Stephanie’s desire for a career with impact post-MBA
As a trained actuary, Stephanie spent a few years working as an Actuarial Analyst in the life insurance industry. An actuary is someone who uses math and statistics to measure and manage risk and uncertainty. Stephanie soon realized, however, that she wasn’t enjoying her actuarial work. “I realized that rather than focusing on the technical number-crunching type of role, I wanted to do something that would have a more direct scaled impact,” she states. (00:30)
After shifting to consulting work, Stephanie began to consider an MBA to broaden her horizons, sharpen her soft skills, improve her business acumen, and meet new people.
“There was a time when I was still a bit lost,” she admits. “Someone said to me, ‘you need to convince yourself that you need this MBA before you can convince anyone else.’ I had to do some soul searching and really try to figure out why I wanted to do this [and] what I wanted from this experience.” (03:37)
Returning to Hong Kong for the ultimate MBA experience (at a top-ranked business school)
While she was born in Australia, Stephanie spent most of her childhood in Hong Kong before returning to Australia to complete high school and university. So, why did she decide to return to Hong Kong for her MBA?
“At least in the short-term, I knew I wanted to stay in Hong Kong, so it made sense for me to do this MBA in Hong Kong to build a broader network and learn more about this place and develop myself,” she explains. (05:29)
As a central hub in Asia, Stephanie also felt like Hong Kong was an exciting place to live and work. “You get to see more things across different regions and it’s very interesting how all these different cities in the region are slightly different, yet they’re all so close to each other,” she says. (05:01)
As one of the top-ranked business schools in Asia, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) stood out as the obvious choice for Stephanie. However, she says, “The number one reason why I picked HKUST was really because of the people [and] the community…I felt like it was a very open-minded, vibrant, and approachable community, and I wanted to be a part of [it]. Aside from the alumni, the staff was amazing. They would just go out of their way to help you. I knew I wanted to be surrounded by these people and become a part of this community.” (05:57)
Building the confidence for a career shift
Before her MBA, Stephanie felt stuck in her actuarial role. She struggled to find companies that would empower her to take on a different role.
Today, with an MBA in hand, she feels more confident. “I don’t mind staying in the life insurance industry. I’ve had experiences in the past where I tried to apply for jobs that were not actuarial roles, but people just didn’t really have the confidence in me in making that switch,” she tells us. “But through the MBA, I really gained more confidence. There are skills and knowledge from my past experience as an actuary that I can still bring forward, but with soft skills [and] business acumen.” (11:40)
Stephanie completed a summer internship at Sunlife, a life insurance company based in Canada. It provided her with a great opportunity to try something different. “I was working at the Asia regional office, focusing on change management and customer experience,” she explains. “It was a very fun and interesting experience because…I got to see a different side of life insurance because I’ve always focused on the technical finance side of things. But with this role, I really got to see how insurance is sold [and] what people struggle with.” (09:58)
Investing in yourself
Even though Stephanie’s MBA cohort was uniquely small due to the pandemic, it allowed everyone to build closer connections.
“I love my class. We are a nice bunch,” she says happily. “Although we had a small class, I think it was actually a good thing for us because we were a lot closer.” (13:14)
The diversity of the class, both culturally and professionally, also showed Stephanie how important it is to embrace differences. “We don’t have to be the same,” she says. “When someone’s different from you, it doesn’t mean that they are wrong and it doesn’t mean that I’m right. We just have to embrace and respect that difference.” (13:51)
When it comes to giving advice to prospective MBA students, Stephanie says, “Just enjoy it because time flies. There are moments when it’s very stressful…but enjoy it because you took at least one year off to invest in this MBA [and] to invest in yourself.” (14:08)
An MBA is a lifelong investment. At a top-ranked business school like HKUST, an MBA can also open your eyes to new opportunities – just like it did for Stephanie. Whether you’re thinking about a change in career, industry, or role, doing an MBA will expand your opportunities, skills, and network to empower you to build a career with impact.