Making a difference with Oracle Academy
The spotlight is on Susan See Tho, Senior Lecturer, Department of Accounting, National University of Singapore
In 2020, the National University of Singapore (NUS) commemorated its 115th year of founding. It is a flagship university with 17 graduate and undergraduate schools, 31 research centers, 42,000 students, and 6,000 teachers. Highly focused on nurturing entrepreneurial talent, the Graduate Research Innovation Programme has incubated and launched over 250 deep-tech start-ups and is part of the NUS mission to strengthen Singapore’s commercial growth and competitiveness.
The NUS Business School, with 4,000 students, offers a four-year honors Business Administration degree with an Accountancy major, aimed at preparing students for the professional accountancy qualification and find work in Singapore’s growing business and global accountancy hub.
See Tho, currently appointed both as an Assistant Dean of NUS Business School and a Senior Lecturer, has been teaching in the Department of Accounting since 2010. She has been in touch with Oracle Academy and using NetSuite in her classes since January 2017.
Oracle Academy: How did you come across NetSuite for teaching accounting?
Susan See Tho: I was looking for a package to complement my teaching in Accounting Information Systems – in essence a digital playground for my students to explore what an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is all about. I shopped around for a service provider whose offering would allow each student to have their own account. Oracle Academy was the only provider who could meet that criteria. I am also grateful that Oracle Academy could provide my students with the resources free of charge. Now each of my roughly 200 students (per year) have their own NetSuite accounts that last for 90 days.
Oracle Academy: Can you explain why the individual accounts are important?
Susan See Tho: Tertiary education in Singapore is a highly competitive environment. Students are aware of the value of competitive advantage in the marketplace and are quite used to staying competitive at an early age. Further, NUS students have diverse timetables in view of the many choices they are given over module selection. Therefore, even though we encourage collaborative learning, students prefer maximized flexibility with individual NetSuite accounts.
Oracle Academy: How do you teach NetSuite?
Susan See Tho: The module that I teach is not meant for developing technical expertise in using a particular system. Rather, I use NetSuite to hone junior managerial expertise that involves the understanding of the structure of an accounting system, and the processes that a system typically automates while ensuring that business operations and controls can function with high integrity.
So, I adapt the system to my teaching. I knew NetSuite in the past, before it became an Oracle product, and many other accounting packages too. For many years I implemented systems and facilitated training for multi-national corporations as part of my professional practice. I was mainly a power user of systems and had little issues in understanding or adapting to systems of different brands. I could look at a system, tear it apart structurally, and use whatever needed to fulfill the objectives of businesses. And that’s what I do with NetSuite – which in addition is a leading global brand and certainly helps give NUS students a competitive edge.
Oracle Academy: And can you tell us about the university’s initiative, “design-your-own-module” (DYOM)?
Susan See Tho: Yes, over the past year, NUS is adopting a new pedagogical framework which allows students to collaborate in a ‘design-your-own-module’ scheme. This initiative empowers students to customize their learning experiences. They get to choose what they want to learn and how to learn for a part of the curriculum. It’s a great option for students use to pursue interests outside their disciplines, broaden their knowledge, and encourage them to see “learning” as a lifetime endeavour.
In the future, this initiative may lead students to request additional instruction to prepare them for NetSuite certification exams. But that’s sometime down the line…
Oracle Academy: Good luck. So, from professional CPA to teaching – what made you enter the academic world?
Susan See Tho: During my professional career, I became a nationally recognized trainer and competency assessor in adult learning. I also specialized in curriculum development. At some point through my activities I met a senior professor in NUS who asked if I would be willing to put my professional business and accountancy expertise to work in teaching students. I began teaching part-time, while still running my business. After three years of this part-time role, Singapore began transforming itself into a regional accountancy and financial hub. As a Singaporean, I wanted to be part of that change and, as the accountancy major of the business administration program had to adapt to this new national objective, I was asked to come onboard full time and contribute to the revised curriculum for the accountancy undergraduates.
Oracle Academy: Terrific. And what about outside of the accounting classroom?
Susan See Tho: I was traveling rather frequently as a professional accountant prior to entering full-time academia. One other reason for deciding to settle back down in Singapore was my children. I have two teenage daughters and a son in primary school.
As a parent I can see the development challenges of my children. I can see how the mainstream school system works on children and teenagers in their developmental years and how, as a teacher at tertiary level, I can further hone their competencies and intelligences so that they can be prepared to enter the commercial world.
I also love parenting; and motherhood in particular. I spend lots of time with my children, as I recognize that it’s an important phase of life.
Apart from that, I love running and brisk walking in the hills and parks, to de-stress and recharge myself. Singapore is a beautiful place.
Thank you, Susan See Tho, for your passion for Oracle Academy and for preparing your students to make a positive impact.