DBS Foundation partners Singapore Management University to build a pipeline of next generation talent for the sustainability space

Singapore.22 Sep 2023
Singapore, 22 Sep 2023 - DBS Foundation (DBSF) and Singapore Management University (SMU) have embarked on a joint effort to empower students with the skills to thrive in a sustainability-focused world, and to cultivate a new breed of thinkers, innovators, and leaders to drive change. Centred on bridging academia and the real-world, the partnership will transport students beyond classroom learning to gain invaluable real-world perspectives and exposure, and develop practical skills.

DBSF and SMU will collaborate on a variety of initiatives and programmes for the newly launched Second Major in Sustainable Societies offered by the SMU School of Social Science (SOSS), as well as broader learning and engagement opportunities for the entire SMU student body.

Students will have opportunities to consider not only the environmental aspects of sustainable development, but also how it intersects with social issues such as inequality and poverty. Harnessing the bank’s experience in advancing the sustainability agenda, DBSF will work with SMU SOSS to provide students with valuable exposure to real-life problem statements, expert speakers, as well as internship and learning opportunities, among others. This will enable students to gain problem solving skills and consider real world trade-offs in the journey towards sustainable development for societies to thrive.

For starters, students taking the Second Major in Sustainable Societies can look forward to the following initiatives:

  • Group projects based on real-life case studies: DBSF and SMU will curate opportunities for students to apply their skills and knowledge to create solutions based on the real-life problem statements posed by DBS/DBSF and its partners.
  • Internship opportunities in the sustainability space: DBSF will work with SMU to identify suitable six-months internship opportunities in the sustainability space for students. This internship is managed by SMU as part of students’ coursework.
  • Pilot DBS/DBSF SMU-X programme: DBSF will explore working with SMU on its SMU-X programme, a semester-long dedicated module that offers students an opportunity to create innovative solutions for DBSF partners.

With sustainability increasingly coming to the fore across all disciplines, DBSF will also work with SMU to create opportunities for all students to learn about it and shape their thinking so that they can apply this in their future careers.

This includes curating and integrating actual DBS/DBSF examples as business case studies and other materials for the students’ curriculums, and organising relevant guest lectures, career talks and mentorship opportunities to provide guidance for students looking to explore careers in the sustainability space.

Karen Ngui, Group Head of Strategic Marketing and Communications, DBS and Board Member of DBS Foundation, said: “Sustainability is an increasingly pressing and urgent issue affecting businesses, economies and societies worldwide today, and there’s a dire need for new solutions. This presents both a challenge and opportunity for the next generation, and we are excited to be partnering SMU to empower students with the skillsets and knowledge to take this on. By bridging academia and real-world exposure, we hope to help cultivate a new breed of innovative thinkers and solutionists who can connect the dots to drive change and shape a more sustainable future.”

Ijlal Naqvi, Associate Professor of Sociology, Associate Dean (Teaching and Curriculum), SMU School of Social Sciences, said: “Our partnership with DBSF signifies our joint commitment to engaging with societal and sustainability issues at the heart of a university education. Our joint endeavours will bring more real-world perspectives into the SMU social science curriculum and empower our graduates to pursue purposeful and meaningful careers.”

Empowering the next generation of change makers

This partnership builds on earlier collaborations by the bank and SMU to advance the sustainability agenda, and prepare students for potential careers in the sector.

In 2019, the two establishments came together to launch the DBS-SMU Sustainability Initiative, which provides support to academics, businesses and students who are passionate about tackling real world sustainability challenges. The wide-ranging initiative, which was the first-of-its-kind in Southeast Asia, focused on promoting and growing sustainability, and included the introduction of Singapore’s first sustainability major, as well as funding for sustainability research, scholarships, fellowships, and community engagement. It also included the launch of the Businesses for Impact Internship, which enables students to experience interning at innovative local social enterprises at the forefront of tackling key environmental and social issues. To date, some 90 of such internships have been placed.

DBSF also supported SMU’s 10th LKY Global Business Plan Competition in 2021 by sponsoring the DBS Foundation Social Impact Prize. This sought to identify and serve as a launchpad for young entrepreneurs who innovated sustainable business solutions to address social and environmental challenges.

Beyond SMU, DBSF also continues to work with other like-minded partners to empower and support the next generation of impact makers. For instance, it recently launched the second edition of the Hungry for Change Challenge in partnership with the National Environment Agency. The Challenge invites students and recent alumni from Institutes of Higher Learning to innovate solutions to address Singapore’s food and packaging waste issues, and will award the five best teams with funding and support to pilot their solutions.


About DBS Foundation
The DBS Foundation is committed to uplifting lives and livelihoods by igniting change in businesses and communities.

Since 2014, the DBS Foundation has been championing social enterprises in Asia, businesses that are for profit, and impact. The Business for Impact chapter now catalyses the growth of innovative, purpose-driven businesses, including SMEs, designed to address pressing issues facing our planet and society.

In 2022, the DBS Foundation raised the bar with the formation of a new Community Impact chapter, to equip the underserved with digital and financial literacy skills to face the future with confidence, and enable communities to be more food secure and resilient.

Our vision is to spark collective action, together with our partners and DBS People of Purpose, to help build a better world for generations today and tomorrow.

For more information, please visit: www.dbs.com/dbsfoundation