A tech MBA for a career in tech: HKUST’s leading emphasis on science and technology
When it comes to technology, HKUST is certainly ahead of the pack. The university has made significant contributions to scientific research, related to fields such as drone technology, fintech, and quantum communication.
Derek is a project manager in Central Strategy and Planning (EMEA) at Uber. He decided to pursue an MBA at HKUST Business School because of its emphasis on science and technology.
Uber is also proactive in supporting Derek’s new learning journey. “They give me flexible working hours and time to do homework,” Derek tells us. “The point is Uber trusts me and they’re willing to invest the time and resources in me to finish my MBA.” (01:46)
He is already taking some of his tech MBA learnings back to the company, such as strategy planning – one of the key functions of his role at Uber. “The second key benefit from the MBA is how the business is doing [and] how we work as a business owner,” Derek adds. “At Uber, we always mention that we need to act and think like a business owner. I think this is quite relevant to what I’ve learned from the MBA.” (03:27)
MBA learnings: How Derek puts his tech MBA to work
When asked which courses have made the biggest impact on him, Derek immediately thinks of three courses. These are Technology Entrepreneurship, IT Management, and Cryptocurrency, Blockchain and their Business Applications.
In Technology Entrepreneurship, students learn how businesses start from an idea and ultimately become professional organizations. “This knowledge can nurture an entrepreneur mindset [for me] to get back to work and to pitch to my big bosses,” Derek says. “I think this is a very insightful and an important learning from my first course.” (04:34)
The IT Management course in the HKUST MBA is led by Professor Jeevan Jaisingh, a prominent researcher and lecturer in the field of information systems. Derek explains, “He has a very sophisticated expertise in project management and IT consulting, so he told us a lot [about technology like] AI, blockchain, and online trends.” (05:12) For Derek, this course is crucial because it can teach him how to leverage technology to create new business opportunities.
Finally, even though Cryptocurrency, Blockchain and their Business Applications is not related to Derek’s role at Uber, he still finds value in learning about the topic. “It’s not 100% related to my job, but it opens my mind. Blockchain is one of the things that companies would like to consider so they don’t ignore or neglect technology,” Derek explains. “It’s definitely [something] that we can look into in terms of business opportunities at Uber.” (05:56)
Derek’s top 3 favorite things about the HKUST MBA
As one of the top-ranked MBA programs in the world, there’s certainly a lot to love about the HKUST MBA. Derek highlights three aspects of his tech MBA experience:
First, the culture. “HKUST has a culture where everyone treats each other as buddies and colleagues to learn from each other,” he tells us. (08:25) Derek especially appreciates the opportunity to network and meet new people, allowing him to build his soft skills.
Second, the flexibility. Derek explains that he was never overloaded with coursework. He was also able to make adjustments if needed.
Third, the professors. “They are very well-prepared,” Derek says. “[Professor Jeevan] memorized all the names and backgrounds of all the [students] before the first lesson. This is very impressive.” (09:55) Besides the content itself, Derek says, “It’s refreshing to remind ourselves how to be good leaders [and] how the technology can be leveraged to contribute back to the world and to change the community as well.” (10:46)
Do you accept the challenge?
Derek cautions prospective MBA students to be aware of the massive challenge that stands before them. In the end, however, it’s all worth it.
“We cannot ignore the fact that it is very challenging,” Derek says. “Given that it’s challenging work, it’s actually quite rewarding. The people you are going to know [and] learn from and all the knowledge and theories that you learn from the MBA program [are] actually quite fruitful.” (11:55)
An MBA program is a rigorous, often stressful experience. However, it also presents new opportunities to learn, grow, and advance through your life and career.