Student Stories


Flavio De Laurentis - McKinsey Business Analyst on Earning an MBA in Hong Kong

Class of 2016 (Italy)
Pre-MBA: Business Analyst, McKinsey & Company (Italy)
Post-MBA: Associate, McKinsey & Company (Italy)


Flavio De Laurentis’ hometown of Brescia, Italy has been called Italy’s ‘industrial capital’. This undoubtedly influenced his career choice. He moved some 100km away (around 60 miles) to the country’s second-largest city, Milan, where he earned a Master of Science in Automation Engineering. After spending a year in Japan working for a large multinational electronic device company, and another year in Italy with a similar company, he joined McKinsey & Company’s Milan Office. To move ahead in the company, there was no other choice. Flavio needed an MBA.

For Flavio, the HKUST MBA was the best option. “I had three different alternatives,” he explained. “INSEAD in Singapore, CEIBS in Shanghai, or the HKUST MBA. INSEAD is full of consultants and therefore was not really appealing to me; I wanted a school more focused on finance. CEIBS was two years, so it was too long. Furthermore Singapore can’t really compete with Hong Kong in terms of lifestyle and the MBA was more expensive. For one of its core strengths in finance and China in general, HKUST was perfect for me. Therefore my choice was pretty straightforward.”

McKinsey & Company

At McKinsey, Flavio worked on a variety of projects. “Broadly speaking, I worked on business planning, strategy definition, financial analysis and process redesign of several large companies across the whole industry spectrum.” He also participated in side projects dealing with M&A deal analysis, operational efficiency and due diligence of target companies. He adds that, “Of course given my previous experience in the electronic device industry and my engineering background, McKinsey staffed me most on client related to the tech industry and, when necessary, on clients operating in the finance industry.”

As his work became more involved, pursuing an MBA became a necessity. “After two years as business analyst you have two choices,” Flavio explained. “Either you pursue a secondment in a different firm or you pursue an MBA in a school of your choice. I had been dreaming about an MBA since I was 21, therefore for me the choice to take was very clear. The firm was very keen on me leaving for a year to pursue the degree and they facilitated a lot in the application process.”

Flavio shared that being a full-time student was the most convenient option since it allowed him to finish his studies in a relatively short period of time.

Life in Hong Kong

“Hong Kong is nothing like Europe and I understand how some people could easily lose control in this city which sometimes reminds me of a giant amusement park,” Flavio admits. “Digging a bit deeper in the city though, it is quite clear how things are rapidly changing, I don’t think it is anymore a frontier as it was before 1997, nor for businesses nor for individuals coming here in search of the ‘expat dream’ of low taxation, huge opportunities and sky rocket salaries. Competition is much tougher now and if you don’t speak Mandarin or Cantonese your opportunities narrow down a bit. I believe that both businesses and individuals now need a much more thorough planning and creativity to make it into this city.”

During his time earning his HKUST MBA, Flavio says, “I was surprised to notice that I haven’t changed that much in all these years, I still have the same flaws and positive traits. The MBA experience can be compared to a mirror, having such a full life puts you in a position where you can’t really avoid looking at yourself for what you are. From this perspective the MBA taught me a huge lesson, I might not be able to change myself too much, but I can learn to manage myself much better.” His advice for students hoping to success is, “Bond with your classmates as much as you can, you will soon realize that without collaboration it is impossible to get the most out of the program.”

Flavio graduated the summer of 2015 and returned to McKinsey’s Milan office as an associate. His ambition for now is to build a well-rounded profile, a cross-over between engineering and business in order to maximize and broaden his potential opportunities in the future. During his two years back in Italy, he hopes to get to a manage level and after that see what options are open, both within and outside the firm. His long-term hope is to return to Asia with McKinsey in the future.

Read Flavio’s full story in QS’s website here: