HR & EDUCATION | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Why HK's MBA providers are now banking on soft skills

New modules on Artificial Intelligtence and more focus on experiental teaching over academic knowledge are changing HK’s MBA agendas.

Andrew Chan, executive associate dean, Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) said that their focussed curriculum on digitalisation and technology through courses includes AI and machine learning, tech disruptions and innovative business models, and design thinking to help students keep up with changing times.

China’s increasing presence in the international business scene has also prompted MBA providers to offer electives around the Chinese business scene and China markets.

“CUHK MBA programme stays ahead of the game by offering globally competitive programme that provides the best of international curriculum with our deep China market knowledge. Our concentration option in finance and technology is a truly focused specialisation for finance professionals whilst the entrepreneurship and innovation concentration is for aspirants to start up in Asia,” Chan said.

This year, The University of Hong Kong also introduced an elective on artificial intelligence, borne out of a growing interest from the student body not only in the technology itself, but also in its current applications, its ethical dimensions, and its solutions for various business challenges.

“Finance and Technology courses like FinTech 101 and FinTech Analysis cater to the needs of working professionals who want to expand their expertise knowledge around finance, technology, especially on the FinTech front. In 2019, we continue to put a strong focus on China, and we have plans to introduce courses around business models in Greater Bay area-cum-Belt Road initiatives and the China business macro environment,” Chan said.

Practice over theory
Another trend that has emerged over the last few years is the application of concepts to real-life situations as MBAs should prepare leaders for action, and as such practice-based learning is now becoming even more critical. Silvia McCallister-Castillo, also from The University of Hong Kong, said that this year, students can look forward to developing not only the technical hard skills they need to get an interview, but also the soft skills to lead their teams.

For CUHK, students are prepared for the real world through field trips to countries like Chile and Zambia, where they are exposed to different elements of entrepreneurial and startup ecosystems, as well as technological innovation from the other side of the world. CUHK also embarks on outreach activities to Israel and the USA, and delegates their students to lead these activities.

“In the pipeline will be electives in the China markets, digital transformation, digital leadership & breakthrough strategy as well as FinTech & payments. We have also been in touch with some top-notch CEOs in the commercial world that would help deliver courses and talks that are essential to develop our students’ skills from different perspectives,” Chan said.

Who made it to the list?
The University of Chicago Booth School of Business remains at the top of the rankings with its Executive MBA Programme headed by Richard Johnson. The programme receives 80 students per part-time intake, with each intake lasting 21 months and costing $1,355,000. The City University of Hong Kong’s MBA stands at a close second, with a slight drop in the number of students from 131 in 2018 to 128 in 2019. CityU’s full-time intake lasts 12 or 18 months, whilst its part-time intake goes for 24 or 36 months. The General Curriculum for CityU’s full-time and part-time intakes cost $338,000 and $283,600, respectively.

Meanwhile, CUHK’s Executive MBA is ranked third with 98 parttime students under a 24-month part-time intake costing $635,000. At fourth and fifth places are CUHK’s MBA Programme and MBA Programme in Finance, respectively. The MBA Programme hosts 99 full-time students and 155 part-time students, whilst the MBA Programme in Finance (part-time only) has 280 enrolees at present.


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