Student Stories

22.08.2016

Minky Cho – a global career outside Asia

 

Class of 2012 (Korea)
Pre-MBA: Project Coordinator, Citibank Korea (Korea)
Post-MBA: Management Associate, Li & Fung Limited (United States)

The HKUST MBA has contributed a great deal to who I am today and has more than met my expectations. Having spent most of my life in Korea, I would never have expected that after my MBA, I would be doing business and product planning for Calvin Klein footwear in New York.

Making the MBA decision

When I was working for Citibank in Korea, I longed for a job in the global arena to expand my exposure to other places.

I was greatly interested in China, as its influence in the international community is growing. HKUST was my top choice due to its reputation as the best program in Asia, its student diversity, and its location in Hong Kong, which offers excellent exposure to both China and global business.

 

Figuring out the best path

I was in retail banking before the MBA. At first, I just wanted to do an MBA and try other finance areas such as corporate banking.

However, after being exposed to many different cultures and industries through the people I met in the program, I gained a new perspective and discovered where my true strength lies.

During the MBA, I worked with a lot of smart people. While my quantitative skills might not have been a match for theirs, I knew my personality and flexibility would give me the advantage when dealing with different people. With this realization, I began to explore other job opportunities that would allow me to tap into my strengths.

Landing the dream job

I attended a company presentation by Li & Fung on campus. Frankly, I had never heard of the company before, so it was quite a surprise when I learned that Li & Fung is actually a huge company that works with many top global brands behind the scenes.

The presentation was inspiring, and taught me a lot about the company philosophy and scope of opportunities available given its recent acquisitions of other companies. The key to growth and success in Li & Fung lies in managing people, and I knew I would excel there. I applied to its Management Associate program and was assigned to the New York planning team of its U.S. subsidiary.

Thanks to my MBA, I am now able to think and act more strategically, anticipate challenges and come up with solutions with the big picture in view. This has turned out to be vital for my current role, as I need to support and provide information to the business, sales, and product development teams with strategic insights from numbers and facts about one of my company’s licensed brands, Calvin Klein.

Advice for Korean candidates

As a native Korean, it is still a learning process for me to promote and assert myself in the Western business environment. Because of their Confucian values, Koreans tend to be humble, but my MBA and current job have shown me the importance of being flexible and vocal.

You really need to express your opinions clearly and make yourself heard. As English is the main language that Koreans use to communicate with people from other countries, confidence in its use is also key to success and survival when you are working in a global capacity.