Established in 1971, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) acts as the central bank of the city-state. In order to fulfil its mission of driving sustainable economic growth, MAS supports the professional development of its talent. Brightsparks took the opportunity to find out from MAS scholarship recipient, Pratyusha Mukherjee, about the opportunities that are available to MAS scholars.
What drew you to apply for a MAS scholarship?
I first became interested in the MAS scholarship when I attended a tea session that allowed me to interact with MAS scholars who had returned from their studies and begun work. The passion they shared for their jobs, their intellectual curiosity and the culture of collaborative teamwork they described hooked me.
As I progressed through the scholarship interview process and met various people working across different departments, I found that my interests, goals and passions fit in well with the organisation’s culture. It is fair to say that people played a big role in getting me to sign up for the scholarship. I could picture myself working with them in the years to come.
Besides sponsorship for your studies, how has an MAS scholarship benefitted you?
As an MAS scholar, I undertook an eight-week internship, which I completed after my first year in university. I interned with the Financial Markets Strategy Department. The experience provided insights into MAS’ role in financial market development. It also highlighted the importance of having a robust regulatory framework that could aid our long-term efforts to ensure that Singapore remains a dynamic and successful financial centre.
In addition, MAS sponsored my attendance of events such as the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations Conference when I was an undergraduate. This event brought together future and current leaders from around the world to engage in dialogue and addressed events that have shaped the current status of Asia on the world stage. I interacted with key financial players in industry and government and engaged in discussions on the key issues faced by Singapore’s economy and those of its Asian neighbours.
What did you gain from an overseas education?
I pursued a degree in Economics at Princeton University, with a certificate (equivalent of a minor) in Finance. I then undertook a Masters in Financial Economics at Oxford University.
I found my experience at both to be incredibly fulfilling. At Princeton, I had the opportunity to experience the full breadth of a liberal arts degree—exploring courses in fields from computer science to creative writing, from history to psychology. I got to study under brilliant Nobel Prize-winning professors such as Paul Krugman. I travelled to Costa Rica to study the effects of global environmental change, studied Spanish as a third language, and undertook a project on disability healthcare, policy and awareness in Washington DC.
MAS Undergraduate & Postgraduate Scholarship
Associate, Market Policy and Infrastructure
Graduating from the four-year degree in three years, I tried my best to savour as many different experiences as I could. One of my academic highlights was conducting an independent research project on minimum wage dynamics. It was very gratifying to graduate with the Birch Family Prize, which was awarded to the best performing student in the Finance Programme at Princeton University.
During my summer vacations, I worked at a hedge fund in New York City and as a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group, exploring different aspects of the financial industry through each experience.
At Oxford, I focused on developing my quantitative skills, delving into courses such as econometrics and corporate finance. I led a group of Oxford undergraduate students on a pro-bono consultation project with ACBA-Credit Agricole Bank, Armenia to evaluate the bank’s agribusiness products. It was a great learning experience—guiding the team through conducting SWOT analyses, examining the competitor landscape and carrying out customer surveys, branch visits and client interviews. We presented our recommendations to the bank CEO during the site visit in Yerevan. The bank went on to implement our recommendation on enhancing customer use of automated service machines in rural branches.
What are the development and learning opportunities at MAS?
MAS has a structured training programme called the MAS Diploma, which is open to all new officers. The courses span a wide breadth and bring in excellent in-house and external trainers, and have been very useful for my personal development and in terms of application to my work.
Apart from my studies, MAS has also sponsored my pursuit of the established Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) qualification, both during my studies and after I started work. I will be taking the CFA Level 3 exam next June.
What do you find rewarding about your work?
I find it very rewarding to know that the work I do has the potential to exert a tangible and lasting impact on Singapore’s capital markets. That provides me with a great incentive to do my best. The ramifications of what we do on an everyday basis are visible everywhere.
What advice do you have for those aspiring to apply for a MAS scholarship?
I encourage potential MAS scholars to do their research. Try to get a sense of the work we do on a daily basis and how this fits into your own interests and personality. If you decide to take up the scholarship, my best advice to you would be to stay open to new experiences, perspectives, learning opportunities and new challenges. The journey ahead will no doubt be rewarding.