MICHELLE CHEONG LEE FONG
It has always been Michelle Cheong’s dream to pursue her Ph.D. and after working for 8 years, she decided to materialise her dream by pursuing her second Master’s degree followed by a Ph.D. at SMA, although she admits it was not an easy decision.
“Making the decision to go back to school was a tough one after spending 8 years in the industry, having a young son and having to go without income for 4 years,” she said, “but it is all worth it.”
Even before graduating from the SMA IMST programme, she clinched an academic position at Singapore Management University (SMU), where she is now a Practice Assistant Professor at the School of Information Systems. She cites her SMA education as having played a central role in securing this academic position as well as having provided her with a good foundation and the confidence to embark on challenging research topics.
Prior to her stint at SMA, she worked as a CAD engineer with a semiconductor back-end equipment manufacturer, customising CAD solutions for automatic design of lead-frames and components as well as office automation including workflow and approval processes. Her second job was as a Research Fellow with Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech), where she was involved in the design and development of enterprise IT systems and providing industry consultancy for business process re-engineering. It gave her the opportunity to work with many companies in precision engineering, printing and aerospace business.
During her S.M. course at SMA, she won 2 book prizes. She was also a member of one of the top five teams that emerged in the Asia Pacific Student Entrepreneurship Forum 2002, amidst strong competition from teams from top universities including Georgia Institute of Technology, University of California Berkeley, NUS, Tsinghua, Peking, Fudan, Korea, Adelaide and Auckland Universities.
She describes SMA as “a different creature from the traditional graduate education”, as it gave her the chance to work with renowned professors from MIT, NUS and NTU as well as share her learning experience with classmates from all over the world. Her stay at MIT gave her a good opportunity to submerge herself fully into the intense and challenging learning environment, a trademark of MIT.
“The more you know, the more you know how little you know, so the more educated you are, the more humble you should be.” She quotes that to be the philosophy of her life and hopes to continue to uphold a high standard in research and teaching; to build her character to be a better person; and to become more mature so as to view things with an open mind and heart.