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Corinne Ablaza, The Philippines

The NUS MBA Class of 2020
Structured Finance Associate at NORD/LB

Describe your personal brand.

I come from the Philippines where I fell deep in love with its majestic mountains, pristine beaches, and beautiful sunsets. About two years ago, I decided to take up a different adventure by pursuing my MBA in Singapore. I’m happy to now call this city my new home where on most days, I work in structured finance for renewable energy investments across Asia. On other days, I like to practise and teach yoga or whip things up in the kitchen.

I am passionate about building a more sustainable future (as cheesy as it sounds) and I know energy and infrastructure is the one area where I really want to contribute. I’d also like to think I’m a bit of a health junkie who wakes up too early in the morning, reads about nutrition for fun, and probably owns more sportswear than normal clothes.

What were you doing before The NUS MBA?

I worked in a large renewable energy firm in the Philippines called the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) for over five years. I started in business development, but later found myself assuming various roles across the operational side of the business including commercial and financial analysis, risk and cost management, and strategic planning. I graduated with a degree in Business Economics from the University of the Philippines. Prior to my MBA, I also did a short programme on Climate and Sustainable Energy Finance at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management in Germany.

Why did you pick NUS?

I chose to pursue my MBA at NUS because of three main reasons. First, I wanted to be able to immerse myself in the countless opportunities and rich cultural experiences that Singapore has to offer. Secondly, the school’s flexible programme structure allowed me to explore new career options. I had the opportunity to work with a non-profit organisation through a short-term consulting project. The programme format also allowed me to take up a full-time internship during the semester, and not just during summer or winter breaks which is a total plus if you want to explore multiple industries or roles during your MBA!

Lastly, the school’s reputation as one of the top business schools globally has paved the way for many eye-opening international experiences with its partner organisations. For example, last year I had the amazing opportunity to join a study trip to London and represent the school at the Graduate Business Conference held in Paris.

Please share your key achievements and leadership roles on the programme.

What has been the single most stand-out experience of your MBA?

Tough question because so many of my experiences during my MBA were refreshing and stand-out, but if I had to pick just one, I’d say it would be the time I was assistant faculty for Launch Your Transformation, a one-week intensive bootcamp on management communications and leadership skills for all incoming students.

It was challenging because this is not a normal course that you can just ‘teach’ to students. We wanted the students to do things that they haven’t tried before, see things from a different perspective, and push them out of their comfort zones, but all in safe and supportive environment.

This experience made me realise that it is not easy task to teach, mentor, and inspire students. I felt fatigued and I was pushed beyond my own limits all throughout the bootcamp, even more than any other class or case competition during this MBA. But it was all worth it. This experience made me understand why people teach – because it is truly fulfilling to see your students excel and become better versions of themselves.

Tell me something about The NUS MBA that others might not know.

The NUS MBA programme has many experiential learning aspects which makes it unique compared to many other B-schools that still focus on the more traditional MBA programme offerings. For me, what experiential learning actually means is getting your hands dirty with real-life experiences. For example, the Business School ties up with NUS Enterprise to offer Lean LaunchPad, which offers students a real opportunity to turn inventive technologies into commercially viable products and feasible business ventures.

Who is your personal hero? What is it about him/her that you admire?

My father has played a significant role in influencing both my personal and career decisions. More than his extensive experience in clean energy solutions and passion for sustainability, I truly admire his resilience and perseverance in all that he does. I remember the stories he would tell me at the dinner table about all the ‘battles’ he often had to endure for work. Discouraging as it sounded, never did I once hear him say that he has had enough or it’s too difficult for him to pursue. I’m inspired to keep moving forward to the best of my abilities while staying firmly grounded to my values, just as my dad has always done and continues to do.

Where do you see yourself in 5 - 10 years’ time?

After spending five years in the energy sector, I plan to spend at least another five years gaining as much as experience as I can in the finance sector. Ultimately, the goal is to lead my own clean energy/infrastructure investments, and one day start my own business venture to support sustainability, particularly for developing markets such as my home country, the Philippines.

What advice would you give to other MBA aspirants?

Don’t let other people tell you what you can or cannot do. I almost gave up taking my GMAT after some people told me that it might be too hard to get your target score. I almost did not find myself landing a job in Singapore after some people said it was too competitive here. And I almost didn’t think I could switch careers from energy into finance after some people told that I was aiming too high. I heard them, but I listened to myself more because I know I would just be letting myself down if I didn’t even try. You’d be surprised at what you can achieve if you listen to yourself more and just give it your all.

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