There is more to the MBA than a good GPA. The HKUST experience

Lin Yuan, an Australian native, decided to pursue his MBA at HKUST Business School in Hong Kong. He knew that he would gain the quantitative skills he lacked, but never expected how much it would change his way of thinking and ultimately his life. He told us how he got so much more than only academic knowledge in the program, how he moved from being a specialist to a generalist and how this broader thinking brought him immense personal growth.

In short

Lin Yuan (Australia) – HKUST Business School

Why did you decide to study in Hong Kong?

One of the beauties of the Hong Kong MBA compared to the rest of the world is the proximity to China and other locations in South East Asia.  It makes a great destination for people coming into the program thinking about where they want to explore their opportunities. If you want to spread your net wide and search out where you want to pursue a career during these sixteen months there is no better place than Hong Kong. Within two hours you can cross the border with the train to China and within a one-hour flight you can be in Vietnam or Thailand. This location allows you to explore where your career options lie.

What did you want to learn in the MBA?

When I first came into the MBA, I thought the quantitative skills is what I was going to build throughout this journey. Coming from a sales background, I thought I had all the soft skills ready in life through interacting with customers and working with people on a day to day basis. I actually never thought that coming out on the other side of the MBA soft skills would be the skills that I developed the most. The MBA at HKUST Business School really gives you this platform to take on leadership roles to further develop yourself that you would not have been able to do outside in the business world. I, for example, had to lead a team of twenty people as the leader of the Social Impact Club. That gave me so much more exposure than I would have received in the outside world.

How would you describe the HKUST community?

If you look at all the world-class MBA programs, most universities will offer the academics and the curriculum – they are all almost the same. When I chose my MBA, for me, it was about the people. To get the most out of the MBA program you really need the right network to get you through the journey so that you can get the most out of it. We had academic professors who are extremely well versed in their subject areas and the other half of the professors were from real-world business environments which shed another light on the teachings and made it real. The HKUST alumni are also really important. They often spent their time coming back to the university, not only to educate us about their journeys through the MBA but also offering opportunities for us to get to know more about their organizations.

How important are personal relationships and networking?

During one of my Financial Accounting classes, I had a question that I did not know how to answer. My first reaction was not to go to Google or one of the text books to search for the answers, but to pick up the phone and call a classmate who is from an accounting background. This is an example of how these are the people you meet and build relationships with – you can rely on them to help you to maximize your career and personal goals as you come out into the business world.

What have you learned from challenges on the program?

One of the biggest things that the MBA has taught me is to stay resilient and be positive no matter what the situation. It hasn’t been the easiest journey for us, given the political unrest and the pandemic. We also faced a relatively gloomy job market. However, at the end of the day, most of us came out on top and this is a life lesson that you cannot learn anywhere else. You can learn about Financial Accounting and Supply Chain everywhere, but teaching you this attitude to keep on fighting, no matter where you are, is the biggest lesson I got out of my HKUST MBA.

Lin reiterated how the MBA has changed him personally and professionally. He has absolutely no regrets and said that, if asked to do it all over again, he would.

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