Student Stories


5 ways an MBA can prepare you for career advancement – Joyce Cheng


Moving from a locally listed company to a multinational corporation listed in Japan has profoundly changed Joyce’s work and the people she deals with. Her MBA was a key factor in enabling her to transit to this new stage in her life. Five benefits in particular made a difference:

1. Recruiters’ confidence in the quality of your qualifications

 Several months before interviewing her for her current job, Joyce’s boss had accompanied Nissan’s CEO to deliver a talk to HKUST MBA students.

“HKUST has a good relationship with corporations, including Nissan. When my boss saw my profile, he was immediately aware of my degree and was impressed with the fact that I come from HKUST, which he thinks is a great institution to be associated with,” says Joyce.

2. Get you prepared to take on a more global role

As a regional manager, Joyce looks after her company’s PR in China, Asia and Oceania. A major part of her job is to work closely with and provide advice and supervision to the local teams.

“The MBA has increased my appreciation of different cultures and mindsets. Having expatriate classmates from countries like Japan, China, Taiwan, Thailand and Korea has trained me in how to work more effectively with people from these cultural backgrounds.”

And help is often just a call away. “I have gained many new friends from the MBA. Whenever I have any questions, I can just give my former classmates a call and seek their advice,” she says.

3. A common language of management across different regions

 One of the greatest challenges for Joyce in her new job has been adapting to the corporate culture at Nissan, which is very different from the Hong Kong company where she previously worked. Her MBA training, however, gave her an advantage.

The program provides a management protocol that has helped her tremendously in adjusting to and understanding her new business environment.

“The MBA offers a common language of management. The focus on different perspectives and the kinds of subjects studied are similar across MBA programs. This has made it much easier for me to get accustomed to the global setting and management style here,” she says.

4. Sensitivity to and awareness of global business realities

Among the faculty at HKUST MBA, Joyce was most impressed with the part-time professors who are still working in industry.

“What they taught us was drawn from the market in real time. You don’t feel like a student in a classroom, learning things from books written by somebody years ago,” she says.

One of her favorite professors was Paul Schulte, who works as the Managing Director, Global Head of Financial Strategy at the China Construction Bank International in Hong Kong.

“When I joined his class on the Global Economy and Emerging Markets, the Euro crisis was going strong. Professor Schulte discussed with us what was happening in the market that week and even what to expect in the next week. It was all very exciting since we got to learn everything first hand.”

5. Practice how to impress the top management

 Other than Schulte, senior executives like the former CEO of PepsiCo Asia, former VP Marketing of IBM Asia Pacific and even a current Director at Bain & Co. also serve as adjunct faculty on the program.

“How often do you get to learn from people like them and get them to comment on your work without risking your career?” says Joyce.

She recalls how her professor challenged the way her team delivered their presentation, such as whether the figures were appropriately analyzed and their perspective was relevant to the audience.

“Executives of that level are usually the boss of your boss. At HKUST you are given a chance to learn not just from their rich experience, but also how to impress people like them,” she says.

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