The key question that defines the HKUST MBA
How will technology change work in the future?
That’s one of the key questions underpinning the MBA program at HKUST Business School in Hong Kong. By giving students the tech skills they need to thrive in a digitized world, HKUST aims to future-proof their careers. One of the professors responsible for overseeing this is Ohchan Kwon.
“I’m interested in studying how technologies, and especially digital technologies, are affecting businesses and society,” he says. “I’m excited about doing research and also teaching some of the related stuff to both undergraduate and MBA levels here in HKUST.” (00:15)
Ohchan teaches two courses within the program. They may cover slightly different topics, but in essence, both are trying to answer the same question we outlined earlier.
“For MBA students, I’m teaching two courses. The first course is tech entrepreneurship. The second course is a brand new course I’m going to teach next semester called AI and the future of business,” he adds. (02:18)
The role of digital technology and AI in business
Traditionally, MBA programs teach students the fundamentals of business: marketing, economics, accounting, management, and leadership. So, how does the HKUST MBA marry these business fundamentals with new technological innovations? Ohchan believes his role is to show students how they can bridge the gap between these two areas.
“New digital technology is what a lot of people are interested in these days. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another area that people are interested in learning more about. And I think people usually do not think that there’s a gap between these new technologies and other business fundamentals,” he explains. (03:46)
“But, in many cases, if you are creative and flexible, you can always apply some of the lessons that you are learning and the fundamental kind of perspective and tools in your context,” he adds. “My unique role here is to show students how to apply the business fundamentals in new contexts such as digital technologies or AI.” (04:08)
One of the biggest challenges for business schools is simply keeping pace with this rapid technological change – and that change is affecting some industries more than others. In Hong Kong, it is perhaps most visible in the region’s largest and most famous industry.
The changing face of Hong Kong’s finance industry
According to the Global Financial Centres Index, Hong Kong is the third-biggest financial center in the world, behind only New York and London. Because of Hong Kong’s reputation as a global financial center, Ohchan believes that “the finance industry is where a lot of our MBA graduates want to join after graduation.” (06:24)
Finance is one of the industries seeing widescale change as a result of technology. With the fintech industry expected to mushroom into a $324 billion market by 2026, MBA graduates hoping to break into finance simply can’t ignore it. Ohchan says HKUST is shaping its MBA program around these changes, and students are responding to it.
“In a sense, finance is an area where we are seeing the biggest and broadest impact of these new technologies. I think here at HKUST, a lot of MBA students didn’t used to think about developments in tech,” he tells us. “But because these new technologies are going to reshape the finance industry, I think people are very excited and very curious to think about what they can do to prepare their careers in the future.” (08:08)
How does the HKUST MBA future-proof the career of its students?
For Ohchan, the HKUST MBA is all about giving students a long-term competitive advantage in the job market. “I want them to understand that this is an area that’s experiencing a lot of change. I expect that there will be fundamental changes to the industry that will totally reshape it in the coming years. So, for many of them, this two-year MBA program is the best way to prepare themselves so that they can be competitive 10 years after graduation,” explains Ohchan. (12:13)
Being able to secure a job after graduation is, of course, extremely important for prospective MBA students. It’s a huge selling point for business schools and one of the first things people look at when searching for an MBA. However, Ohchan says that while this is important, it’s just as important to find an MBA that can equip you with a broad skill set – one that helps you adapt to change.
“I believe the ability to think about this new technological environment, and learning how to apply their business insight in this new context, will be very important,” he states. “I want students to think about that angle a little more. Getting a job is important, but you also need some broader perspective about improving your capabilities.” (13:16)
It is this long-term focus that sets the HKUST MBA apart as a top-ranked program. Technology is rapidly changing the way we work, and your ability to respond to those changes will determine how successful you are in your career. Whichever industry you’re hoping to break into, the HKUST MBA equips you with the skills and knowledge you need to not just adapt to change, but thrive.