Double Degrees: LKYSPP NUS & LSE

Here is the third installment of our feature on the double degree students. We are featuring the MPP students from LKYSPP doing their second year at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) taking the MPA program, and those from LSE who have come to LKYSPP and are currently doing the second year of the MPP program. LKYSPPeak asked them some questions to get to know them better and their London / Singapore experience so far.

Jonathan, Richard, and Shohei

Jonathan Lee (LKYSPP/LSE)

How has your studying experience been so far? How different is it from your stay at LKYSPP?

Studying at LSE has been an enriching experience. I think the biggest difference is the broader scope of post-graduate classes available for us. In general, LSE has a higher proportion of post-graduate students hence there are more master’s level classes across departments available to choose from for our electives. For me, I have taken elective classes from Management, Law, Development and Geography. However, the other side will be that many classes are less public policy specific, unlike LKYSPP. Hence, as MPA students, we have to constantly draw out public policy implications on our own.

Coming from Singapore, how has it been for you living in London? Compared to Singapore, what is the best (and worst? or least likeable) part of living there?

The best part of being in London is the cultural aspect. There are many museums, theater shows, and operas available. I myself have watched a couple of shows in London and I am loving it! The bad part of London is the grey skies- it makes me appreciate sunny Singapore a little more.

Can you share some of your other activities at your university there?

Activity-wise, I have joined a couple of societies there- namely theatre, wine tasting, food appreciation and backpacking. I also joined the Catholic Society and Singapore Society there as well. However, if we include schoolwork, the Capstone Project is one major activity too. I am privileged to be part of a great team working on aging population issues in the UK for Deloitte Consultancy. They are a great group to work with and I have learnt a lot just by working with them.

Please share your background (academic training, work experience) prior to LKYSPP and, if possible, your future plans after finishing your double degree.

Prior to LKYSPP, I was studying at NUS, majoring in Political Science. Upon completion of the program, I hope to return to Singapore and join the civil service, leveraging on the knowledge and experience I have gained from these two years and contributing back to society.

Shohei Yano (LKYSPP/LSE)

How has your studying experience been so far? How different is it from your stay at LKYSPP?

My interest is regulatory policy in financial markets, and I am mainly studying Econometrics and Finance at LSE. These courses give me more practical and analytical tools through a number of exercise classes, which I did not experience in the first year.

In LKYSPP, I learned about policy issues in financial regulation, such as institutional arrangements, and I am currently trying to deepen insights of financial regulation/supervision by obtaining research tools, which I believe are necessary for policymakers to formulate effective policies.

Coming from Singapore, how has it been for you living in London? Compared to Singapore, what is the best (and worst? or least likeable) part of living there?

Needless to say, Britain has been playing an important role in world history and there are a lot of historical and eventful sites here, which make me very excited. I find it very interesting that while preserving tradition, this country develops, attracts people, and serves as center of business in the world. Moreover, I am staying quite near the British Museum and it is a perfect location for me to enjoy and learn human history and development.

Can you share some of your other activities at your university there?

Interaction with students across departments is the highlight of my LSE life. Pub culture in the UK easily makes us unite and since LSE attracts students with different interests from all over the world, interacting with them gives me new insights on the role of governments, public policies, and necessary actions for policymakers in this rapidly changing global world.

Please share your background (academic training, work experience) prior to LKYSPP and, if possible, your future plans after finishing your double degree.

Before joining LKYSPP/LSE, I completed a MSc degree in Pure Physics in Japan and worked as financial regulator/supervisor for two years in the Japanese government. After graduation, I strived to get involved in policymaking on financial markets. By bridging between leading discussions of financial markets and rapid growth in Asia, I would like to contribute to the development in this region.

Richard Varghese (LKYSPP/LSE)

How has your studying experience been so far? How different is it from your stay at LKYSPP?

It has been an immensely enriching experience. The people you meet and the vibrancy of the city help you grow as a person. I miss the College Green (CG) community living experience (read: potlucks, basketball, and late night talks on one of the CG house steps), having a campus (read: sports center, botanical garden and window sills where you can sit and read), and a real class (read: people who you identify as classmates – this is partly due to the second year structure of the MPA programme). But in turn, here you find out there are more to doing a rigorous Master’s programme than policy and economics, and discover the city by making friends living all around a huge agglomeration. It has helped me step out of the safe protected zone of policy or community living. It helps you prick the bubble and let you know it is a lot better to go outside (which makes you also appreciate the bubble more).

Coming from Singapore, how has it been for you living in London? Compared to Singapore, what is the best (and worst? or least likeable) part of living there?

When I first arrived in Singapore, I was intimidated by the orderliness of the place and missed chaos. And here, I tend to miss the orderliness. ‘Talking about weather’ (like they do here, always.) The drastic change from Singapore has resulted in a love-hate relationship; I think with spring and summer around the corner, more of the former than the latter. In fact, I am the wrong person to answer this question since I like this modern state of being homeless or trying to make every city a home.

Can you share some of your other activities at your university there?

There is so much happening at LSE; you really need to prioritize your activities. Other than religiously gaining from the discounts offered by the LSE theatre society and being their least active member, I do not have interactions with intend. But often, you find activities, which you walk into. There are no shortages for public events, lectures and debates, which I do take part once in a while. I also think interaction with your Capstone client can form a major share of your LSE MPA experience. But it can vary from case to case. I have enjoyed working with Action Aid, an international NGO, on the issues related to financing education in developing countries.

Please share your background (academic training, work experience) prior to LKYSPP and, if possible, your future plans after finishing your double degree.

I joined LKYSPP right after my undergraduate degree in Economics from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi. Prior professional experience includes a summer stint with the Reserve Bank of India (Research – Global Current Account Imbalances), an internship with the Centre for Civil Society (Research for Annual Report of Central Information Commission, the Government of India) and initiated an Economic Research Group (at St. Stephen’s College). My future plans include negotiating world peace, fixing the global economy, and of course, making a positive change in the world. On a serious note, I genuinely hope to answer that question as soon as possible. But I believe it is ok not to know. Broad interests include academia, consulting for governments, economic policies and a specific interest in development and its financing.

Caroline Mulliez (LSE/LKYSPP)

Previous work experience?

Just internships and student jobs…

Countries you’ve lived in for at least 3 months?

France (country of birth), Belgium (undergrad), US (Maryland, 6 months exchange while undergrad), UK (London, 1st year of MPP), South Africa (Pretoria, actually just 2 months for an internship last summer), and Singapore.

Why did you decide to come to Singapore?

I figured it would provide me with a bit of knowledge and experience of a continent that I had never been to. I was thus thirsty to discover something new and meet very different people. Also, the tuition fees are incomparable to what I was paying in London.

Is LKYSPP as you imagined? If not what were the surprises?

I could not imagine we would have such a high quality of life and live in a tight/close community like the one at College Green. In that sense, I was really surprised. I was used to “city life,” where everyone lives at least thirty minutes away.

In terms of classes, I think classes here are way more practical, professors being more practitioners. It is very American-style (or at least, to avoid generalizing, it reminded me of my classes during my exchange in the US) whereas LSE was more academic, more old-school European style (more like my undergrad in Belgium). But that might be linked to the fact that I am only taking electives, since it is the second year of the program at LKYSPP and electives are inherently more practical than core modules.

What is the biggest difference between the academic structure of LKYSPP and your original program?

At LSE, we have mostly yearlong classes. Also in the second year, there are only three classes, the capstone (equivalent of the PAE at LKYSPP), and dissertation.

What is your favorite part about living in Singapore?

My favorite part is being able to travel and discover cultures that are so different from mine. Also, discovering them with people who are originally from the destination country makes a huge difference. For example, during the winter break, a couple of us went to Manila for a couple of days and it made such a huge difference to have Marco, Zak, Sheila and Trissa show us around and advise us on what to do and where to go. I feel very blessed to be part of such a community.

Professional life goals/aspirations?

I want to make a difference in the lives of people around me. I don’t think one necessarily has to work for a government or an international organization to achieve that. Some private sector firms also make a huge difference. I am only 22 years old and I still need to get some experience to figure how I could best use the skills and knowledge I have in order to make the greatest impact. I am currently applying for consultancy positions. Hopefully, that will give me the opportunity to work on projects dealing with very different sectors and enable me to refine how I can contribute the best.

Is there anything you would like to share about living in Singapore or studying at LKYSPP?

I wish there were more job opportunities we could access through the school. As a dual degree student, I have five classes per semester, an independent study module, and my PAE and I find it hard to apply for jobs in these conditions.

How do you find the cultural diversity at LKYSPP? Any surprises so far?

I was expecting a more equilibrate mix in terms of representation of continents. For example, there are very few people from South America. But in the sense that I came here to get to know more about Asia, I am totally satisfied with the way it is.

Are you an optimist or pessimist when it comes to managing climate change on a global level? Why do you think so?

I am quite pessimistic. I think each country feels very sovereign to make the decisions it wants on the matter, and in many cases it is quite justified. For example, I understand that a country that is fighting poverty does not wish to spend its scarce resources managing climate change. I don’t see why and/or how this dynamic can change in the near future. I think a lot of countries individually make a lot of effort and, even though it is taking some time, the world is becoming more conscious of the challenges climate change will bring for everyone of us.

Jose Rubianogroot (LSE/LKYSPP)

Work experience?

In am currently involved with a commodities trading company here; I do market analysis for them. I joined the company while I was still in London and was able to continue working for them from here in Singapore.

Countries you’ve lived in for at least 3 months?

I’ve lived in Colombia (where I am from), the United States (where I did my undergrad in Economics), China (where I did some courses in international finance and learned Mandarin), the UK of course, and now Singapore.

Why did you decide to come to Singapore?

I jumped at the chance to come to Singapore since I had the chance to visit the country while I was living in China and always thought it would be a nice place to live. I was pretty impressed at everything I saw during my short trip (culturally, economically, socially)… And of course, I wasn’t terribly opposed to enjoying the big city life with better weather than London!

What is the biggest difference between the academic structure of LKY and your original program?

The pace of the courses caught me a little off guard since they are run here on a term basis rather than a yearly basis like they were in LSE; deadlines just crept up on me. Also, I was pretty impressed at the flexibility of the program to basically tailor the degree to what you are really interested in.

What is your favorite part about living in Singapore?

I love the ease of living in Singapore, particularly with a young family, the city is very family friendly which allows me to really enjoy the time off from school and the office.

Professional life goals/aspirations?

Professionally, I hope to continue in the work field I am in, basically looking at policy issues from a business perspective and using this to adequately structure decisions… however, after some time in analysis, I would like to move to the trading aspect of the business.

Are you an optimist or pessimist when it comes to managing climate change on a global level? Why do you think so?

Regarding climate change, I am a long-term optimist since climate issues have started to be framed in a way that the establishment of adequate incentive structures is being discussed. This is crucially important since the best way for true change to happen has to be for people to willingly choose to take the right measures regarding climate issues. The best way to do that is to create incentives that will make the process smoother, quicker and on a larger scale (particularly regarding the private sector).

Magnus Young (LSE/LKYSPP)

Previous work experience?

Six months at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in Geneva researching regulation of corporate governance and public project finance, as well as six months as an accountant at CEVA Logistics in Aberdeen.

Countries you’ve lived in for at least 3 months?

Instead of travelling too much, I try to combine study/work with experiencing new places, so there are a few by now: Norway, Italy, UK, China, Switzerland, and Singapore.

Why did you decide to come to Singapore?

To see what all this productivity growth is all about. No, it was actually a pretty rational decision, as I’m becoming a grown-up: I wanted to combine the public policy studies I was doing in the UK with exposure to Asia. I’d like to work in a policy-related field, either in or with China since I’ve got a degree in Chinese language that I’ve yet to make use of.

Is LKYSPP as you imagined? If not what were the surprises?

I don’t really remember what I expected, but there have not been any significant negative surprises. Maybe the workload focuses more on quantity than quality here, but I really enjoy my courses. And the student body is amazing! The sense of community (including all the good people at LKYSPP) is the best thing about my life in Singapore.

What is the biggest difference between the academic structure of LKYSPP and your original program?

Structure is similar, but LSE is far more ‘academic’ and economics-centered. Also, at LSE you have soooo many electives, it’s hard to pick but few of the electives at LSE are specifically designed for policy students. LKYSPP therefore feels more like doing a professional degree, whereas LSE is more rigorous in training students in theory and using tools for academic analysis. I don’t think one is better than the other, but there’s a big difference in teaching style and focus of assignments. We didn’t write any policy papers or country reports in LSE, but focused far more on making sure we didn’t overlook any existing scholarship when writing papers.

What is your favorite part about living in Singapore?

My fellow students! And the food is awesome. I also like drinking pale beer into the wee hours of the tropical nights, solving climate change, mollifying belief systems, and exchanging business propositions.

Professional life goals/aspirations?

None too specific. Something interesting and meaningful.

Is there anything you would like to share about living in Singapore or studying at LKYSPP?

It’s pretty cool.

How do you find the cultural diversity at LKYSPP? Any surprises so far?

It’s more diverse than I expected. Positive surprise.

Are you an optimist or pessimist when it comes to managing climate change on a global level? Why do you think so?

Like I said, we solve it all the time here at school. I’m optimistic about the future, but I think it’ll get pretty bad before it gets better. Our generation will probably not see too much of the good stuff, though.

4 responses

  1. Luis Milare

    Hey jose, this is luis MIlaré, i studied w/ you at CJMS in Potomac, MD, remember???

    send me and e-mail, i couldn´t find yours!!!

    regards,

    Luís

    ps: this is the second msg i leave here, i don´t understand why they deleted the first one…(this is not a spam!!!)

    August 3, 2010 at 06:37

  2. luis milare

    Hey Jose, i hope you get this msg!!! I was looking thru the internet to find you e-mail, so we could talk!! I don´t know if you remember me, this is Luis from Cabin John Middle School (Potomac, Md)…well, if you read this, send me and e-mail…. I also have been looking for Carlo e-mail, but couldn´t find…anyways nice to hear from you experiences in all this years!!!

    July 31, 2010 at 11:06

    • -X-

      Hey, your comment was not junked – we just take some time in approving comments. apologies for the delay.

      August 5, 2010 at 01:07

      • Luís Milaré

        my bad!!! thaks guys!!!

        August 5, 2010 at 02:03

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