Faculty In Focus: Professor Golo Weber, Assistant Dean (Undergraduate)

golo weber - world cultures 2
Professor Golo Weber joined SP Jain School of Global Management (SP Jain Global) in May 2010 as the first professor in the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) program.

Speaking to Raghav Bansal, he said, “We had a vision of creating a 2-city undergraduate program (Singapore and Sydney) that would be unlike any the world had ever seen, and this started off with only 64 students.”

“Over the past 8 and a half years, I have taught more than 1,000 Jaguars from 83 different countries (including many siblings) and have been looking after all the students in Singapore as the Assistant Dean (Undergraduate Programs) since 2013.”

Today, with four undergraduate programs taught on four campuses, SP Jain Global has more than 300 1st-year Jaguars in Singapore and Mumbai alone.

Q: We’d love to hear about your journey. Tell us a little more about your background prior to SP Jain Global?

Prof. Golo: My background is fairly unusual for a business school professor in that I read history at Oxford and Chinese studies at Cambridge and Peking University. So, my passion has always been for the arts and humanities, which is perfect for teaching “World Cultures”.

At the same time, I care deeply about social and environmental issues, and have had the tremendous privilege of developing and teaching the course on “Sustainability & Corporate Social Responsibility”.

Q: How does studying “World Cultures” at SP Jain Global prepare students for the future?

Prof. Golo: “World Cultures” is one of the few interdisciplinary liberal arts subjects at SP Jain Global. It doesn’t just impart global intelligence – which is absolutely essential for global business careers – but also critical thinking and effective communication skills. The course includes presentations, debates and applied learning. It requires creativity and lateral thinking.

We try to predict the future by analysing the past. We make comparisons across cultures. And we identify the key trends that will transform our way of life. Once you understand that change is the only constant in life, you can prepare yourself for it and begin to take the lead in that transformation. Instead of reacting to change, you can champion it and become a pioneer. All you need is the right mind-set and skills.

Q: In a class of students from 30 different nationalities, do you face any challenges when discussing certain topics related to religion, cultures and norms?

Prof. Golo: Absolutely!  The topics in our “World Culture” class can be controversial and end up in heated conversations. When you discuss LGBT rights, gender equality and religious extremism, many students already have strong personal views. This makes it extremely important to set the ground rules clearly for constructive debates that respect the opinions of others.

Conversations that take place in our classes often spill over into the dormitories. For instance, when we discussed whether arranged marriage was preferable to finding your own partner in life that resulted in mini-discussions between groups of friends afterwards – and that is the whole point.

Learning about the norms and values of other societies allows us not only to understand others better, but also to reflect on our own lives and choose the best of both worlds for ourselves. That kind of personal reflection is always challenging.

Q: Which aspect of “World Cultures” do you love the most?

Prof. Golo: I love our debates and discussions. There is so much energy in the room and it is great to see students change their minds after they have thought an issue through properly and done their research. I also love our group presentations comparing one aspect of culture across three different societies. These presentations are full of surprises, and I learn something new from the students every time.

Q: How did you get interested in the arts, history and world cultures?

Prof. Golo: I come from a family where religion, music and art have always been of the utmost importance. My father had a library at home which was filled with books and over 4,000 CDs from floor to ceiling. You would constantly hear music in our house and have interesting conversations.

When I was 14 years old, my family moved from Germany to London, which exposed me to another culture and opened up a new world for me. I soaked it in like a sponge.

When I arrived in Singapore in 1997, I trained to be a volunteer museum guide at the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore Art Museum and Singapore History Museum. I was a weekend docent for eight years, which I enjoyed greatly.

Q: Diving deeper into your passion, you’ve organised the annual Overseas Community Service Project. How does this add to the BBA program?

Prof. Golo: The Overseas Community Service Project puts CSR into concrete action. The Jaguars make all the decisions – from where to go, which NGO to partner and what to do to make a tangible difference to society. Then they implement their plans by organising the key activities, raising the funds and arranging the logistics. The learning from going through this process is tremendous, but the highlight of each trip usually lies in the serendipitous encounters with the people whose lives we touch. When you build a house for a family surviving on less than US$1.5 a day, where both parents are blind and the four young children need to grow their own food to survive, how can you look at life ever the same again?

Q: On a more personal note, is there something that “makes your day” at SP Jain Global?

Prof. Golo: There are so many things. But one of the greatest joys is seeing the students I taught four years ago graduate in Sydney – full of confidence and ready to take on the world. I have also become the one stop for all our BBA alumni passing through Singapore over the years and take great pride in seeing them thrive.

Some are already married with kids (less than 4 years after graduation); others have put their personal lives on hold to work as investment bankers or entrepreneurs.

And, of course, what could beat having students tell you that “World Cultures” and “Sustainability & Corporate Social Responsibility” were their favourite subjects at SP Jain Global, or that they are now working in fascinating jobs related to those fields, as social entrepreneurs, impact investors or environmental consultants? The future is bright!

About the Author: Raghav Bansal

Raghav Bansal is a current undergraduate student at SP Jain School of Global Management. He is passionate about travelling, meeting new people and taking leadership roles. He believes to learn from every opportunity which life offers.

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