Student Stories

24.08.2016

Julie Kong – 4 benefits of a part-time MBA

Julie Kong
Class of 2011
Pre-MBA: Manager, Segment Marketing, Hang Seng Bank
Post-MBA: Senior Manager, Segment Solutions and Portfolio Management, Standard Chartered Bank

Julie Kong was promoted to a more senior position in her industry after completing her MBA. So what was it about her studies that prepared her to take on a wider scope of responsibilities? Julie reflects on her biggest gains from the program here.

1. Accelerate your career advancement

 When Julie decided to do an MBA at HKUST, she had one goal in mind: to differentiate herself from others in a competitive job market.

“There are so many people out there with the same set of skills and work experience as you,” said the recent MBA graduate. “Having a reputable MBA degree on your resume could be the distinguishing factor when you compete with others for a promotion or a better job.”

Shortly after her MBA, Julie was recruited by Standard Chartered into a more senior role and, although there were other factors besides the MBA that were behind the recruitment, the MBA definitely put her on the right footing. “My immediate boss was also an MBA graduate, and her boss even had an EMBA. Having such a professional qualification surely adds value to my profile,” she said.

2. Brush up your soft skills

As a marketer, Julie is no stranger to delivering presentations. But it was difficult to tell whether she was having the desired impact until she joined the MBA.

“In the office, you don’t really ask your boss or colleagues what they think about the way you present,” she said. “But at HKUST MBA, I often received feedback from my professors and classmates on how I could improve. Sometimes there were even video recordings for me to review my performance.”

 Time management was another essential skill that was put to the test as Julie juggled not only work and part-time MBA studies, but also the arrival of a baby mid-way through the program. “It really tested me on how I managed my time,” she said.

But she managed to handle this big challenge and even complete her MBA program within the original timeframe of two years, emerging with better time management skills and greater productivity at work.

3. Sharpen your business acumen

Even though she had a Marketing degree prior to joining the MBA program, Julie found there were still business concepts and terms that were alien to her. The program helped her to cover those gaps through a spectrum of courses that build a solid business foundation for executives.

“For example, I did not understand how the change in the Federal Reserve System’s interest rate would impact the economy. But through the program, I have become much more knowledgeable about how the economy works and about business jargon used in the market,” she said.

This benefited her in her work. Julie’s previous job required her to specialize in segment marketing for high net worth clients so with greater insights on the macro-economy, she was able to anticipate potential changes in the ways people managed their assets. This in turn propelled her to adjust her own strategies accordingly.

4. Become part of an exceptional network

 To commit oneself to studying in one of the world’s top MBA programs while doing a daytime job is no small feat. That is why students of the HKUST MBA are usually self-driven individuals who set high standards and have high expectations of themselves.

The students come from a wide variety of backgrounds which adds value for their classmates. One of Julie’s study groups included people working in news reporting, project management, finance and other fields, and their distinct perspectives gave her new angles for looking at her work and her life.

“I am most impressed with the quality and diversity of peers in the program. They are not only smart, but also serious about what they do. Nowhere else can I find such a quality batch of people,” said Julie.