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HR & EDUCATION | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong
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Hong Kong's largest MBA programmes in 2017

MBA providers challenged with digital tech programmes.

When the University of Hong Kong and Chinese University of Hong Kong recently checked on their alumni after graduation, they discovered that their former students’ paychecks
ballooned by an average of 114% and 132% from pre-MBA salaries, compared to Singapore’s MBA graduates who obtained increases of up to 97% on their pre-MBA paychecks.

These numbers are expected to increase in light of widespread digitalisation and innovation, as MBA students take on highly specialised programmes and acquire IT and digital credentials which are increasingly being demanded from junior and senior executives worldwide.

Aside from frequent and rapid digital disruptions, the rise of China in recent years and the mainland’s foray into Hong Kong are also changing the city’s economic landscape, consequently transforming the MBA academe. Local and international MBA providers have continued to add China and Asia-focused electives to their curricula, thereby allowing students to better contextualise their future careers.

“In today’s world, the biggest challenge to the MBA academe and in a wider context, our university is to cope with the unprecedented fast changing business world primarily driven by technology and other push factors. In Hong Kong, another big deal would be the rapid rise of China technology sector and the rapid ODI from China, which significantly affect Hong Kong,” says Lawrence Chan, administrative director for MBA and master programs, CUHK Business School.

Digital is the way to go

From a study stream in fashion, a highly-competitive case competition, to a fintech-dedicated course, Hong Kong’s MBA providers have fully embraced current trends in business and are stepping up to the challenge of dynamic educational innovation.This is reason why the city remains as a major hub for business students and educators, and top MBA providers from all over the region and the world. 

Over the last few years, Hong Kong’s executives rapidly adopted digitalisation as the primary strategy in growing their business and setting a direction for their firm. MBA providers continue to ride on this trend and provide the appropriate programme specifications in line with what’s hot in the market. For instance, the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) launched a fintech bachelor programme, the first of its kind in Hong Kong, to meetthe growing fintech space in the city. Students can expect state-of-the-art course offerings within the programme, such as financial infrastructures, e-payment systems and cryptocurrency technologies, internet finance, and financial informatics.

Chan adds that CUHK’s MBA programme also recently partnered with IBM to provide regular technology briefing and updates to students regarding technology trends such AI, blockchain, and cognitive business, among others. The rise of big data has also led to the adoption of business analytics, and the infusion of MBA programmes with business analytics courses.

Big data and business analytics

As a response to the business analytics market trend, PolyU is now offering a new subject focused on big data and business analytics. June Cheng, MBA programme director at PolyU says that this course aims to enable students to provide solutions to business problems through intelligence tools. The course also tackles pressing challenges in relation to business analytics, particularly ethical issues which may arise from the utilisation of private data.

Despite recent economic setbacks, China continues to uphold its “build, build, build” mantra. With the ever-growing scope and scale of mainland companies, Hong Kong’s MBA
graduates have deemed it beneficial to join Chinese companies, particularly technology-driven ones which are building names within and outside Asia. Chan says that graduates of CUHK are given a profound understanding of Chinese business culture on top of the western educational setting, hence, they are well-equipped to take on the challenge of Chinese companies.

“CUHK MBA has also provided entrepreneurship studies within MBA for more than five years, as now MBA students are expected to have entrepreneurial spirit. They are often asked to start a new venture, acquire new overseas subsidiaries, start new business units, among others, and also straight ahead to start up,” says Chan.

Dynamic international education

Hong Kong’s MBA providers have embarked on even more firsts for the MBA academe in the city. Cheng says that PolyU’s fashion stream for MBA — the first and only one of its kind — draws upon PolyU’s Institute of Textiles & Clothing to offer practical knowledge from omni-channel retailing to international fashion and textile design.

This MBA is especially relevant in the age of fast fashion and the ubiquity of huge clothing brands around the world. Meanwhile, HKU MBA has recently strengthened its career development services in order to provide a sharper focus for career goals and directions among students. Sachin Tipnis, executive director of HKU’s MBA Programme, shares that their programme continues to grow in scale as it offers weekday and weekend modules and marketoriented and/or China and Asiafocused electives, thereby providing diversified value-added components to the programme. PolyU has also prioritised an international business standpoint by offering its own international business stream, which arms students with expertise in aspects related to international trade, such as sourcing, supply chain management, project management, investments, and international financial management. Cheng also shares PolyU’s business research stream, which allows students to focus on their research interests whilst being guided one-on-one by a strong faculty team.

Setting a solid foundation

CUHK Business School is also set to launch a new Master in Management (MiM) programme this summer 2017, designed for young graduates with low work experience who wish to accelerate in their careers. 

According to Chan, this programme would be ideal for non-business graduates to set a solid foundation to start their career in a business role despite having a beginner-level background in work. It is also important for MBA graduates to understand the huge competition they have from other topnotch MBA providers around the world. With this in mind, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Business School launched the Global MBA challenge, which aims to be a platform for MBA students from around the world to compete and learn from each other. Sean Ferguson, board director, HKUST, says that the Global MBA challenge is an excellent opportunity for HKUST’s students to engage in cross-cultural exchange.

“We aspire to attract talented students from around the globe so that we can all benefit from the interaction and being able to put together a truly international case competition,” says Yulia Adamskaya, co-chairperson, competition organising committee, HKUST. The recent Global MBA challenge was composed of three different rounds, including a short flash case, a strategy case, and a negotiation competition, all towards presenting viable solutions for strategic issues faced by the case companies — Sears Holdings Global Sourcing Ltd and ANZ Banking Group. HKUST won third place, Nanyang Technological University Business School won second place, and Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management brought home the gold. Other schools who took part in the challenge are NUS Business School, Singapore, SDA Bocconi School of Management, Italy, London Business School, UK, INSEAD, France, UCLA Anderson School of Management, USA, and Université Laval, Canada.

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