Student Stories

08.08.2018

Christopher Cheung - Bridging Gaps between North America & Asia

Class of 2016 (Canada)
Pre-MBA: Team Lead, North America Lead Development Sales Operations, IBM (Canada)
Post-MBA: Director of Asia Operations, MetLife (Global Leadership Development Program) (China)

 

When you were thinking of doing an MBA, how did you end up choosing HKUST?

I was looking for an Asia experience with a global package. I knew that choosing HKUST would allow me to achieve and experience three key things:

  • Balanced learning and access to China and the rest of Asia

  • Wide range of exchange options to Europe, including London Business School and IESE

  • One of the most diverse class profiles in the world. My intake of 113 students had 24 nationalities

How was your experience at HKUST and Hong Kong?

The experience definitely exceeded my expectations for a number of reasons. Class discussions were always very interactive, allowing me to learn from the diverse experience of our classmates. The practicality of classes was something I truly appreciated. For example in a class called Growth Lab, I got the opportunity to work in a highly diverse team (Canadian, Brazilian, Chinese, American, Mexican, Chilean) for a Brazilian company on a Chinese market penetration project, and I have able to continue using those learnings from that project even in my current job.

One of the highlights during my MBA was joining the Integrated Leadership Case Competition hosted by Yale, it was extremely intense but one of the electives Enhancing Professional skills equipped us well with consulting and presentation skills, not only enabling us to perform well in Yale ILCC, but also to excel in my day-to-day jobs at MetLife. Throughout the program, there is an abundance of career & club events happening, providing students with an accelerated opportunity to build their networks in Asia, and no doubt helping me to find my foothold here.  

You were one of the selected few who joined MetLife for a summer internship and got a return offer for a full-time position. How was the internship, and how has working in Hong Kong been so far?

During the 10-week internship, I was assigned into projects where I could fully apply MBA learnings into action. For example, I was assigned to lead a consulting project analyzing two market segments in Korea. The recommendation was pitched to the global and country leadership teams and was incorporated into ongoing marketing initiatives

As part of the internship, the interns got to travel to New York for a development week. There we had the opportunity to network with other GLDPs from top MBA programs around the world. We also had the chance to attend various orientations and assessments, which test our limit and provided us with insights on how to strategize our career development during the 5 years of the global rotational program.

Working in Hong Kong which is MetLife’s regional office has given me a good snapshot of Asia with direct access to the 10 countries where MetLife operates. It gives me the opportunity to work with local teams in order to understand the market and culture, and help me assess which are the potential markets that I would be interested in developing my career in the future.   

You did an exchange at LBS, what was that experience like?

  • It completed the full package of a global MBA experience

  • Taking classes in Managing Mergers & Acquisitions and Brand Marketing, I got to look at business acquisition and market entry into China from a European business point of view

  • Networking with EMBA / MBA students from EMEA and LATAM gave me the opportunity to learn about business prospects in some of these high potential growth regions

  • On the fun side, each European classmate from HKUST hosted a trip to their home country (Italy, Germany and Spain). It was privilege to experience those countries as a local instead of just a tourist.

What advice would you give other Canadian prospect candidates who are thinking of doing an MBA?

  • Consider the extensive exposure in a multicultural environment, a Canadian candidate may see this as a natural advantage in bridging gaps between North American corporates and Asia market

  • Leverage an Asia MBA as the opportunity to acquire knowledge, network, and also language skills to enter the Asia market