Be warned: long post ahead.
*EDIT: From 2016 onwards the Tourism and Hospitality specialisation is no longer available. There is a new specialisation called Risk Management and Insurance Programme. For more information, you can visit NTU Risk Management Society’s Facebook page.
Choosing your specialisation (for Business students) is no doubt an important decision, no less because a Bachelor of Business is such a general degree. This year, things will be a bit different with the introduction (and farewell) of 1 specialisation, Business Analytics (BA). It will replace IT (Information Technology) which effectively leaves my batch as the last IT batch.
This post will touch on what’s in store for those thinking of taking up Business Analytics either as a first or second specialisation, or as part of the curriculum for BCG students. But for those who have set their sights on other specs, I got some of my friends from the various specialisations to put in a word based on their experience so far in their respective specialisation. *skip below for the detailed parts on BA*
Jia Ming, Year 2 ACBS Spec in Banking and Finance
Having undergone the BNF business specialisation for one year, I have to say that it really lives up to its promise of providing a very diverse and holistic learning platform – as implied by the juxtaposition of the specific and broad terms of “banking” and “finance” respectively. The content coverage of the mods under this spec apparently overlap and complement each other pretty well – for instance, INVESTMENTS teaches one the technicalities of computing values of financial instruments while WEALTH MANAGEMENT imparts valuable and practical real-life know how regarding selection of the different instruments as well as proper asset planning and allocation. Of course, there are more advanced and specific modules such as DERIVATIVES and FINANCIAL MODELLING for students keen on acquiring a more detailed grasp of these aforementioned areas. Personally, I firmly believe that BNF particular stands out from the other business modules due to the heavy technical coverage as well as hard and soft skills it teaches that should empower one to thrive in the finance sector in the future.
However, this spec is not for everyone as you’d really need to have a good grasp and understanding of the basic FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT module that students should have cleared in their first year of study, as these BNF mods build upon such existing knowledge. Numerical literacy is a must as well to deal with the intricate computations that several BNF mods demand. However, based on personal experience the quantitative coverage is more of the “killer” aspect so students should come prepared with an open mind and learn to grasp the concepts quickly.
Aaron, Year 2 BUS Spec in HR
This past 1 year in HR Spec has been an enjoyable one for me. With modules such as talent sourcing and development, cultural intelligence and total rewards management, I really get a feel of how important Human Resources is to organisations. Initially, I thought HR is merely a function that arranges for interviews and process employees salary. After being in the HR Spec, I realized that it is so much more than this as HR do have a strategic impact on organisations where they look at how to attract and retain top talents, devise training and development to enhance employees skills as well as develop compensation plans to reward and motivate key employees. In all, I would think that if you are someone who is interested in learning about how an organisation develop and strengthen its most important capital which are its employees, HR Spec might be the choice for you.PS: Quite a number of the HR modules are non-examinable so the main focus is actually on the individual and group assignments. This might suit individuals who are more inclined towards project-based modules.
Kudos to kerk for coming up with this great idea. Hope this note provides some insights on what it really is like to be doing actuarial science (ACS) in nbs.
For those of you who do not know what an actuary is or how to be an actuary, here are some pretty legit videos that you can watch.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7SdMW5tFBE [Different types of actuaries]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0s9_Dd25MM [Exam Structure]
Actuary has been rated as the number 1 job, by some Facebook articles, for a couple of years. This is largely due to actuary having a great pay package, pretty legit working hours that allows you to spend more time with your family and of course the paid-study leaves that allow you to take a break from work.
This article mainly focuses on some common questions that I wished were answered in year 1 but only learnt about them after experiencing it the hard way.
Question: Actuary pays really well, right?
Answer: Yes and no. If you watched the videos, your pay range will be upwards of 5 digits if you attain the status of a fellow. However, most ACS fresh grads start out with a pay averaging $3,300 [various sources]. However, the good thing about ACS is that you have greater control over your salary – in the sense that your salary gets a boost every time you pass an actuarial exam. So if you want to get a higher pay, just study harder!
Question: How does the exemption structure work in NBS?
Answer: In short, there are a total of 8 exemptions that a student can score while pursuing an actuarial specialisation in NBS – namely CT1 – CT8 [watch the video if you do not know what I’m taking about]. In order to score these exemptions, your raw score for the module’s final paper have to be more than 65 in order to qualify for these exemptions. Alternatively, if the average score for all these papers is more than 65, you will get the exemption for all 8 CTs. In addition, there are 2 unrestricted electives (Actuarial Computing & Actuarial Management) that will be included in this average if you choose to take them.
Question: How do I know if I am suitable?
Answer: You need to score a minimum of B+ in your year 1 stats module to qualify for ACS. You should also be pretty good at maths as you will be doing calculations all the time. Also, I feel that having a good sense of logical reasoning skills would be a plus as it will help you understand the concepts with greater ease. Most importantly [I cannot stress this enough], you must have the drive and discipline to study hard because to be honest, getting these exemptions aren’t as easy it sound.
Question: I want to go exchange!
Answer: This is a sad-truth but for ACS students to go exchange is like at least 10 times harder than getting Cheryl’s birthday right. This is because the modules are usually offered once per year and they tend to build upon each other [even when they are not pre-requisites of each other]. This means that if you go for an exchange, it will be hard for you to score in the paper when you come back. This also means that for the next semester, you would have to clear additional actuarial modules on top of the standard curriculum which would not be easy. I have friends who actually did it but because I did not really go through this process, it will be hard for me to comment. So unless you are on a double-degree program, where you can take a one-year break from actuarial studies and focus on your accountancy program, I would say you have a better chance applying for a partial exchange under SUSEP [yes a partial exchange does exist].
Question: How many people will get in?
Answer: I do not know the exact number but for all actuarial classes I have had it has always been the size of one seminar room. So on average, I would say about 50 students. The awesome part about this is that you will basically be seeing your classmates for the next 2 years so you will tend to be more bonded I guess (Y).
All in all, I wish yall all the best in the upcoming finals and hope yall get the specialisation of your choice. If yall have any questions regarding ACS, just drop me a mail or message or something, I will try my best to answer the questions that you have!
Leave a comment for Jing Rong’s email (in case of spam)!
Stephanie, Year 2 BUS Spec in Tourism and Hospitality
In tourism & hospitality management, we will learn about the different functions of tourism in Singapore as well as how do we manage the tourism industry sustainably. Other core modules we have are like revenue management to study the different demand for tourism throughout the year, service operations and marketing to learn abt marketing through service. Only join us if you are into the tourism industry 😉
Kelly, Year 2 BUS Spec in Marketing
First off, let me debunk a few myths about Marketing as a specialization. No, it is not about fancy campaigns, “fluff”, and about flashy presentations.
However, what specializing in marketing does demand is a high propensity for writing long reports, handling lots of group reports concurrently and having passion and conviction in your ideas.
In my two years in NBS, I’ve taken 5 marketing mods: AB1501 Marketing, BM2501 Market Behaviour, BM2505 Marketing Channels, BM2503 Market Relationships and BM3505 Services Marketing.
So with my experience thus far, let me share with you some key points about this specialization to consider when making your choice:
- Marketing is a combination of understanding of marketing concepts and application to real-life examples.
This is especially relevant in your marketing assignments and projects. Most marketing modules will have a combination of individual assignments and final group assignments whereby your performance will depend on your depth of understanding of marketing concepts, frameworks and guidelines that are all taught and explained in seminars. Most will also require you to apply these concepts to a real-life case, product or company. The good news is, you usually don’t need to pick something that has not already been sold in Singapore (unlike in AB1501 Marketing) so a lot of your resources are already out there for you to find. Also, marketing professors will usually grade you highly for accurate use of your marketing frameworks and concepts. So what I’m trying to say here is, success in marketing lies in APPLICATION, APPLICATION AND MORE APPLICATION.
- Hunt for good group members. Now I know this goes without saying for NBS, but let me stress that this is particularly important for marketing because group projects constitute a high level of percentage of your overall grade. In addition, the work demanded is usually hefty and time-consuming, so having a solid group to work with will make the experience a whole lot less painful.
- Cultivate an interest in consumer goods and services. If you’re considering marketing as your choice specialization, I’m sure you already have this. A lot of your projects and assignments will require you to focus on consumer goods and services as your focus. For example, for Services Marketing, my group and I analysed OCBC Frank. For Market Relationships, I did Topshop. A lot of groups in Marketing also did companies like SIA, La Senza, Nescafe, Godiva… Any and every consumer good possible. So keep your eyes peeled, and make sure to pick brands and products you’re genuinely passionate about.
- Yes, creativity does help marketing. When designing marketing proposals, channels or ideas in your projects and assignments, groups and individuals who tend to score well will bring forth new and unconventional ideas that are within the marketing frameworks but are not something you would typically think of. However, this is just an added bonus and not a requirement (refer to tip #1). Also, try to train yourself to adopt an engaging presenting style and Powerpoint designing skills. These are all weapons in a marketer’s arsenal and fitting of the industry you’re interested in, and you might as well start honing them now!
Hope the above tips are useful to you, and I would be happy to provide any more details and experiences if you need!
(Your friendly marketing senior)
So now for the meaty part..Business Analytics for those who have it as a First Specialisation.
Business Analytics (6 mods)
EDIT* Core Modules (3 Mods)
- BC2402 Designing and Developing Databases
- BC2406 Analytics I: Visual and Predictive Techniques
- BC2407 Analytics II: Advanced Predictive Techniques
BCXXXX Business Analytics Consulting is still pending as a core module, so it will be available Sem 2 Ay16-17 as a Prescribed Elective (PE) instead.
Prescribed Elective (choose 3 out of 5)
- BT2403 Service Operations Management
- BC3401 Enterprise Analytics
- BC3402 Financial Service Processes and Analytics
- BC3403 Social Media and Digital Analytics
- BCXXXX Lean and Process Analytics
- BCXXXX Supply Chain Analytics (not available yet)
- BCXXXX Search Engine and Web Analytics (not available yet)
OverviewAfter 2 semesters in IT, having cleared 4 modules so far, I would say that some appreciation of technology in our lives apart from the obvious ones like smartphones, apps, browsing the internet etc is needed. What I’m talking about is the desire to understand the deeper layer behind all the technology around us that, without going so deep as the engineers that do the coding. There are moments of joy (hilarious exam questions – no I’m not crazy) and moments of pure terror (rushing projects within 1 min from deadline submission). Although these are my personal experiences, I believe the following points will strike a common chord among my course mates (however little of them there are).
Let’s bust some myths before anything else. Is coding background needed? I would definitely say no, although its definitely good to have. Heck, knowing some coding languages is good for everything, even for BnF and Actuarial Science. You will either be teamed up with people who have the know-how, or somehow or another not count that much. It is not a make or break pre-requisite.
Additionally, the NBS Analytics Club organizes introductory programming courses out of curriculum (but heavily supported by NBS) every semester.
Are there only like 7 people in IT/Biz Analytics? Is there no bell curve? Maybe at one point of time there were really that little people, but BA will have 50-60 slots. There will still be a curve. Does it matter? Just do your best!
In general, expect IT/BA mods to be held in unorthodox, challenging and interesting ways. Some profs can be quite creative and free in how they run their classes. We have classes where content is almost entirely taught by…ourselves (teach less learn more right) and classes where the entire class tackles a common question together. There are also mods where the majority of class participation takes place on online forums.
You can definitely expect projects to be damn well challenging. But thoroughly meaningful and enriching. To date, I still quote experiences from my Data Management live project to interviewers and friends alike. Focus on contributing to your project and a large part of your grade will be secured.
Perhaps the best thing about IT modules is that there is a sense of certainty to some extent. Certain questions, though unsolvable they may seem, can actually be replicated wholesale onto programs like Excel, MySQL (some software). In short, you can create a live version of the problem and try to solve them using whatever solutions. If it works, it works.
Relevant industries/Job prospects
For BA students, here’s the good news. Not only are government bodies like IDA and MOH pushing and actively rolling out attractive schemes and driving the data analytics industry forward, BA is an industry currently facing a shortage of talent and many big companies are offering analytics roles. Lets take a very brief look:
|Accenture, SAP||Tech Consulting/Solutions||– Big Data Consultant/Analyst- Data Visualization- Data Scientist|
|Bloomberg||Business/Financial Intelligence / Media||– Market Data Analyst|
|Nielsen||Information and Measurement||– Data Scientists/Statistician|
|Social Network||– Data Insights Analyst|
|Citibank||Banks/Financial Institutions||– Big data and analytics developer|
|EY, PWC||Accounting Firms||– Data Analytics- Forensic Tech and Discovery- Portfolio Security- Tech consulting|
|A*Star, LTA, MOH, NCS||Government/R&D||– Data Scientists- Research Scientists|
|Singtel||Telecommunications||– Data Architect|
|Visa||Digital Payment||– Analytics Delivery Manager|
|P&G||Marketing/FMCG||– R&D Data Scientist/Analyst – product vigilance|
If you are scratching your head at the alien job descriptions – it does not matter (yet) it just indicates that there is a demand for analysts. Basically, any business that has information flow (heck, even a Facebook page selling cookies has data to collect) and wants to use that data to translate into actionable advice needs Business Analytics.
It is possible but requires planning. The profs are actually very approachable and probably even quite enthusiastic about encouraging students to go for exchange. Personally, I had trouble mapping the Analytics module but was constantly hounded to look for modules in the Science or Math areas of the exchange universities as the profs assured us that its actually quite easy to match. There are modules offered overseas for the IT program, but with regards to the new BA program, I’m actually not too sure. Also be sure to take note of pre-requisites and modules that are only offered in sem 1 or 2, and of course map out the entire 2 or 3 years remaining to ensure that you miss nothing out and have to delay graduation.
The only difference between first and second Specialisation will be to take 2 instead of 4 BA Core modules. On top of the 2 out of 7 broadening modules, this will add up to 4 BA modules in total.
Accounting and BA – Accounting students have to take IT2 (Accounting Information Systems) which, if unchanged, will still be dealing with an enterprise system by SAP. Enterprise Analytics will also be dealing with SAP (not confirmed, highly likely) so the background knowledge gained will be useful, even though the content will not be similar.
Marketing and BA – Search Engine and Web Analytics as well as Social Media Analytics will directly value add your marketing portfolio as digital marketing is no doubt a huge and growing industry. Being equipped with analytical skills to make marketing decisions or even just to make visual analysis will definitely help.
BnF, HR and Tourism – The above 2 examples were made based off actual, current students in the IT spec so I would say that I am less qualified to comment on the usefulness of taking up BA with the other 3 specs. But anyway here goes: During a recent meeting with our alumni members, some of them are actually doing data analytics in HR, generating useful business intelligence and insights to HR directors so that they can make decisions on manpower allocation. Analytics is about transforming huge chunks of data into understandable, actionable, predictive information, and that is a competitive advantage to virtually all businesses.
So should you go for it?
Frankly, the culture in the IT spec is quite unique in the sense that there is actually a collaborative spirit because the projects are really quite challenging. Many of us bring different skills to the table. Some can present, some have extra programming knowledge, some can design, some can organise. Many a times I have looked at others and felt threatened because of how good they are, only to realise some time later that they also feel the same about me. Barriers break down eventually and we tackle the larger problem at hand.
I also feel that there must be at least some degree of interest in the field of technology. The IT 1 module is vaguely representative of what’s it like in IT/BA. Excel formulas are actually used to test interns for data analytics positions. ERD (Entity Relationship Diagram) are actually the base knowledge for more IT modules. Are you intrigued by how Google works, or how it earns ~97% of its revenue through advertising? Or how Amazon, Qoo10 or Lazada can unnervingly suggest items that you were thinking of buying before you even searched for it? If you are, you will fit in here just fine.
If you want to be part of a ground breaking industry and be equipped with multi-disciplinary skills that are in high demand in various industries right now, you should possibly consider BA.
If you feel that you have more questions, feel free to leave a comment.