An Executive MBA: A Fresh Perspective on Business, Life, and Learning


The ESSEC & Mannheim Executive MBA (EMBA) was meant to help Stephanie Sng up-skill and refine her business acumen. She went far beyond that, building bridges all over the world and opening doors to new business opportunities.

As the Area Director for Marketing, Loyalty, and Partnership at the leading hospitality hotel group Accor, Stephanie Sng is an expert at managing digital sales and marketing, member engagement, customer experience, and user journey — just to name a few.

She might describe herself as a marketer, a manager, or a mentor but never an entrepreneur throughout her career.

At least, not until a few years ago, when Stephanie and some classmates from her Executive MBA program founded Vitis Vinifera, a luxury wine import business in Myanmar.

“Encouraging entrepreneurship is exactly what the EMBA set out to do,” Stephanie shares, adding that running Vitis Vinifera has given her a platform to see classroom lessons translate.

That said, when she began her course in 2018, starting a business had been the last thing on her mind. Her goal had been simple: To close the knowledge gaps and improve her understanding of business.

Having had a great experience with an ESSEC Asia-Pacific executive education program two years before, the ESSEC & Mannheim EMBA Asia-Pacific track became Stephanie’s top choice.

An All-rounded Experience for a Global Perspective

Part of this was driven by the diversity at ESSEC Asia-Pacific. Participants came from different industries, experiences, nationalities, and genders, while speakers hailed from all over the world — each personality bringing a unique perspective to the discussion table.

The program also offered Stephanie avenues to broaden her worldview through a residency at Tokyo’s Waseda University and through a bottom of the pyramid project.

“Did you know that more people in the world have mobile phones than toilets?” Stephanie asks. She found this out while working on a project to improve the sanitation habits of those living in squalor.

“Our underlying idea was to support an individual’s dignity and pride by keeping shared toilets comfortable for all,” she recalls.

Tech, as it turns out, was the solution. Her team proposed a mobile app that would allow users to unlock shared bathrooms for personal use and review its conditions upon leaving.

Takeaways About Life and Learning

The cumulation of all these experiences encouraged Stephanie to dive deep and reflect on her learning, in the process “gaining insights into how the different departments and functions come together for a business to be successful”.

While these insights have been useful for her multifaceted role at Accor, they also inspired her to add “entrepreneurship” to the feathers in her cap.

Career milestones aside, her biggest takeaway might just be this: The humbling reminder that “one will never be able to know everything. Even after completing an EMBA, learning does not end.”

After all, there is no golden ticket to a successful career. What the EMBA offers are tools to help you along the way—“the ability to think out of the box, to be a little more agile, more adaptable, and also empathetic.”

So “take the time to select a school and speak to the faculty to ensure your objective aligns with the school’s curriculum,” Stephanie advises. But definitely, go for it. “We are small fish in a very big pond. The world is out there waiting, so go grab it!”

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