Student Stories


Rupal Kala - Start Planning Early

Class of 2016 (India)
Pre-MBA: Associate Investment Banking, Espirito Santo Investment Bank (India)
Post-MBA: Assistant Vice President, Barclays Investment Bank (Singapore)

Setting Clear MBA Goals

When I started thinking of doing an MBA back in 2013, because of my background I had three very clear priorities – staying in Asia, further developing my career in the finance domain, and studying in a truly global MBA program. Given my priorities, selecting HKUST was a natural move. With its consistent #1 ranking in Asia, core strength in finance-related subjects, location in a key financial hub of Asia – Hong Kong, as well as a culturally diverse program, HKUST was surely the “go-to” B-school for me.

Enriching Experiences

My experience at HKUST was absolutely life-enriching – whether it was the learnings imparted by professors / industry veterans in class or knowledge gained from my fellow batch mates outside of class. Being such a close-knit class of 110, it created the perfect environment where I got to know each and every one of my classmates at a personal level. In fact, interactions with classmates from culturally diverse backgrounds trained me to broaden my own perspectives about life, which I consider in itself a learning of a lifetime.

As a city, Hong Kong with its ample opportunities for both work and play surely lived up to my expectations. Personally, this was the first time I had stayed in a foreign country for more than 3 months so I had my own reservations. But after just one year in Hong Kong, I can safely say that it is surely a home away from home.

A particularly memorable moment with my MBA classmates was definitely the case competition that a team of us joined. Although we didn’t win the competition but the whole journey was in itself an unforgettable experience – starting from the internal case competition, the grueling Enhancing Professional Skills course, and the intense 3-hour final round at Wharton Business School. It truly pushed us to the limits!

Exchange in the Big Apple

During my MBA I also opted to go on an exchange. With only one exchange seat available at Columbia University, it was definitely a tough nut to crack, but the effort was worth it. It surely gave the true flavor of a US MBA with the enormous intake size of over 1,000 students per year, a distinctly US-centric curriculum, a never-ending list of elective courses, and a job portal which will not disappoint anyone. I also had the pleasure of attending some guest lectures and conferences where I met and heard from some of the biggest industry stalwarts. As if all this was not enticing enough, the never sleeping New York City definitely made sure I an experience of a lifetime!

Life Post-MBA

I’ve been in Singapore for more than six months already. Like any city, it has its pros and cons. For me personally after the fast paced life in Mumbai, Hong Kong and New York (3 major cities I have lived in so far), Singapore has definitely provided me a much needed slower paced, peaceful and calm lifestyle. I have also been fortunate enough to find a really good and cordial working environment at Barclays, so all in all no complaints so far!

Advice for Prospect Candidates

One key advice I would like to give to other prospective candidates is to start planning early. One should ideally get into the MBA mode as soon as you accept an offer because once the MBA actually commences you will always find that 24-hour days are not enough. Setting well defined targets, whether it be academic, professional or personal, will help in truly enjoying possibly the best 2 years of your lives.

The other thing which I would like to add is about networking. I think in general Indians are not really good at networking given limited experience in our home country, so it is imperative that they learn this art as quickly as possible. A good starting point is talking to all Indians from last 5 batches who studied at HKUST even before they start with the MBA. I know most Indian prospective candidates will consider this as a huge task but this is actually nothing compared to what they will eventually have to do during their MBA.