HEG-FR & SMU immersion program

Sin Hong Joo: testimonials of HEG-FR & SMU immersion program

Being in Fribourg, Switzerland, has been an amazing experience for me so far. Every day is a learning experience in RegenHU.

1I am Sin Hong Joo, a student from Singapore Management University currently in my second year in university. I am pursuing a bachelor degree in business management with a major in operations management and marketing. I am here for a 10 – 12 weeks Immersion Program, a joint collaboration between HEG-FR and SMU. It provides entrepreneurial exposure for students through an internship with a start-up or SME organization either attached or located near the university. It delivers an experience in an entrepreneurial environment as a part of students’ education.

I have been attached to RegenHU. RegenHU is an innovative biomedical company located in Switzerland, belonging to the CPA Group SA. RegenHU provides these 3 main services. Therapeutic & Biosurgery, Drug discovery and system engineering.

Something that interest me significantly in Switzerland is the extent that its citizen care for the environment. For example, 47% of waste in Switzerland is recycled. I am grateful to have the chance to experience how Switzerland can achieve this. Hopefully, I will be able to impart and implement such a recycling system within Singapore one day.

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Enjoying the view from the cathedral of Notre Dame of Lausanne

Although it has only been a short stay in Switzerland so far, it has certainly been an eye-opening experience so far working with RegenHU. The power distance is much lower than that within Singapore. I can carry out conversation casually with my bosses which makes the facilitation of work much more efficient and effective than in Singapore. The work-life balance and flexibility given to me has been surprising as well. Here in Switzerland, efficiency is prioritise over hours worked. Despite my short stay in Switzerland, I too believe that this system is superior over the one implemented within Singapore.

In spite of all these differences, Switzerland is relatively similar to Singapore. Singapore has many similar systems and rules with Switzerland. There are plenty of greenery all around Switzerland which makes me feel like I am home in Singapore. In fact, it took me a few days to realise that I am in a different country.

I hope that in these 10 weeks here in Switzerland, I will be able to meet new friends, learn new skills and experience what it is like to be a Swiss citizen.

Jonathan Lok: testimonials of HEG-FR & SMU immersion program

I am Jonathan, a Sophomore business management student majoring in Operations and Analytics. The reason why I chose Switzerland is because I know that Switzerland is similar to Singapore in many ways, one of which includes its start-up environment. Hence, I would want to learn from the start-ups here and perhaps gain new insights from working here.

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This is a view that I appreciate a lot as Singapore only has skyscrapers and almost no greenery

Despite flying 10,350km and experiencing a 6-hour time difference between Switzerland and Singapore, there is a sense of familiarity that fills me even when I am this far away from home. In my short stay in Fribourg, Switzerland thus far, I have had a myriad of positive experience – from the warm greetings we receive whenever we meet a local, the amazing view of mountains in the horizon as well as the peaceful lifestyle here in Fribourg.

2Although both Singapore and Switzerland has potable water, there are no actual drinking water fountains in public in Singapore where you can quench your thirst there and then. As a new visitor to Switzerland, it is certainly exciting to know that the water comes directly from the mountains, instead of reservoirs!

Having started work officially at RegenHU yesterday, I also feel that the working culture here is something Asian countries should learn from, such that there are fixed lengths of working hours. This focus on work-life balance is crucial in my opinion in having an efficient workforce and at the same time increasing the quality of work produced during the working hours.

As a Singaporean, I feel privileged that I could come to Switzerland and I hope to learn as much as I can from the start-ups in this country!

The 10 – 12 weeks Immersion Program, a joint collaboration between HEG FR and SMU, is an entrepreneurial exposure for students through an internship with a start-up or SME organization either attached or located near the university where the program is offered. It delivers an experience in an entrepreneurial environment as a part of students’ education.

Tan Jia Hui: testimonials of HEG-FR & SMU immersion program

“Fribourg is a beautiful city with wonderful people. Swiss, like Singaporeans, are multi-lingual, usually fluent in some combination of French, German, English, Italian and/or Romansch.”

tanI am Tan Jia Hui, 2nd year student doing a SUTD-SMU Dual Degree Program (Bachelor of Business Management and Engineering).

Having heard about its diverse culture, Switzerland was my first choice when choosing the country for this immersion program. This being my first time to Europe, Switzerland was hence the ideal location to experience and better understand the lifestyle and culture in Europe.

1When we first arrived in Switzerland, what struck me was how quiet the city was. Despite having a much larger land area than Singapore, there are only about 8 million people living here – much less densely populated than Singapore. Shops usually closes by 7pm every day and do not open on Sundays to facilitate work-life balance.

One of the most fascinating thing about the country is their strict recycling laws. Households are highly encouraged to segment and recycle their rubbish, including glass, paper and the different types of metals and plastics. Plastic bags were not provided at supermarkets and a fee had to be paid for each general waste bag. It was admirable how every individual played an active part in reducing their carbon footprint. In Singapore, most households have a rubbish chute within their houses, reducing the incentive to recycle.

3Fribourg is a small but beautiful city. My housemates and I explored the city during our first weekend here. We had tea at Café du Belvédère and it was a very soothing experience. People were simply chatting and enjoying the good weather and superb view of the old city. The slower pace of life is a refreshing break from the hectic Singapore lifestyle.

Today, we started our first day at work and I was introduced to some of the people in the same co-working place as I am based in. Even though some of them could not speak English, they were still very warm and friendly to me.

Most companies have two-hour lunch breaks and my company also has short 15-minute breaks during working hours. The working environment here is much more flexible and relaxed. During breaks, people gather around the recreational corner and play table soccer to destress and bond with one another. My first day of work was quite an enjoyable one and I look forward to the rest of the trip!

The 10 – 12 weeks Immersion Program, a joint collaboration between HEG-FR and SMU, is an entrepreneurial exposure for students through an internship with a start-up or SME organization either attached or located near the university where the program is offered. It delivers an experience in an entrepreneurial environment as a part of students’ education.

Jereld Sze: testimonials of HEG-FR & SMU immersion program

“The programme is a great opportunity for international students to experience the vibrancy of the entrepreneurial culture in Switzerland through structured lectures, industrial attachments, entrepreneurship networking events, and lots of travelling.”

1I am Jereld Sze, a 3rd year student (Bachelor of Business Management) majoring in Entrepreneurship and Advanced Business Technology (Information Security & Assurance).

I view this immersion programme as a great opportunity for international students to experience the vibrancy of the entrepreneurial culture in Switzerland, which, with outstanding scores in product and process innovation as well as high-growth firms, was ranked second in the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Index. Through the organised lectures, startup attachments and innovation-related events we are to attend, I am confident that we will leave this country much better-equipped to embark on our own pursuits back home.

2Just yesterday, the programme participants had our first meeting with the designated supervisors from the companies to which we have been attached, to gain a deeper understanding of the companies and thereafter draw up a roadmap of learning points and projected deliverables for the attachment period. Personally, I met with Dr. Alain Codourey of Asyril, which is a high-tech startup with expertise in robotics and flexible feeding systems, a field which I have had little prior experience with. By the end of the session, I had a much better idea of the company model, and felt much more prepared to dive into the startup attachment, which commences today (17/05).

Beyond the lectures and attachment, I am also extremely keen to meet the local entrepreneurship networks and learn as much as possible. I attended an innovation event centred about sleep-related research, and how sleep can be manipulated in various manners, e.g. to enhance memory or to improve quality of sleep. It was fascinating to watch the demonstrations in the Sleep Lab, and even try out a prototype myself!

In interacting with the other attendees of the event, one major point I noticed was that the University’s Innovation Club did not limit attendance of its activities to members of the university- anyone with an interest in innovation or entrepreneurship was most welcome. Creating a community beyond institutional membership and barriers is something which I feel all interest groups should strive towards, such that more people can learn from one another, facilitating growth within the community.

Of course, another huge benefit of the programme is that we get to travel and explore a multitude of new sights. Having stayed in metropolitan Singapore for the longest time, it is great to have a change of scenery, and the landscapes in Switzerland are simply breath-taking.

In the upcoming 10 weeks or so, I do hope to see more of Fribourg and Switzerland, and hopefully interact with much more of the staff and students of HEG-FR!

As part of a collaboration between HEG-FR and the Singapore Management University (SMU), a team of 11 selected Singaporean undergraduates will be based in Fribourg from May to July 2017 to experience the entrepreneurial culture of Switzerland through classes at HEG-FR and startup industry attachments.