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The MBA Insider's Blog

Hear first-hand from our current students and alumni about their HKU MBA experiences.

Nikki Lim
  • Name Nikki Lim
  • Class Year Class of 2020
  • Location Malaysia

Life of an MBA student in Hong Kong

January 2020 marks my 6th month staying in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has always been one of my favorite places to visit as this is an ever-changing city that is dynamic in its culture and people. Hong Kong is a mash-up of modern skyscrapers and uninterrupted vistas which can have an appeal for anyone that passes through the city.

Since starting the HKU MBA programme, the experience in Hong Kong has been nothing short of exciting. We have celebrated holidays and festivals together. From the mooncake festival luncheon to the Christmas gift exchange party, we were introduced to these celebrations and were able to experience the cultural and emotional aspect of the celebration that other classmates value. On a random evening or a day without classes, we can always count on someone from the bunch who will be ready for a new adventure – hiking, volunteering, trying out new food or going for drinks.

In every class, I was able to learn new skills and gather different perspectives from the professors and my classmates who hail from a diversity of international backgrounds.

Apart from the classroom experience, we were assigned to a mentor from the relevant industry to enhance our leadership skills and provide valuable personalised advice on our professional and personal growth. The mentor who was assigned to me has a vast experience in the industry that I was interested in and an extensive network within that industry. Through the mentorship, I was able to improve my interview skills, define my career goals and gain a wider perspective on the career that I’d like to pursue.

Our time in Hong Kong is coming to an end and we part ways to London Business School, Columbia Business School and Fudan University. Up to this point, the in-class and outdoor experience shared with my cohort has created the most value for me. Everyone has their MBA experience and goals but the skills I acquired and the network gained from this programme have opened my eyes to new opportunities and a different perspective and viewpoint.

Aakriti Jain
  • Name Aakriti Jain
  • Class Year Class of 2020
  • Location India

I was able to land an internship 2 weeks after my arrival in Hong Kong with a company creating meaningful travel experiences. The MBA life kept me on my toes with classes, group projects, coursework, networking, job searching, and socialising with friends. But looking back, what it taught me was decision making, time management and the art of juggling your interests successfully and happily.

Learning Mandarin and visiting companies in Beijing helped me immerse myself in the Chinese culture while learning from the diverse cohort from all over the world. Hong Kong is an inviting city and a melting pot of cultures and I was able to get the best of both worlds. On one side, the city life with immense networking opportunities and events and the other side, an adventurous life with hiking and travel opportunities.

‘It is not if but when’ echoes from my crisis management class, which was a fine blend of simulated in-class crises (nearly made my heart jump out) and academic literature. It was a class that I can apply to any career path I take and to my personal life.

Leadership and humility were best learned from the CEO I idolise – Dr Philip Chen, in the course ‘Reflections of a CEO’. The course is extremely forward looking and developed me for the future, especially learning Marketing for Tech Intensive Industries. The guest speakers and seminars from leaders across industries in Hong Kong helped me further enhance my knowledge in various sectors.

Outside the classroom, I was engaged in planning activities as VP of the Aerospace Club and Marketing Club. I also enjoyed hikes, social volunteering activities and mentoring students who aspire to study abroad. The MBA has given me the opportunity to explore career paths across industries and roles and network with people across the world. A diverse cohort has made it possible to have viewpoints from peers across the world and this helps in case discussions in the classrooms and in groups.

Overall, HKU MBA has helped me develop myself both personally and professionally.

Lillian Ma
  • Name Lillian Ma
  • Class Year Class of 2019
  • Location USA

Learn more about why Lillian Ma, full-time class of 2019, decided to pursue an MBA and how HKU MBA is helping her to reach her goals and aspirations.

How did you choose your MBA program? What are your program’s greatest assets?

I chose HKU to pursue my MBA degree because I wanted a global programme with a China focus. The curriculum at HKU aligns with my career goal to become a bridge between the western and China’s media and entertainment world. The programme’s greatest assets are diversity, opportunity to spend a semester at London or New York, and the personalised career services.

What has been your favorite classroom experience?

My favourite class so far is Marketing in Tech Intensive Industry. The professor is very knowledgeable and has great vision about the future of the industry. The cases we dealt with in class provided key takeaways that will be very beneficial for me when I move up to the managerial level. The class discussion and group presentation pushed me to think deeper and from different perspectives.

What activities are you involved in outside of class?

Besides being a member of the Consulting and Women in Leadership Clubs, I co-founded a multimedia channel called INSIDER to document our MBA journey and share authentic, first-hand experience with young audiences who might find it intriguing or informative.

How have your classmates influenced your MBA experience?

My classmates come from a broad range of professional and cultural backgrounds, which allow me to learn about their different thought processes and working styles. They are able to draw from their real-life work experiences during class discussion, making our learning experience even more hands-on.

What have been the biggest challenges of pursuing your MBA?

Since there are so many activities being organised during MBA, I do find it challenging to combat the feeling of missing out! Any MBA student’s schedule would be filled with classes, group meetings, professional workshops, social outings, internships and so on, so it’s key for a MBA newbie to realise his or her own priorities.

How did you decide that an MBA was the next step for you?

I wanted to accelerate my career and learn more about the business side of my industry. Coming from a media background, I knew I had to strengthen my business acumen and skills to support long-term career growth in my industry. A MBA education would provide me with a comprehensive understanding of the business world and opportunities to meet inspiring business leaders to network with.

Brady Shwartz
  • Name Brady Shwartz
  • Class Year Class of 2019
  • Location USA

Check out the interview which our student Brady Shwartz, full-time class of 2019, gave to The MBA Tour. With a global exposure and having worked in the Mainland China and India, Brady chose to pursue an MBA with us to expand on his personal and professional experience in Asia.

Where did you work before starting your MBA?

From early 2013 to late 2016 I was working in Shanghai, China for an education management firm called U-Learn. In short, U-Learn acts as the international office for several private Chinese schools, conducting study abroad programs and US college admissions consulting. From 2017 onwards, I was based in Bangalore, India helping another education company, Teachers for Asia, gain a foothold in the country.

How did you choose your MBA program? What are your program's greatest assets?

Ultimately, my final choice came down to either HKU or a graduate school close to home in the USA. HKU was a much more logical choice for me, mostly because it would allow me to expand on my personal and professional experience in Asia up until that point. Plus, HKU’s alumni network is much more diverse in terms of nationalities and locations, so I thought it would give me some more flexibility in my post-MBA job search. Looking back, I’m really happy with my decision.

What has been your favorite classroom experience?

We finished a course called Doing Business on the New Silk Road. It’s all about China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative. I don’t think I can pick out a single moment, but I was completely absorbed in our class discussions (which sometimes lasted over an hour) throughout the entire course. This was a 5-day “block style” course, but I was amazed at how quickly those days went by. Our professor, Dr. Shuetz, did a fantastic job at directing our conversations to hear varying opinions and viewpoints from our classmates, who hail from all different countries and industries.

What activities are you involved in outside of class?

A few of my classmates and I are working on an online marketing project called MBA Insider. The goal is to provide potential MBA students around the world a glimpse into the day-to-day lives of full-time MBA students, so that they can make better informed decisions about where they’d like to study. Besides that, I’m also VP of our student-led Technology Club, and play in a pick-up basketball league about once a week.

What have been the biggest challenges of pursuing your MBA?

Time management. Besides classes, electives, and extracurriculars, there are always group presentations or papers due on a constant basis—not to mention making time for career development, networking, and job searches. I’m beginning to learn that procrastination is no longer a viable “strategy” for me. It’s always been a bit of a weakness for me, so at least this is giving me a chance to finally improve on it!

How have your classmates influenced your MBA experience?

My classmates and I talk about this all the time, and we all agree that our class profile only helps to enhance the experience. Class discussions are always very dynamic because we have classmates from all over the world, and from all different industries. Group work has been the most rewarding for me personally, as you need to learn to negotiate and manage many different personality types.

How did you decide that an MBA was the next step for you?

I studied business as an undergraduate student, so pursuing an MBA has always been a personal goal. But the question I could never answer was, “when?” Well, I started to see the answer during my last few years in Shanghai. I had mostly exhausted the advancement opportunities in my company, and as I started to look at “next step” positions elsewhere, an MBA degree was either required or highly recommended. I also knew that pursuing an MBA would give me some freedom to explore other potential career tracks. In my view, it was a win-win.

If you are an international student, what inspired you to pursue your MBA abroad, and what have been the greatest benefits of doing so?

Perhaps I’m in a minority amongst international students; I’ve been living overseas for the past 4-5 years. From that perspective, pursuing an MBA abroad made sense. I also knew it would give me many more networking opportunities (in terms of geography and industry diversification). Besides, I was a bit fearful of attending a school in my home country and thereby being subjected to the “echo chamber” effect—sharing similar opinions with similar people. Here at HKU, it’s superbly interesting to hear entirely polarized opinions, especially during class discussions about geopolitical topics.

Ivy Liu
  • Name Ivy Liu
  • Class Year 2017
  • Nationality Mainland China

MBA Internship Experience

Ivy has told us about her MBA internship experience with E3 Capital Partners, a privately owned real estate investment manager specialising in select and specifically researched alternative investment strategies (e.g. Self-Storage, Data Centres and Education related real estate investment across Asia and Europe).

Ivy’s expertise lies in the leasing business of the commercial real-estate section which she has been able to build on from her existing passions and interests. Her pronounced  business and financial analytical acumen, together with various aspects she learnt from the MBA programme made her a good fit for the role.

At HKU MBA, we are passionate in helping our students craft every step of their career journey -  From career workshops to mentorship programmes, from live projects to internships. 


1) How did you come up with the internship opportunity?

In the beginning, the HKU MBA Career Services team referred this opportunity to me.  I was rather unsure whether this fitted me or whether I was qualified at that moment. The team gave me some individual guidance for the interview. It turned out to be a pleasant conversation with the director there. Some of my past experiences and the skillset I had gained through the MBA programme made me a good fit for that position. 


2) What did you do? 

The role is in transaction management (acquisition & disposals of real estate assets on behalf of E3 capital’s clients.) My job responsibilities have included analysing the financial return ratio of potential property investments, analysing the rental performance and management data for existing portfolio companies under management and involvement with potential mergers/joint venture partnerships.

3) What has been your daily routine and overall internship experience so far?

My daily work has included analysing the rental performance of the portfolio of several self-storage properties, and composing the management report of the portfolio companies. It has also included some negotiation on potential mergers/joint venture partnerships of the RedBox Storage business. Daily communication within the team has been frequent. Site-visiting to the storage house has been about  once a week. 


4) Does this experience up to now relate to your pre-MBA full-time job? And how?

It is related to my pre-MBA full-time job but is not exactly the same. My past experiences in the leasing business of the commercial real-estate sector acquainted me with the leasing business model in self-storage. Now, my financial analytical and budgeting skill have been applied during this internship.


5) Key Takeaways

• Business analytical methods and skills
• Accounting skills
• Insights into the self-storage industry as well as real-estate
• Soft-skills such as effective communication, organisational capability and leadership 

6) What advice would you give to other MBA aspirants on MBA internship?  

MBA internship is a key to your success in your post MBA job. It gives you the opportunity to get involved in the real business world, applying the knowledge and skills you obtained in the MBA programme. It enables you to determine whether the industry or the work setting of the internship you conduct suits you well. Moreover, it is a great opportunity to enhance your soft skills in the working environment before you step into your full-time position. 

Athens Lu
  • Name Athens Lu
  • Class Year 2017
  • Nationality Mainland China

MBA Internship Experience

Anyone who knows Athens will surely agree that he is a talented investment and financial professional who has a strong passion for the investment banking industry. Athens is knowledgeable in various areas of finance such as investment management, financial analysis, financial modeling, and stock valuation. His breadth of experience and strong technical background allowed him to pick up different roles very quickly.  Athens started the 14-month full-time MBA in July 2016. Only four months in, he landed a job at China International Capital Corporation Limited (“CICC”) as an intern with the institutional sales team, which is part of the Equities department.

 HKU MBA Internship

When we interviewed Athens about his MBA internship experience, we were truly inspired by his passion for his job and his commitment to the team in offering fresh perspectives.


We began by asking Athens how he came up with the internship opportunity. “I had been told by the HKU MBA Career Services team that there was such a position available.” he said. “An application was submitted via HKU MBA Career Services team and I was successfully shortlisted for interviews.”  


At HKU MBA, the Career Services team is well connected with the industry and obtains first-hand information on career opportunities for our MBA students. The team will match our students’ interests and backgrounds with the current roles that are available in the market.  


With intense competition amongst MBA and non-MBA students from different business schools, Athens met with around 10 interview panelists through a number of rounds of interviews, and ultimately he got the offer.


What did Athens do at CICC? 


Athens’ primary task is to help the team in handling institutional clients’ requests, with the objective of achieving growth through unique investment ideas that can capture investor value. “I have been trouble shooting for sales where I identified gaps and communicated and connected with the research team, with which I have worked closely.” he said.  Athens possesses strong analytical skills, with which he helped out the team by delivering research and analysis on equities, and providing recommendations.


“I’m excited to be part of a team of highly experienced sales and trading professionals who oversee the sales and trading of A-shares, H-shares and also some US stocks related structured products” he told us.  The nature of an institutional sale staff is to handle clients’ requests and meet their investment needs.  An institutional sale staff will also work hand-in-hand with research analysts and management in various meetings, for example, on Non-Deal Roadshow (NDR), seeking to bring institutional investors into contact with analysts and management to hear their latest presentations. Athens, as an intern, had the opportunity to sit in on these meetings, maximising his exposure within the firm.


Athens’ daily routine and overall internship experience has been a busy one, so far.


“I kick off my day at 7ish in the morning. I spend an hour writing morning notes, wrapping up research reports on daily market development for internal circulation and clients’ usage.   Once the market opens, I’ll be busy in helping my supervisor to carry out various tasks such as performing equity research and stock check, analysing information from the latest corporate news, and offering stock pitch ideas generation.”


This internship experience has related well to Athens’ MBA education and pre-MBA work experience.  


Athens has a strong interest in finance and pursued a Master of Finance in U.S.  Prior to the HKU MBA journey, Athens worked in different teams at HSBC, where he was an investment banking analyst at the investment banking division (IBD).  This equipped him well with solid experience in investment analysis, such as a fundamental knowledge in delivering financial modeling, shareholder analysis, and analysing the factors that drive stock prices.   He is also well versed in programming, where he worked as an information management analyst, overseeing retail risk, prior to joining the IBD. These working experiences and skill sets, along with what he is learning from the HKU MBA programme, have helped him to succeed in the current role at CICC. 


Key Takeaway


“This intensive internship is a truly rewarding experience, leaving me with some valuable takeaways,” says Athens.  CICC offers great exposure and platforms for Athens to equip himself in developing a career in the investment banking industry in Hong Kong.  By learning from the highly experienced and knowledgeable research analysts and institutional sales, he has broadened his horizons in various aspects of finance.  He has had the opportunity to expand his network, and open dialogues with other teams, such as the firm’s asset management and IBD teams, which is also part of the daily routine of an institutional sale executive.  


We asked Athens what his advice would be to MBA aspirants. “Be committed to your job,” was his response. “Devote all your time, energy and resource to what you’re doing.”  Athens has obviously set a good example himself. During his spare time, he continues to broaden his knowledge on various fronts, as well as consistently updating himself on stock market information. Athens also places strong emphasis on work ethics which are crucial as a finance professional.

Learn more about HKU MBA Career Services


Badarinath Grandhe
  • Name Badarinath Grandhe
  • Class Year Class of 2016
  • Location India
Experience gained from internship

I worked for FCC Solutions as a Risk Evaluation Consultant. The internship enabled me to experience Hong Kong work culture, build up my network and offer me some flexibility in planning my finances.

Through internships, I successfully build potential contacts and I understand how to deal with a client while resolving some issues, which is very important for the consulting field in which I am planning to pursue my career.

Finally, I would like to thank our Career Development Office (CDO) for helping me in getting this internship. 

Shreya Bahri
  • Name Shreya Bahri
  • Class Year Class of 2017
  • Location India

Every day is a new experience

I am about three months into the HKU MBA programme and I find that every day is a new experience for me. My journey began with the China Immersion programme in Beijing, which was a great way for me to learn Mandarin and network with my classmates. We also attended company visits and had many illuminating sessions, sharing our experiences.

I have also had the opportunity to attend many workshops such as  Personal Branding, the Power of Networking and Social Media. Each of these workshops helped me refine a particular skill  and gave me a fresh perspective at the very onset of the MBA programme. In addition, throughout the year, we have a series of networking events and career development workshops to facilitate our learning. Industry discussions with top notch executives of well-known companies also help us gain useful insights into the industries of our choice.

Moreover, during the course of my MBA, we have had the opportunity to be a part of many groups such as the Consulting, Finance, Industry and Women in Leadership. I, personally, am more inclined towards consulting because I have been a part of this industry and am inclined to continue my career in the same field in a much more elevated position, after my MBA. Each of these clubs opens the door of our interest in a particular field. Everyone in the group works towards a common goal through case competitions, live projects with companies and networking events.

Hong Kong’s strategic location as a financial centre, the diversity of the school,  the top class faculty and the rich curriculum of the MBA programme makes HKU one of the best business schools in the world. I am absolutely delighted to be back at my ‘second home’ and I am thoroughly enjoying each day here.  I look forward to the exciting adventures ahead in Hong Kong and my time in Columbia Business School!

Peter Brady
  • Name Peter Brady
  • Class Year Class of 2017
  • Location U.K.
My life in Hong Kong

Living in Hong Kong, I was keenly aware of HKU’s reputation at home and abroad. HKU is embedded in business in Hong Kong and offers fantastic opportunities to expand my network in the region. It attracts top class speakers from Hong Kong and China, provides  networking amongst start-ups / investors and its own rich alumni network.

I have been fortunate enough to experience working in a dynamic industry and diverse region. Naturally, the University of Hong Kong was the number one choice because of the variety and practicality of the education, the professors and guest speakers. More than the location on the island or the faculty, one of the biggest benefits is HKU’s affiliation to LBS, Fudan and CBS which promotes international exchange amongst the world’s best schools. I eagerly await the opportunity to spend four months studying at Columbia Business School in 2017.

Already I have learnt much from the programme, the professors and my classmates. Even though I have been working in China for a number of years, I immensely enjoyed the Cultural Immersion programme in Beijing, initiating the MBA students in a fun, informal and stimulating environment. I will dedicate myself to learning many new disciplines but also to using the experience to improve my existing skills. After the MBA I intend to return to the tech market in Asia.

Hong Kong is one of my favourite cities and a great place to live. I have particularly enjoyed sharing my recommendations with my classmates who have just moved here and experiencing Hong Kong through their lens. Hong Kong is an energetic and visually astounding city, with many sights, smells and languages to experience. My favourite thing about Hong Kong is the outdoor living, best demonstrated through the many beaches, great hiking trails and the outdoor eating and socialising. Although the city is notoriously short on space, the beaches and hiking trails can be reached in just twenty minutes from Central. Additionally, the city is very sports orientated. I am able to play football every day of the week if I want to, as well as an array of other sports frequently played all over the city.

Alex Makosz
  • Name Alex Makosz
  • Class Year Class of 2017
  • Location Canada
Culture of the HKU MBA Programme

Since starting the actual programme, the culture of the MBA here has proven true to the promise of those early interactions. The first month of immersion in Beijing is honestly a brilliant piece of programme design. Up front, it might appear that language learning and cultural understanding are the goals of the Beijing immersion. They’re not.  The real benefit of taking the whole group to an unfamiliar city for several weeks of sharing new experiences is the way it brings the class together as friends and as one big team. By the time we all moved down to Hong Kong to kick off our real studies, all of us knew each other well and had already become friends. While on the face of it, that may not seem critical to someone who is focused on learning specific industry skills and knowledge from the programme, it is paying great dividends now that the pressure of an intensive 14-month MBA programme is ramping up. Everyone works well together and is happy to reach out and offer help and support in getting through the real work. When it’s coming up on midnight and your still working through a group project or prepping for a big presentation, it’s great having classmates you can count on to share a laugh with while sharing ideas and pulling it together before a deadline. On the odd day or evening off, you can also count on there always being someone from the group who is up for a hiking trip, chilling on a beach or going for drinks together too.

As the course goes on, I increasingly feel that it is the group of people and the culture of the programme that create the most value. I really enjoy all of the people that I’m sharing this experience with.

Looking at coming out of the other side of this programme, I’m hoping to put together my years of experience in education leadership with the business skills and network gained through studying here at HKU to develop my own innovative new private school or private educational programme. This is something I’ve been thinking about for years, so I already have a lot of ideas of what I want to achieve. The MBA is helping class-by-class, and classmate-by-classmate, as I’m picking up insights and experiences from different perspectives and industries that are pushing my initial ideas forward.  It’s still a long way from full realization, but I have an increasing sense of critical confidence in how those ideas are taking shape.

Of course, everyone has their own MBA experience, and their own MBA goals. Each of us has different ambitions and, while it’s still early, it doesn’t appear there’s any one straight path through this experience. It’s a good thing though. Not everything has been perfect and most of us right now are unsure exactly where we’re going to end up on the other side, but, as I see it, a big part of taking a year out to do the MBA is to have our eyes opened to opportunities, problems and perspectives that we couldn’t see before. The best way to overcome a challenge often comes through finding another way of looking at it. I have faith that new paths will appear to us through this experience on our way to the ending in 2017 when we get on with real life again.  

Christina Dong
  • Name Christina Dong
  • Class Year Class of 2017
  • Location Mainland China
Great learnings from workshops and events

My MBA experience has been fantastic so far. In order to develop our soft skills, the Career Services team of the MBA Office has arranged various trainings and workshops. For instance, I took part in one of the workshops, called Interview Skills Enhancement Workshop. The trainer organized the workshop well in three parts. She also divided our class into five groups so we could easily share our insights with classmates. First of all, she emphasized conveying the executive presence through first impression, and she explained the importance of postures, eye signals and the power of the voice. Then she demonstrated the principles of workplace dress codes. Sometimes the details make the differences during an interview.  Lastly, she shared with us how to navigate a non-technical job interview. In summary, the workshop was clear, concise and interesting. More importantly, the Career Services team organizes one-on-one coaching and gives me customized career advice, which will be tremendously beneficial to my job search.

I am also constantly amazed by the quality of my classmates. I like the diversity of my student community, both in terms of nationality as well as the industries they come from. It is through the daily interactions with my classmates from all over the world that I am learning a lot, and I hope that I am contributing in my own way to their MBA experience too.

The MBA Office has arranged a number of events. During the Alumni Interaction, I met many alumni from different batches. They shared their life stories with me and talked about their study experiences at HKU, which were quite inspiring.

Finally, I like the case based approach in teaching here, especially the utilization of Asia-specific cases written by ACRC. This adds realism and regional relevance to my learning process.

I am very excited about the start of this new venture. Enrolling in this MBA programme has been one of my best decisions, and I hope to leave the school that I love with learning, inspiration and friendships that will last a lifetime.

Michael Barnett
  • Name Michael Barnett
  • Class Year Class of 2016
  • Location U.K.
Top 3 experiences during my HKU MBA

My time at HKU MBA has been a phenomenal experience. From simply living in Hong Kong to meeting with high flying executives, there have been a plethora of meaningful moments. However, the following three stand out.

  1. Beijing

Initially, I was very sceptical about heading to Beijing for a month but our MBA’s executive director, Sachin, was so passionate about it I decided to attend. It was a fantastic decision. The programme provided the perfect environment to meet with and build meaningful relationships with all of my classmates.  Most importantly, it was a great way to experience first-hand and understand everyone’s strengths and weaknesses so that when we started our MBA, we could help and support one another.

The trip was well structured and provided a good balance between academic, networking culture and exploration. During the day, we would study Mandarin, in the afternoon we met with companies such as Baidu and McKinsey and in the evenings we were free to explore Beijing. On the weekends we visited landmarks such as the Great Wall and participated in activities like Tai Chi. One of my favourite trips was a bicycle ride through the Old Hutongs which ended with a beer at one of the many craft breweries in Beijing. Overall a great mix of culture, networking and fun.

  1. Business Labs

Of all the modules I have completed, Business labs taught by Mr Pedro Eloy stands out. In Business Labs you are required to come up with a business idea and, from the ground up, create a fully-fledged business plan. Once completed at the end of the course, you pitch your idea to a panel of industry experts which is very reminiscent of Dragon’s Den.

In this module you need to implement all the knowledge you have obtained during your MBA, from marketing techniques to basic finance and accounting. It was a really refreshing experience being able to apply techniques/strategies you have acquired.

Mr Eloy acts as a great mentor and provides a solid frame work, breaking the whole process down and structuring your progression. Furthermore, his network is vast and he is very proactive in introducing you to experts relevant to your business idea.

Apart from the traditional lecture, every week we would have a new guest speaker who was relevant to the topic being covered. For example, when devising our marketing strategy, Guy Parsonage, CEO of Fluid global agency, gave a presentation and stayed to provide constructive criticism on our business plans.

Overall, Business Labs is an excellent course which not only provides you with the building blocks needed to make your own business idea a reality but also the network in order for it to succeed.

  1. Diwali

Diwali the ‘festival of lights’ is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in autumn. The MBA office was kind enough to help organise an event to celebrate this festival. Coming from the UK, I have heard of Diwali but never experienced it. What I discovered was a festival full of colour, prayer and dancing. Not only was it a stimulating experience but also a profound one. We learnt about its origins and took part in the choreography which was amazing. Additionally, we were treated to a fantastic Indian dinner, celebrating all regions of Indian cuisine. Diwali was truly an educational and emotional experience. 


Akashleena Mullick
  • Name Akashleena Mullick
  • Class Year Class of 2016
  • Location India
HKU MBA experiences

I am an electrical engineer from VJTI, Mumbai and worked for ICICI Bank  before joining the HKU MBA programme.

I joined HKU because it has an excellent faculty, small cohort, student diversity and an interesting exchange programme with London Business School.

Our programme started with the China immersion programme. We got to learn about Chinese culture and see famous sights, including the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. We had the opportunity to learn Mandarin for a month and interact with our classmates. It helped all the students to bond together.

After the immersion programme, our classes started at the Cyberport campus. The administrative staff and faculty were extremely helpful and guided us throughout the journey. We had guest speakers, alumni meetings, networking events and much more. The career development office held many company meetings and visits to help us know the career openings and opportunities. We also had a Singapore trek in which we met and interacted with major Singapore based companies.

I did 15 courses in Hong Kong and I am now doing my exchange at LBS. I selected the courses based on my liking and alumni feedback. There are some excellent courses like Big Data and  Advanced Corporate Finance which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was assigned a mentor from a renowned bank who gave me guidance and help whenever I needed it.

Before our classes officially started, we had various workshops like resume building, etiquette, and networking . A detailed resume book was very meticulously made and circulated among the top companies. My resume was picked up by Wells Fargo and after a series of interviews and case study discussions, I was offered a 6-month rotational technology intern role.  The Career Development Office has also helped my classmates in securing internships and job offers. Hong Kong felt like home after the MBA Office arranged a Diwali party, Christmas celebrations and many more events and cultural programmes.

Hong Kong is an amazing place to stay and study. The culture and people help us to adapt easily. I learned a lot in the 9 months that I was there. All thanks to HKU MBA.

Abhishek Bhojnagarwala
  • Name Abhishek Bhojnagarwala
  • Class Year Class of 2016
  • Location India
MBA World Summit Experience


After 8 months of MBA Studies in Hong Kong, which were action-packed, I got the chance to attend the MBA World Summit held in Miami during March 2016. This was one of the most defining experiences of my journey at the business school of The University of Hong Kong.

The event was spearheaded by Quarterly Crossing – a Germany based organization. The Summit gathers the 100 most inspiring MBA students from across the globe along with top executives from partner companies offering exceptional career opportunities. The qualification process involves a rigorous screening round followed by video interviews.

At the Summit, meeting like-minded individuals who were keen to share their experiences and bring forth their knowledge on various fields was quite enlightening. Discussions ranged from talking with a student from Michigan who did his undergrad in American politics about Trump’s chances of winning the polls, to the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Stanford Business School, to discussing the current economic condition in Swaziland with a student from The University of Cape Town. The networking events were a platform for everyone to get to know each other better.


One day of the summit was focussed on company presentations from partner companies such as Amazon, BASF, Bertlesmann, Henkel, Bain & Company and Goodgame Studios. That same day also carried Summit Laboratory Sessions – which were sessions organized by students. I had the opportunity to host my own Summit Laboratory Session on ‘The Quantified Self’. It was a topic which focuses on the rising power of technology in our daily lives and was a great platform to get a take on the same from students coming from different locations and backgrounds.

The next day comprised  a boat ride and  a walk to the famous South Beach of Miami followed by a party in a luxury mansion. This relaxed setting allowed people to bond even further because there was a barbeque, football and delicious Cuban food. During these days, people were interested in getting to know more about life in Hong Kong and how Asia is growing and positioned as an interesting market in the business world. The unique nature of the Full Time MBA programme at HKU and its partnerships with leading business schools was appreciated by one and all.

Overall, the Summit provides a unique platform which allows students from the top business schools to network over a period of 3 days and take back lasting relationships and a wider network across the globe. The MBA World Summit was a gateway for me to join their leadership community – known as GLC- which forms an apex leadership network connecting members who have attended the summit over the years.

The experience of attending the MBA World Summit 2016 in Miami is one that I will cherish forever and I look forward to attending the MBA World Summit 2017 in Berlin.

Kritika Kumar
  • Name Kritika Kumar
  • Class Year Class of 2016
  • Location India
China Immersion Programme

Ni Hao! The China Immersion Programme is one of the most memorable parts of the MBA for almost all the students. We spent a month in Beijing, learning Mandarin and exploring the city together. The best part was that all 53 of us stayed in one hotel, which really helped us bond and get to know each other so much better. It was a great amalgamation of cultures, people and personalities. 

Language Training:

The Elementary Mandarin course is designed in a very organized manner and the teachers are very devoted. We had lectures and tutorials to help us learn both reading and writing. One of the most enjoyable parts was every one of us got a Chinese name! Mine is Li Ke. It took a lot of effort to learn how to pronounce the name correctly- not only mine but my classmates’ too! It was fun to make mistakes and learn together. Also, one cannot survive in China without knowing Mandarin. So, as we were learning the language and touring the city, we started using it in restaurants, in cabs and while shopping. That definitely added a lot to our experience. 

While weekdays were spent learning the language, our weekends were planned for cultural visits. We visited the Great Wall, Beihai Park, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and took the Hutong Tour. It was wonderful to tour together. Climbing the Great Wall was a fantastic experience and we took some superb selfies here! Finally mastered the use of the selfie stick in Beijing!

We visited two companies: Baidu and Coca-Cola. It was very interesting to see one Chinese internet giant and one multinational behemoth. We had presentations and the opportunity to speak to company representatives and we gained an understanding of their strategies for the China market.

Social Us:

Of course, an MBA is not complete without some social mingling. Our Chinese classmates were wonderful hosts and organized some delicious traditional Chinese dinners! I enjoyed the Peking Duck and Hunan province food the most. We also checked out the local party spots in the evenings – complete with some Baijiu to keep us going through the night!

Overall, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I am glad it is part of the HKU MBA programme!

Kritika Kumar
  • Name Kritika Kumar
  • Class Year Class of 2016
  • Location India
How I targeted my MBA networking on just one senior executive and landed a big meeting with him

As an MBA student in Hong Kong I knew what I wanted to do after my course and I had my target ‘dream’ company in mind: a development finance institution.

But before finishing my MBA I wanted to engage with someone senior in that organisation in order to build a professional relationship.

Meeting a senior manager, let alone engaging with them, is easier said than done as a student, however.  This is how I went about it:

Identifying the opportunity

I had been reading up about the institution over a couple of months and gathering related news. Then one day I got a chance to volunteer at a private equity forum in Hong Kong and I looked up all the panelists who were to speak at the event. The East Asia head of the private equity arm of my dream employer was on one of the panels. I decided that I had to find a way to talk to him at this event.

The preparation process

While research is essential to successful networking I would recommend targeted research. This was my strategy:

·         I researched the specific department he was in charge of.

·         I researched him and found articles and quotes by him online. I also found out the roles, departments and regions he represented within my dream organisation.

·         Having read all this information, I formulated questions to ask him that could kick start a conversation. A helpful tip I received at this stage was not to push my CV or intention to look for a job, but rather to engage him in the area that he knows best. You have to demonstrate your interest in and knowledge of that person’s field to gain their interest in you.

·         I practiced my career ‘story’ and how I would present myself, in case that came up in conversation.

The implementation

While the panel was ongoing, I listened intently. At first I thought I would form a new question related to new issues that were cropping up during the panel discussion. However, I soon realised that the panel was focusing on unfamiliar issues and I didn’t want to be caught out in a situation I couldn’t handle.

So I decided to go with the questions I had prepared and ask them after the panel. Soon after it was over many people flocked to my ‘target’, but I did get the chance to ask two questions. This is how the conversation went:

Me: Your outlook on Asia for 2015 was overweight. What would be your outlook for 2016?

Him: (Intrigued) Where did you read this?

Me: In one of your interviews.

Him: Where?

Me: On the Seeking Alpha website.

Him: Now I remember. Well, we are overweight on Asia for 2016, with a particular focus on China.

Me: Thank you. What would you say is your investment strategy for Myanmar?

Him: Myanmar? Interesting. As you would know, since you have been following the news it seems, we have made two investments there and we are waiting for other players to make a move.

Me: Yes, I do know about those investments. Thank you for sharing your insights with me.

This was a 30-second window but it was all I had before other people started introducing themselves and I couldn’t engage him further. But I felt I had made the right impression.

Later, at the event’s cocktail reception, I made sure I met him again. I introduced myself and he was keen to know about me. This was encouraging and I asked if I could meet him in Singapore where his head office is. My MBA class were going for a career trek there the following week, so I connected the dots. He was very welcoming and agreed to see me. This was a big moment.

The result

I did meet him in Singapore – at my dream organisation’s HQ. He met me for 40 minutes and shared his experiences with the firm – both pros and cons – and offered me advice on my career. It was a helpful interaction. I asked for an internship opportunity but he claimed that recruitment wasn’t his domain. Nevertheless, I was not discouraged.

The takeaway

Even though my targeted networking hasn’t immediately led to an opportunity for me, the experience in itself has been a big confidence booster which I’m sure will help me get a job at that firm or elsewhere. I am more confident of my story, my research methods and my ability to ask such a senior executive for a one-on-one meeting.

The fact that I can now successfully engage in meaningful conversation with senior executives is the key takeaway for me. Networking success shouldn’t be measured by how many people you spoke to at an event, but what you spoke to them about and whether they actually remember you.

Kaushik Gnanasekaran
  • Name Kaushik Gnanasekaran
  • Class Year Class of 2015
  • Location India
Global Student Challenge – A unique opportunity to represent Hong Kong
Team: Alexander Ko, Kaushik Gnanasekaran, Katie Fung, Sidharta Achamthavirthan

The Global Student Challenge was organized by the Supply Chain Finance Community of The Netherlands to create awareness of and stimulate development in the topic of Supply Chain Finance. A total of 1400 students representing more than 600 universities from 82 countries registered and after two rigorous phases of six rounds, only 20 teams made it to the finals. It was a proud moment for us to represent Hong Kong in the final rounds of this competition which took place in April 2015 in Amsterdam. Yes, a sponsored trip to Amsterdam for a week!

The challenge was to turn around a loss making company through a highly advanced business simulation that is used internationally by the world’s leading companies to train personnel up to and including executive management level in the complexities of supply chain management and supply chain finance. This new way of experiential learning is as close as you can get to reality. It provided us insights into the complexities and inter-dependencies in supply chains operating under uncertain and volatile market conditions.

Apart from this business simulation, we also had a chance to visit the Port of Rotterdam, the largest port in Europe and one of the busiest ports in the world. We had the opportunity to have a boat trip around the port and interact with port authorities to learn about the operations of the port and how it served as the backbone of their country’s economy.

In addition to giving us the opportunity to interact with the top talents and experts of the supply chain world, this global competition also aimed at connecting us to the corporate world by means of an internship. We would be given a chance to kick start our supply chain career at some of the world’s leading banks, corporates, consulting firms, logistic service providers and technology companies who are sponsors for this event; Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, DHL, Dinalog, Heineken, KennisDC Logistiek, Philips, Unilever, Urica to name a few.

This was once-in-a-lifetime experience for all of us. To compete on a global stage like that demonstrates the learning curve the HKU MBA takes us on.

Fabio Procopio
  • Name Fabio Procopio
  • Class Year Class of 2015
  • Location Italy
Columbia Business School Partner Programme

The partner programme at Columbia Business School represents an exciting opportunity for HKU MBA students to breathe the academic and cultural life of one of the most prestigious universities in the United States. 

During my stay in New York, Ive had the chance to attend a number of invaluable courses, taught by renowned professors like Joseph Stiglitz, Bruce Greenwald, and William Duggan. The course selection at CBS is rich and diverse, in spite of the school being considered a finance-focused institution. From marketing, to strategy, to creativity, each student can find valuable topics to delve into. 

During the semester, there are plenty of opportunities to meet other students and expand ones personal and professional network. MBAs, EMBAs and regular undergraduate students, all share the same campus and attend numerous extra-curricular events like academic talks, happy hours and  summer picnics. 

New York is a vibrant city. Its the most important business centre in America and the undisputed world leader in the financial sector. It is also a great place to be for entrepreneurs, techies, and forward-thinking people in general. 

Business aside, New York offers infinite possibilities for leisure. There is something for everyone. Its all about exploring the options and finding ones most enjoyable way to spend  free time.

Alessandro Gazza
  • Name Alessandro Gazza
  • Class Year Class of 2015
  • Location Italy
Insights from my MBA, i.e. my Most Beautiful Adventure

The most important thing learned from the MBA‘s courses is the way to approach, analyse and solve the problems rather than the specific contents taught in each subject. Through the time spent in class discussions on actual facts and case studies, you begin to  perceive  the reality from a different point of view, asking yourself  questions previously never thought of and with  a better understanding of everyday life events. This is a slow change that happens day by day and you do not notice it  but when family, friends and colleagues meet you after a long time, they can immediately perceive the difference in the way you think.

Made in Hong Kong, this exceptional path of growth is even more valuable, since few cities in the world can offer the same sparkling environment. This is the meeting point of many different cultures, habits and customs where the Western mind-set merges with  Chinese tradition and people from many countries work and live. It’s like having a little taste of every part of the world all in the same place and, from this amazing mix, it is natural to broaden one’s perspectives and obtain a more comprehensive knowledge of  global, political and economic dynamics.

Hanisha Gianani
  • Name Hanisha Gianani
  • Class Year Class of 2015
  • Location Hong Kong
Internship at EasyVan

Interning at a start-up is a smart choice for an MBA student. The flexible, dynamic and somewhat chaotic atmosphere gives you the freedom to openly put forward your ideas and have the opportunity to implement them. It’s hands-on, vibrant and fun.

My internship at EasyVan gave me a comprehensive learning experience in a limited amount of time. As the company is only one year old, there was a lot of ‘trial and error’ decision making happening on the spot. This kind of entrepreneurial atmosphere is beneficial for an MBA student and teaches you practical business lessons within a short period of two months.

EasyVan is undergoing many changes and developments, including a brand makeover from its old name ‘EasyVan’ to its new name ‘lalamove’. I was responsible for composing the marketing strategy to facilitate this change in both Hong Kong and Singapore. This involved interacting with the various departments within the firm and carrying out extensive research to capture its marketing positioning and find an effective way to differentiate it from its competitors.

I had the opportunity to witness many components of a tech start-up, from product development, to customer service, to sales and marketing. Amidst today’s smartphone revolution, my internship at Easy Van was extremely relevant and insightful. In particular, it was fascinating to witness competitors’ tactics and the firm’s response strategy.

My experience at a start-up gave me the opportunity to learn and utilise entrepreneurial talent, as well as learn to be more flexible and agile in an ever-changing business landscape.

Andy Chen
  • Name Andy Chen
  • Class Year Class of 2015
  • Lcoation Mainland China
My MBA journey

I’ve learned a lot from the CEO talks and company visits organized by CDO. Before I Joined HKU MBA programme, I seldom attended such events. More than the discussions in class, these events give me good exposure to the real business world. We can learn the latest developments in certain fields from the real experiences shared by CEOs. For example, a senior manager in a fund gave us a very good lecture about the change in the  finance industry after the global financial crisis. He illustrated  the trend with his own experiences. That lecture made me  think about my future career. I talked with him several times after the lecture and he gave me a lot of help. With the help from CDO, I’m very clear about my career path after graduation.

We had a very good time in the China Immersion Programme. We had some language and basic business classes to warm up. What’s more, we communicated with each other every day to know how to work with new people and form a team to get tasks done.

We also formed into groups. Each group had classmates from different nationalities. At the weekend, all of us would go out and visit famous places of interest in Beijing. Beijing being the capital of China means  that foreigners can learn better about the country  from visiting these places. The Chinese in the group were also very happy to introduce the culture and history of China.

After classes and company visits, we often had dinner together. 

Bradley Morin
  • Name Bradley Morin
  • Class Year Class of 2015
  • Location U.S.A.
A Fun Entrepreneurial Challenge

One great experience among many during my time at the HKU MBA was participating in our programme's Business Lab.  During a two term period, we were able to take our ideas and turn them into legitimate business plans with the help of our teammates, classmates, and industry professionals.  Guiding the entire process was an amazing professor, Mr. Pedro Eloy.  His passion for start-ups and great ideas was infectious. 

As the final presentation date approached, our fragmented business plans started to come together into something cohesive and impressively viable.  Working with start-ups, I have always had business ideas that I would like to explore, but have never had the time.  The Business Lab, and MBA in general, gave me a chance to put a pause on everything and focus on taking an idea and turning it into a business plan.  It was an awesome experience and I would recommend the Business Lab to all HKU MBA candidates, even if they do not have a desire to work with start-ups or to become entrepreneurs.

Ryan Chung
  • Name Ryan Chung
  • Class Year Class of 2015
  • Location Canada
National Investment Banking Competition and Conference

Being a finance focused MBA candidate, I was fortunate enough to take part in the National Investment Banking Competition and Conference held in Vancouver. Though the city is not known as a financial center in North America, the competition was well-organized by its committee to deliver a simulated experience of what a typical IBD analyst would go through in real-life. We were able to come across many industry experts serving as keynote speakers for the event and to bond with other high-caliber students who aspired to a career in finance.


In the two rounds of competition, my teammates and I were able to make use of our knowledge of financial models and presentation skills to prepare a sell-side pitch book and a boardroom presentation. The opportunity gave us a degree of insight into some of the prep work that contributes to the M&A discussion between the bankers and the executives. We had to work diligently to carry out valuations on the case target and combine these measures with a broad understanding of business and market environment; more easily said than done in reality. This, combined  with the red-eye flights and jet lag in the final round of the competition, meant that my team and I had embarked on a short trip that enriched our MBA experience.

Competition matters aside, I was able to build a good friendship with my teammates through this experience. Spending the few days in the same hotel room and working closely to a common goal gave us a stronger setting in which  to know each other much better than a typical term project would offer. Also, taking time away from the vibrant lifestyle in Hong Kong and wrapping  myself in the wilderness of Stanley Park and the walkway in Coal Harbour gave me an opportunity to unwind and reflect on my MBA journey. Lastly, I must thank my team for their support and dedication in making this experience a blast!

Syed Musheer Ahmed
  • Name Syed Musheer Ahmed
  • Class Year Class of 2015
  • Location India
From Asia’s world city, to the capital of the world

London. Business. School. A name? A brand? No, not just another name or a brand. It’s an institution that draws pride from anyone who has had the opportunity to study here. With the partnership that HKU MBA has with LBS, I have had the fortune to experience  what makes LBS the institution that it is and to feel the same sense of pride in it that I have for HKU. The partnership of the best University in Asia with one of the best business schools in the world has been built over the last ten years. The two schools have collaborated in multiple programmes, prominent amongst which is the full time MBA programme and the EMBA programmes alongside Columbia Business School. Besides being beneficial for the students and the schools alike, with collaborations at various levels, this partnership also provides an opportunity for the well-reputed faculties of both  institutions to develop their research together.

We spent around 9 months in Hong Kong,  covering 11 core subjects and 4/5 electives. In total, we did 20 courses, and we had to do a minimum of 4 electives at LBS. Having received the schedule and course details a few months in advance, all of us went through a list of over 30 courses to shortlist the ones we liked and then we went through a process of ‘Dutch bidding’ to select our electives. There was some pretty intense competition for a few of the courses such as project management, sports management and negotiation & bargaining. The courses are of three types; block weeks, full summer courses, and 5/10 week module courses. 

London Business School is in its 50th year, and all over the campus there are reminders of the legacy and pedigree of the School. We had a wonderful welcome by the MBA office, led by Wei Wells and Vanessa, who went out of their way to ensure that each of us had settled down and resolved any issues that we were facing.  They were also kind enough to take us on two sightseeing trips around London, one to Greenwich Village for a visit to the Royal Observatory at the Greenwich Meridian Line and the other trip was to East London to see the cultural influences of the city.

The class mix in LBS is very diverse with over 1000 students from full time MBA, EMBAs, Master in Finance, Master in Management, SLOANs and part time students from over 75 nationalities. The experience level of students varied from around 2 years for the MiMs to on average of 20 years for the SLOANS, with the full time MBAs having an average experience of 8 years. With such a rich and diverse mix in classes, the discussions  were of very high quality and in a few instances you would have their senior executives from a company which we were doing a case study on, and this would give the others a fantastic insight on the company’s inner workings.

With LBS having a multitude of clubs professionally aligned, cultural, sporting and more , we had ample opportunity to interact with the various streams, especially at Sundowners on Thursdays on the school lawn! Some of us got to attend seminars from leading company CEOs and thought leaders, not to mention summits on the Middle East and Africa. The highlight for me personally was the opportunity to attend a seminar at the House of Lords in Westminster, conducted  by a European Central Bank member, Yves Mersch and Prof H. Schobe, Chairwoman of the European Economic and Finance center of the British Government. These experiences, along with interactions with the alumni, holds us in good stead for the future with us holding the unique honour of being an alumnus of two great institutions shaping the world.

As the classes were spread out over the summer, most of us had a good balance of regular classes for some weeks. When we had a light schedule, we indulged in travelling across Europe and the U.K.  Amongst these journeys, three stand out. First was a trip to Italy, led by Alessandro on which nearly 20 of the class students went. They visited Rome, Florence and Venice and, along with taking in the amazing sites, had a ball as a bunch of students running amok, most of the time eating gelato. The second was a business trek to Dublin where we got to visit Linkedin and Google amongst others and experience the festivities of an Ireland-Scotland Euro qualifier.  The third was  a picnic that we had in Hyde Park, soaking in the British summer with fun and games!

With a majority of us staying at university halls, a lot of nights were spent in playing FIFA, having potluck dinners and ended with a farewell pyjama party at the Lillian Penson Hall. We ended our courses in late June with the last ones finishing on the 3rd of July, literally the last session of the summer term. This marked for us a culmination of a wonderful year full of amazing experiences, professionally and personally. My t-shirt filled with messages from my classmates, penned during the pyjama party, will always remind me of this stupendous journey, the journey of a lifetime.


Mohamed Ahsan
  • Name Mohamed Ahsan
  • Class Year Class of 2014
  • Location India
Hong Kong to St. Gallen - Mohamed Ahsan (Class of 2014)
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*The St.Gallen Wings of Excellence Award

The St.Gallen Symposium is often called The World Economic Forum for young people. Now in its 44th year, it has done a thoroughly commendable job in bringing together people from all over the world to discuss what’s important for everyone now. It has been successful in flawlessly managing what could be a logistical nightmare.

After attending the talk given by representatives of the Symposium at HKU, I was left feeling unsure of the precise objective of the Symposium. That is quite normal apparently. I think this can be put down to the true nature of the event, a highly qualitative discussion by people from all over the world on the underlying issues that really matter.

Thankfully, I still decided to participate. The winners of the qualifying competition getting an all-expenses paid trip to Switzerland may have had something to do with it.

Fast forward a few months to the actual Symposium. The 44th St. Gallen Symposium was held on 8th and 9th May, 2014. The title of the Symposium was “Clash of the Generations”. In the spirit of the St.Gallen symposium, the topic really got one to think about the underlying issues that are affecting everyone, irrespective of geographic location or economic philosophies.

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The Symposium brought together some of the brightest people that I have had the chance to interact with. There were 100 students who qualified through the essay competition. This year, that was less than 9% of those who had applied. A further 100 young talents from academia and business were invited, based on their extraordinary contributions to society. To give you an idea of these invited members, there was a lady who had started an online marketplace to give the less privileged artisans of Africa an avenue to sell their products. There was another person who was working with companies in North Korea on their training and development needs. I could go on, but this should give you a fair understanding of the kind of people present at the Symposium.

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If 200 extremely smart people together are not enough, the Symposium brings in close to 600 senior professionals, Leaders of Today as they like to call them, from all industries. Their main agenda at the Symposium is to connect with the younger generation and get our views on things that affect the world. This kind of access is extremely hard to come by for any MBA student and my interactions with people there were extremely enriching.

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*Stephen Sackur interviewing Governor of Reserve Bank of India Mr. Raghuram Rajan

There is always something happening, be it a plenary session or separate work groups or just space to network and connect with interesting people. I had the privilege to watch Stephen Sackur from The BBC interview the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Mr. Raghuram Rajan. There were numerous other events that I attended and all of them provided me with some new insight on how things are in the world, right now. I also had the chance to interact with probably the youngest finance minister of any country, Mr. Lazar Krstic. He is 30 years old and is the finance minister of The Republic of Serbia. Mr. Aubrey de Grey, author and theoretician on gerontology, completely amazed me with his talk on “The End of Aging”. This should help give an idea of the quality of the people who were invited as speakers. They covered a variety of topics that in some way were connected to the main topic of the Symposium.

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Rather than go into a longer account, I would like to summarise by saying that the St.Gallen symposium is an absolutely fantastic experience and I recommend it without reservation.

I left the Symposium having learned more about myself and about what really affects the world. Probably and more importantly, I left having made new friends who I am certain will shape my future in some way or the other.

Thanks for reading.

Mohamed Ahsan
The University of Hong Kong
Leader of Tomorrow

                   *Stunning St.Gallen                                                             *Beautiful Zurich

*Kindly note that all the photos are provided by Mohamed Ahsan. Any dissemination, distribution or copying of these photos is prohibited.

Alumni Commentary

Be inspired by our MBA graduates who share their perspectives on and insights into their professions and industries.

Varun R Thakur
  • Name Varun R Thakur
  • Class Year Class of 2014
  • Company Amazon
  • Role Business Development Lead EMEA
  • Industry Technology
  • Location Luxembourg

Varun Thakur graduated from the full-time MBA programme in 2014. After graduating, he joined Amazon in Luxembourg and has served in various sales and marketing roles. He is currently a Business Development Lead at Amazon Web Services. However, outside of work, Varun follows his passion for music, working a side job as an in-demand DJ, and he also runs his own career coaching business, helping students around the world to find purpose and meaning in their careers and to better present themselves to employers. Varun was kind enough to deliver a webinar for current students and to recap some of his experiences in the interview below. 

Tell us about pursuing a side passion while working a full-time job.
Job stability and job dependency are things of the past. In today’s technological and information age, there is a rapid pace with which traditional industries are being disrupted by technology, and those who do not adapt, change, unlearn old ways of doing things, and relearn/reskill themselves are assuming a huge risk. As a job seeking professional, while it is important to have a targeted job hunt and application strategy, an equally important yet overlooked strategy is to diversify your skillset, and ‘create’ your own job. Despite being at Amazon for over five years in marketing and sales positions, I’ve never let myself rely just on these credentials or let my career depend solely on my primary job as my only source of active income. I developed, and continue to develop, many side skills that I either always wanted to try, or was good at, and for which there was some demand in the market.

These can begin with something you’re passionate about (photography, music, arts, crafts, cooking, coding, etc.), and over time, you build these skills into services that you can offer in your spare time. At first you must build expertise and credibility by offering your products or services for testing (e.g. pro bono projects, free samples, barter, or serve for free), and use the customer feedback and testimonials as stepping stones to begin charging money. Since 2015, aside from my full-time job, I have continually nurtured and grown two side skills that have helped diversify my skills and also add drops of income: Career Coaching and Music Mixing.

You work full time, follow your passion for music as a DJ, and you’re also a career coach. What inspired you to get into coaching?
During my undergraduate years in university, I was part of the college placement department, helping organize seminars, workshops and career sessions to help students polish their professional profiles and get placed at the right jobs. Even after college, I regularly assisted students with career questions, helping them find clarity and purpose via frameworks and high-level advice. During my MBA at HKU, I spent time learning strategies and tactics to build a strong CV and personal brand, prepare for interviews, network extensively, and pave the way for a career that I wanted. Upon completing the MBA and being accepted at one of my dream companies, I realized that I had these strategies that would hugely benefit students currently pursuing some form of education. That’s when I began reaching out with CV writing, mock interview prep, and personal branding services to universities in Europe, and also on various online platforms. Since 2015, I have personally coached and mentored nearly 500 students across five continents, from various professional backgrounds and helped them find meaning and purpose in their career decisions. I did not know everything when I began offering coaching professionally in 2015, but I started with the few things I did know. Over time, you learn and add to your skills with the experience you gain. Soon I was able to deliver in-person workshops and seminars at universities and got the opportunity to become a visiting faculty at the University of Luxembourg to take career and transferrable skills subjects.

Coaching is one additional side skill that has helped me diversify my career. This skill requires some hard skills and soft skills, but most importantly requires a high emotional quotient which cannot be learned in books. It comes with experience and being able to put yourself in another’s shoes. If you feel you have it in you, start small by helping someone in your family. Read and learn from the innumerable resources available on the internet, and find your niche. Growing takes time and effort, but the journey is what makes it all worthwhile.

You may have other skills or passions you always wanted to explore. Start small. Start today. Start by offering your product or service for free. And take it from there. But it’s important to diversify your career. Relying on just one in today’s times is risky.

Do you have a specific method that you use to help your clients or anything special that sets you apart from other coaches?
I put myself in my client’s shoes and look at the situations they face from their perspective. This helps me give them customized, tailored, and targeted advise and insights, rather than bookish and generic advice which can be easily found online. I first listen keenly and with the intention to understand before I put forth a set of ideas and recommendations. Coaching only works when the client is determined to change and put in the efforts. As a coach, I don’t just give ideas but a heavy dose of motivation, which comes from the heart. I don’t treat the interactions as a business transaction, but as an empathetic conversation. That’s my USP.

How and why did you got started as a Bollywood DJ in Luxembourg?
When I moved to Luxembourg in 2014, I realized there was a tiny community of Indians, and of course, no Bollywood music. The closest I got to listening to Bollywood and Punjabi songs was an annual cultural Diwali night in Luxembourg by the resident Indian community, and I noticed they had hired an Indian DJ from Germany for the event as there was no Bollywood DJ in Luxembourg. Also it was a very family-oriented event, and there was no Bollywood event for party-goers in a club-like setting.

In 2017, the dormant volcano in me decided to give it a go when along with a few friends, we approached a club in the city that agreed to host the event, and pay for an Indian DJ we hired from the UK. We promoted the event on Facebook as Luxembourg’s first Diwali Bollywood party. It was sold out, and the event was a mega hit with no room for people to stand. While people had a great time, the feedback was that the space could be bigger, and the DJ could’ve been better.

Call it a twist of fate, stroke of luck, or a sheer instance of chance, but in January 2018, I was invited to a friend’s housewarming in Luxembourg, and armed only with a laptop and YouTube, I spun International Dance numbers for two hours that kept 40 friends going through the night. I mixed all songs simply by opening multiple YouTube tabs, which amazed everyone. During this time, I also went to Ibiza for the first time, and was blown away by the scale at which events were organized and the price a top DJ’s brand name commanded. I got back and immediately purchased top quality hardware, music mixing software, practiced on weekends via online tutorials, and set up an events page, booked a venue and launched myself as DJ VRT – Luxembourg’s first and only Bollywood-special DJ. So my first ever gig was not something I got, I created it for myself. I used my marketing skills to heavily promote the event, got articles in the media, promoted on Facebook and Instagram, and the gig was sold out two days before the actual event. While there was a bit of nervousness while being in charge of every aspect of the party and also helming the DJ console for the first time in front of 350 people, it was the most wonderful experience, getting immediate feedback, seeing the energy of the audience rise and fall based on the tracks I played, and seeing people forget about all their worries for the 5 hours that night. When the show ended, the huge applause, the high fives, and the sounds of ‘VRT. VRT’ that followed from friends and the audience was the best validation of the concept. 

Change is hard! However, you seem to have weathered and thrived upon many changes in your personal and professional life. How do you encourage your clients to get out of their comfort zones?
The comfort zone is always very comfortable, until it isn’t. The ability to pre-empt scenarios and constantly reinvent and challenge your limits is what wisdom is all about. As mentioned earlier, gone are the days of a single job or skill being able to sustain you for life. Reinvention and adaptation are the new constants. Begin by developing yourself and your skills in areas that closely match what you’re already doing or are good at. Look at the fringes of your skills. For example, if you’re good at marketing, learn about branding, sales, promotions, digital marketing, business development, account management. If you’re working in the automobiles sector, see if there are skills that you can transfer to other industries. If you are passionate about still photography, try wedding photography, portraits, learn graphic design, Photoshop, and venture into video editing. Don’t let just one thing consume you so much that you ignore or miss similar things. You never know what might click. Keep trying new things, and you’ll be amazed at how easily you discover parts of yourself you never thought existed.

To get in touch with Varun, follow him on LinkedIn here or write to him at


Jose Eduardo Coello Kunz
  • Name Jose Eduardo Coello Kunz
  • Class Year Class of 2018
  • Position Operations Lead
  • Company DiDi
  • Location Mexico

José Eduardo Coello Kunz HKU MBA alumnus from the Class of 2018, has been interviewed by BusinessBecause. Eduardo is now the Operations Lead at DiDi. In the interview, you can read about how HKU MBA helped Eduardo to define his career goal and success in the future.

Interviewed and written by BusinessBecauseView the original article featured in BusinessBecause, click here

"The job came thanks to my experience in Asia in such a recognized MBA. The school was very supportive. They were a mentor for me, helping me define if this opportunity was aligned with my goals and how I defined my success in the future"

DiDi is booming in Mexico. Jose Eduardo Coello Kunz joined the Chinese ride-hailing firm after an MBA at the University of Hong Kong (HKU).

If you’re choosing a ride-hailing app for your journey home in China or even Mexico, Chinese ride-hailing firm DiDi Chuxing would be your best option. Jose Eduardo Coello Kunz joined Didi three months after it launched in Mexico in April 2018, after completing his MBA at HKU.

Since then, Jose Eduardo has worked to develop strategies for Didi, which offers features like an emergency alert button for passengers and drivers. By the end of 2018, Didi became the most popular travel app in both Mexico’s Apple and Google App Store.

Jose Eduardo worked in finance in Mexico City before deciding to study an MBA at HKU—ranked number one in Asia for nine consecutive years by the Economist from 2010 to 2018. He says he wouldn’t have got the job at Didi without his MBA. 

Studying at HKU gave him knowledge of and access to the Asian market. He also studied at London Business School as part of the MBA programme, which candidates spend nine months in Hong Kong before four months on a specialized track either in Hong Kong or at LBS in London, Columbia in New York, or Fudan University in China.

By doing an MBA, Jose Eduardo says he was able to switch career track and do something he never expected to before.

BusinessBecause caught up with Jose Eduardo to find out more.

How did the job at Didi come about?

The job came thanks to my experience in Asia in such a recognized MBA. The school was very supportive. They were a mentor for me, helping me define if this opportunity was aligned with my goals and how I defined my success in the future.

How are you using your MBA learnings in your current role? 

I am responsible for the supply side in the northern part of Mexico and I use my MBA learnings on a daily basis. Working in a startup like DiDi requires constant change and that means I’m involved in many sides of the business, like business intelligence, marketing, and product management. 

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at HKU?

I have always been a person that likes to push himself outside of his comfort zone and universities in the US and Europe wouldn’t have given me that. Instead, I looked toward Asia and HKU was one of the top MBAs in the region. I could not have made a better decision!

What are your top three most memorable experiences from the MBA?

Definitely, the three most memorable include my classmates.

First, we spent a month in Beijing where we came together thanks to team building activities, sightseeing, and learning mandarin. 

Secondly, we grew together in an awesome city like Hong Kong, where we not only learned a lot from the courses, but we also shared festivities from such a united and diverse class. 

Finally, we went to different countries to finish the MBA adventure. I went to London, where I had the opportunity to keep meeting people, improving my skills, and defining what I wanted to do next: Didi.

Would you be where you are today without it?

The MBA gave my career a twist that was unimaginable to me. I was in the finance sector, specifically in the sell side of the market. So I definitely think that the MBA defined my path toward my job having a larger impact on people’s lives.
Arafat Sheik Jabbar
  • Name Arafat Sheik Jabbar
  • Class Year Class of 2012
  • Location Hong Kong
Arafat Sheik Jabbar, HKU MBA alumnus from the Class of 2012, has been interviewed by efinancialcareers. Arafat is now the Director and Asia Pacific Channel Services Head at Citi. In the interview, you can read about how HKU MBA helped Arafat to pursue a dream career path in product management in financial services.
Interviewed and written by efinancialcareers. View the original article featured in efinancialcareers, click here


"My MBA helped me to land a job in banking. Here’s how it enabled me to change careers"

Arafat Sheik Jabbar, Director and Asia Pacific Channel Services Head, at Citi, credits his Hong Kong University MBA for enabling him to land his dream job.
Sheik Jabbar started his career as a Software Engineer in Infosys, working on Technology delivery programmes for Transaction Banking for the likes of ABN AMRO and Royal Bank of Scotland in Europe and India. His experience made him keen to change his career and move into banking.
He says: “After spending five years in technology development, and interfacing more with business managers on the bank side, I felt something was lacking and I wanted to get a better sense of how business is managed.
“I found all the business managers were able to appreciate things holistically, not just the technology, but also financial strategy and marketing, and that is when I decided to do an MBA.” Sheik Jabbar soon identified HKU’s MBA as the programme that was best suited to helping him achieve his career goals.
Not only does it have a strong academic reputation, ranked as the number one MBA in Asia by the Economist magazine for eight consecutive years, but its strong Asia-focus and geographical location in a major banking hub with an expanding financial services sector also appealed to him. “The programme had the perfect balance between East and West, offering exposure to both Asia and global economies,” he says.
Sheik Jabbar’s investment in his career paid off, and immediately after graduating, he landed a job at Standard Chartered as Associate Director and Regional Channel Manager, Transaction Banking, where he was in charge of five key markets in Greater China and North Asia, focusing on Electronic Banking Channels for both global and local corporates.
But he did not stay there long, as a little over a year later, he was approached by Citi about becoming Regional head of Online Banking Product Management for corporates in Asia Pacific in Citi’s Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) business.
TTS provides an integrated suite of innovative and tailored cash management and trade finance services to multinational corporations, financial institutions and public sector organizations across the globe.
He has since been promoted to his current post of Asia Pacific Channel Services Head.“The role is basically product management leadership, overseeing conceptualisation, development and execution of the digital banking product road map across Corporate Internet Banking Portals, Mobile Apps, APIs, ERP connectivity, with a long-term view,” he says.
“I am very happy I could get into this role because it is what I specifically wanted to do.” Looking back on his MBA, Sheik Jabbar says the programme was extremely well thought out. “Everything that was non-technology was very interesting for me because I wanted to make a move into a new industry,” he says.
He adds that the courses that focused on multinational organisations were a “real eye-opener” for him in terms of how these companies competed and defined their fundamentals. Having previously worked in Europe and India, he also found the cultural aspects of the programme helpful.
Jabbar says: “The Asia-focus was a key aspect of the programme for me. Asia is a very heterogeneous dynamic landscape.” The programme kicked off with a one-month immersion course in Beijing. “It was a really good start to the programme to appreciate what a unique market China is and how businesses there are run,” he says.
He adds that having the chance to meet people running both local businesses and multinational corporations in China helped him understand the mindset of the business community there and proved to be a good building block for when he came to Hong Kong.
Another key benefit of the HKU MBA that  Sheik Jabbar appreciated was the small class sizes, with typically only around 50 to 55 students in a group. “The small classes led to a very high level of bonding. In a large group you don’t get to maximise on the connections you have, but in a small one the networking is really good,” he says.
The diversity of the background of the other students, coupled with HKU’s innovative use of case studies for teaching, also helped to deepen Sheik Jabbar’s understanding of many topics.
“The diversity helped me to understand different answers and solutions. People came from different backgrounds, such as accounting and marketing, and for some of the content I would learn better one-on-one with my classmates, who were experts in the subject matter,” he explains.
As a fulltime MBA student, Sheik Jabbar also spent four months as part of the London Business School track, which he says really complimented what he had learned about Asia.
One of the things that stands out most for Sheik Jabbar about the HKU MBA was the Business School’s impressive network and the contacts it has with companies, particularly in the financial services sector. Sheik Jabbar was able to really tap into this network when it came to finding a job.
“I met the heads of all the major banks in Hong Kong. I was able to go to them and have a discussion and tell them about my background and my skill set,” he says. Jabbar has no doubts about the benefits of his HKU MBA. “I was able to get the Product management career path I wanted. It really is my dream job,” he says.
Frantz Moudoute (France)
  • Name Frantz Moudoute (France)
  • Class Year Class of 2017
  • Location Hong Kong
Our alumnus Frantz Moudoute has been interviewed by BusinessBecause. As the portfolio manager for an Asia-focused hedge fund, he analyzes huge silos of data to make the best decisions and find the best investment opportunities, mostly in the technology space.  Prior to his current role, Frantz worked for over a decade for top finance firms. 10 years after leaving France for Asia, Frantz went for the part-time HKU MBA, where he was able to customize his MBA experience to match his career goals – taking investment management and data science classes and developing his soft skills at the same time. Check out his success story!
Interviewed and Written by Marco De Novellis, BusinessBecause. View the original article featured in BusinessBecause, click here


"This MBA Is Using Big Data Analytics To Drive Equity Investment In Hong Kong"

Frantz Moudoute is using big data analytics to drive listed equity investment strategies across the Asia-Pacific.
As the portfolio manager for an Asia-focused hedge fund, he analyzes huge silos of data to make the best decisions and find the best investment opportunities, mostly in the technology space.
Prior to his current role, Frantz worked for over a decade for top finance firms like JP Morgan. But, he says, he wouldn’t be where he is today without an MBA from the University of Hong Kong (HKU MBA).
10 years after leaving France for Asia, Frantz went for the part-time MBA at HKU to challenge himself, refocus his career, and go after the portfolio manager position he’d always wanted. At HKU, Frantz was able to customize his MBA experience to match his career goals—taking investment management and data science classes and developing his soft skills at the same time.
The hard work paid off. Frantz only applied for one job. After a grueling, 12-month interview process, he got it.
How are you applying your MBA learning in your current role?
I use much of the knowledge gained in finance, marketing, and strategy, on a daily basis. Most importantly, at HKU, we had an introduction to data science module with Dr. Michael Chau.
I learned how to write language for data science and, as of today, most people still see things either from a strictly fundamental analysis or quantitative standpoint in the region, mixing both approaches using data science is fairly new.
That’s something I’ll be forever grateful to HKU and Dr. Michael for. You always hear about big data, but Dr. Michael actually helped us put big data into practice. He made something quite technical easier to digest, and he made it interesting—all the examples and exercises we did were related to our real-life work.
How else have you profited from your HKU MBA experience?
Without the MBA, I don’t think I would have got my post-MBA job.
When you’re applying for jobs, you’re challenged with different tasks and assignments, and the MBA prepares you for that. Every month and a half, you get a new module, you have to learn new things quickly, and you have to present on what you’ve learned. The MBA gives you that adaptability, and the ability to distance yourself from problems, analyze them, and see them from different angles.
Plus, the fact that you’re willing to invest financially, make a sacrifice, go back to business school for two more years, and learn things again—that says a lot about your personality.
frantz at hku
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
I found myself in need of a new challenge. I wanted to be an equity portfolio manager, meet and analyse companies, leverage my technology skills and run my portfolio.
So, I needed an understanding, not just of the financial side, but about entrepreneurship, risk management, social and cultural aspects, networking as well—and you can only find all of these together on an MBA.
Why HKU?
I’m based in Hong Kong, I’ve always covered Asian markets, and all my contacts are here—so it made sense to be here. I went online, did my research, and I saw that all the big successful corporations in Hong Kong are filled with HKU grads.
The part-time format was also a perfect fit from a financial standpoint, and attending classes alongside work gives you a new perspective on your daily tasks. After joining the program, unlike the stock stories you read on the Internet, I quickly realized that every single candidate had his, or her, unique story. In my first accounting module, I was in the same group as people from the technology industry, law, architecture, professional sports, and the automotive sector, just to name a few.
Why is Hong Kong a good career destination for MBAs?


People are more accessible here than anywhere else in the world. You could easily at a social event in Hong Kong and be sitting next to a CEO or VP of a major multinational company. You can engage in a discussion, and he or she will respond to you.
That sort of thing would seldom happen in other countries. Here, it happens every day. A lot of people come over here with just a suitcase, and a few weeks later they find a job.
All you need to do is demonstrate energy, commitment, and discipline. And don’t just throw your resume at people. Be very clear on what you want to do with your career, and have a proper execution plan. As long as you tick the right boxes, people are very willing to give you a chance.


Team Farmacy HK (Hong Kong)
  • Name Team Farmacy HK (Hong Kong)
  • Class Year Class of 2017
  • Location Hong Kong
  • Farmacy HK Woody Chen, Sanford Liu, Raymond Mak, Nicholas Cheng, Lucia Shohn
Congrats to our MBA graduates Woody Chen, Sanford Liu, Raymond Mak, Nicholas Cheng, and Lucia Sohn who just launched a game-changing urban farming startup in the heart of the city,  at Farmacy HK. Check out their latest interview about their startup project, the idea for which grew  into action in HKU MBA’s flagship elective Business Lab, led by course facilitator Pedro Eloy. Business Lab is  an elective course which takes our MBAs through every step of the startup process, from idea conception to launch! Learn more about Farmacy HK’s team visions, their business models and plans for the future!
Interviewed and Written by Marco De Novellis, BusinessBecause. View the original article featured in BusinessBecause, click here


"AgriTech: These MBAs Just Launched A Game-Changing Urban Farming Startup In Hong Kong"

                      Team Farmacy HK (HKU MBA graduates): Raymond Mak, Woody Chen, Nicholas Cheng, Lucia Sohn, Sanford Liu (from left to right).

A team of five recent MBA graduates from the University of Hong Kong (HKU MBA) have just launched Farmacy HK, a smart city, urban farming concept based on cutting-edge hydroponic technology.
The first concept city farm opened in Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay in February this year. Over 100 species of organic food products—rare herbs and edible flowers—are grown in a controlled environment without soil, using mineral nutrient solutions dissolved in water instead.


Farmacy HK at Causeway Bay, Hong Kong


Farmacy HK—fully operational since early April—is already selling its produce to two restaurants in Hong Kong and is exploring B2C opportunities with retailers online. The team expect to sell out the entire farm’s produce in just six months’ time.

                       Over 100 species of organic food products, rare herbs and edible flowers @Farmacy HK

Woody Chen, an HKU MBA alumnus, worked for his family’s construction business in his native Taiwan prior to his MBA. His interest in urban agriculture piqued after reading an article about a former Sony Corporation semiconductor factory in Japan that had been transformed into the world’s largest hydroponic farm.

Living in Hong Kong during his MBA, Woody found that he couldn’t buy the high quality, fresh vegetables he was used to in the local supermarkets. Taiwan is well-known for its agriculture but in Hong Kong there’s no land for farming; most food is imported.
Woody decided to put his nascent startup idea into action. He enrolled in the HKU MBA’s famed Business Lab, an elective course which takes students through every step of the startup process, from idea conception to launch.
“I wanted to put what I’d learned during the MBA into practice,” Woody explains, “to use the Business Lab to come up with an idea that fits Hong Kong, is good for society, and harnesses technology as well.”
At the start of the Business Lab, Woody got up on stage and pitched his idea to his MBA classmates. So, the Farmacy HK team was born.
Woody was joined by Sanford Liu, the engineer; Nicholas Cheng, the finance guy; Raymond Mak, who’s background in consulting and public policy help the team deal with local government; and Lucia Sohn, the marketing and design expert. “Lucia makes the whole idea look sexy!” Woody smiles.

                  (From left to right): Woody Chen, Raymond Mak, HKU MBA Business Lab Facilitator Pedro Eloy, Sanford Liu

Led by Business Lab coordinator and facilitator Pedro Eloy, the Farmacy HK team learned how to create a business plan, marketing plan, finance plan, map out product development, work with ongoing iteration models, and transform an idea into a viable business.
Throughout the Business Lab, successful entrepreneurs, investors, and business people with sector-specific experience offered feedback—an acid test—on the students’ startup projects.
“The Business Lab ran to a very tight schedule,” Woody continues. “Every week, you had a deliverable to submit. But there’s no formula of how to design your business. You get guidance and there’s a blank canvas—at the end of the day it’s up to you.
“Pedro brought in a lot of professionals from different backgrounds like finance and marketing, so you learn a lot from that cross-industry knowledge.”
Sanford, an alumnus from HKU’s engineering school, agrees: “We’re still leveraging a lot of the network from the Business Lab now,” he says. “The whole Business Lab experience is a preparation for real-life. You talk a lot about practical things—recruiting, managing stakeholders, managing peoples’ expectations—things that aren’t taught in a normal business school.”
The team are doing a lot of work around public perception and education, selling hydroponic farm experiences and culinary workshops. Sanford says they’ve had plenty of interest, not just from consumers, but government entities, schools, hotels, and local industry in Hong Kong.
Next, the team want to transform their first farm into a fully-automated Internet of Things (IoT) system and gather data on plant growing techniques, stored on a blockchain. They want to expand into Macau, Shanghai, and Shenzhen too.
“We’ve been evolving ever since we completed the Business Lab and turned into a startup,” says Raymond, who worked in consulting for PwC for six years prior to his MBA.
“Farmacy HK can do a lot of things. The first stage is growing rare edible flowers to really justify our qualities. But the two major problems we want to address long-term are carbon footprint and food safety, using our high quality growing techniques.
“We’re going to develop the IoT and agricultural technology—agtech—to penetrate communities and homes, and make farming accessible in the heart of the city.”
Would the team be where they are today without the University of Hong Kong? Raymond doesn’t think so. “I didn’t even think about starting my own business when I applied for the MBA,” he says.
“For a startup, more than ideas, you need people who have the skills you don’t have and the strengths that can supplement your weaknesses—that’s what an MBA gives you.”
Woody agrees: “The HKU MBA program put together a lot of smart and talented people that speak a common language,” he says. “Not everybody is Mark Zuckerberg—you can’t just design something from your garage and be successful. You have to rely on and work with others.”

Narumi Hashimoto (Japan)
  • Name Narumi Hashimoto (Japan)
  • Class Year Class of 2017
  • Location Shanghai
With  the goal of learning more about Asian business outside Japan, our alumnus Narumi Hashimoto pursued his MBA at HKU and eventually landed a consulting position in Shanghai, China. For Narumi to grasp the opportunity provided by Japanese companies expanding their business in Asia, studying an Asian MBA was important for him.  Learn more from his interview with Business Because about his HKU MBA  in which he enjoyed the tremendous cultural mix within the class, and about the network he developed during that period...
Interviewed and Written by Marco De Novellis, BusinessBecause. View the original article featured in BusinessBecause, click here


"How The HKU MBA Can Open The Doors To A Consulting Career In China"

Narumi Hashimoto (left) at HKU Main Campus
“If I hadn’t studied an MBA at the University of Hong Kong (HKU MBA), I wouldn’t have been able to land a consulting position in China,” says Narumi Hashimoto, a Japanese MBA grad now working for IT consulting firm iVision in Shanghai.
iVision is an affiliate of Mitsubishi Corporation—Japan's largest general trading company (Sogo Shosha)—and Nomura Research Institute—Japan’s leading consulting firm—and helps design IT strategy for Chinese and Japanese companies operating in China.
Narumi, a Japanese MBA graduate working in China, is still a rare breed. He was one of four Japanese students in his MBA class of 55-to-60 students. With business between China and Japan booming, more and more Japanese companies are acquiring companies in China, but cultural divides remain.
Narumi, a former associate at PwC in Tokyo, chose the HKU MBA to gain the knowledge to fill that divide. HKU’s unique 14-month MBA program included a month in Beijing, nine months in Hong Kong, and a four-month exchange to Columbia Business School in the US.
For Narumi, the HKU MBA was the gateway to a career in China.
How did your consulting job in China come about?
Originally, I wanted to go back into a consulting company in Tokyo post-MBA. But during my MBA, I got more and more in contact with the overseas desks of Japanese companies in China, including my current company.
The HKU MBA helped me understand what and how Chinese people think. It improved my communication skills and allowed me to pass my interviews. In Tokyo, my clients and senior bosses were typical Japanese; their way of thinking was the same.  But when I started working in Shanghai, I was dealing with Japanese clients with Chinese employees—their working styles are very different.
At HKU MBA, my classmates all handled projects differently. I experienced a lot of different cultures and I learned to adapt and adjust.
What advice do you have for Japanese MBA students looking to do the same?
With an MBA, you can expand your knowledge and get the opportunity to work in another country. The network I developed during my MBA helps my business in China now—one of my former classmates is now my client’s business partner in China!


                                Narumi at Hong Kong Marathon 2017

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at HKU?
I wanted to learn more about Asian business outside Japan. Before the MBA, I was working in Tokyo and many of my colleagues were expanding businesses into China and Singapore.
The HKU MBA was perfect for me. The class size was relatively small, with students coming from all around the world, including Asia, so I could get Asian business experiences every day. It’s an intense 14-month program and I got to study in Beijing, Hong Kong, and New York. Even in a short program, I could experience a lot of different cultures.
If I graduated from Harvard or MIT, I might have got a job at McKinsey. But to get a job at a Japanese company expanding in Asia, studying an Asian MBA was important.
What were the highlights?
My favorite professor at the University of Hong Kong was Bennett Yim and his Strategic Marketing Management course is one of the best courses at the school. On the course, we worked on a project to improve the current marketing strategies of existing companies. We were able to apply our knowledge in a practical way.
HKU MBA program also offers either the London or New York track. For me, the New York track at Columbia Business School was very exciting! The professors came from a lot of different industries and gave me a lot of practical knowledge to enhance what I’d learned academically at HKU.


Alex Staniloff (Canada)
  • Name Alex Staniloff (Canada)
  • Class Year Class of 2017
  • Location Hong Kong

Our alumnus Alex Staniloff left Canada for Hong Kong, opened a restaurant and set up an import-export company before fulfilling a long time aim of doing an MBA at HKU MBA. Check out Alex’s latest interview about his HKU MBA journey, his successes in the Business Lab elective, the inspiring Business Lab entrepreneurship classes and how he went on to join groundbreaking mobile payments startup QFPay as an equity investor, driving the fintech firm’s global expansion.

Interviewed and Written by Marco De Novellis, BusinessBecause. View the original article featured in BusinessBecause, click here


"FinTech: This HKU MBA Is Leading Chinese Mobile Payments Startup QFPay’s Global Expansion"

Alex Staniloff joined QFPay as an equity investor after an MBA at the University of Hong Kong. The Chinese fintech firm has processed almost $100 billion in transactions to date

“I didn’t know what I was going to do in Canada. I started reaching out to a few investment banks; I would have just done the same cookie-cutter thing. Around that time, I wanted to try something new.”

Alex Staniloff, born in Calgary, Western Canada, decided to get out of his hometown after studying business and finance at university. He moved to Asia, taking up an internship at a real estate company in Hong Kong. He soon fell in love with life in the East.

Settling into life in Hong Kong, he set up CHINO—a modern Asian-Mexican fusion restaurant—with an ex-executive chef from Nobu. Alex helped him on the business side.

Alex also started his own import-export company, supplying the Canadian hotel and home industry with furniture from southern China.

Now, after completing a full-time MBA at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), he’s joined groundbreaking mobile payments startup QFPay as an equity investor, driving the fintech firm’s global expansion.

QFPay serves over one million merchants in China, providing point-of-sale terminals that allow e-payments to be taken from smart devices; mobile payment services like Apple Pay and WeChat Pay in China. It’s processed over 60 billion RMB ($95 billion) in transactions to date.

Throughout his career, Alex has always had an MBA on his mind. Based in Hong Kong, he saw HKU’s 14-month, full-time MBA—ranked first in Asia for eight consecutive years by the Economist—as the perfect MBA destination; somewhere he could build his network and bolster his management skillset.

“I felt the brand name of HKU was strong internationally,” Alex explains. “I went to an MBA fair and the first time I met Sachin Tipnis—executive director of MBA programs at HKU and his team—they were incredibly warm and receptive.

“Just the way the HKU MBA team showed they cared about their students made choosing the University of Hong Kong a no-brainer for me.”

                       Alex Staniloff at project presentation, HKU MBA' Creativity and Business Innovation Class

What stood out most for Alex was the HKU MBA’s Business Lab elective, which takes students through every stage of the startup process. Recent events have seen HKU Business Lab students collaborate with students from other top-ranked business schools in Hong Kong and the UK, exploring user experience (UX) design and integrating sustainability into early-stage startup projects.

During his MBA, Alex was part of the Business Lab’s winning team, working with a multinational group—from the UK, US, and India—to develop an innovative, Origami-inspired food packaging startup, designed to reduce food packaging waste Hong Kong. 

“That was the best learning experience we had during the MBA,” he says. “Collaborating with a bunch of people from different backgrounds; constantly iterating and changing our idea; it really felt like a true startup scenario.”

Business Lab aside, Alex’s entrepreneurship classes with Dr. Yanfeng Zheng stood out. “He basically sat on a desk in front of us and we had amazing, open discussions for six hours straight,” he beams.

Through the MBA’s 14-month format—including a month in Beijing and Alex’s exchange semester at Fudan University in Shanghai—Alex was able to meet students from all over the world. “The real benefit came from the relationships I built and the confidence I gained to work through different business problems with different people,” he explains.

During the MBA, Alex’s goals changed. His two businesses pretty much ran themselves. At the University of Hong Kong, he started reaching out to contacts in the venture capital (VC) space in Hong Kong—that’s how he came to join QFPay

Now, based out of Hong Kong, he’s working to develop the business across Southeast Asia. “It’s an exciting space,” he says, “and I’m going to be expanding this business, for sure.”

Shelley Xie
  • Name Shelley Xie
  • Class Year Class of 2014

With a wealth of experience from the finance sector, our alumnus Shelley Xie made the switch from finance into the technology sector and now works at the tech giant Tencent, with responsibility for projects which set up a new business in digital insurance.  Shelley says that HKU MBA helped her transition from banking to the technology sector by exposing her to different aspects of a business and providing her with an understanding of how business takes place around the globe. Check out more on Shelley’s success story!

Interviewed and Written by Brekhna Aftab, BusinessBecause. View the original article featured in BusinessBecause, click here


"Here’s How The HKU MBA Got Me A Top Job At Tencent—The China Tech Giant"

Ying Xie made the switch from finance into one of the world’s biggest technology firms straight after an MBA at the University of Hong Kong

Until five years ago, Ying Xie worked as assistant director at the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC)—the largest bank in the country.

As part of her sought-after role, Ying was required to interact with a multitude of companies operating in diverse industries. During this time, her interest in the technology sector was piqued.

Ying quickly realized that she wanted to make a career switch. "The technology sector has a very bright future," she notes. Ying now works at Facebook-equivalent Tencent—which owns messaging app WeChat—a leading provider of internet services in China and the world's fifth largest internet company by revenue.

In the time between working at ICBC and taking on the position at Tencent, Ying pursued an MBA at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). "Before my MBA, all of my professional experience was in finance," Ying explains, "that's not really a huge advantage when I wanted to work for an internet company."

Ying believed that an MBA would facilitate her transition from finance into the brave new world of technology, and doesn't underestimate the importance of selecting HKU to help in shaping her career.

Ranking consistently as the top school for an MBA in Asia, according to The Economist, the school's motto—global business, regional perspectives—is at the core of its approach.

International students comprise 98% of the MBA cohort, evidencing how important the first half of its motto—global business—is to HKU. It was primarily this factor that drew Ying to the school:

"Working at an international company now, where I'm expected to communicate with executives around the world, really highlights the significance of international exposure," she says.

As part of HKU's unique London track, Ying had the opportunity to spend four months at London Business School. Other candidates could opt for a New York track offering a residency at Columbia.

HKU's location in the heart of Asia's miracle economies provides its students with an increasingly influential regional perspective, combined with Hong Kong's cosmopolitan essence.

China has been 'the largest contributor to world growth since the global financial crisis of 2008', according to The World Bank. The role that the country and its neighbours play in the global economy is undeniable today.

Aside from in-depth knowledge of the region and an emphasis on global perspectives, Ying says that small class sizes at HKU allowed her to meaningfully participate in discussions with around sixty peers, and communicate effectively with her professors.

Students are also assigned a mentor as part of the program. Ying's mentor had extensive experience in consulting which, she explains, helped her greatly in her current role devising strategy at Tencent.

One of the most valuable skills that one can learn in an MBA, according to Ying, is how to be an entrepreneur. "The way of thinking of the entrepreneur and the banker are totally different," Ying explains.

"To be a banker, you care about balance sheets, accounts. Entrepreneurs think about the originality of ideas, and how to be efficient. The MBA completely changed my way of thinking."

Such differing mindsets had implications for organizational culture too. Ying says that when working at the bank, she was instructed to do specified tasks by her bosses. In comparison, at Tencent, she has far more autonomy in her work.

"I'm kind of starting a new business inside the company to do with digital insurance, which is growing bigger and bigger. It's very exciting, and a really interesting work culture."

More autonomy, however, requires a more holistic understanding of the different elements of a business and how these different parts work in harmony.

"At the bank, I needed to be capable in accounting and industry analysis. The job at Tencent is more complicated, I need to know many other areas of knowledge like marketing and sales."

Ying says that the HKU MBA helped her transition from banking to the technology sector by exposing her to these different aspects of business, and providing her with an understanding of how business takes place around the globe.

When asked what advice she would give to those considering an MBA, Ying offered some wise words.

"From my point of view, the biggest problem is that sometimes candidates don't know what they want from the program.

“Some do an MBA to learn and have an interesting experience, or change career direction, or get a higher job position and better pay. Those are all good reasons for doing an MBA. Candidates should always be clear about their aims, and know what they want to achieve from the program."


Varun R Thakur
  • Name Varun R Thakur
  • Class Year Class of 2014
  • Company Amazon
  • Role Senior Worldwide Marketing Manager
  • Industry Technology
  • Location Luxembourg

Varun Thakur, HKU MBA alumnus from the Class of 2014, has been recently featured by BusinessBecause, a renowned business school network that connects MBA aspirants before, during and after their MBA. Varun, originally from India, and now based in Luxembourg, took the triple jump – changing role, industry and location – after completing his HKU MBA. What has his journey been like? Whether you’re an alumnus trying to recall your past, or a prospective candidate – this is a must read.

Interviewed and Written by Marco De Novellis, BusinessBecause 

View the original article featured in BusinessBecause, click here

“Here's How My HKU MBA Got Me A Top Marketing Job At Amazon”

Varun Thakur started a full-time MBA at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) as a man on a mission. His aim: to change role, industry, and location, and triple jump into the marketing department of one of the world’s top tech firms.

He completed his MBA in August 2014. On his very last day, he got a job offer from Amazon. Now, he’s global marketing manager for Amazon, based in Luxembourg.

He owes it all to the HKU MBA. As an only child in India, Varun initially followed the traditional route into his family business – a manufacturer and exporter electronic parts, toys and games - before relocating to Hong Kong.

On the London track of HKU’s 14-month program, he gained global exposure, experiencing business in Beijing, the core MBA curriculum in Hong Kong, and several months at London Business School in the UK.

He interned with Rocket Internet startup Easy Taxi in Hong Kong. And he hosted a major technology event at HKU, bringing global tech companies - like Evernote and Easy Taxi – and local high-tech startups together. After the event, Evernote offered him a job in Singapore. But Varun had already turned his attention to a career in Europe.

He was keen to take the career leap, and he was well-placed to do so. The HKU MBA has been ranked number one in Asia for seven consecutive years by the Economist. In the last three years, it’s placed 34th on average in the Financial Times’ global MBA rankings.

85% of Varun’s MBA class landed jobs within three months of graduation. 68% changed location.

Today, Varun handles Amazon’s Certified Refurbished line, managing the entire B2B and B2C marketing operation globally. He’s also a part-time career and life coach. The majority of his clients are MBAs.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at HKU?

I’d always wanted to live abroad and do an MBA.  I didn’t want a two-year MBA in the US. Culturally, I’m more attuned to Europe and Asia. And the two-year MBA is very expensive. The opportunity cost is way higher.

I liked the format of the HKU MBA. The balance between the east and the west, and the constant change – between China, Hong Kong, and London - was what excited me.

What should applicants think about when deciding to do an MBA?

Think about location, brand, cost, and the core value of the MBA. Is it a generalist program? Is it finance-heavy? Is it more marketing or consulting-focused?

Focusing on the Economist and Financial Times top 100 MBA programs is a good place to start. If you’re looking at a change in your location and career trajectory, then doing an MBA from a top-100 ranked school makes a big difference. I’m an example of that.

How did you use the HKU MBA experience to your advantage?

When you start an MBA program, a lot of your classmates have strong brand names attached to their resume. They’ve already worked for Goldman Sachs, Google, or Amazon. For me, it was different. I just had my family business in Mumbai.

I was clear that I wanted to get into a tech company and focus on marketing. So right from the start of my MBA, the challenge was to build my profile and sell myself.

HKU were extremely supportive. They helped me get my internship in Hong Kong. They gave me access to all the possible resources of the university, and they helped me organize one of Hong Kong’s largest technology events.

I highlighted these experiences on my resume. And the technology event was one of the biggest talking points during my interviews.

What does Amazon look for in its MBA job applicants?

The key thing with Amazon is it’s very strong on its culture. Amazon hires people to do multiple things; not just for the job, but for the way they work. In the interview, you are heavily assessed on Amazon’s 14 leadership principles, and how you have performed in your previous career based on those principles.

Can you tell me something about working at Amazon that most people wouldn’t know?

At Amazon, when they say one of its core leadership principles is ownership, they really mean it. You’re completely responsible for the top-line, the bottom-line, how the business performs and how it scales up. It’s a very challenging environment, but the experience you get here is incomparable to anywhere else.

Would you be where you are now without the HKU MBA?

Definitely not! It would be impossible. The HKU MBA made the difference because it really made me stand out. It’s a globally-renowned program. It gave me the opportunities to really build my professional profile.

There’s not just an entire focus on academics. It’s about focusing on what you really want to do, and building towards that during your MBA. I think that worked for me.

Brian Tjokroadiguno (Indonesia)
  • Name Brian Tjokroadiguno (Indonesia)
  • Class Year Class of 2017
  • Location Indonesia
‘If you’re taking a leap of faith -then an MBA is very good for you’ Our alumnus Brian Tjokroadiguno explains to BusinessBecause how the HKU MBA’s entrepreneurship focus and the Business Lab elective changed him into a better rounded entrepreneur and how he now runs his own catering business in Indonesia! During an MBA, you’ll get all the knowledge you might need as well as advice from people who’ve actually done what you want to do—they could be classmates, mentors, or professors. You might even find your business partner during an MBA program—it happens a lot.” 
Interviewed and Written by Marco De Novellis, BusinessBecause. View the original article featured in BusinessBecause, click here


"Why You Should Choose This MBA Program In Hong Kong For Entrepreneurship"

You don’t need an MBA to become a successful entrepreneur, but it doesn’t hurt.
Brian Tjokroadiguno ran a number of businesses before deciding to pursue a full-time MBA at the University of Hong Kong (HKU MBA). An avid fan of celebrity businessman Robert Kiyosaki, his goal has always been financial freedom.
Since completing the 14-month MBA program—ranked first in Asia for eight consecutive years by the Economist—he’s set up his own catering business in his native Indonesia.
What’s changed? Through the HKU MBA’s entrepreneurship focus, Brian says, he became a better-rounded entrepreneur, able to respond to feedback and develop his business directly in response to what the market needs.
Much of this comes down to the HKU MBA’s five-month Business Lab elective, which takes students through every stage of the startup process, from idea conception to launch. During the Business Lab, MBA students are taken through a series of case studies and apply their learnings to develop real business ideas in a risk-free environment.
At the Business Lab’s conclusion, students present their business plans to a panel of industry experts and venture capitalists, who can help take their startup ideas to the next level.
How has the HKU MBA helped you develop as an entrepreneur?
The Business Lab was really fun from beginning to end. The whole course is like a template on starting your business from scratch.
A common problem for an entrepreneur is not sharing an idea, and keeping it to themselves, for fear it might get stolen. But, as entrepreneurs, we’re not always right. What we think customers want, might not always be the case.
During the HKU MBA, I learned not to work alone. I learned that implementing feedback from colleagues, as well as potential customers, is the most important thing.
No one knows whether a business will become successful or not. But, with more knowledge of the field, the better we are at capitalizing on the market and knowing what our market needs.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at HKU? 
It was the ranking from The Economist that first caught my interest. After that, I did some research and found that I could learn and have fun while broadening my understanding of the business world.
What was your favorite class on the HKU MBA?
Opportunity Discovery and Entrepreneurial Development by Dr. Yanfeng Zheng—Dr. Z!
The course matched my areas of interest, but Dr. Z’s teaching style stood out the most. Every session was comprised of a full class discussion—a full knowledge-sharing session based around a particular case or topic. For me, that’s how an MBA class should be.
What advice do you have for anyone considering an MBA?
If you’re taking a leap of faith and looking to do something you’ve never done before—like starting your own business or entering a new industry—then an MBA is very good for you.
During an MBA, you’ll get all the knowledge you might need as well as advice from people who’ve actually done what you want to do—they could be classmates, mentors, or professors. You might even find your business partner during an MBA program—it happens a lot.
Ultimately, an MBA is ideal if you’re planning to take the next step in your career, since every program is backed up with a potent career service that will help you with that.
Roy Lo
  • Name Roy Lo
  • Class Year Class of 2013
  • Company Creote Studio Limited
  • Role Co-founder
  • Industry Professional Training & Coaching
  • Location Hong Kong
The Future of AR and VR


Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are two emerging technologies that have grown very rapidly in 2016. Goldman Sachs has estimated that the AR and VR industries could reach US$80bn in the base case, and up to US$182bn at accelerated uptake scenarios by 2025[1]. Comparing that with the current US$111bn notebook PC market, we can get some idea of the potential of AR and VR.

AR can effectively combine virtual elements into the physical world through the camera lens of a device.  This could create new immersive experiences where we could start interacting with everything around us. VR, on the other hand, places a user in a virtual world where they would be isolated from their existing physical world. This would be extremely useful in simulating scenarios that are costly to reproduce within a physical environment.

The Age of AR and VR                    

AR and VR are still relatively new to general consumers. With the recent hype of Pokémon Go, the world is starting to become aware of the existence of AR and it has driven the AR industry tremendously. The VR industry has also become very active with Oculus, HTC, Samsung and Sony, launching their Head Mounted Displays (HMD) for VR into the consumer market. But AR and VR are not new concepts. They have been around for over 20 years. The limiting factor for growth and development was a dependence on immature technologies such as network speed and processing powers. We are now living in an age with fast wireless technologies and advanced mobile processors. AR and VR have all it takes to become the next big thing.

Current Obstacles

Head Mounted Displays (HMD) will play a crucial part in the success of AR and VR, but there are still numerous hurdles to be got over before mass adoption can be applied. The hardware itself costs HK$7,000 on average, and requires a PC with a high end GPU that costs over HK$15,000. These are not in the affordable range for general consumers and it will take at least a few years for the prices to come down. Privacy issues are also bottlenecks for their adoption. With front facing cameras being an essential element of the AR HMD, legal regulation and enforcement need to catch up with the technology, so that we can all feel safe with people walking around us with a camera mounted on their heads, and not have to worry about intrusions into our privacy.

The Future

AR and VR will change our lives at the consumer level, but it won’t be happening for a few years. The prices are still very steep for general consumers, but they are well affordable for companies and corporations that could bring intuitive values to their businesses. We have seen demand for AR and VR in commercial applications skyrocket by over 400% in the last few months, and it is up to the design of the overall AR and VR experiences to help businesses to see the value in the technologies. Companies can utilise AR and VR to attract customers, streamline operations, provide more effective training; and the list goes on.

A lot of people still think of AR and VR as mere gimmicks that attract short term interest and engagement. We should really see pass the gimmick appeal and uncover the true values of what AR and VR can bring to us. The focus should not be on the technologies themselves, but how we could take advantage of the technologies as tools to create new experiences and applications. AR and VR will create new opportunities, and will also disrupt existing markets, just as computers and mobile devices did. It is anticipated that AR and VR will become the game changer in industries such as video games, live events, entertainment, retail, real estate, education, healthcare, military, and engineering. The possibilities are unlimited.

AR and VR have a bright future ahead, and we can see that from the large amount of investment made in the industry. Over US$3.5bn has been invested over the course of the last 2 years, and we anticipate that AR and VR will become the next mainstream media in our daily lives.


[1]Equity Research - Virtual and Augmented Reality, 13 Jan 2016, Goldman Sachs;

Syed Musheer Ahmed
  • Name Syed Musheer Ahmed
  • Class Year Class of 2015
  • Company GreySpark Partners
  • Role Senior Consultant
  • Industry Financial Services
  • Location Hong Kong
Fintech in Hong Kong: A Bridge under Construction

Despite being initially slow in adopting fintech innovations as a means of enhancing their businesses and financial markets trading models, banks and other types of financial institutions based in Asia-Pacific (APAC) have rapidly advanced their utilisation of the solutions in recent years in an effort to catch up with their competitors elsewhere in the world. In particular, the quasi-city state of Hong Kong, where the capital markets industry’s uptake of fintech solutions to improve an already  sophisticated baseline of electronified banking, lending and trading services, is being bolstered by government efforts to create new fintech ecosystems designed to stand out, not only in China but also across APAC and globally.

 In this op-ed article, we look at the progress achieved in Hong Kong by the city’s government and local investment banks to incentivise the development and adoption of home-grown fintech solutions, and we outline what the territory will need to achieve in the future in order to create a fintech ecosphere that could one-day rival London and New York in its size and scope. 

Hong Kong has long been touted as the capital of Asia and the gateway for foreign trade into mainland China. However, when it comes to the development of a fintech industry in Hong Kong, the city’s start-up scene has been gestating for a long time when compared to the rapid growth achieved in rival financial markets hubs.

Hong Kong’s progress in developing a fintech ecosphere for China that is designed to be competitive within APAC can be likened to the laborious process of designing, engineering and building a bridge. To complete the construction of Hong Kong’s fintech bridge linking its start-up community to the rest of China and APAC, six structural components are needed. Those six components are:

1.       Project finance – resources for the development of a fintech industry must be incentivised and directed into place by the Hong Kong government.

2.       Construction materials – fintech start-ups must form, begin developing their ideas and realise a level of early-stage success in achieving support and winning financing from private and public sources.

3.       Engineers and builders – a  talent pool consisting of individuals from the local and global community of technologists must bed down in Hong Kong and begin laying the foundations of industry links to business in mainland China and across APAC.

4.       Structure – regulations must be designed to enable and not hinder the growth of the city’s fintech industry as it begins to expand, by safeguarding intellectual property as well as the end-user businesses and retail-level consumers of the creations launched by the city’s fintech start-ups.

5.       Long-term toll payers – the end-users of the products created by the city’s fintech industry must be ‘sticky’ in their consumption. They must generate a sustainable level of revenue over a period of time that will allow the start-ups to transition away from government subsidies and toward independent financial growth.

6.       Hubs – the bridge must be anchored in a niche from which run channels that can provide a sustainable level of growth in the city’s start-up community as well as offer a degree of specialisation which allows for expansion of that niche’s  expertise across the rest of APAC.

In 2016, the pace of construction of Hong Kong’s fintech bridge project picked up considerably. The  development of the industry is being driven by three factors:

·         the government – in an effort to close the fintech industry development gap with Sinagpore, its closest economic rival, the Hong Kong government announced a number of schemes in its 2016 budget designed to support funding for the city’s community of start-ups;

·         a burgeoning fintech ecosystem – a variety of fintech start-up competitions and opportunities for the companies to participate in government-sponsored incubator projects are enabling entrepreneurship within Hong Kong’s community of ex-bankers. They are seeking to leverage their experience within the asset management, financial markets trading or lending industries to develop their ideas;

·         mainstream industry support – the innately disruptive nature of fintech innovations means that, as the presence of their development within the city’s borders grows, banks and other types of financial institutions have begun, inevitably, to take an active interest in the events unfolding around them. They are now more openly expressing their support for the companies, which represents a change of approach from the previous wait-and-see attitude toward homegrown, made-in-Hong Kong fintech solutions.

Crossing the Bridge: Planning for Future Fintech Growth in Hong Kong

In the long term, Hong Kong’s fintech industry must establish stronger collaborative ties with the other APAC fintech hubs, not least those that are slowly growing in stature within mainland China.  Hong Kong’s role as a global banking and financial markets trading hub means that it could easily become the locale from which consumer or retail banking-level fintech firms based in mainland China are able to shop their innovations to the rest of the world. This would secure the private financing needed for future growth while also showcasing China’s often unique take on fintech solution design.

However, in order for Hong Kong’s fintech sector to realise its potential, the city’s government and banking industry must continue to collaborate effectively to create a network of so-called launching pad platforms. From this network, China’s domestic fintech industry can gain access to the levels of both regional and global private and public funding it needs to mirror the successes that have already been realised. The purpose of the Hong Kong government and the city’s banking industry in collaborating to develop this sophisticated networking apparatus of highways to drive investment traffic onto Hong Kong’s fintech bridge should be simple – to turn Hong Kong into the fintech capital of Asia.

Stuart Mercier
  • Name Stuart Mercier
  • Class Year Class of 2011
  • Company Brookfield Asset Management
  • Role Senior Vice President
  • Location Shanghai

Interview with the eFinancialCareers

"How I used my MBA as a springboard into Asian financial services"

HKU MBA Alumnus
                                          Stuart Mercier, Senior Vice President of Brookfield Asset Management
Canadian finance professional Stuart Mercier got his first taste of Asia when he visited Hong Kong as a teenager.
More than 20 years later, Mercier is now fulfilling his ambition to live and work in the region. He’s already done a successful stint in Hong Kong with Brookfield Asset Management and is currently a senior vice president with the firm in Shanghai.
“When I came to Hong Kong in the 90s, even landing at the old Kai Tak Airport was exciting – it was so close to all the skyscrapers,” says Mercier. “There was a buzz about the city and I was hooked. Ever since then I’d always wanted to return.”
Mercier spent most of his early career in the Toronto headquarters of real estate investment giant Oxford Properties.
“Although I was working in the investment industry, my undergraduate degree was in political science. Because of that I’d always planned to further my business and finance education,” he says.
By 2010, when Mercier started looking at MBA programmes, one thing soon became clear: he wanted to study in Asia.

In addition to wanting to return to Asia personally, Asia had become the driver of global economic growth. It was natural for me to then look for an MBA that would help me further my career in the region.”
After much research, Mercier enrolled in Hong Kong University’s full-time MBA programme, which has now been ranked number one in Asia for the past seven consecutive years by The Economist. In the latest Financial Times ranking of ‘Top MBAs for Finance’, HKU MBA is also ranked top twelve in the world and is the number one Asian school.
Like all HKU MBA students, Mercier spent an introductory month at the China Immersion Programme in Beijing, which helps full-time MBA students to develop Chinese-language skills, better understand Mainland business systems, and expand their networks across Asia.
For someone looking to understand the region, and China in particular, getting this immediate exposure was amazing,” says Mercier. “We studied Mandarin and had open discussions with senior executives at domestic and multi-national companies about their strategies in China.”
After Beijing, Mercier did a nine-month stint at HKU’s Hong Kong campus. “The best thing about my time there was my classmates – they were from many different backgrounds but had a shared interest in Asia. This diversity replicated what it’s like to work in Hong Kong,” he says.
Mercier particularly enjoyed learning from other students in small case-study groups. HKU is pioneering the use of Asian case studies, focused on major companies in the region such as Alibaba and Air Asia.
In these teams you get a great blend of nationalities and personalities. You build an appreciation for non-verbal cues and the need to be culturally aware in a global business environment,” says Mercier. “We had the same materials, but the takeaways were very different. So you start to expand your own mindset and understanding of those around you,”he adds.
Full-time MBA students at HKU take 11 core courses (including corporate finance, managerial economics, and business data analysis) while on campus in Hong Kong. They can then choose from several elective modules, such as the emergence of fintech and its impact on global finance and banking.
Mercier says as a student wanting to work in Asia after graduation, the course on Asian business and economies was among his favourites. It hones in on topics like cross-cultural negotiation, Asian culture and branding, and high-technology industries.
There’s a strong Asia focus to the teaching at HKU, which is hard to find elsewhere and which suited my career objectives,” says Mercier.
For the final four months of the 14-month full-time MBA, students can opt to study at London Business School, Columbia Business School in New York, or Fudan University in Shanghai. 
Mercier chose the ‘London track’ and studied at LBS. “Spending time at two of the world’s top business schools was an incredible experience. I enjoyed the best of both worlds – Asia and global-focused teaching.” 
During the MBA, Mercier also did a part-time internship at a real estate advisory boutique in Hong Kong. The firm then gave him a permanent position when he graduated. 
“I was experienced in real estate, I was a known quantity to them thanks to the internship, and I had Asian market knowledge from the programme. The HKU MBA was a huge leg-up helping to pivot my career to Asia,” says Mercier.
Overseas students from Hong Kong universities are also entitled to one-year work visas, which means companies don’t need to sponsor their employment initially. “If I’d done an MBA in North America, finding a job in Hong Kong afterwards would have been more difficult given the immigration considerations.”
Mercier joined Brookfield Asset Management, an alternative asset management firm, in 2012 in Hong Kong. Three years later he helped to set up the company’s Shanghai office, now its regional head office.
The management skills I learned from the HKU MBA – leadership, mentorship – are now helping me tremendously here in China,” says Mercier. “I’m particularly sensitive to managing across cultures thanks to the diversity of perspectives I was exposed to.”
If you want to use an HKU MBA as a springboard into an Asian finance job, Mercier has this advice: “Network with HKU alumni and with the Hong Kong business community during the course. The degree gives you a great opportunity to plug into this broad and successful community.”
View the original article featured in eFinancialCareers, click here.
Interviewed and Written by Simon Mortlock, eFinancialCareer.
Russell Zhou
  • Name Russell Zhou
  • Class Year Class of 2012
  • Company UBS AG
  • Role Associate Director
  • Industry Wealth Management
  • Location Hong Kong
Art of asset allocation


It is not easy to stay wealthy in the current volatile market. As a banker, you meet different HNWIs (High Net Wealth Individuals) with different wealth sources, risk profiles, return expectations, and personalities. You can always be asked the question: How can I improve my wealth?

It’s not a simple question to answer but, overall, we can provide a strategic solution to put them on track over the long-term. The solution includes two parts: SAA and TAA.

SAA, Strategic Asset Allocation, is very important in making clients’ portfolios increase steadily. One of the most successful players is Yale University endowment fund. The fund has achieved around 13% compounded return annually in the last 30 years. The asset classes they hold include domestic equity, domestic bond, foreign equities and foreign bonds, alternative investments involving real estate, private equity and hedge funds, and commodities, as well as cash. And they adjust the asset class percentage in terms of market. With this, you can feel the power of asset allocation.

TAA, Tactical Asset Allocation, can enhance the investment performance by capturing  opportunities arising over a short-term period. As banker, I always suggest that clients consider the Core-Satellite Approach to capture trend opportunity, whilst not at the same time twisting the original direction. A good example is using structure products as Satellite products over a short-term period. ELN could be used as fixed income product with some barrier protection; FX derivatives could provide clients with intervals as short as one week to hedge the counterpart currency risk with different option strategies. All these methods are what we need in asset allocation application.

Last but not least, you should consider timing. Timing does not necessarily mean buying in the trough, and selling at the peak. However, you need to be in the trend. To be honest, to analyze timing is not easy. You should consider the political side and the market side. As many people know, the market is very sensitive to the Fed’s choice of a hawkish or dovish strategy for U.S. interest rates and there is the old saying in Wall St., “Don’t fight the Fed.”  Nowadays, as a market player, you not only don’t fight the Fed, you don’t fight other big economies’ central banks either. The policies from central banks can influence world economics, given global economic convergence. The market is composed of players; you cannot have good timing if you don’t think about others’ behavior. The emotions of the players can make nonsense of good valuation in the short-term.

All in all, you need to consider lots of complex factors to stay rich with your existing wealth. However, it’s worth it.

Ron Kwok (Canada)
  • Name Ron Kwok (Canada)
  • Class Year Class of 2016
  • Location Hong Kong
Ron Kwok, HKU MBA alumnus from the Class of 2016, has recently been interviewed by Business Because. Ron, who came from Toronto, worked as engineering sales in Canada and trailed a tech startup developing mobile apps for the retail industry alongside his full-time career. Like many others, Ron was determined to pursue a career in technology in Asia and  HKU MBA has helped Ron to open the door to one. In only four months after he joined the HKU MBA in July 2015, Ron got an offer from Microsoft in Hong Kong. He was recruited on campus at HKU to the Microsoft Academy of College Hires (MACH) programme. Now, Ron works for Microsoft Azure, helping Microsoft’s partners develop scalable services and solutions on its cutting-edge cloud computing platform. Learn more about Ron’s success story.
Interviewed and Written by Marco De Novellis, BusinessBecause. View the original article featured in BusinessBecause, click here


"HKU MBA opened the door to a career in Asia - Ron Kwok, Microsoft Hong Kong"

Ron Kwok
Ron Kwok (left) at the HKU MBA campus talk on the
Microsoft Academy of College Hires (MACH) programme.
Ron Kwok started the 14-month full-time MBA at the HKU MBA in July 2015. Only four months in, he landed a job at Microsoft in Hong Kong.
On the HKU MBA’s London track, Ron spent a month in Beijing, nine months in Hong Kong, and four months in London, before taking the MBA triple jump – changing role, industry and location – and kick-starting a new career in Asia.
Prior to his MBA, Ron worked as engineering sales in Canada. He trialled a tech startup developing mobile apps for the retail industry alongside his full-time job. Determined to pursue a career in technology in Asia, he joined the HKU MBA, ranked number one in Asia by the Economist for seven consecutive years.
From the 2014 and 2015 HKU MBA class combined, 85% of students were hired within three months of graduation. 84% secured jobs in Asia.
Now, Ron works for Microsoft Azure, helping Microsoft’s partners develop scalable services and solutions on its cutting-edge cloud computing platform. He was recruited on campus at HKU to the Microsoft Academy of College Hires (MACH) programme.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at HKU?
I wanted to move out of North America and explore a career in Asia. Hong Kong is a very fast-moving environment. The people here are very accepting towards new concepts and quick to develop new solutions to suit local needs. So Hong Kong always attracts new technologies, services and solutions. That’s a big advantage over other locations.
An MBA made sense to build my network in the region and learn more about a different way of doing business. And with the HKU MBA, I wasn’t going to be based only in Hong Kong, but also in Beijing and New York, London, or Shanghai. Being able to explore Asia and Europe in an accelerated programme made HKU stand out. Plus, the class size is relatively small which makes for a very tight-knit group.
How did the job at Microsoft come about?
The HKU Career Development Office organised an event where a Microsoft representative came in to speak about the MACH programme. I wanted a career change and I decided to apply. I started the MBA in July 2015, and I was confirmed for the job in November.
What does Microsoft look for in its MBA job applicants?
Microsoft looks for innovative individuals that are aware of what’s going on in the world and in the marketplace. They didn’t ask a lot of technical questions in the interview. It was more about my views on cloud technology and how it can improve business cycles. You have to be open-minded about how businesses are changing with globalisation.
Can you tell me something about working at Microsoft that most people wouldn’t know?
Microsoft opens up a lot of doors for its partners. There are a lot of success cases backed by Microsoft - from consumer apps to TV channels - that people aren’t even aware of.
What I’ve learnt since joining is that the organisation is much more flexible and accommodating than I expected. You can pitch a project and, if you prove it can be valuable, it can be launched very quickly. For a company this size to be so fast-moving and flexible is pretty impressive.
What should applicants think about when looking to do an MBA?
Think about what you want to achieve at the end of the MBA. Have a general idea of where you want to go in your career and personal life. The rankings are definitely important but for me it was more about the school’s strengths. I was shooting for a career in technology and I picked my school accordingly.
Would you be where you are now without the HKU MBA?
Definitely not! Microsoft’s MACH programme is catered towards MBA graduates. And HKU’s Career Services supported me from writing my resume all the way to the interview.
They held a series of workshops on resumes and cover letters, and they organised mock interviews with real HR professionals. They told us what to say, what to ask, and gave us industry insight on how to succeed. I wanted to relocate to Asia and explore a different career path. HKU helped me achieve those goals.
Check out more information on HKU MBA Career Servies
Lawrence Chee
  • Name Lawrence Chee
  • Class Year Class of 2014
  • Company United Airlines
  • Role Manager Cargo Operations Performance Asia Pacific
  • Industry Aviation / Transportation
  • Location Hong Kong
Airfreight in Asia – A Changing Landscape

Looking at the evolution of the industry over  the last 15 years, the airfreight market in Asia Pacific has withstood very many changes and bumps along the way.  One is reminded that in 2003, at the height of SARS, it was one of the few industries that maintained a very good yield when passenger airlines were  hard hit by the drop in patronage. Currently, there is still a variety of products originating in Asia Pacific, with a great deal of electronic goods coming out of China, Korea, and Japan, and still a lot of clothing with south east Asian origins such as Vietnam.

From  2000 on, mega-structured cargo terminals were being built in Asia, with Hong Kong, Korea, Shanghai all sharing accolades and boasting storage inventory, advanced handling systems, and cargo processing space. At that time, there simply was not enough space to house all of the freight that was being moved the aircraft capacity that was available in Asia.

Up till then and  the coming of  one of the newer cargo handing terminals, Hong Kong  could not boast of having the largest and biggest terminal, nor the most storage handling capacity in the world. The new concepts were just-in-time (JIT), efficient land-use, and maximizing space utilization. The industry’s analysts were trending with a new phrase – a transshipment hub in Asia. With this shift, the new requirement in the industry was for a highly efficient cargo processing space which enabled cargo to move in and out of a warehouse within a short span of 5 hours – like a passenger transiting through a world-class airport. The large storage space would no longer be required because it was  envisaged that the freight would be moved through. This requirement involved streamlining resources and having the technology to analyze and re-analyze the information on-hand for optimal processing strategies and minimal connection times.

The events of September 11, 2001 forever changed the landscape of the airline industry. Being a passenger, you now had to pass through layers of additional security screening at any airport in the world. First it was just screening,  then came restrictions on liquids, aerosols, and gels, and what’s next one might ask – a full-body screening device? Even as this is written, the news of more acts of terrorism in Brussels ignites discussion over whether or not an additional layer of security is required at the doorways to the airport’s landside hall.  In terms of airfreight, industry analysts have now called for piece-level screening for cargo destined for higher-risk destinations. This does pose some risks to the efficiency of outbound airfreight, meaning that a shipment that could be tendered 5 hours prior to the aircraft’s departure time would now need to be tendered even earlier to incorporate the cargo screening process.

Another change in the industry is the type of products being shipped and how they are being tracked. The market has seen a lot more perishable goods such as fresh fruits and temperature-sensitive goods such as pharmaceuticals. Such products require that they are maintained in a tightly closed handling environment, ensuring they are within a narrow temperature range, otherwise there is a risk of millions of dollars of spoiled products. Besides the need for large refrigerated transportation units, technology such as RFID readers has enabled customers to closely track the temperature of  goods at any point along  the supply chain. 

With these structural changes on the playing field, the quick adaptability and capability of the Asia Pacific market ensures it will continue to be one of the driving forces in the game. 

Alan Cheng
  • Name Alan Cheng
  • Class Year Class of 2014
  • Company MTR Corporation
  • Role Design Management Engineer, Planning
  • Industry Engineering / Transportation
  • Location Hong Kong
Transportation System and Urban Development

As an environmentally friendly mode of transportation, a metro system is welcomed by people around the world.  In Hong Kong, the Government has adopted the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) strategy in developing Hong Kong and uses railway as the backbone of the transportation system. 

What is Transit-Oriented Development?

Transit-oriented development (TOD) is a way to design a city where residential / commercial areas are developed around the public transport interchange (PTI) (rail based in HK) to maximize the use of public transport.  People are encouraged to use public transport for their daily commuting through the provision of seamless and comfortable connections.  The development density is highest near the centre and reduces gradually outwards.  Developments located far away from the centre (typically more than 500m away) are served by minibus or bus (feeders) which take commuters to railway stations for longer distance travel.  TOD is particularly suitable for cities with high population density like Hong Kong, where more people can live together under a limited supply of land without scarifying the quality of life.

Urban Development in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has adopted the TOD concept since the 70s-80s when the first few metro lines were developed (although it wasn’t called TOD in the 70s but the idea is similar).  In the existing urban areas like Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, metro alignments and station locations were carefully selected to maximize catchment area.  In new development areas such as Ma On Shan and Tseung Kwan O, a metro system was designed together with new town planning so that the lands with highest plot ratio are located nearest to the railway stations.  

Railway Development and Business Model

TOD using railway as the backbone involves enormous capital investment for the heavy infrastructure works.  The Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) includes land premium, railways, stations and train compartments, etc.  A metro system is normally funded by Government using tax revenue in many cities, whereas in Hong Kong, the MTR has adopted “Rail + Property” business models in developing the railway network, which can effectively reduce the financial burden of the Government in public works. 

In this model, the MTR holistically appraises the land use and the population density around the railway stations during the planning stage and obtains agreement on the right of land use from the Government.  The return from the future property development is used to finance the new railway projects.  In this holistic approach, the MTR optimizes the land use around railway stations and ensure seamless integration between stations and surrounding developments.  Many railway lines in Hong Kong are successful examples of the “Rail + Property” model:


Kwun Tong Line + Telford Garden

Tsuen Wan Line + Luk Yeung Sun Chuen

Island Line + Heng Fa Chuen 


Lantau Airport Railway + Topside developments in Hong Kong Staiton (IFC), Kowloon Station (ICC, Elements etc), Olympic, Tsing Yi and Tung Chung etc. 


Tseung Kwan O Line: LOHAS Park and various residential developments in Tseung Kwan O, Po Lam and Tiu Keng Leng etc.

Apart from CAPEX, the Operating Expenditure (OPEX) and Revenue were also evaluated to understand the business case of a new railway project.  The involvement and policy support from the Government are also essential.

There are many benefits to TOD. Productivity of the city is increased as travel time is shortened.  Pollution and green house gas emission are reduced with lowered car dependency.   Land use is optimized for higher supply of floor area for residential and commercial uses, while green zone for recreational use on the outskirts allows people to live a sustainable and healthy lifestyle.

Alan HL Cheng



The information contained in this article is the personal view of the author and is intended solely for the use of HKU MBA office in the HKU MBA website.  

Tim Chan
  • Name Tim Chan
  • Class Year Class of 2012
  • Company MetLife Hong Kong
  • Role Senior Manager, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) / Customer Data Analytics & Campaign Planning
  • Industry Insurance
  • Location Hong Kong
Hong Kong insurance market updates

Everyone knows that insurance is a very competitive market in Hong Kong with all the world-class players clustered together in such a small place. It happens for good reasons. The market size, in terms of gross premium, has been growing at around 15% annually for many years, even in the really bad years, and the figure is now almost HK$330 billion for 2014, full-year.

So what are the key drivers behind the scene here? First is the Mainland China customer. Being the fastest growing and second  biggest economy in the world, China has a massive population with a spectrum of evolving protection needs. With its pricing and coverage advantage, Hong Kong is just at the right time and place to capture this customer segment. Second is the growing protection gap. For example, a student starts a career and a family.  The  insured amount in the  original insurance policy, bought by the student’s parents a few years previously, would not be enough to cover  the new family’s normal living costs in case of any unfortunate event. This discrepancy creates a huge protection gap that is one of the major growths in the insurance market. Third is the innovation of new products. Just like many Apple products, a new insurance product with innovative features can always create new market demand.

Generally speaking there are 4 key distribution channels in Hong Kong, namely Agency, Bancassurance, Broker and Direct (i.e. Telemarketing & Online). Each of these channels  actually corresponds to different customer segments with different product offerings.

Agency is the most prominent channel and focuses on mass and affluent customers to sell basically any insurance product. Key leaders include AIA (with around 10,000 agents), Prudential, AXA and Manulife while some small players, like FWD and MetLife, are picking up really fast as well.

A less prominent but most significant channel is Bancassurance which  is basically selling endowment and conservative products  to bank customers through either the insurer’s subsidiary bank or a third party bank partner. Top players in this group include China Life, HSBC (& Hang Seng Bank), Bank of China, Prudential (through Standard Chartered Bank), AIA (through Citibank & ANZ) and Manulife (through DBS Bank). Normally, the Bancassurance partnership is signed for an exclusive period of 10 to 15 years within the whole Asia Pacific region and the insurer needs to pay a significant upfront fee to the bank partner in return for a steady volume of new business.

The other channel is Broker business, which  is selling investment-linked or wealth preservation products to high-net-wealth (HNW) customers through independent broker firms and private banks. AXA is the clear leader in broker business and they sell through international brokers like Marsh, Willis, AON and JLT, in addition to their own equally strong agency force.

Finally we have the Direct channel which generates quick and tidy sales through outbound call centres and online platforms without much human interaction. As no one will be sitting in front of the customer,  suitable products should be easy to understand with  minimal explanation, like Term Life and Refundable with standard coverage. Key players in this group include MetLife and Cigna.

To summarize, Hong Kong is a high growth market that can generate value for both insurance companies and customers. The key is having the right channels, products and infrastructure for each customer segment and the ability to execute.

Daisy Cheng
  • Name Daisy Cheng
  • Class Year Class of 2013
  • Company eFinancialCareers
  • Role Sales Director
  • Industry Financial Services Careers Website
  • Location Hong Kong
Private banking: a current hotspot for HK’s recruitment market?

The landscape of Hong Kong's investment banking industry has seen some dramatic changes in the past year. Global bulge bracket banks, traditionally strong players in Hong Kong’s recruitment market, have been on the retreat. To raise just a few examples, Standard Chartered cut 200 people in its Asian equity business at the start of the year, followed by Nomura’s cutting of 12 equity jobs in Hong Kong. And HSBC’s decision in June to cut 25,000 jobs globally is likely to add to the woe in Hong Kong.

But there is one sector within banking that has bucked the trend. It's the private banking and wealth/asset management sector. Banks, both global and local, are expanding operations across Asia-Pacific, and Hong Kong is certainly a key market.

There is an  all too obvious sign. Many banks, both bulge bracket and boutique, have seen hirings and moves at the most senior level in the past few months. Normally this indicates banks are trying their best to reshuffle the management and restructure the organization so as to get better prepared for further business expansion.

Big names have made such moves recently, including J.P. Morgan. Its asset management appointed Michael Falcon as its new Asia-Pacific CEO just a few weeks ago. In his new role, he made it clear that he will make the China market his priority. At the moment, many private banks and asset managers in Hong Kong are making every effort to attract wealth from China so as to increase their assets under management (AUM) as a whole.

Boutique banks are working hard too. BMO Private Bank, the international private banking arm of Bank of Montreal, named Monique Chan as its Asia CEO a few weeks ago too. The appointment came at a time when BMO is looking to expand in Asia. In an interview with media, head of private banking Myra Cridland said that the firm will hire an undisclosed number of new relationship managers (RMs).

Apart from these two, a number of other asset management companies have also made senior hires recently, including Nikko Asset Management, RBC Global Asset Management and other big names like Credit Suisse. Almost all of these hires are based in Hong Kong, showing the city’s importance as a centre for private wealth management.

At a time of investment banking retreat, it seems private banking and wealth management are stepping in to fill up the rooms left empty by the investment bankers.

Sachin Tipnis
  • Name Sachin Tipnis
  • Class Year Class of 2004
  • Company HKU MBA Programmes
  • Role Executive Director
  • Location Hong Kong

Interview with the eFinancialCareers - “The “pioneering” way this Hong Kong MBA programme gets its graduates better jobs in finance”

Sachin Tipnis
                                                        Sachin Tipnis, Executive Director of HKU MBA Programmes

“By the time you finished your MBA at Hong Kong University, you’re very well placed to advance your career in financial services,” says Sachin Tipnis, HKU’s executive director of MBA programmes. “And a big reason for that is the unique way we teach you the skills you need to thrive in the sector.”

Asia-focused case studies 
Tipnis is referring to HKU’s “pioneering” use of Asia-focused case studies, which give its MBA students (many of whom work in finance) interactive, real-life insights into what makes markets and businesses tick in the region.
HKU is taking case studies to a whole new level, including them in all the core courses (e.g. corporate finance) and elective modules (e.g. Asian financial markets and institutions) of its 14-month full-time MBA programme.
“If we’re teaching students about evaluating the cost of capital, for example, we get straight into a case study they can sink their teeth into. We might discuss an aircraft-financing deal, examining whether it’s more cost-efficient to lease or buy a plane,” says Tipnis.
Small Class Size
The approach works because HKU has a comparatively small MBA class, which is easily divided up into teams of about five students for each case study. “It’s not viable to discuss ideas with hundreds of people, but working in these groups encourages interaction and debate,” says Tipnis.
“You get to clearly hear new viewpoints from people in different industries and other areas of finance. And you can’t be a passive member of the group yourself because you’re assessed on your teamworking and what you contribute,” he adds.
Each team ultimately presents their ideas to the whole class. “Everyone can then feedback – ‘we agree with A and B, but on C we have a counterpoint’ – which opens up even more interesting perspectives on the case study.”
Students never receive all the details of a case study but are instead given several questions to answer. “It means you have to think analytically. This kind of practical, solutions-orientated learning prepares you well for working at a large bank where you’ll be constantly trying to solve problems.”
Case-study learning also builds the type of soft skills you need to succeed in banking.
“Group decision-making is common in large banks and the case study groups at HKU are similarly collaborative,” says Tipnis. “You can’t say ‘I understand that concept’ and move on – you have to find a common solution.”
This in turn helps with a crucial but “often overlooked” skill in financial services: negotiation. “When you’re putting together a new strategy at a bank, for example, you’re constantly negotiating with people across the firm.”
HKU’s case-study groups also make students work closely with people who have different skill sets and cultural backgrounds. “This mimics the experience at a bank, especially in a financial centre as diverse as Hong Kong,” adds Tipnis.
But what sets HKU apart from other MBA courses that use case studies?
“Our students want to work in dynamic Asian markets, so unlike the vast majority of business schools, our case studies are Asian focused and tailored to their needs,” Tipnis explains. “They don’t want to study something that happened in the West 10 years ago.”
Tipnis says despite the recent growth of the Asian M&A and IPO markets, most MBA programmes pay scant attention to studying Asian companies.
By contrast, students at HKU discuss the strategies of Alibaba, Softbank, Tencent, Air Asia and other major Asian players. “This is the Asian century and if you want to work in Asia, you need to understand how finance and business here work,” says Tipnis.
HKU case studies also examine the Asian strategies of Western firms. “For example, we look at Citi’s e-business strategy in India, China, Japan and Southeast Asia. And because Asian markets are less homogenous than Western ones, it’s even more important to analyse issues in an Asian context.”
Tipnis says case studies at HKU have another unique selling point: many of them are produced in-house by the university’s professors and are published by its renowned Asia Case Research Centre (ACRC).
“ACRC closely monitors emerging business strategies, economic policies, management practices and financial developments across the region,” says Tipnis. “When professors are writing cases themselves, they do more in-depth research and provide better insights to our MBA students.”
HKU also works with companies such as UBS and Schroders on ‘live projects’. “They’re similar to our case studies, but teams provide a real-time solution to an actual problem that the bank is currently facing in Asia. And each team has an experienced banker from the career services team to act as their coach.”
“You do case-study and live-project work class after class at HKU, so you get better and better at them. Your communication, leadership, and teamworking skills improve day after day,” says Tipnis.
That’s one of reasons MBA students say they enjoy this way of learning. “Gen Y don’t like waiting around for feedback. Case studies work for them because they get responses from peers and faculty on the spot. They like the continuous cycle of improvement, which allows them to assess their strengths and weaknesses on an ongoing basis.”
Becoming a case-study expert can also pay dividends just after you graduate.
“Our MBA students often look for new roles in the Asian finance sector when the course ends. And guess what banks are now using more of during job interviews? Case studies. They’ll give you a business scenario and ask you to analyse it,” says Tipnis.
“Many grads have told me that HKU’s emphasis on case studies has helped them to perform a lot better at interviews and to secure the finance job they really wanted,” he adds.


View the original article featured in eFinancialCareers, click here.
Interviewed and Written by Simon Mortlock, eFinancialCareer.
Sophia Choi
  • Name Sophia Choi
  • Class Year Class of 2010
  • Company Papersprint Company Ltd.
  • Role Founder
  • Industry Printing
  • Location Hong Kong
The trend of Export Printing Industry in Hong Kong


Many export printing companies, like Papersprint Ltd., are full-service providers of packaging and paper product solutions to international markets like the USA and Europe. The products supplied are versatile such as trade books (case bound, perfect bound, saddle stitches), cards, cartons and rigid boxes. Main offices are maintained in Hong Kong while factories are located in Mainland China. Since Hong Kong printers are flexible, many factors favour them. They can have a greater understanding of present trends in products and the industry as a whole.

Industry Features

Apart from books, brochures, leaflets, calendars, greeting cards, boxes and similar products, some high value-added printing products, like cheque books, passports, securities and prospectuses require complex skillsets. Hong Kong has a reputation for printing high tech products on terms of confidentiality.

Since Hong Kong has good telecommunications, access to information can be made in a split second. International publishers or book agencies like being able find printers there with the high degree of flexibility to publish their time-sensitive materials.

To reduce operational costs, Hong Kong printers have shifted major parts of their operation to Mainland China. They maintain a main office in Hong Kong for  receiving orders and communication links. On the basis of a good reputation and confidence in broadband connections, administrative processes like order enquiry, sample requirements, amending information, checking sample drafts and other functions, are handled efficiently and effectively. Alongside this, production processes are making use of automated computer systems, such as lamination machines, die-cutting, paper-cutting, shrink-wrapping, folding, hot-stamping and binding machines, to keep up with quality in products.

The Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) was concluded in June 2003 and subsequently expanded in following years. All products made in Hong Kong, subject to CEPA's rules of origin, enjoy duty-free access to the Chinese mainland.

Performance of Exported Printed Matters in Hong Kong Printers

Source: HKTDC Research

Industry Trends

As the printing industry is striving for more sophisticated printing, obsolete technology needs to be replaced by high-end technology, such as compute-to-plate (CTP), digital printing, ultraviolet printing and other developments. This will help printers achieve scale economies, better control quality and streamline production processes.

Product Trends

Children’s books are becoming more sophisticated as children not only read books, but also may listen to audio books to build models or solve puzzles, or even play with soft toys that are housed inside the book. Novel children’s books are coming now with pop-ups and additional objects.

Traditional printed products are required to have innovative designs to meet the needs of various market segments. For example, some calendars have to take different forms from desktop models to large 3D wall calendars. Higher printing quality is required, thus 5-colour/7-colour presses are being introduced.

As publishers pledge to be more environmentally friendly, print-shops are pushed to use more environmentally friendly supplies. e.g. recycled paper and synthetic paper, UV ink and ink based on beans, which would reduce the use of chemical solvents in cleansing. The chemical-free plate system has been introduced, which does not require the use of chemicals.  Although the use of FSC or PEFC-certified paper remains relatively small, it is increasing fast. Some printers are also exploring new types of environmentally friendly paper such as bamboo paper. 


All in all, the printing industry is a competitive industry. It needs more innovative ideas to survive. More custom designs should be introduced. Paper-made products can be reusable to increase their intrinsic value. Printing quality is, nonetheless, highly rated in Hong Kong. It can be compared to the USA, Europe and Japan. The cost is comparatively low. Intellectual protection is put to the foremost to retain the high degree of confidence among customers. As a result, the printing sector in Hong Kong is indispensable.




Syed Musheer Ahmed & Patrick Davis
  • Name Syed Musheer Ahmed & Patrick Davis
  • Class Year Class of 2015 & 2016
  • Location Hong Kong

At HKU MBA, we aim to offer our students a platform from which to tap into Hong Kong’s startup scene. We run a unique Business Lab elective that takes our MBAs through the entire entrepreneurial journey, from idea conception to launch. Through a series of case studies delivered by industry experts, MBA students apply their learning to develop real business ideas in a risk-free, supportive environment.

Our Alumni, Syed Musheer Ahmed and Patrick Davis, who graduated from the Class of 2015 and 2016 respectively, have been interviewed by BusinessBecause to share their experience of the Business Lab and how it has helped them in achieving future career success!

Interviewed and Written by Marco De Novellis, BusinessBecause. View the original article featured in BusinessBecause, click here

"HKU Is Developing Asia’s Next Generation Of MBA Entrepreneurs"

        Patrick Davis (left) was a mentor at the HKU MBA Corporate Social Responsibility workshop


Hong Kong is home to a buzzing startup scene honing new generations of successful entrepreneurs. And Hong Kong’s premier business school is more than playing its part.

Ranked number one in Asia for seven consecutive years by the Economist, the University of Hong Kong (HKU) runs a unique five-month ideas incubation program for its budding MBA entrepreneurs.

HKU’s Business Lab elective takes students through the entire entrepreneurial journey, from idea conception to launch. Through a series of case studies delivered by industry experts, MBA students apply their learnings to develop real business ideas in a risk-free, supportive environment.

At the end of the five months, MBA students present their business plans to a panel of industry experts and venture capitalists, who can help take their startup ideas to the next level.

We spoke to two high-flying HKU MBA grads who went through the Business Lab to find out more.


Patrick Davis, Class of 2016

Patrick worked eight years as a paralegal for law firms in Atlanta, USA, before relocating to Hong Kong for his MBA. Alongside his full-time job, he launched his own social enterprise, distributing free bicycles and creating a work programme for Atlanta’s homeless and refugee populations to fix bicycles to ship to orphanages in Jamaica.

At HKU, he teamed up with law professor, serial social entrepreneur, and fellow native Atlantan David Bishop. Now, Patrick is director of strategic operations at David’s nonprofit. Soap Cycling collects used hotel soap from hotels across Asia, reprocesses it in Hong Kong, and then distributes the new soap to NGOs and charities for hygiene and sanitation projects across Asia. Patrick manages a team of HKU undergrad interns who actively run the company for a semester.

" On the Business Lab… It’s a unique programme. You form a team and spend a couple of weeks pitching ideas to each other until one stick.

Our group started an on-demand language tutor platform. It’s called Natives, and we have just been accepted into a local incubation programme (Cyberport). Business Lab gave us the platform to pitch our ideas, see what works, and become exposed to different trends in the world of entrepreneurship. Now the beta version of our app is launched, we have around 30 teachers signed up, and are looking forward to holding our first classes in January.

How did I profit? The connections are the main thing. The class is really immersive into the Hong Kong startup world, with very high-level speakers from many different fields. Finance, the incubation process, pitching, really every possible topic that is related to the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Hong Kong was covered. And, as an untypical MBA student, any type of exposure to real business is very illuminating.

The HKU MBA puts very different ideas into your head about how you should run your life and manage your career, about the mindset of networking and using the MBA as a platform to promote yourself, promote your brand and meet as many people as you can.

That’s what Hong Kong is really good for. It’s a compact place and you can meet a lot of influential people quite easily.

On Soap Cycling… I started volunteering late last year and was tasked with managing a group of undergrad students to write a business plan for expansion into Singapore. Turns out, I ended up getting a job out of it! David liked what I did and asked me to stick around.

Soap Cycling has been around for four years. It’s a simple concept to understand and there’s great potential to scale up if you can secure the right resources and connections. This past semester, the students managed the successful launch of our expansion into the Mainland Chinese market in Shenzhen. Next semester, we’ll be looking to build on our success there and use the lessons learned to push towards Singapore.

I have to handle every aspect of operations from the nitty gritty of managing the factory and building relationships with hotels, to the high-level stuff like fundraising and marketing, Though challenging, it’s a great experience, and I would honestly do my job for free. The HKU MBA has opened up entirely new possibilities for me personally and professionally. "


Syed Musheer Ahmed, HKU MBA ’15

Musheer has over 10 years of cross-functional experience in multi-asset trading and management consulting, and is actively involved in Fintech. Determined to explore entrepreneurship, he relocated from India to pursue an MBA at HKU.

After his MBA, he went into a top job at capital markets consulting firm GreySpark Partners, which he secured through the school’s career services. For now, his entrepreneurial ambitions are on hold. But he’s sure that one day he’ll take the leap and start his own business.

" On the Business Lab… When interviewing for the programme, the Business Lab stood out because I could work on building a business from scratch.

Each class handles each part of the entrepreneurship journey; from coming up with ideas, to finding a team, to how the business plan is built, the financials, marketing, application, diversification, growth and pitching.

My team worked on an idea for 3D-printed spectacle frames. We went through the whole gamut of researching 3D printing and meeting experts in Hong Kong.

We found a partner in Hong Kong who had a 3D printing business and we got to make the 3D-printed glasses ourselves. And we won a pitching competition, where you had to prepare like you were ready to launch.

The Business Lab has helped broaden my network and prepared me for when I eventually do jump into entrepreneurship, full-time or otherwise.

On choosing the HKU MBA… The programme was tailor-made for me to develop my skillsets across different areas. I could choose 10 electives. So I could choose the direction I wanted. The HKU MBA is an intensive, 14-month programme. For me, it was vital that I wasn’t out of the job market for too long.

Hong Kong is also very supportive for entrepreneurs. It’s one of the easiest places to set up a business anywhere in the world. If you have the right idea, there’s a lot of funding available."

Learn more about Business Lab

Adriana Chan
  • Name Adriana Chan
  • Class Year Class of 2013
  • Company MASS International Preschool
  • Role Founder
  • Industry Education
  • Location Hong Kong
How to select the best school for your kids?

In Hong Kong, there are hundreds of kindergartens with different curricula and teaching approaches. Parents usually find themselves in a dilemma when they are choosing a kindergarten for their children. Have you ever spent night after night surfing on online forums trying to find  other parents who can tell you which kindergarten or curriculum is the best for your child? However, there is no such thing as the best curriculum or kindergarten because every child learns in a different way and at a different pace. Because of the uniqueness of each child, a variety of curricula have been developed to cater to the different learning needs of children. Therefore, instead of choosing the best kindergarten on the school guide, parents should choose a kindergarten that best suits their child's learning needs. The gist of it is in this list of factors parents should pay attention to when they are choosing a kindergarten for their child:

1) School values and mission. A school management is greatly influenced by its values and missions. Parents should choose a school with values and a mission that they agree with. 

2) Curriculum and teaching methodology. Parents ought to know the curriculum and teaching approach adopted by the school and ensure it is suitable for their child. Moreover, the curriculum should be age appropriate to avoid undue pressure. However, some parents make the mistake of thinking  that the more difficult it is, the better. In fact, if a child always fails to accomplish a given task, he or she will feel frustrated, lack confidence and, eventually,  lose  interest in learning.

3) Teacher quality. High qualification doesn't make a good kindergarten teacher. In addition to academic qualifications, a good kindergarten teacher must be experienced, patient, responsible and caring and must genuinely love children. 

4) Location. It is better to choose a kindergarten situated within a reasonable distance of your home to avoid excessive travelling time. It is suggested that 2 miles is the maximum walking distance for children under eight years of age. Journeys on transport should not exceed 45 minutes.

Choosing the right kindergarten for your child is of paramount importance as an enjoyable and inspiring preschool experience can unearth children’s intrinsic curiosity and help cultivate a love for life-long learning. Remember, understand your child’s personality and learning needs before you decide which school is the best for him or her. 

Stanley Chan
  • Name Stanley Chan
  • Class Year Class of 2010
  • Company Fitmax Centre (HK) Limited
  • Role General Manager
  • Industry Health and Fitness
  • Location Hong Kong
Why do insurers reward customers who maintain healthy lifestyles with discounted premiums?

In August 2015, two leading insurers in Hong Kong announced the launch of an insurance concept encouraging customers to be more active and stay healthy.  In return, customers are rewarded with perks such as discounted insurance premiums for maintaining active and healthy lifestyles.  So why do insurers do this?  Let’s examine possible reasons why these companies are promoting the stay active and healthy concept.

The World Health Organization (WHO), published a report in January 2015 stating the following;

1.       Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980. 

2.       Most of the world’s population lives in countries where being overweight and obesity kill more people than being underweight. 

3.       Being overweight and obesity are  major risk factors for non-communicable diseases such as:

·         cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart disease and stroke), which were the leading cause of death in 2012;

·         diabetes;

·         musculoskeletal disorders (especially osteoarthritis - a highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints);

·         some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)

4.       Most importantly, the majority of the premature death and illness caused by these non-communicable diseases is lifestyle-related, manageable and preventable. 

5.       WHO has developed the "Global Action Plan for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases 2013-2020".

In Hong Kong, the rapid increase in the number of people suffering from non-communicable diseases also presents a huge challenge to the local health system.  The Department of Health’s strategic framework “Promoting Health in Hong Kong: A strategic framework for Prevention and Control of Non-communicable diseases” states, “In 2006, approximately 61% of total registered deaths in Hong Kong were attributed to four major preventable non-communicable diseases.  They were cancer (32.3%), heart diseases (15.0%), stroke (8.8%) and lower respiratory diseases (5.1%).”   These non-communicable diseases not only increase  health care expenses, they also increase burdens on individuals, families and our society, resulting in reduced productivity.  Nowadays, it is not difficult to notice Government’s efforts to promote healthy eating and exercise habits in order to combat these non-communicable diseases.

Many corporations are also concerned about the economic burden associated with non-communicable diseases, which drives up costs for employers and is associated with increased absenteeism, disability, injury, healthcare claims and insurance premiums.  In recent years, many companies have implemented corporate wellness programmes to improve organizational performance including;

·         intrinsic work motivation

·         positive emotions

·         quality of service as perceived by internal and external customers

·         innovativeness

·         financial turnover

·         profitability & productivity

·         customer and employee loyalty

·         employee absenteeism

These programmes include health screening, regular group exercise classes, interest classes, gym membership subsidy, smoking cessation programmes, stress management programmes and 3-month healthy eating & exercise programmes.  According to William C. Weldon, former Chairman of Johnson & Johnson, “ For every dollar we invest in our workers’ health, we see a return of more than $4 in reduced health care costs, lower absenteeism, and improved productivity.”

Given the above data, the WHO, Hong Kong Government and many companies are promoting healthy lifestyles in order to manage and prevent non-communicable diseases, so reducing medical expenses and increasing productivity.  It makes perfect sense for the insurers to develop individual insurance products which relate  to a healthy lifestyle.  From a business perspective, there must be financial gains if customers can establish or maintain healthier lifestyle habits.  Simply put, healthier customers mean fewer claims made against their policies, resulting in higher profits.  For the customers, adapting or maintaining a healthier lifestyle and being provided with innovative and motivational ways to achieve better health are valuable gains on their investment in longevity.   Ultimately, it’s a win-win approach for all.

Kritika Kumar (India)
  • Name Kritika Kumar (India)
  • Class Year 2016
  • Location India
Kritika Kumar, HKU MBA alumnus from the Class of 2016, has recently been interviewed by Business Because. Kritika, who comes from India, worked at a credit rating agency prior to her MBA.  Kritika is determined to diversify and explore new career opportunities. During her MBA journey, Kritika spent one month in Beijing in the China Immersion Programme, took all the core courses in Hong Kong, and spent the last semester at London Business School as part of the London track.  She visited Singapore on career trek, joined Japanese classmates for a trip to Japan, and interned at Citi in Hong Kong and a private equity firm in Myanmar.  She was also the president of the Women in Leadership club, organised the club's flagship event in partnership with Macquarie Group, networking with 100 plus attendees from 17 different organisations and hosting a panel discussion on quotas for women in business. Still, today, the topic of women in business is never far from her mind. Read more about Kritika's sharing and see how HKU MBA flies the flag for women in business.
Interviewed and Written by Marco De Novellis, BusinessBecause. View the original article featured in BusinessBecause, click here - See more at:
Interviewed and Written by Marco De Novellis, BusinessBecause. View the original article featured in BusinessBecause, click here

From India To Hong Kong: HKU MBA Flies Flag For Women In Business



Kritika Kumar worked at credit rating agency Moody’s in her native India prior to her MBA. After four years, she found herself stuck in her job, with little chance of a promotion.
So, in 2015, she joined the HKU MBA’s 14-month MBA program, determined to diversify and explore new career opportunities.
On the MBA’s London track, she studied in Beijing, Hong Kong, and at London Business School in the UK. She visited Singapore, Japan, and interned at Citi in Hong Kong and a private equity firm in Myanmar.
In her first few months at HKU, she became president of the school’s women in leadership club. She organised the club's flagship event in partnership with Macquarie Group, networking with 100-odd attendees from 17 different organisations, and hosting a panel discussion on quotas for women in business.
Still today, the topic of women in business is never far from her mind. After graduating from HKU in November 2016, she landed an internship at Schneider Electric, a Fortune 500 electronics firm which has recruited over 23,000 women in the last three years.
How far is an MBA an enabler for women in business?
An MBA is a very big enabler because it introduces ideas which you may not have and it shows you role models who you can look up to. If you have an MBA, you’re looked at differently. It’s very easy to approach people, and people respond very positively to you. It gives you equal opportunities whether you are a man or a woman.
Will top-level CEO roles one day be occupied by as many women as men?
Yes. There is a glass ceiling - it does exist - but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be broken.
I don’t think it’s a problem of the pipeline or having enough qualified women. It’s about how to move up the ladder; what you need to do. I think, as more women are becoming aware of this, and more companies are supporting women in business, change will happen.
Why did you choose HKU for your MBA?
I was working for a Moody’s subsidiary in India, and while I tried to speak to the stakeholders for my career growth within the organisation, the organisation was not able to provide me with a clear career path.
At that time, everyone around me was either doing an MBA or a CFA. I thought I’d do an MBA to increase my opportunities. And my supervisor did advise me on MBA opportunities and fully supported my decision to go for the MBA.
Asia is where business is, and where business is going to be. The global perspective of the MBA program, the small but diverse class, and the opportunity to study in three cities – Beijing, Hong Kong, and London – made HKU stand out.
What should applicants think about when deciding to do an MBA?
You should know what you want to do after the MBA, and how an MBA will help you get there. You should talk to as many alumni from your chosen schools as possible. Ask yourself: do you want to be part of that same brand? Who are the people who are part of it? Do you want to be associated with them? At the end of the day, if you are with the right people you will learn a lot.
What stands out from your MBA experience?
The people I’ve met, the class discussions I’ve had, and the places I’ve had the opportunity to visit. Aside from visiting China and the UK, I went on a career trek to Singapore and I had a Japanese classmate who organised a fabulous trip to Japan. Travelling together, you learn about different people and their culture. You broaden your knowledge about how business works on a global scale.
How have you grown as a professional since the MBA?
One thing I’ve learnt is how to follow a targeted approach. Whether it’s for my post-MBA career, an event I want to host, a club I want to lead; I have a plan with a target and I work towards it.
I’ve also learnt that I’m a really good networker. In Myanmar, I was able to connect an entrepreneur I was working with, with a potential investor. Networking is not very common in India. At least professionally, it’s not the way it is in Hong Kong. Without the MBA, I would not be able to market myself  in the same way.
Allen Mo
  • Name Allen Mo
  • Class Year Class of 2010
  • Company US Asset Management firm
  • Role Risk and Compliance
  • Industry Asset Management
  • Location Hong Kong
Updates on Financial Compliance

It would be an understatement to say that the 2008 financial crisis caused significant changes to financial institutions and how they operate.   Banks and financial institutions have paid heavily for their wrongdoings since the financial crisis, to the tune of USD 321 billion from 2008 to 2016, according to a recent study by the Boston Consulting Group.   New regulations cover business activities that were previously not covered in the regulatory scope, while existing regulations have been tightened in an effort to mitigate risks in the financial world and discourage excessive risk taking.

Increased regulatory scrutiny has made compliance and risk management a critical part of the organisation, both in terms of operations and culture.    Business processes and activities are subject to more rigorous rules that require compliance’s expertise to help navigate them.   Compliance is also more involved in the key business decisions, such as development of new products and services.   This would’ve been almost unimaginable 10 years ago, when compliance would be viewed as nothing more than an auxiliary function in the back office along the lines of human resources and audit.    The rise in the significance of compliance in financial institutions has led to huge demands being placed on compliance resources.

Compliance itself has also evolved throughout these changes.    It is no longer sufficient for financial institutions to simply abide by the letter of the law.   Nowadays, regulators expect financial institutions to behave in a prudent manner with proper risk controls and management to mitigate any risks arising from their activities.   In other words, regulators expect financial institutions to embed compliance as part of their corporate culture.


In Hong Kong, while the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has previously issued codes and guidelines such as the “Code of Conduct for Persons Licensed by or Registered with the Securities and Futures Commission” and the “Management, Supervision and Internal Control Guidelines for Persons Licensed by or Registered with the Securities and Futures Commission”, which outline SFC’s expectations of those licensed with the SFC, the recently issued SFC circular titled “Circular to Licensed Corporations Regarding Measures for Augmenting the Accountability of Senior Management” takes a step beyond the previously issued codes and guidelines in addressing the regulator’s expectation of corporate behaviour.

In the Circular, the SFC clearly sets out its view as to who they regard as members of senior management of a SFC-licensed firm by introducing the concept of “Managers-In-Charge of Core Functions” (MIC).    The Circular also aims to:

·         Promote awareness of the regulatory obligations and potential liabilities of senior management

·         Express its expectations that certain members of senior management should seek SFC’s approval to be Responsible Officers

·         Outline roles and responsibilities of a licensed corporation’s board of directors

·         Provide more guidance as to the information a licensed corporation should submit in respect of its human resources and organisational structure.

Through the Circular, the SFC appears to be trying to expand its regulatory scope by requiring those whom SFC deemed as senior management to become licensed as Responsible Officers, bringing these individuals into the regulatory net as a SFC licensee, without having to amend existing laws and regulations.   Prior to the introduction of the Circular, only Executive Directors (as defined in the Securities and Futures Ordinance and including those individuals who are directors of the company and actively participate in or directly supervise the regulated activity) are required to be licensed as a Responsible Director.   Due to differences in business operational models and organisational structure, sometimes a staff member in senior management may not be considered as an Executive Director and hence, may not be required to be licensed with the SFC as a Responsible Officer.     By introducing the MIC concept, the SFC is sending a clear message to the industry about their expectations as to who should be considered as senior management within a financial institution and the requirement for these senior managers to become  Responsible Officers, making them directly liable for their actions within that financial institution.

From a macro perspective, the Circular also establishes SFC’s expectation of the financial institution’s corporate culture since the Circular specifically states the objectives of promoting awareness of the regulation obligations and potential liabilities of senior management, and outlining a Board of Directors’ roles and responsibilities.   Based on these objectives, it appears that the SFC is a believer in the top-down approach when it comes to promoting sound compliance culture in financial institutions.

While the impact of this Circular on each financial institution may be different, one thing is certain. Compliance staff will be busy and in the thick of things as the firms finalise their MIC information and organisational charts, as well as prepare licensing applications for those MICs that need to be licensed as Responsible Officers.


At the same time, Hong Kong’s insurance industry is also facing major changes in its regulatory landscape.    On 26 June 2017, the independent Insurance Authority will formally commence its operations, replacing the existing regulatory regime under the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI), which is a department of the Hong Kong Government.

Currently, the OCI regulates insurance companies and the three self-regulated organisations (SROs), which supervise insurance intermediaries such as insurance agents.   The Insurance Authority will spend the first two to three years of operations transiting from the current self-regulatory regime to a statutory licensing regime, similar to the current licensing regime under the SFC.   

It has been a long road for these changes since the concept of an independent insurance regulator was first introduced in a government consultation paper back in July 2010.   The new regime will bring Hong Kong on a par with other international jurisdictions when it comes to insurance regulation, and provide a level playing field for the various domestic financial sectors in Hong Kong.    Having taken the first step of establishing the independent Insurance Authority, there will be more changes to come in insurance regulations as the Insurance Authority introduce new guidelines and regulations.

Jasmine Chua
  • Name Jasmine Chua
  • Class Year Class of 2016
  • Company Prudential Corporation Asia
  • Role Government Relations Manager
  • Industry Financial Services
  • Location Hong Kong

“My MBA was an important bridge into a more international job at Prudential. I’ve been better able to assimilate into a global finance firm, where my colleagues and clients are from across the world.”

Jasmine Chua, HKU MBA alumnus from the Class of 2016, has been recently interviewed by eFinancialCareers. Jasmine, who came from Singapore and is now based in Hong Kong, shares with us her HKU MBA journey, and how she landed a regional role in the Hong Kong financial services sector.

Interviewed and Written by Simon Mortlock, eFinancialCareer.View the original article featured in eFinancialCareers, click here

"I moved to Hong Kong and landed my first job in finance. This MBA got me there"

                                                                                                     Jasmine Chau, Class of 2016

In 2015 Jasmine Chua faced a career-defining decision: would she carry on rising up the ranks in Singapore’s public sector, or leave her stable job for a year of post-graduate study followed by (hopefully) a new role in Hong Kong financial services?

“I opted to go back to school and do an MBA,” says Chua, who was an assistant director at the Monetary Authority of Singapore. “I’d been working for the government for five years and I felt l really needed to broaden my networks, both internationally and across other industries.”

She didn’t know it at the time, but in little over a year Chua would have studied at three world-renown campuses, completed her MBA, and secured a job in a new city and new sector.

How did she manage to make such a big career change? It was all about doing the right MBA and taking full advantage of its course content and alumni connections.

“I wanted to go to a business school in Hong Kong because I was keen to remain in the world’s most dynamic region, and Hong Kong is a gateway to so many Asian markets,” explains Chua. “But I also wanted an international perspective to my studies, not just a regional one.”

With that in mind, Chua says her choice of MBA soon became obvious: The University of Hong Kong.

All HKU MBA students spend an introductory month at Beijing Language and Culture University in Beijing before their main nine-month stint in Hong Kong itself. For their final four months, they can either stay in Hong Kong or go to London or New York.

Chua says her own international experience, at the prestigious London Business School, exceeded expectations. “It wasn’t just an exchange – we were treated like their own students. We attended the same classes, speaker talks and student clubs.”

Developing a more “global outlook” also helped Chua land her first job in the private sector. In September 2016, soon after graduating, she took a Hong Kong-based role with financial services giant Prudential, overseeing government relations across several countries.

“Working in the Singapore public sector is quite a local environment, but at HKU my classmates were very diverse, from about 14 countries,” says Chua. “My MBA was an important bridge into a more international job at Prudential. I’ve been better able to assimilate into a global finance firm, where my colleagues and clients are from across the world.”

Chua can also turn to former classmates for on-the-job advice. “I’m now building relationships in markets across Asia. And when I need advice, I can easily reach out to HKU alumni who are from these countries.”

But it wasn’t just HKU’s global focus that enabled Chua to move sectors after she graduated. “My boss said part of the reason he hired me was because he thought I had the drive to make changes. And this drive came directly from my MBA,” she says.

HKU MBA Live                      Jasmine (right one) at Google company visit as part of the Singapore Trek programme activities.

More specifically, Chua was able to show a flair for entrepreneurship during an MBA internship at fintech start-up Creditable. “I was helping an African company that wanted to expand into China, assessing which markets would give it the best return. This experience enhanced my ability to adapt to change, which was just what my current employer was looking for.”

Chua says she could not have made such a dramatic change to her own career without the new skills she learnt from the courses (corporate finance, competitive strategy and business data analysis, for example) on her Hong Kong University MBA.

“With a Singapore government regulatory background alone, it would have been difficult to get my current role in a private sector financial firm in Hong Kong,” she adds. “But the extra knowledge I received from HKU – marketing, strategy, financial markets – helped convince my boss that I had what it takes to succeed in my new career.”

Getting a post-MBA job is also about showing the employer that you are a fast learner, says Chua. “If you’re making a career change, there will still be a few skills you don’t have, even after your degree. At the job interview I pointed to the fact that I was able to pick up new subjects quickly while at HKU – and this meant I could do the same on the job.”

Chua says having a ‘Consulting Club’ mentor – a senior advisor from a global consulting firm – during the MBA programme helped her plan her future career. “He was great, always willing to set time aside to discuss my ambitions or the project I was working on. He taught me a lot about how to transform complex ideas into understandable ones.”

If you want to use the HKU MBA as a springboard into a financial services company, Chua says you should be “selective” during your 14 months of studies.

“There are so many choices – projects, elective courses, mentors, exchanges – and you can’t do everything. It’s best to know the kind of job you want near the outset, so you can make choices which match your goals and give you the best chance of making a career change.”

Jerry Sham
  • Name Jerry Sham
  • Class Year Class of 2014
  • Company Accenture
  • Role Senior Director of Technology Advisory
  • Industry Consulting
  • Location Hong Kong
Digital Intelligence in the Cognitive Era


"Welcome to Watson!” This is my favorite opening when introducing Watson to my customers and partners. It not only welcomes them to enter the new era of computing but it also welcomes them to start their transformational journey to their business and build up a new relationship between humans and computer.

The missing piece in the  data value chain

We are living in the digital everything economy. All the time you hear statements like  “Alibaba , the most valuable retailer, has no inventory”, "Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no car” and  “Facebook, the most popular media owner, creates no content”. New destructive business models are forming every day in the digital world. Organizations can no longer continue to see their competitors as coming from just within their industry. Competition can come from anywhere and they need to be structured to look beyond their traditional boundaries. 

Every CXO really understand how they must  change their business - be more agile and innovative, engage more personally with clients and shift to digital. However, they are  limited by the scope of the data and the insight they have. The current technology can handle and analyze the structured data like the transaction records and  inventory figures very well. But the remaining 88% of unstructured data (mostly in human language format  books, emails, news, social-messages, journals, blogs, images, sound and videos) that hold  incredible insights and knowledge are often left behind and wasted. They need to dramatically expand their data intelligence to reach out beyond their firewall to the data that is  coming and that is increasingly unstructured. The evolving Big Data technology can serve part of this objective only. Organizations still need something that can  really understand the data, that can tell the ‘what’ behind the ‘why’. This is often the missing piece in the current data value chain. This digital intelligence, or so called  "cognitive computing" is the  piece that can complete the chain and provide a totally new competitive advantage to win (or survive) in this dynamic age. 

The same situation applies to the individual professional.  Experts are the lifeblood of any organization, but nowadays even the top experts cannot keep up.  Imagine the doctor for whom  medical information will double every 73 days by 2020 and over 178,000 clinical trials occur every year. How can he  track the output and the insights and implications arising from it alongside his busy work? Imagine a financial planner trying to keep up with the  5 new research reports which appear every minute and over 9000 pages of research published every day by Reuters alone. What if a digital intelligence system could help us look  over the entire universe of data, information and knowledge and inform the decisions and work that we do every day?

How the digital intelligence is born

To engage and inspire the scientific community to have a broader impact on science and society, IBM Research conducts Grand Challenges  at least every decade  Consider Deep Blue, the first computer to win against a grand master chess player in 1997. We can see from the challenge posed by unstructured big data that the next move  is to understand, reason with  and learn about dark data so that it can be transformed into digital intelligence.

In terms of formal game theory (my favourite topic in the MBA course), chess, and the recent and very hot topic of  Chinese Go game, are non-chance, combinatorial games with perfect information.  There are no dice used, the underlying mathematics is combinatorial, and all moves (unlike  card games) are visible to both players. Perfect information also implies sequence; players can theoretically know about all past moves. So, it is more  processing power that determines  the right move.

But human language is very different. It is implicit and and is highly dependent on context.  Consider the  example of "2 + 2”. We all know that the answer is “4" but when you are booking a table in restaurant, it may mean 2 adults and 2 children, and when you are talking about a car, it probably means 2 front seats and 2 rear seats. Moreover, human natural language is often imprecise. We naturally interact and operate all the time with different degrees of uncertainty and with fuzzy associations between words and concepts. We use huge amounts of background knowledge to reconcile and interpret what we read; that is  human cognition.  At every moment, cognition is happening; our brains process incredible amounts of information and go through multiple stages of analysis from observing, interpreting, and evaluating to making decisions. Cognition is the way we think.

As a result of the IBM Grand Challenge Deep Blue, five years ago, Watson (named after IBM's first chief executive Thomas J. Watson) made its debut on the US Quiz show, Jeopardy, in a very public proof  of the radical new technology - Cognitive Computing. Whether you read the news or watched the documentary video on YouTube (, you witnessed history. Watson beat the 2 top human champions, including Ken Jennings, who had maintained the longest winning record of 74 games and accumulated over $3M.  Not only did Watson win but, in doing so, it brought in a whole new era of computing.

The cognitive era is here

All our everyday business systems up to now have been programmed. This means their outcome is designed by the person that programmed them. These systems by design are pre-determined, based on a rigid set of parameters, defined for specific outcomes. A cognitive system is different. It is not programmed, it is trained. This means it learns and reasons from its interactions with us and from its experiences with its environment. Cognitive systems can make sense of the 88% of dark data that exists in the world and they can scale to keep pace with the complexity and unpredictability of information in the modern world.

Watson mirrors the same cognitive process that we use every day to understand the world around us. It finds its responses not through business rules or decision trees, but by hypothesizing, gathering evidence to support or refuse those hypotheses, weighing the relative strength of evidence for possible responses, and then sharing its results with full transparency of evidence for the user to consider. With its ability to learn and navigate the language and protocols of specific professions and industries, and communicate in natural language, Watson is revolutionizing the way we make decisions, become experts and share expertise, at scale. 

In the healthcare sector, Watson was trained by Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center’s top oncologists, using  20 years’ of patient treatment experience, knowledge of various medical domains and the latest clinical trials and research data, to become a powerful advisor and provide timely, accurate and evidence-based decisions for hospitals in various part of the world.  Watson is also enabling a new breed of investigation that is faster, more accurate, and more thoughtful than ever before. The “cancer-killing protein” P53 is extremely important in oncology related research. There are 70,000 research articles, 6-8,000 created each year, yet the entire industry could only identify a single target per year for the past decade. With Watson, 7 targets were identified for P53 activation within weeks. This is a great representation of how cognitive capabilities can aid human intelligence. 

Apart from the healthcare sector, Watson is rapidly transforming various domains. It enables faster legal research and audit services, powers robots as customer representatives and hotel concierges, acts as a shopping advisor in the on-line world, answers million dollar value questions about wealth management,  and expands the imaginations of children with a digital dinosaur toy. When you bring cognitive systems and industry expertise together, you are able to fundamentally shift the role technology plays in your business, from enabler to advisor. Business technologies that automate and detect can now also advise and enhance human expertise, powering you to be able to make richer, more data driven decisions, create newer customer experiences, and streamline the complex business processes. The Cognitive Era is here. 

Endless possibilities 

I am glad that I can stand in the forefront of this digital revolution. I have been with  IBM Watson Group for four months now and  I have seen great momentum in the market place around cognitive and Watson capabilities. I have met a lot of customers in such a short period because of the widespread interest. Some are confused, most are excited and all eager to know. 

Inside IBM, the passion for Watson is unstoppable. Watson is a journey of transformation. The company is undergoing a large degree of organizational  change, adopting a new methodology for engaging customers and incubating innovative and design thinking mindsets. Recently, we launched the Cognitive Build initiative internally, which will give all IBMers a chance to get hands-on experience using cognitive computing and new ways of working. Everyone across different departments can create or join a team (very similar to an MBA project) to work on a new cognitive app for clients, to add cognitive capability to an existing solution, or use cognitive capability to transform an existing IBM process or way of working. Ideas will go through a crowdfunding round and funded ideas will advance to be fully built. There are almost 3000 teams formed up, handling very serious topics like anti-terrorism to funny topics like this one in ( which is the one for my team. 

Cognitive Computing (or Artificial Intelligence) is definitely the hottest topic in 2016. It can unlock opportunities in every industry we have never before believed possible. We are at the start of a new era. We are the pioneers set to transform industries and professions.  Watson’s functionality is just at the beginning.  Looking to the future, it’s reasonable to foresee that cognitive computing functionality will expand greatly.

Perhaps Watson’s greatest contribution will be to make us rethink the possibilities – the opportunities that we never before believed possible. If cognitive systems are expanding the imaginations of children, helping researchers find the cure for cancer and shaping IBM’s corporate culture, what will you do with Watson?

Peter Law
  • Name Peter Law
  • Class Year Class of 2010
  • Company Oracle
  • Role Senior Principal Consultant
  • Industry Information Technology and Services
  • Location Hong Kong
Why do big data suddenly zoom into the spotlight?

According to Oracle research, six out of ten companies have more data than they can use effectively, yet most executives claim that they are not getting the information they need to make important decisions—with 93 percent of them losing revenue as a result. Big data is becoming popular, mobile computing is infiltrating enterprise computing, and many CIOs are adopting a cloud strategy for rapid provisioning of IT environments. Formulating a big data strategy with analytics is central to deriving value from corporate investments.

What is big data?

This data comes from everywhere: sensors used to gather climate information, posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, and cell phone GPS signals to name a few. This data is big data.

The core elements of big data are volume, variety, and velocity. The future looks to be headed in one direction: more volume, greater variety and increased velocity as more devices come online, more transactions are captured, more personal data provided. Companies can leverage data to adapt their products and services to better meet customer needs, optimize operations and find new sources of revenue.

How can big data be used?

Large pools of data that can be brought together and analyzed to discern patterns and make better decisions. Big data will become the basis of competition and growth for individual companies, enhancing productivity and creating significant value for the world economy by reducing waste and increasing the quality of products and services.

For example, Big Data are using data from sensors embedded in products from children’s toys to industrial goods to determine how these products are actually used in the real world. Manufacturers are using data to create innovative after-sales service offerings such as proactive maintenance to avoid failures in new products.

Customer-facing companies are using data to segment and target customers. Retailers will be able to track the behavior of individual customers from Internet click streams, update their preferences, and model their likely behavior in real time. They will then be able to recognize when customers are nearing a purchase decision and bring the transaction to completion by bundling preferred products, offered with reward program benefits.

The Adaptive Road Routing Recommendation is using real-time traffic information to avoid traffic congestion. As the penetration of smart phones increases, and free navigation applications are included in these devices, drivers will be benefited by  time and fuel savings.

In nearly every industry, companies are challenged to make sense of a growing base of information. With more information about your customers, your internal operations, and your competitors’ activities, you can adapt your business to run more efficiently and competitively as market conditions change.

Tracy Ho
  • Name Tracy Ho
  • Class Year Class of 2013
  • Company Anyplex Hong Kong Limited
  • Role General Manager
  • Industry Online Entertainment Industry
  • Location Hong Kong
Will you pay for online content?
If you were born before the 1980s, you probably  experienced watching films on videocassette, LD, VCD, DVD, online- we saw the means of transmission for  films change with almost every decade. In the meantime, did you ever notice the change in  values in everyone’s mind over watching films?
It’s definitely good to see the evolution of advanced technology which allows most people  access to entertainment content easily and quickly, anytime and anywhere. Thanks to Apple, we can enjoy the entertainment content on our “own” screen via mobile app, conveniently, by just one click (and of course we can do the same with all smart devices that run on iOS or Google Play, now).  However, we saw  the change in content value when the first pirated VCD copy appeared. There was a tremendous shift in customers  from legal copy to low-value pirated copy. The situation became even worse when the free pirated online content arrived!
Hong Kong has high-speed bandwidth and a high penetration of smart devices so, from a few years ago, we have been able to see a lot of video streaming apps from China which became  popular very quickly. But, sad to say, most of those popular video-streaming services did not acquire legal copyright for their content. They rapidly grew  their customer base by offering free, pirated content and justified their return from advertising revenue. It really frustrated the pay TV service providers and online content providers who acquired the content license legally and relied on a subscription model because  customers came to think that online content was FREE. Most  customers were no longer willing to pay for legal online copy!
That  situation only started to change when some of those China companies were successfully publically listed and were  required to do things legally from then on. It further improved when the China government rolled out new policies last year to request all China digital content providers to remove the pirated content on their platforms or the government would  stop their operation. It is good to see that they now release legal content and block the spread of content to areas where rights have not been acquired. It’s not as easy now to get  free pirated content over the Internet.  
Nevertheless, can we say that more customers tend to pay for online content  rather than  pirated online content that cannot be so easily found? With the uptrend of  the  “anytime anywhere” watching mode, there is, at the same time, the continuous double- digit decrease of traditional TV viewing rates globally. We can see that the video viewing habits of customers, especially the younger group, is shifting to online.  Further, with  more and more choices of pay online content from international online content providers like Netflix,  iTune, Amazon and local players like Anyplex, myTV, Now TV and so on, we can foresee  keen competition among the industry players from which customers will benefit  through a better quality of selection  at competitive prices. And this should form a more ready and healthy environment in which to educate the customers in using the  pay model to enjoy legal copies. Let’s see what happen in the next decade.


Athena Chau
  • Name Athena Chau
  • Class Year Class of 2011
  • Company Wong & Ouyang Architects
  • Role Senior Architect
  • Industry Architecture
  • Location Hong Kong
Building a sustainable living environment together
“Less is more” is a quote by Mies van der Rohe, the world renowned modern architect. Sustainable architecture can be simply defined as making the most with the least. Sustainability has been a fashionable word in the last decade. However, sustainability is not a matter of international fashion, but a matter of survival. Today, no one can afford to not care about sustainability, climate change or energy consumption. The physical performance of buildings is closely connected to the pursuit of quality. How well will buildings endure in a changeable world? Can they survive or will they become obsolete? What will our cities of tomorrow look like?
Sustainable design is a challenging subject which requires global attention. To foster the successful exploration of strategic urban planning, cost-effective financial solutions and innovative technologies such as low carbon technologies, it will be essential to have unprecedented transnational co-operation to face that challenge.
There is something common to the design of buildings today. They are designed as lifeless machines with one-way transfers of energy from our environment into them. Yet insulating the buildings from nature is neither a genuinely sustainable nor a long-term solution to help to meet the challenges that we now face. In order to achieve a sustainably built environment, we need to rethink how we approach architecture.
Traditionally, making a building will produce a carbon footprint which has a negative impact on the environment. Carbon footprints can be interpreted as a measure of how much of the planet's resources have been used up. In the last decade, teams of building professionals have been trying to achieve a carbon zero building- a building that does not produce any net carbon dioxide emissions. But, in recent years, the industry has been exploring a new kind of architectural practice and technologies in search of a design which not only produces a zero carbon footprint, but will contribute to reducing the carbon emissions in the built environment. We are exploring the possibility of  creating buildings that can heal the environment. As suggested by Rachel Armstrong, a pioneer in sustainable solutions for the built environment, “Our future cities will be designed more like gardens than machines. Buildings will perform functions that we currently attribute to  nature, such as carbon capture. Architecture of the future will also contribute to the health of residents by removing pollution or providing food and energy. What might happen if everyday buildings were designed with the seeds of regeneration?
Creating a sustainable built environment has always been driven by the belief that the quality of our surroundings directly influences the quality of our lives. Our built environment needs to be flexible and adaptable to future uses, and be resilient to cope with the effects of climate change and energy consumption. Innovative ideas and continuous courageous explorations are the keys drivers in building a sustainable living environment. This is no doubt a long and challenging journey which we should all stand up and face nonetheless. 
Matthew Ho
  • Name Matthew Ho
  • Class Year Class of 2013
  • Company China Minsheng Bank
  • Role Assistant Vice President, Compliance
  • Industry Banking
  • Location Hong Kong
Implications of 2008 financial crises and enactment of AMLO for compliance officers in Hong Kong

In view of  global financial integration, financial markets and global economies are closely linked. The collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 triggered the waves of a financial tsunami around the globe, which seriously hit both western and eastern economies.

Looking into the possible root causes of the financial crisis in 2008, some of the scholars as well as international organizations like the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and the Development and International Monetary Fund  conducted research and issued working papers and reports on it..  The innovation of highly complex financial products with hidden risks, undisclosed conflicts of interest between different sectors of financial institutions and the failure of both the financial regulators and the credit rating agencies were named as the causes.  Despite the research topics and their angles being  different, the conclusion of these researches  shared some common findings, and they called into question the Financial Institutions’ risk management, corporate governance and compliance of applicable rules and regulations.

Financial regulators from all over the world  imposed more stringent measures by tightening up controls which aimed to prevent the financial crisis from happening again.  The three major financial regulators in Hong Kong, (i) the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, (ii) the Securities and Futures Commission; and (iii) the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance  stepped up and followed in the footsteps of the other regulators. 

The Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (Financial institutions) Ordinance (“AMLO”)  became effective on 1 April 2012 in Hong Kong. Enactment of the AMLO makes it  a criminal offence if the financial institutions and the responsible bank officer fails to implement the measures and requirements as stated in the AMLO.

Since 2008, the said regulators in Hong Kong have issued various guidelines, codes and rules which aim to match  international standards and practices, provide guidance for the enacted regulations as well as strengthen the compliance functions of Hong Kong’s financial institutions.

Vinod Shamdasani
  • Name Vinod Shamdasani
  • Class Year Class of 2012
  • Company MRM//McCann
  • Role Senior Account Director, Data & Analytics
  • Industry Marketing and Advertising
  • Location Hong Kong
Digital Marketing Trends for 2016

The digital landscape continues to evolve bringing new challenges and opportunities for marketers. Brands that succeed will treat digital as a crucial driver of a wider ecosystem, which effectively connects both online and offline activities to provide a unified experience across channels, platforms and devices.  Creating timely, personalised and meaningful dialogue with a clear value proposition will ultimately help in converting prospects into profitable customers.  There are five areas which should continue to generate buzz in 2016:

Gearing up for an increasingly mobile and social world

More users accessed social media platforms from their mobile devices rather than desktops.  Mobile will also continue to be a key channel to drive payments and build loyalty with stronger adoption of digital wallet solutions such as Apple Pay.  These solutions will only thrive holistically by combining elements of permission based mobile marketing, location-based couponing and enhanced in-store shopper tools (e.g. product comparisons/reviews) to drive intent to purchase.  Brands must focus their investments on ensuring a seamlessly integrated and optimised mobile experience to target consumers in the channels where they spend most of their time.  Not doing so will negatively impact brand perception amongst digitally savvy consumers and ultimately hurt the top line.  A case in point is Google’s recent penalisation of websites which are not mobile optimised, effectively deprioritising them in search results.

Timely content, especially video, will still be king

Brand marketers will continue to be publishers - tasked with curating and creating time sensitive and relevant content to drive conversations directly with consumers.  Developing quality video content will be paramount, along with speedy deployment across social channels to drive engagement.   More platforms are supporting posting short video clips such as Instagram (15 seconds) and Vine (6 seconds).  Facebook also acknowledged the trend by launching video auto plays on its timeline and Google took the concept further by customising the YouTube platform to curate content for a specific segment of consumers and gamers with the launch of YouTube Gaming.  These trends are expected to gain traction in 2016.

Search beyond search engines?

Consumers are increasingly conducting online searches and seeking information without using traditional search engines, e.g. by using YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon or in-app searches.  Brands will need to optimise Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) effort and budgets around social media platforms to ensure that consumers can find and action relevant information effectively.   ‘Buy’ buttons and integrated payment gateways on social channels will become more common to allow consumers to complete transactions on the channel where they started their search and discuss their purchases socially with their friends, all without using a search engine.

Success in wearables, VR/augmented reality will require game-changing apps

This year saw Apple struggle to gain strong traction with its Apple Watch and Google go back to the drawing board after its Google Glass launch.  Success in the wearables and virtual/augmented reality space will depend not only on affordable hardware, but more  on building apps with a meaningful value proposition to fundamentally change the way in which consumers interact to obtain information and experience brands.  Products such as Oculus Rift launching in Q1 2016 are currently geared towards early adopters such as video gamers and with a rumoured US$300-$400 price point, it remains to be seen how it can gain popularity with regular consumers.  However, savvy marketers, such as Elle Magazine, are still planning on utilising the platform to engage with consumers to tell richer brand stories by live streaming a fashion show.  This will no doubt be an exciting space to watch out for in 2016.

Multi-channel attribution will be critical

Accurately measuring the effectiveness and ROI of marketing efforts is critical to driving future strategy and budget allocation.  Consumers can find a brand in multiple ways both online and offline, e.g. organic search results using a search engine, paid/unpaid banner ads, email marketing links, social media links or offline sources (TV, Print, Radio, Outdoor, Cinema ads).  Since every consumer can take a different non-linear path, the ability to effectively track and connect these multi-channel journeys is crucial to understanding pre-purchase behaviour and correctly attributing a successful customer conversion to the right channels.  Breaking down internal silos to connect enterprise data across all online and offline touchpoints to get a single customer view is one of the biggest challenges which marketers and marketing software developers will continue to be faced with in 2016. 

Sebastian Pfaff
  • Name Sebastian Pfaff
  • Class Year Class of 2010
  • Company EP Electronic Print GmbH
  • Role Managing Director
  • Industry Electrical/Electronic Manufacturing
  • Location Germany
How we deal with our machines - Consumer preferences set the tone for industrial machinery too

The interface between us and our electronic gadgets is an important factor in their acceptance and diffusion as a well-designed interface makes the gadget more fun to use and the user more productive. The market for these human machine interfaces (HMIs) is a global 3 billion dollar business with the consumer section holding by far the largest share followed by industrial and medical applications.

HMIs are regularly subject to new technological innovations which are adopted with a pattern that has evolved over recent decades: A new standard in the consumer world needs 5 to 10 more years to become mainstream in the more conservative and safety-oriented industrial markets ,with the medical equipment market being even more cautious. A classic example of this is the microwave oven, where the turning knobs and movable buttons were replaced by foil keypads (technically “membrane switches”) in the mid-eighties, while the industrial equipment makers started to take up that technology only in the early 90´s. The same happened with the emergence of the first touchscreens at the end of the last millennium.

The advent of the smartphone made every industrial machinery producer  face the demand for new, glassy multi-touch interfaces. It seemed that the classical pattern would go in for another round: new technologies (projective-capacitive touch sensors) and new materials (mainly glass) had to be qualified for harsher industrial environments and new players with a background in these areas entered the market.  

But this time the change  involves not only the known switch to a more productive and versatile hardware. Now the software plays the role of the game changer. Although market research companies still predict the global number of HMIs will grow (5-10% CAGR), it is still open as to what  that growth will look like. For some truly industrial applications, the hardware HMI has already been replaced by an app that conveniently runs on an existing smartphone or tablet. Moreover, future productivity improvements from HMIs will be purely based on software. The graphical user interface (GUI),  basically how the interplay between icons, navigation and so on is organized, entails most of the functionality and can be altered or updated as the machinery ages to continuously improve its usability. Last but not least, a new constraint has emerged with the new software dependency. Many HMI projects are not completed on time or started at all because companies lack experienced software engineers to take their HMIs to the next level.

Right now, as we face trends in both directions (for more and less HMIs), players in the industry are trying to handle and harness the new technology but ultimately no one knows where we will end up. This is particularly true as augmented and virtual reality already hover on the horizon of the consumer world.