Drawing International Inspiration From Study Abroad in Singapore

Daniela Munoz in Singapore.

Daniela Muñoz had learned plenty about finance and accounting at Drexel University before she went to Singapore to study abroad this summer. She had an idea of what it takes to run a company, how to develop a financial plan and how to deliver a business pitch. She didn’t realize, though, how different it all might seem once she went international.

During her month at Nanyang Technological University as part of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Asia program offered by the Nanyang Technopreneurship Centre, Muñoz learned that in a world moving rapidly toward globalization, understanding the way an idea might be received beyond America’s borders is more essential than ever.

“I can’t emphasize enough how crucial it is to expand our perspectives,” said Muñoz, who is now in her final term as a double-major in finance and marketing in the LeBow College of Business. “If I want to be successful in business, whether that’s in a corporate setting, a small startup or even my own company, it’s so important to use your global perspective to understand the people that you’re serving, the people you’re working with and others who you may be affecting. I think that’s something we lack here in the U.S. So much of the world revolves around what we do here, which inevitably makes us ignorant to everything else.”

There were two-dozen students enrolled in the program, five of them Dragons, and seven different countries represented. Two students in Singapore had left China for the first time, and the opportunity to share ideas and cultures with them and the other international students in her classes left a mark on Muñoz.

“That was eye-opening for me,” said Muñoz. “There’s a world outside of this world we live in here, and there’s still so many opportunities for us to go share what we do here and the things we learn here while also learning from other people out there.”

The program wasn’t easy — each week the students were in class Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — but it was well worth it for all of the things Muñoz gained, she said. In a course on leadership in the 21st century, she learned about the varied approaches taken in different countries, which is exactly the type of lesson that she expects to give her a leg up once she’s out there in the professional world. And it can only help to have firsthand knowledge of a country gaining prominence in the international business community.

“It’s a country to keep our eye on, and not a lot of people are,” Muñoz said of Singapore. “To be able to say I know the culture in Singapore was also an incentive for me to go. … We haven’t focused enough on the Asia-Pacific countries, not just businesswise but culturally.”

The experience gave Muñoz a chance to orient herself in the wider world she hopes to soon be a part of as she begins her professional career. She’s set to join Johnson & Johnson’s finance department once she finishes her final classes, and down the road she’d like to run her own business, something with a focus on service. Whatever direction she heads, she’ll take with her the lessons she learned studying in Singapore and watching international students work.

“A lot of the students that I met are extremely driven and completely genuine about everything that they do,” said Muñoz. “Here, we’re given so many unbelievable opportunities, but unfortunately fail to maximize on them and their worth. So many of these students I crossed paths with that live outside of the United States would do just about anything to set foot here, and we can’t fathom that. We’re here taking so many things for granted while they’re working three times as hard. That was inspirational.”