Student Stories


4 must-haves for career success in Asia – Marc Boelen

1. Ability to excel in a global setting

Marc was attracted to the HKUST MBA partly because of the global diversity of its student body, which includes over 25 nationalities in each class of around 100 to 120, and its focus on business in Asia. Having spent his entire career in the Netherlands before the MBA, it proved to be quite a challenge for Marc to work with classmates from different cultural backgrounds.

“The Dutch are usually quite direct. In one of the student groups, I was the only European in a team with others from North America, Asia, and China. I learned the importance of listening to others and showing them respect in order to work effectively with them despite our differences,” he said.

The global environment of the MBA program has prepared Marc well for his current role at Tommy Hilfiger, where he manages a team with both Western and local members and works with other regional offices.

2. Insight into different business areas

Marc’s career was largely focused on mergers and acquisitions before the MBA. He realized that to take his career to the next level, he needed more expertise than purely finance concepts and skills.

“I wanted to be able to think at a higher level and view business from a broader perspective, as well as to equip myself with an understanding of other fields such as strategy, supply chain management and marketing,” he said.

One of his favorite professors at the program was Roger King, who is a successful entrepreneur and teaches the MBA courses on entrepreneurship and family business.

“Professor King has a lot of real-life business experience to share. I gained many insights into different areas of business and the Asian work culture through his sharing on his own ventures and family business from the management perspective,” said Marc.

3. A network to leverage

Throughout the program, Marc has seized every opportunity to network in Hong Kong, while maintaining his old business connections in Europe.

“I love to meet new people, not just for career purposes but also to make new friends. I have joined all kinds of networking events, whether organized by the Chamber of Commerce, the Dutch Club, or the HKUST MBA. Meeting new people always broadens your view,” he said.

Marc’s efforts eventually paid off with several employment opportunities. One of which was a business development role at a Hong Kong hospitality group for which he was referred by an HKUST MBA alumnus. One of the others was his current position at Tommy Hilfiger for which he was recommended by someone from his former professional network.

4. Persistence

On the job opportunities for foreigners in Hong Kong, Marc believes that although there are some cultural and language barriers to overcome, it is not as tough as people think.

“Some people will always complain about not being able to find a job here. But I think they are not being persistent enough and give up too easily. I came with my wife to Hong Kong and she was also able to switch careers here. The key is to always reach out for opportunities,” he said.

Marc kept himself busy throughout the program, first joining a part-time internship by applying through the MBA Career Office and later getting the job offers through networking.

The important takeaway from Marc’s story is that people who succeed never sit and wait for opportunities to fall into their laps. They go out of their comfort zone and create opportunities for themselves.

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