How the MBA at HKUST teaches you to focus on what is really important

Malvern Wong, HKUST MBA alumn

Malvern Worn Canada – HKUST Business School

When his “once-in-a-lifetime experience” was interrupted by a global pandemic, Malvern Wong chose to look for the positives – and ended up learning skills that proved invaluable in his current role. With MBAGRADSCHOOLS, he recounts his time studying for an MBA at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).

What brought you to Hong Kong?

I wanted to get the best global experience that I could from my business education, but at the same time open up the gateway to Asia. The reason I wanted to go to business school was to make that regional transition, but also to make a career transition from more of a marketing function to a business function.

Why HKUST Business School?

What stood out to me the most with HKUST is the care that they put into the classes. As you’ll notice with the HKUST MBA, the class sizes are typically a little bit smaller than other MBA programs. You don’t really feel the benefits of that until you actually get to immerse yourself in the experience, because right off the bat you’ll notice that you’ll be able to connect with your classmates at a much deeper level versus if you’re one of 200-300 people.


HKUST in Hong Kong

What’s your advice to students considering Asia for their MBA?

Be open and be excited. The great thing about Hong Kong is that it’s very dynamic but it’s also very international. So you’ll have a lot of exposure to different cultures and you’ll be able to see a lot of different things as well. But you’ll never feel alone or isolated here.

Did HKUST help you land a job in Hong Kong?

To provide a little bit of context, whilst I was doing my MBA I had the opportunity to do a marketing internship at Schneider Electric. That only came about because of the connection the school had with the company, so they were able to reach out to me directly. With the resources that I was given by the CPD (the Career Personal Development team at HKUST), they were able to prepare me for my interview but also create that connection and in the end land me that internship.

Thankfully, in June I was subsequently converted into a full-time employee. So now I’m going to be staying in Hong Kong for the foreseeable future!

What was the real value of the MBA?

With an MBA you have the education side, but it also teaches you a lot of intangible skills. One of the most important things I learned was that during that time you had a lot of priorities and a lot of tasks to manage. Not just from the education; you also need to balance the networking and job search side of things. So the MBA teaches you how to manage all of these priorities and figure out when is the right time to say, “This is the thing I need to focus on right now.”

Looking back, it’s actually changed me a lot. It taught me how to persevere. When they talk about one-of-a-kind experiences, this is one of them. How you get through those experiences is something you’ll remember for the rest of your life. I definitely wouldn’t change anything in my MBA experience.


Keen to learn more about studying an MBA degree at HKUST?
Reach out to Malvern directly and ask him anything:

Malvern Wong, HKUST alumn

by Nick Harland

5 tips on getting accepted to the Harvard MBA

Harvard Business School campus

The Harvard MBA – 5 things you need to know

The Harvard MBA is ranked #4 in the world by Business Insider, #2 in the world by The Economist, and #1 in the world by the Financial Times, making it one of the most prestigious programs on the globe. With an acceptance rate of 11%, this also means it’s one of the most competitive MBA programs in the world.

What’s the secret behind a successful application to Harvard Business School? Chad Losee, Managing Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid, rounds up some of the most important admissions tips for prospective students:

1. Provide unique, valuable information in your essay

A big part of the Harvard MBA application is the essay section. In this section, the school asks: “As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?”

Asking “what more would you like us to know?” (emphasis on the “more”) suggests that the information you provide in the essay should not simply be a repetition of other parts of your application. In short: Avoid translating your resume into essay form. Instead, give yourself time and space to consider this question fully – and make sure your essay provides unique information to your application instead of rehashed details of your resume.

2. Keep it simple

When putting together your resume for a program as potentially life-changing as the Harvard MBA, it can be tempting to cram in as much information as possible.

However, your resume is simply a summary of your journey up to this point. It should be clear, concise, and in an easy-to-follow format. Avoid lengthy descriptions, irrelevant work experience, and obscure fonts. If Harvard’s admissions team can’t easily track your career path by reading your resume, you’re doing something wrong.



3. Emphasize your extracurricular activities

It’s important to understand that Harvard will not only look at your academic or professional credentials. You need to demonstrate that you are a well-rounded individual who holds interests outside of work and pursues them passionately. The admissions team wants to see evidence that you “pursue your extracurricular activities with uncommon purpose and persistence.”

This doesn’t mean that certain extracurricular activities are looked upon more favorably than others; it’s about the extent to which you pursued these activities.


4. Your GMAT/GRE score is important – but not as much as you might think

Your GMAT or GRE score is undoubtedly important to your application – but as we’ve mentioned, Harvard takes a wide range of factors into account when reviewing your application. They want to understand you as a person, not as a test score.

The Harvard MBA program does not demand a minimum score for your GMAT or GRE. In fact, this class profile shows that candidates with a wide range of test scores are accepted into the program.


5. Think beyond your MBA

Harvard is interested in what motivates you to join their MBA program, but they also want to know about your post-MBA goals. Which industry do you see yourself working in? In what kind of role? Why is Harvard the best stepping stone to achieve your goals?

Harvard looks for people with potential, so whatever your ambitions are – whether it’s opening up a business, climbing the corporate ladder, or switching career paths – Harvard wants you. There’s no right or wrong answer.

Keen to learn more about studying an MBA degree at Harvard

Harvard Business School logo


by Nick Harland

The value of adaptability at HKU MBA

Rajendra Shroff India – The University of Hong Kong, HKU


Rajendra Shoff is an alumnus of the HKU MBA. He told MBAGRADSCHOOLS why this program is different, the benefits of a diverse intake, and receiving advice that you simply can’t get from a Google search.

Why did you decide to do the MBA at the University of Hong Kong?

I decided to choose the University of Hong Kong simply because I had heard very good things about it. I had also heard that in addition to a finance specialization, they were really covering the intersection of technology and business – and I felt that’s where I really wanted to be.

The intersection of technology and business really resonated with me because in my time at an insurance company, I had noticed there was more and more of a push towards digital transformation within the industry.

I started to ask myself: “Okay, if we’re doing digital transformation now, what’s the next step? What happens later? And where do I want to be in terms of positioning myself professionally?” I didn’t know the answer to this as I walked into business school, but I did know that I wanted to go to an institution that really covered the technology aspect of business. Hong Kong University actually did that instead of just saying they do it.

What type of student does HKU attract?

Obviously if you’re trying to study in Hong Kong then you’re going to attract a lot of people that want to be in finance. But at the same time, at the University of Hong Kong in particular, they attract people from a lot of different cultures and countries. My classmates were from anywhere from Portugal to Peru, so you had that diverse mindset, different cultures…and when you put all of that together, it actually becomes a fairly laid-back environment where there’s a lot of idea exchange.

The environment and the culture there was almost like a mature undergrad situation where you had people that knew what they were talking about, but were still there to have a good time and to make the most of it. I think we realized that if you’re going to a business school, this is probably the last time in your life where you can do absolutely anything you want and grow as an individual. 


Raj Shroff, MBA student The University of Hong Kong HKU


What is the overall value of an MBA?

The word I think of when someone says MBA is ‘adaptability’. This has become increasingly important over the last five to 10 years, and it’s actually critical now. A couple of my professors that I looked up to told us that the way they made it in an industry is that they reinvented themselves every five years.

Going to do an MBA really helps you to do that. What an MBA does for you is that it puts you in touch with people that have made this transition. It really expands your network and it shows you what is possible. So instead of doing a Google search saying “What can I do in terms of my career?”, you can talk to people that have done it or are doing it. This is not knowledge you will find in any textbook or any kind of forum. 


Keen to learn more about studying an MBA degree at HKU?
Reach out to Rajendra directly and ask him anything:

Raj Shroff, MBA student The University of Hong Kong HKU

by Nick Harland

What sets the RSM MBA apart from other programs – Roberto’s story

RSM MBA students

Roberto Tijerina  Mexico – Rotterdam School of Management

From initial doubts about his suitability for the program to graduating in the midst of a global pandemic, Roberto Tijerina’s RSM MBA experience was like no other. He told MBAGRADSCHOOLS about what sets the program apart, how much he grew as a person during the MBA, and how the school gave him vital support when he needed it most.


Why an MBA in the Netherlands?

When I started looking at the program in the Netherlands, everything seemed easier. It seemed like the migration processes in the Netherlands were pretty easy, the people here are quite open to immigrants, so their culture is quite open to having people from different backgrounds. In the end there were just a lot of things started piecing together and I thought it was going to offer a really good experience. Here in the Netherlands you see a lot of people from all around the world, and it’s quite interesting to see how all of these cultures exist together in one small country.

What was your biggest learning moment during the MBA?

At the beginning [of the program] I was very nervous because I was coming to a class where the average age is 31 and the average work experience is between six and seven years – I had three to four years and I was 26 when I first started the program. So I was kind of coming up with this mentality of: ‘I don’t know if I’m good enough.’ So at the beginning I was laying back a little bit and trying to see what the scenario was like. 

But then I realized no; even though they have some things to add of value to the class, I also had my things to add. Slowly but surely I started participating a little bit more. I think for me it was about losing this fear of not being good enough and also losing the fear of being wrong. The years of age and the years of experience don’t actually make a difference; it’s [about] the way you think and all of your background.

RSM MBA students

What should people know about the RSM MBA?

Rotterdam School of Management  is like a small family, and there were several situations where we got to meet people from other MBAs. You started noticing that we were actually given the space and time to meet each other and not only work in class. We’re not only working on cases, we’re not only doing our assignments, we’re actually getting to know each other on a personal level. This is something that for me was the best thing about RSM, which now that I’ve talked with people who did other MBA programs, they didn’t have this experience as strong as I did.

Is the RSM MBA worth the investment?

Well first of all I did a financial analysis to make sure it will be worth it! The first thing I would recommend is to think about this as a mid to long-term investment. But I do think, looking at my friends from my class and also my situation, that the MBA gives you an extra jump. This jump will also give you a ladder salary jump to eventually pay back the program [costs].

The salary that I’m having right now actually gives me a good space and a good scenario to pay back my loans and also enjoy my life. My quality of life has increased for sure.

How did COVID-19 affect your MBA?

Luckily the pandemic didn’t affect my experience. The only thing it affected was that our graduation was cancelled. What it did affect was my job search. I was applying to a few jobs and I had several processes going on. When the pandemic started all of these processes were cancelled, which freaked me out for a little bit! Luckily the school has a career center that helps you understand what’s going on, so I got a lot of support from them and that helped me to continue applying for jobs. That allowed me to eventually get a job along with a few of my classmates.

Keen to learn more about studying an MBA degree at Rotterdam School of Management?
Reach out to Roberto directly and ask him anything:


Roberto TIjerina, Rotterdam School of Management MBA student

by Nick Harland

Tears, long nights & making lifelong friends – Paul’s story | SSE EMBA

Paul Seimann, SSE Stockholm MBA ambassador

Paul Seimann AustriaStockholm School of Economics

The diversity of Paul Seimann’s classmates at the Stockholm School of Economics Executive MBA means he can now look at his job, his tasks and his colleagues from a completely different perspective. Here’s his EMBA story.


Why did you choose the Stockholm School of Economics for your Executive MBA?

I started looking at MBA programs in more detail around 2015. I started screening programs in Europe and went to an open house in Stockholm, where I visited SSE. It was the first face-to-face touchpoint with the organization and I looked into the whole environment. In the end I chose SSE because of the agenda and because of the setup of the program, meaning that in 18 months I studied [at the campus] for 10 program weeks. That helped me because I did it unsupported by my company, meaning I took my vacation for it. The third point was that it felt right! I felt at home in Stockholm and in SSE because people are so open, friendly and warm-hearted.


Did COVID-19 affect your EMBA experience?

I joined one program week fully online from Austria and I joined one week locally in August in Stockholm. With Zoom technology and great preparation from SSE, the classmates and the professors, even though it was just online it was a great week.


What is the time commitment for the EMBA at SSE?

In between the 10 program weeks, it’s in general between 15 to 20 hours of self-studies a week. That’s because there is a lot of reading, a lot of preparation and a lot of group work. At the beginning you read a lot and prepare the basics. Then they add in group work and exams.


How does SSE select its students?

What SSE does is select the most colorful cohort possible. They really do an amazing job with selecting and compiling the cohort. My cohort was 56 people and within this group we are divided into subgroups, and there they managed to put in so many characters, backgrounds, industries, ages…there are so many individuals in the group.

Stockholm School of Economics MBA class


How did you personally benefit from this diverse network?

You work on simple projects sometimes but [your classmates] bring such different views and mindsets that you start to look differently at tasks. You have so many different inputs that you can take with you and get different results. I recently had one case [at work] where I had a legal issue. I called a former classmate to help me, and although it was a no-brainer for him for me it was quite a tough challenge. So I can utilize this network for my daily job, even though we’re not in the same country.


Any tips for future Executive MBA candidates?

Be sure you will have the time, because you only get out what you put in. I would have said to myself to start reading earlier, because not having English as my native language [meant] it was quite an intense period at the beginning when I built the capacity to read, learn and articulate everything in English. The third tip? Just have fun! Enjoy the program and enjoy the trip. Be sure to utilize what you get [from the program] because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime journey.


Keen to learn more about studying an executiveMBA degree at the Stockholm School of Economics? Reach out to Paul directly and ask him anything:

Paul Seimann, SSE Stockholm MBA Ambassador card

by Nick Harland

Overcoming impostor syndrome during an MBA – Roxie’s story | ESMT Berlin MBA

ESMT Berlin MBA students

Roxie Overaker United States of America ESMT Berlin MBA  

“You’re putting your professional career on hold, you’re investing lots of money – in many people’s cases their life savings – and it can be quite a nerve-racking thing. I think impostor syndrome is a natural reaction to that.”

In a new podcast series from
The Modern MBA, in collaboration with MBAGRADSCHOOLS, current & former MBA candidates explain how they are making the transition from typically unorthodox sectors into business. The interviewee this episode is Roxie Overaker, a current MBA student at ESMT Berlin whose interest in the degree was ignited by working at a business school and seeing the ‘amazing things’ that the MBA students were doing there.

Whilst Roxie’s main motivation for studying an MBA was gaining technical skills as well as the knowledge to start her own business, there’s no doubt that the multicultural nature of the ESMT Berlin MBA (94% international students) was also a key factor. “I needed to be surrounded by classmates who were coming from very diverse backgrounds” she tells the podcast. “Not just in terms of nationality but in terms of industry and background.”

Working at a business school is very different to studying at a business school, but Roxie found that some skills crossed over into her program. “Before coming into the program I had really developed my soft skills – communication and teamwork were things that I excelled at. I had [also] managed a team for quite some time before coming here.” Whether organising teams or managing ideas, Roxie has subconsciously been using the skills she acquired from her career on a daily basis during the MBA.

Roxie Overaker, , MBA ambassador

As an MBA student from an unorthodox sector, Roxie also admitted to feelings of ‘impostor syndrome’ in the early stages of the program. In the podcast she explains how she overcame it as well as discussing her plans for the future, what to take into account when choosing an MBA and how it’s possible to make the jump into the higher education sector.

Listen to the podcast:


ESMT Berlin

Contact MBA student ambassador Roxie Overaker



by Nick Harland