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Reference no. SMU-15-0003A
Compact case
Subject category: Entrepreneurship
Published by:
Singapore Management University (2015)
5 pages
Data source:
Field research


This case study discusses the critical career decisions that Matthew Tan, a young university graduate, has to make. The case is in three parts. In Part A, Matthew, a 27-year old graduate from the National University of Singapore (NUS), has a good job at Ernst and Young (E&Y), and yet he is restless. His childhood experience of growing up without his parents in a financially strained household has ignited within him a desire to work for the poor and fight for social justice. He is toying with the idea of opening a hotel that would help under-privileged youths. But the risk is high as he has no experience in the hotel business, and also no capital to start such a business. Matthew has to decide whether or not to take the plunge. In Part B, Matthew has decided to quit E&Y, and is determined to start a hotel in Vietnam. In order to gain some experience, he has taken up a three-month contract to work as a bellboy at a Vietnamese hotel. On returning to Singapore, Matthew is more confident that his idea for a hotel is fundamentally sound and writes up a business plan. Thereafter, he joins the W Hotel in Singapore as a management trainee, and rotates through the different departments at the hotel over the next three months. But the financial pressure of not having a stable job is getting tougher by the day, and soon his bank balance is down to US$72. While Matthew wants to be patient and devote his time and energy to the hotel project, the reality is that his financial situation is getting increasingly precarious. Here, he faces the dilemma of whether or not to return to the corporate world. In Part C, Matthew is successful in identifying a plot of land by the bay in Nha Trang, which could be used to develop the hotel. The land costs US$229,000, and Matthew manages to raise a significant part of this money from his friends and acquaintances. Some of these individuals see promise in Matthew's ideas; others simply wanted to support him in pursuing his dreams. But Matthew's financial situation continues to remain difficult. He and his newly-wed wife, Lily, decide to start a side business to tailor customised suits for Singapore clients. The customised suits business brings in some financial respite, while Matthew continues to raise capital for his dream project - building a hotel in Vietnam. This case is designed to help students think critically about career choices, and the challenges faced when deciding upon a career change, and specifically starting their own business. Through classroom discussion, students should be encouraged to think carefully about the careers they wish to embark upon.


Career changes; Career choices; Decision-making process; Motivators; Entrepreneurship
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