Choosing the HKU MBA experience
The University of Hong Kong’s (HKU) MBA was ranked the #1 MBA in Asia from 2010 to 2018 by The Economist. Business schools don’t receive such high praise for so long without an education that is a cut above the rest. Its dominance is due in no small part to the continued evolution of the course alongside changing market demands.
However, it’s not just numbers and rankings that attract students to the HKU MBA experience.
Located in a vibrant business center spearheading Asia’s economic rise, HKU offers all kinds of opportunities to students and graduates. Graduate Manasy Vidyasagar says, “When I decided to do my MBA in 2014, Asia was a very much growing market – more than the western countries.” (00:43)
Since then, Asia and Hong Kong have gone from strength to strength, and the city is likely to continue on its path of growth.
Challenges and possibilities: Language
MBA candidates thinking of studying at the University of Hong Kong may initially be put off by potential language barriers in their studies and further careers. However, the reality is quite different. English is commonly used as the lingua franca in businesses and in daily life around Hong Kong, alongside the other official languages of Mandarin and Cantonese.
After understanding the linguistic differences, Rahul Sharma realized just how many opportunities were on offer without knowing the language. He explains, “Hong Kong is a financial hub. There are a lot of roles out there that don’t require the language skill set. You have project management roles, product management roles, or product development roles.” (02:34)
As is the case in any market, learning the predominant local languages is an amazing string to your bow. You can put local business people at ease and open doors that wouldn’t ordinarily be possible. To help you on your path, HKU offers a range of language classes that help international MBA students find their feet in their new home.
Challenges and possibilities: Living costs
It’s no secret that Hong Kong is among the most expensive places to live on the planet. However, when you dig a little deeper, there is more context to consider.
First, while rent is high, you can still save money elsewhere. Other megacities have much higher costs in other areas than those in Hong Kong. After looking at the numbers, Manasy says, “If you compare it to cities like London or New York, then your taxation also is much higher, so I think at some level it does balance it out.” (03:13)
When taking a long-term perspective, you also have to bear in mind the return on investment. Yes, Hong Kong is expensive – however, it puts you in one of the world’s greatest business centers. Furthermore, your location and the university itself create an environment where you mix with like-minded business people in the classroom, in groups outside the classroom, and even in your social life.
These advantages mean that over time, your salary is likely to be higher. Therefore, if you can afford the initial investment, you will make your money back and then some more.
Rahul’s MBA-inspired career change
While the nitty-gritty details vary immensely, MBA students choose their paths for similar overarching reasons. More often than not, a career change is high on the priority list. For some students, this means going from technical roles to managerial positions; for others, it is building a high-level network.
Since graduating, Rahul’s career change has encompassed more responsibility in different areas of banking. Aside from changing locations from India to Hong Kong, he has changed his role twice within two years of graduating. He explains, “I started off as a product manager in the private bank and now I have transitioned into a relationship manager for brokers on the investment bank side.” (03:49)
Making such significant career leaps without the proper training is quite an arduous task, which is why so many people choose the HKU MBA pathway.
Three ways the HKU MBA experience boosted Manasy’s career
Although she studied the exact same program as her husband, Manasy’s evolution took a different route. Prior to completing the MBA, she worked at PwC for four years, dealing with a range of financial services companies in Hong Kong. After graduating, Manasy pointed to three ways that the MBA took her career to the next level:
- Presentation skills
As part of the HKU MBA experience, students end classes with a presentation before taking questions and receiving feedback. As a crucial part of consultancy work, these presentations worked as a training ground where Manasy could work on her skills and learn from professors and students.
- Time management
Another key aspect for consultants is being able to manage your schedule. No MBA is a walk in the park, and students are seriously tested to keep a lot of balls in the air at one time. The intensity of the MBA, with its varied topics and tight deadlines, makes you improve your time management.
- Covering far-reaching subjects
Another of the key takeaways for Manasy was the generalist approach of the HKU MBA experience. Although she specializes in finance, her studies opened her eyes to a huge range of business aspects.
While Rahul used the broad approach to switch roles, Manasy explained how it improved her skills when working with clients. “[The MBA] helps you put yourself in their shoes and think how this firm is thinking of progressing, and what we can do as a consultant to make their company better,” she explains. (05:14)
Two different experiences: A summary
Through Manasy and Rahul’s contrasting HKU MBA experiences, we can see the versatility of an MBA.
In 2021, the HKU MBA program ranked 29th in the Financial Times Global MBA Ranking, making it one of the most respected and applicable business courses in the world. As we’ve seen through Manasy and Rahul’s journeys, it can act as a career springboard, whatever your aspirations are.