit and loss report, to process improvement projects aimed at streamlining production, purchasing, and shipping to deal with the large amount of growth the company is experiencing.

In addition to the many finance and management related skills which I was able to further develop in my role, the opportunity to finally work in a region of the world which I had studied academically for so long was invaluable. As someone who hopes to work internationally in the private sector, this internship exposed me to a very different business culture from what I was used to and has given me a solid experiential foundation for my future in the international business world.

While I was in Singapore, I was also lucky enough to be able to take advantage of its proximity to the rest of South-East Asia and was able to do some traveling in my time off from work. Overall, I am very thankful to have had this opportunity to work in Singapore this summer. It was an amazing experience and has reaffirmed my interest in working in Asia as well as sparking an even deeper interest in South-East Asia in particular.

Alex at Singapore’s famous Gardens by the Bay.

Singapore Summer Internships Program

More Global Programs

Alex Jorgensen, Learning the Theoretical and Practical Side of Stewardship

Alex Jorgensen, MAIR student

Alex Jorgensen, MAIR/MSPR (Public Diplomacy) student

Alex Jorgensen is a Public Diplomacy student pursuing both a Master’s of International Relations at the Maxwell School and a Master’s of Science in Public Relations at the S.I. Newhouse School. He participated in the Singapore Summer Practicum.

Stewardship Asia Centre: A new thought leadership center in the East

This summer I had the opportunity to work at the Stewardship Asia Centre in Singapore. Stewardship Asia Centre (SAC) is known as a thought leadership center that looks to inspire businesses: family owned, state owned enterprises, investors, and nonprofits; to employ SAC practices with the long term in mind. This means that they conduct their business thinking about stakeholders as opposed to simply shareholders. Stakeholder theory is a broad theory, but in short it means that a business takes into account the environment, the community, the customer, and the shareholder or investor. This differs from the way many companies conduct themselves because most companies are looking to make a short-term profit that brings quarterly gains and keeps their shareholders at bay.

It is a widely held belief that this type of short-term profit chasing is what led to the Great Recession when mortgages were repackaged with high grades despite the fact that the homes were owned by people who could not afford the loans. This real estate bubble combined with the failings of the Lehman brothers and Arthur Andersen has led to sweeping changes and a Western focus on Corporate Governance. While corporate governance is seen as the first champion of long-term profitability, it still only focuses on a companies shareholders and is not as important to private corporations, nonprofits, and institutional investors who may see it as a checklist. Corporate governance serves as a list of boxes to check for public companies so that investors can claim ethical investment, but fails to see the larger picture that stewardship encapsulates.

Stewardship is a function of management. According to SAC, “Stewardship is the management of assets to which an organization has been entrusted so that they hand them on in better condition.” Good stewardship has a direct relationship with long-term return on investment. While good stewards may experience short-term pain, the long-term goals and core values of an organization drive them through temporary setbacks, into enduring prosperity. SAC spells out four elements that foster stewardship for companies:

  1. Conservatism in financing
  2. Sensitivity to the operating context – leaders are aware of the external world around them
  3. Cohesion and company identity – salient through all employees
  4. Tolerance for experimentation and outliers, which allows them to stretch their conception of what is possible.

These four elements create long-term vision and core values that empower employees to feel valued and become loyal to leadership in place. Stewardship as a business concept is new and only has been implemented with regulations in two countries, Britain and Japan (with failed attempts in Malaysia), Singapore is looking to be an early adopter of stewardship as it serves a lot of the philosophy of the Eastern world and lends itself to long-term profitability. Companies that have championed stewardship in the eyes of Stewardship Asia Centre include: Black Rock Investment, the Tata Group from India, and Singapore’s own government practices.

This internship taught me the theoretical side of stewardship and the practical side of running a start-up thought leadership center. Through sitting in on policy development, speech writing, curating content, press release writing, and event planning I learned practical ways to run a successful thought leadership center.

 Welcome Address by Hsieh Fu Hua, Chairman, Stewardship Asia Centre & UOB


Welcome Address by Hsieh Fu Hua, Chairman, Stewardship Asia Centre & UOB