Construction Veteran Solidifies Leadership Foundation at the ESSEC & Mannheim Executive MBA Program


Hear from Joshua Lai Chee Hong on how the ESSEC & Mannheim EMBA program at ESSEC Asia-Pacific has helped him bridge the gap between his job’s technical and business aspects.

2022 was a big year for Joshua Lai Chee Hong. After almost two decades at Wah Loon Engineering Pte Ltd, where he rose the ranks from project director to executive director, he made the leap to a new position at Malaysian infrastructure conglomerate YTL Corporation Berhad. At the same time, he also started on his Executive MBA (EMBA) journey in the ESSEC & Mannheim Asia-Pacific track.

He shares his experience with ESSEC and how the EMBA has enhanced his leadership ability in his new role.

What motivated you to embark on an EMBA at ESSEC Asia-Pacific?

I wanted to connect with the business world and improve my professional skill set. The ESSEC & Mannheim EMBA program at ESSEC Asia-Pacific appealed because it is close to my country, Malaysia, and because of its flexibility and emphasis on both innovation and leadership. I liked that it had good rankings and saw it as an opportunity for me to develop both professionally and personally.

Tell us more about your new role at YTL.

I’ve been appointed to the committee for digital transformation and leadership. My role is to assist YTL’s new generation in transforming the internal culture. I’m also helping the company search for better business opportunities and to build the talent pool. In the future, I hope to be a leader in the industry, and to contribute to mentoring the next generation.

How has your experience at ESSEC helped you with your new role?

Since enrolling, I’ve constantly been encouraged to contribute my experiences and have heard many shadings on leadership, problem-solving, and decision-making. I’ve been able to apply the lessons learned at work. For example, I’ve changed my way of thinking to integrate different strategies and tech tools that can improve my leadership abilities. I’ve also developed a more sustainability-focused mindset, and now look for solutions that are beneficial in the long run.

In addition, ESSEC has also expanded my network of connections from different industries, which has exposed me to better business opportunities. 

What are some highlights of the program for you so far?

One highlight was the overseas residency at Mannheim University in Germany. This allowed me to understand the local leadership and cultural mindset they have. Classes on digital transformation have taught me about the importance of adopting the right technology for both emerging and evolving businesses, while geopolitics lessons have helped me understand how the geography and political situations of our countries can influence decision-making. 

Why should others from technical roles, like yourself, choose an EMBA program?

Firstly, ESSEC has given me a chance to improve my report writing and presentation skills. As someone from an engineering background, I also have less exposure to areas like the financial aspects of the business. ESSEC allowed me to practice my skills in these areas, and I’ve even been able to use all these skills to present to my board of directors.

I recommend that those who are considering doing an EMBA look out for the following factors: First, the program’s focus on creativity and innovation; second, the experience professors have in their respective subjects; third, the flexibility of the program, and finally, how the program can benefit their career and skills.

Interested in the ESSEC & Mannheim Executive MBA Asia-Pacific program? 

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