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John Lee

John Lee (MITB Class of 2007)

Delivery Control Analyst
Chief Operating Office, Internet Mobile and Offshore Technology Centres

A Career Switcher's Relentless Pursuit of Success

"Being in the SMU MITB programme has given me a lift in my career aspirations. Coming from a purely technical background and experience, I found it difficult to move into the next level - management. The course has opened doors for me and allowed me to get into a good position within Barclays. While I understand that there are other factors in play, I recognize that it would not have been possible if I did not make the first step of joining the course."


In his book titled "Who Moved My Cheese", Spencer Johnson told the story about the "littlepeople" and mice that travelled round a maze in search for cheese, which in the story, represented success and happiness. While the "littlepeople" stayed where a large (but finish-able) piece of cheese is, the mice never stopped hunting.


John (MITB Class of 2007) spent more than 8 years managing the IT infrastructure at an international management consulting firm. For more than half his career, John's job was to ensure that it was business-as-usual in his workplace. "I could spend my whole life doing this. Life was predictable and I was happy" said John, when asked how he felt about his job. "But something was missing although I do not quite know what it is." he added.

To find his answer, John decided that he needed to go back to school. Studying for an MBA was a natural choice because John thought he needed a business perspective to enhance his technical skills. While shopping for an MBA, John came across SMU's Master of IT in Business (MITB). "I needed something business, but I also wanted to stay true to my roots in technology and financial services is an interesting domain so I thought I would give it a try." Being able to see things from a different perspective was one of John's greatest revelations when he started attending classes. "Never had I expected that there was so much more going on out there" said John.

In his second year at MITB, John resigned from his job and began an internship at a Brand Consultancy firm on recommendations of SMU's Office of Career Services (OCS). When asked why he chose an internship in a different field, John explained that this was the best way to pick up new skills he could never have learnt if he had stayed in a technical environment. "It was a culture shock; a new style of working and a stage of self-discovery. I learnt the skills of dealing with people and the importance of the bottom-line in an organisation." After his 6 month internship, John stayed on with the brand consultancy firm for another year before another opportunity came by.

While browsing through the job advertisements put up by SMU OCS, John came across Barclays bank's Graduate Programme. The opportunity could not have come at a better time since John had just graduated from MITB. With his new qualification, John applied and was chosen after a challenging selection process. "It was tough and required lots of preparation work, but all worth it." John recalled about his interviews.

Becoming a Technology Graduate was only the first step, as John would soon learn. Once again, he had to prove to his managers and peers that he was the right person. "It's about staying humble, contributing as a member of the team and re-learning everything all over again" he said.

John has completed his last tour-of-duty at BarclayCard's Project Management Office and has been assigned his permanent role at Barclays Bank as a Delivery Control Analyst for the bank's Internet Mobile and Offshore Technology Centers. To sum up his journey for the last 4 years, John had this to say, "It was a roller coaster ride; one that saw me moving out from my comfort zone into the unknown not once, but twice. However, it was a ride that allowed me to discover what matters the most in terms of career development and to grow as a person."

Like the story of the mice in "Who Moved My Cheese" who kept moving in search for a greater "slice" of success and happiness, John's journey will remind those who are transitioning in their careers that the relentless pursuit of success is perhaps the greatest key in achieving it.

Last updated on 27 Nov 2015 .