Monday, October 7, 2013 C5
SPECIAL REPORT: OVERSEAS MBA AND POSTGRADUATE EDUCATION
Going further Business school study tours add value. Reports by Raymond Ma
ecognising that classroom learning alone is insufficient in instilling MBA graduates with what they need to excel in today’s global economy, business schools in Hong Kong have been hard at work organising activities outside the classroom to give students a broader perspective on international business trends. Take, for example, the Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM), which organises an annual overseas study tour to both allow students of its part-time degree programmes to gain first-hand knowledge of best practices at leading international organisations and help them expand their networks. Professor Richard Petty, executive director (international) and professor of management (accounting and finance) at the school, says MGSM recently held a mainland China study tour to explore management skills that have helped form the China growth story. “Many of our students have a view to working in China, and this necessitates a broader range of skill sets from managers, including financial understanding, the ability to formulate and implement strategy, and high-level communications skills,” he says. The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Business School also sends its MBA students abroad
on short trips. However, according to Sean Ferguson, the business school’s associate dean of master’s programmes, one of the best ways to ensure that students are plugged into what’s happening in the global business world is having a multicultural student body. Ferguson says that the school’s current MBA classes boast students from 31 different countries, with 80 per cent of its MBA student population hailing from outside Hong Kong and mainland China. “When everyone has a slightly different point of view, the ensuing social interaction is an education in itself,” he says. Besides regular overseas field trips, another area where the HKUST Business School has seen success is in sponsoring students to compete in business-case competitions around the world. This year, students from the school won first prize at the InnovateChina global business competition in Shanghai, which was hosted by the China Europe International Business School. They also won first prize at the National University of Singapore’s NUS Asian Stock Pitch Competition in Singapore, as well as various other prizes and trophies at other competitions. The Chinese University of Hong Kong Business School also recognises that international business-case competitions help build teamwork skills, as well as the ability to manage in
multicultural settings and work under pressure. The school also organises overseas field trips, networking events, CEO talks, and community-involvement events to provide its students with a diversified learning experience, according to Lawrence Chan, its director for marketing and student recruiting for MBA programmes. For the past 11 years, CUHK Business School’s MBA programme has also organised mentorships, with students being paired up with senior alumni based on their career interests. Chan says that mentors typically offer industry knowledge with a view towards helping prepare students to fasttrack their careers. “An MBA education is not only about theory, examinations and GPA. It should offer additional outside-classroom learning experiences, challenges, networking opportunities and, more importantly, multicultural exposure,” he says. Deborah Biber, country manager for the Hong Kong MBA programme at the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM), says that a major challenge faced by parttime MBA course providers when designing extra-curricular activities is time. While full-time students can immerse themselves in such activities, part-time students typically have to juggle time demands from work and simply don’t have the luxury of venturing abroad for
educational purposes – even on short trips. “Having said that, we at AGSM think that it’s really important that our current students also get the bigger picture,” Biber says, adding that one way the school compensates for this is by fostering ties between current students and alumni. Whenever possible, AGSM hosts its sharing sessions on knowledge and thought leadership for alumni during evenings when no classes are being held, so that students can attend and network. The school also holds informal drinks sessions where students can get together as often as once every quarter, Biber says. AGSM also encourages interaction between its Hong Kong and Sydney student bodies by organising get-togethers whenever full-time students from the Australian campus visit Asia. AGSM’s Australian students can also select to do short elective courses in Hong Kong, which offers local students the opportunity to better understand trends affecting businesses outside Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong University’s School of Professional and Continuing Education (HKU SPACE) provides a variety of activities to both part- and full-time students, including trips to foreign countries and mentorship schemes. One activity that is not part of
Tech trip sparks Ivey students’ ideas
Loron Orris, regional director of EMBA programmes at Ivey Asia, says the field trip was well received by students. Photo: Jonathan Wong
he rise of Silicon Valley to dominate the global technological agenda has been the biggest business success story to come out of the US in the past 50 years. For a group of EMBA students, that story came to life during a recent field trip where they not only had the chance to visit Silicon Valley in person, but also to meet and speak with influential
entrepreneurs to learn how the area succeeded as a hotbed of innovation and value creation. The group of 27 EMBA students from Ivey Business School’s Hong Kong class of 2014 spent nine days – five in Silicon Valley and four in San Francisco – in August to participate in a work study trip. During the trip, they met speakers from nine companies, Eric Morse led the Silicon Valley field trip. Photo: Ivey Asia
including Deutsche Bank Financial, Intel, LinkedIn, Oracle, SAP and Wal-Mart Labs. Topics included idea generation, start-ups, rapid growth, multiround financing, exiting to IPO, organisational renewal and how to manage talent during explosive growth. They also met with some of the over 400 Ivey alumni working in the two regions. Loron Orris, regional director for Ivey Asia’s EMBA programme in Hong Kong, says that besides connecting with influential figures and alumni in the technology sector, one of the aims of the trip was to allow the students to take part in a course on entrepreneurship and build a business plan for a new venture.
“The trip was very well received … in terms of both students coming up with new ventures as well as learning from Ivey alumni in Silicon Valley about what helped them grow and develop companies,” Orris says. “We had six different groups and three of them are looking to move forward with their new ventures in some form or another, which is really encouraging.” The trip was led by professor Eric Morse, associate dean for programmes and professor of entrepreneurship at Ivey. He says that participants were delighted by the insights gleaned from the trip, which will be useful in their current jobs and in starting new businesses.
Three [groups] are looking to move forwards with their new ventures LORON ORRIS, REGIONAL DIRECTOR – EMBA PROGRAMMES, IVEY ASIA
HKUST Business School’s Sean Ferguson says their students come from 31 countries. Photo: HKUST the regular syllabus is a short course on wine appreciation. Solange Leung, a programme director at HKU SPACE’s College
of Business and Finance, says the course is focused on the basics of wine appreciation, but current and past students of the
course can opt to join an informal get-together which offers the opportunity for participants to network.