The NUS MBA is ranked #14 in the latest Financial Times Global MBA

Stanislav Borisov, Russia

The NUS MBA Class of 2020
Innovation Manager at EcoLabs – Centre of Innovation for Energy

Describe your personal brand.

In one sentence it would be “2m tall energetic leader from Siberia”. To elaborate on it:

“2m tall”: when I meet someone for the first time, the first questions I always get – how tall are you? For a nice ice-breaker, I share a personal name card with the answer to this question, with “2m Stas” on one side and “Nice to meet you” on the other.

“Energetic leader”: the second thing that people notice about me is my enthusiasm as well as my passion for energy industry. I have been leading energy projects in different capacities and countries for over eight years and in parallel was always into building meaningful communities outside of my work hours.

“From Siberia”: this is my heritage and roots, which puts many of my daily decisions into the right perspective. After living in a place with the temperature range from -50C in the winter to +40C during the summer, one cannot complain about the weather. After working on construction and industrial sites during my university summer breaks, office work does not look tough anymore, not by intensity nor by working hours. And there are many other similar examples that, even now, help me to appreciate life in all its complexity and relativity.

What were you doing before The NUS MBA?

In 2011, I got my first master’s degree in Operational Management of Power Plants from Siberian Federal University, being one of the 20 graduates from 70+ candidates enrolled in the programme.

After that, I’ve been working in leadership and project management roles on different energy projects: engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning (EPCC) of a 500MW power plant in Siberia, repair and maintenance projects on four power plants in the west of Russia, an energy investment programme in Moscow, and finally, an engineering project for one of the biggest liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants in the world from a French office.

At the same time, I was actively involved and contributing to the communities where I lived through co-founding “Master Mind” – a business club for proactive entrepreneurs and business owners in Moscow, founding “Expats in Toulouse” – one of the largest expats communities in the city, and leading Toast Masters “Toulouse Speakers Club” in President and Area Clubs Growth Director roles in France.

I was also quite conscious about the need for continuous learning and upgrading of skills and knowledge. So far I’ve completed online courses on Coursera, certificate courses such as Project Management Professional with the Project Management Institute (PMI) and Investment Foundations with the CFA Institute, CORe courses with Harvard Business School Online, and learned new languages such as English, French and Thai.

Why did you pick NUS?

My first consideration was about the region where it would make strategic sense to do an MBA: the US, Europe or Asia. After some research, it was quite clear that for the next few decades, the most promising place for business and new developments will be Asia.

The second consideration was about the business school and country. It was very easy to identify NUS Business School with its great reputation, solid track record and extensive alumni network. Singapore as a progressive, business-friendly and open-minded country was another important factor.

And when I started looking into the programme details and discovered the programme’s flexibility, strong experiential learning aspect and existence of industry-related clubs – such as the Energy Club – the choice was quite obvious for me.

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

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

There have been many great experiences during my MBA journey, but the most memorable ones were from the first few weeks of the programme: all students were immersed in a series of high-intensity activities such as outdoor team challenges (rock climbing, dragon-boating, archery contest, etc) followed by the Launch Your Transformation bootcamp during which we were put in different situations (negotiations, discussions, brainstorming, conflict resolution, etc) and had to leverage and improve our communication skills. Through this experience, I gained insights about my communication strengths and weaknesses, as well as got to know my classmates, and created strong bonds with them.

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

One important aspect of The NUS MBA is that it is constantly evolving and improving. From first glance, it might not look so significant but like with compound interest, over time it brings amazing results. The effectiveness of such approach can be seen in the constantly improving rankings of The NUS MBA programme.

I was fortunate to see how it works not only from a student’s perspective but also from administrative side as well, while serving as the Student Council President and closely working with the Graduate Studies Office, career services and alumni office. I could see how hard everyone is working behind the scenes to improve the experience and increase the value for students through collecting constant feedback on classes, events, activities and initiatives.

It feels like every year, at least 20% of the programme is reworked and improved – on academics there is more flexibility with classes and new professors and specialisations introduced; on experiential learning there are new structures and programmes; on career services there are also new approaches on how to work with students and companies.

In sharing experiences with student leaders from other business schools, it is interesting to observe how some issues faced by other MBA programmes are thing of the past for The NUS MBA programme. It doesn’t mean though that all is perfect, but it is good to know that the progress never stops.

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

The leader whom I admire the most is Lee Kuan Yew – the first Prime Minister of Singapore. He was remarkable in many aspects – leadership, public speaking, vision, politics, economics – that made such a successful country as Singapore possible. And the true impact of a great leader can be seen in his legacy – Lee Kuan Yew stepped down from his post in 1990, but the system that he had built works marvellously till this day.

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

I would like to contribute to speeding up the transformation of the energy industry through the adoption of new sustainable energy sources, decentralisation, digitalisation and expansion into other areas such as e-mobility and smart cities. Currently, I am working on building an innovation-driven cleantech energy ecosystem in Singapore, and my aspiration is to make it the most vibrant and advanced in the region, and then in the world.

What advice would you give to other MBA aspirants?

Before applying for an MBA, it is important to know what your objective is so that you can choose the best programme that can help accelerate you towards your vision, and not towards just some random direction. Each MBA programme has specific strengths in terms of industry focus (e.g. consulting, finance, energy), roles (e.g. general management, entrepreneurship), geography (e.g. US, Europe, Asia), academic and extra curricular activities (e.g. classes, professors, clubs, events). Without knowing what you want and what the programme’s strengths are, the cost of a mistake can be very high.

As you start your MBA journey, you will be exposed to new people, cultures, ideas, industries, situations and responsibilities, so it is critical to keep an open mind and attitude to get maximum value out of your experience. With The NUS MBA, it is openly stated that you should be ready for a highly transformative journey, which often requires you to get out of your comfort zone.

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