The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

As the business world evolves, new and disruptive fields challenge even the most experienced worker. Many individuals and companies are turning to executive education programs to keep skills sharp.

Joseph Cherian is practice professor of finance and director of the Centre for Asset Management Research & Investments (CAMRI) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School, where he also serves on the executive education board. In an interview with The ACCJ Journal, Cherian discussed the qualities that make NUS Business School a good match for companies looking to educate their executives, and for executives seeking to further their knowledge.

CAMRI has one of the largest and most advanced university labs of its kind in Asia, with a faculty of highly experienced former industry practitioners. The lab features 41 work­stations equipped with Bloomberg live feeds, MSCI Barra investment and risk management software, and other financial applications.

“We created this environment where we could teach academically sound ideas in investing and be able to immediately practice it,” explained Cherian. “I think our lab provides students with the ability to bridge theory and practice, which is very important.”

Advancements such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are carving new paths in business, particularly in finance. Cherian explained that, while existing knowledge is still valuable, the executive education offerings at the NUS Business School enhance skill sets to improve business function and help develop careers. “Traditional methods may not be as desirable anymore, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are not useful,” he said. “I view this as an enhancement or an overlay to extant financial knowledge.”

The two investment and risk management-related offerings at NUS are the 14-month Executive Master’s in Invest­ments and Risk Management (EMIR) postgraduate degree program and the seven-day Graduate Certificate in Applied Portfolio Management (g-CAPM) open enrollment program. Both bring executives from around the globe together to work in a laboratory environment.

“We have trained about 150 people through the g-CAPM program in the CAMRI lab,” Cherian said. Explaining the importance of mixing executives from a range of finance fields, he noted: “We want to open it up, and we hope that participants can work together and build an ecosystem of finance networks. In the EMIR program, we intend to put computer scientists, finance domain experts, and risk managers in teams so they can solve cutting-edge finance problems together using investment science, market savvy, and financial technology.”

To cater to the busy executive, the NUS Business School’s EMIR degree program also offers a virtual learning environment that allows participants to learn online in the comfort of their home countries. “Wherever they are, they can dial in ‘live’ to the professor teaching in the CAMRI Lab,” Cherian explained. “When you’re in Japan or Hong Kong, it is more difficult to have contact with a teacher, which is why we offer a lot of help online, such as library resources provided in partnership with New York-based ARPM – Advanced Risk and Portfolio Management. Managed chat rooms enable students to ask questions and get quick replies from the ARPM lecturer.”

The program has an innovative curriculum that focuses on digital asset management topics and innovations that are impacting the industry, such as AI, machine learning, deep learning, and Big Data. It also includes live programming and coding sessions where students learn to use the Python programming language.

“This is a program where they can come in and be brought up to speed and learn about the latest technologies,” Cherian said. “They learn how to program and build asset management systems in Python.”

NUS Business School’s EMIR curriculum includes a four-day session taught by Princeton University faculty at the Bendheim Center of Finance in Princeton, New Jersey. “We start in April, and they spend one residence week in Singapore. Then they leave and come back again for another week in June,” Cherian said. “They go to Princeton in August for four days of heavy Big Data Financial Analytics learning, then get Friday off for self-study or sightseeing. In total, there are six residence weeks in Singapore and Princeton.”

With this combination of in-class, in-residence, and remote learning, NUS Business School is well positioned to give any company or finance executive a boost, helping them stay on top of their game in a rapidly changing financial world. 

Our lab provides students with the ability to bridge theory and practice, which is very important.