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Nicholas Phua

About Nicholas

  • Field and focus area of study: Natural Resources, Sustainability and Finance
  • Hometown: Singapore
  • Fun fact: I have travelled to more than thirty countries - mostly in Europe when I was doing my undergraduate studies in London.
  • View Nicholas' LinkedIn profile

What were you doing prior to the MPS degree program? 

I completed my undergraduate degree in Biology in London, and worked for about three years helping develop innovative solutions to solve social problems in the UK.

Why did you choose to pursue the CALS MPS degree?

Even though my career interest lies in the finance sector, the CALS MPS degree allowed me to demonstrate some form of specialization in another highly-attractive and relevant sector - Natural Resources. I felt this would allow me to stand out more compared to just going for a standard Finance-related degree.  

What are the strengths of the CALS MPS degree program?

The biggest draw of the CALS MPS degree is that it is a fast and flexible program. I was able to select courses from across various schools and departments without being tied down to a specific core curriculum. At the same time, the one-year duration was ideal for me as I did not want (and did not feel the need) to spend too much time studying, considering my career interests. The program also did not require us to write an academic thesis; instead we take on a capstone project where there was tremendous flexibility to carry out work that were more relevant and helpful for our careers.  

What courses were your favorite? Why?

Sustainable Global Enterprise Immersion (NBA 6580/6585), Strategies for Sustainability (NBA 6030), Sustainable Development (BEE 5299): These courses allowed me to gain the latest knowledge and skills required to operate in the sustainability space. These courses were all highly applied and hands-on, which aligned well with my ideal learning style.

Why are you interested in sustainability and finance?

My interest in sustainability and finance first started during my time at Social Finance. We worked mostly on social issues and I also gained exposure to the finance side of things in the form of social investments. Through my work, I not only realized the importance of financing in addressing all kinds of problems, but also my interest in other sustainability issues beyond just social ones, including environmental. Part of that interest also came from my background in Biology and my childhood ambition of becoming a marine biologist.

How has the program helped you pursue what you’re passionate about?

Through the program, I have gained exposure to different stakeholders’ perception of sustainability issues, be it from a scientific, finance, social, or environmental point of view. This  has allowed me to develop a more empathetic, informed, and broader perspective, with which I feel better equipped to engage with various stakeholders on sustainability issues in a productive way.

What has been the most memorable or impactful part of being in the Natural Resources MPS program?

  • Learning new skills and knowledge.
  • Making friends from diverse backgrounds.
  • Gaining a broader perspective by taking classes from different schools and departments, where peers have very different mindsets and ways of approaching certain issues.