Clarence Lim has always enjoyed stretching and improving herself. She would attend seminars and evening classes, and read business marketing books. There was one thing, however, that remained the same through all this: her quiet personality.
And then she heard from a college classmate, who had studied at the Asian Institute of Management, how challenging the AIM curriculum was “and the quality of education similar to Harvard.”
What intrigued Clarence, however, was the opportunity to go beyond her boundaries. “Remembering I had a quiet personality, he also warned me that I would need to always speak out in class if I do decide to join AIM given its case method. I became enthralled with the thought of taking on this challenge,” she said.
Studying at AIM seemed the logical next step for her, Clarence recalled, because she wanted the benefit of an international education even as she remained in the country with her family.
As expected, her biggest challenge was speaking up in class. She said, “It was my first time being with such a diverse crowd, and many were very competitive. I had to overcome my fear of saying the wrong thing.”
Clarence laid down a personal rule to speak up, at least, once per class. “I did not aim to be a loud voice or be the most frequent speaker, but I tried to make sure what I said was sound, helpful, and impactful,” she explained.
So transformative was her AIM training, that she developed the courage and street smarts to (through an AIM student exchange program) study and explore Paris on her own, as well as travel solo to Santorini, Greece!
What follows are excerpts of our interview with Clarence Lim, MBA 2009, and Country Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble.
Tell us about the International Student Exchange Program at AIM. Was it your first time traveling to Paris? How was it?
Clarence: Yes, it was my first time! I realized then that AIM's case method and rigorous workload had developed in us an advantage. It allowed us to think on our feet, be vocal, and built in us huge capacity to deal with complexity.
What stands out about your time in Europe?
It was when I traveled to my dream destination, Santorini, Greece, all by myself. I asked my classmates in Paris who wanted to go, but no one was up for it. So I decided to go on my first trip alone. It was a nerve-wracking but life-defining experience!
What was the immediate impact of the AIM MBA program on your career?
I got to work with people very different from me. I remember AIM intentionally placing me in a “can group” with classmates who had different personalities and expertise from me. In my work now, I engage with diverse cultures. The training AIM has given me ― listening, integrating ideas, leveraging each other's strengths, building relationships ― has significantly helped me. Because of my AIM and student exchange experience, I also became open to working abroad; and I landed my first corporate job in Singapore.
Did any part of the program specifically equip you for FMCG (Fast-moving Consumer Goods)?
AIM's wide range of cases and our professors' prodding in the case room taught us critical thinking and having a solution-mindset ― crucial in the fast-paced, very competitive world of FMCG.
What about key takeaways from your favorite professors?
I never got the chance to have Prof. Horacio "Junbo" Borromeo as my professor but he has become a life mentor to me. When I was in Paris, a friend was worried that I was too friendly and nice that people might take advantage. Prof. Junbo said I could be myself while being wise enough to discern people and circumstances. As I work today, I wonder whether I should be more formal and careful. But Prof. Junbo always reminded me to be who I am.
Prof. Sonny Coloma was my Human Behavior in Organizations professor and internship mentor. More than being approachable and helpful, he really cared. I remember getting a call from him saying they decided to give me a Distinction. He was truly happy for me. That simple gesture moved me and made me want to mentor and nurture others as well.
Prof. Larry Tan was my professor in Language of Business and the MBA program adviser. The last night of our Pre-MBA class, he told me that based on my performance, they decided to give me a scholarship. I signed up for AIM, applied for a scholarship and planned to get a student loan as backup, as I did not want to burden my parents. Prof. Tan's believing in me made me realize that when you really want something ― as I wanted an AIM MBA ― and when you do your best, doors can just open. God is indeed faithful.