Student Stories

22.08.2016

Theodore Milonas – A truly transformative experience

 

Class of 2015 (Greece)
President, MBA Student Association 2013-14 
Pre-MBA: Business Development, Energy Technologies and Biofuels S.A. (Greece)
Post-MBA: Management Consultant, PA Consulting Group (Switzerland)

1.
How would you describe student life in the HKUST MBA?

Student life at HKUST is extraordinary! In addition to studying, students can participate in a range of events organized on a daily basis by the MBA program and the MBA student clubs.

Events are diverse and include personal development workshops, networking events with alumni and professionals, and cultural nights. The Enhancing Professional Skills program and the international business competitions with other top MBA schools are also unique at HKUST. It is more likely that students will run out of free time than events in which to participate!

2. What do you think about the students’ relationships with each other?

 

The special advantage of the HKUST MBA is the diversity of its student body. In our year, we have 31 nationalities in a class of around 110 students, and more than 80% are from outside Hong Kong and China.

Every single student has a very distinct background and a teamwork mentality that stimulates the dynamic exchange of ideas during classes, team projects and cultural activities.

Students are always helpful and willing to share their knowledge and experience, and expect you to do this also. As a foreigner, doing my MBA here has provided a great opportunity to better understand the business mentality in China. My fellow classmates were very patient, explaining to me the right gestures and attitude when doing business in China, the importance of building personal relations (guanxi), and the need to always save face.

 

When we represented HKUST in a leading MBA business competition at Columbia Business School, my team combined the working and cultural experiences of our four members from Greece, India, the USA and Spain to produce a creative solution for a multinational company expanding into emerging markets. Our proposal won first prize. This would never have happened without our different backgrounds and our openness to generating new ideas as a team.

You will be amazed by the creativity fostered by such a diverse environment. To experience a new way of thinking and working with people, all you need to do is join the MBA program with an open and inquiring mind.

3. Can you describe a particularly memorable moment with your MBA classmates?

It is so difficult to select only one memorable moment! I would like to highlight the international night, which is an unforgettable event for those who value diversity and intercultural understanding.

 

Students from all the nationalities in the class are invited to present traditional dishes and a cultural performance from their homeland. While it may not be immediately obvious, these sorts of experiences are extremely useful for those wanting to work in a multinational environment.

Respect for and appreciation of other cultures are crucial when working and living in an international environment. There is nothing better and nothing more “ice-breaking” than showing others that you are interested in learning their traditions.

As an intern at Methanex I currently have many colleagues from around Asia. With the experience I gained of working with people from similar backgrounds during my MBA, it is easy for me to collaborate with my colleagues at work and connect with them socially. Sometimes I even surprise them with the very few Cantonese words I know and my knowledge of the local cuisine.