Student Stories


Formula for success in Asia – Sylvain Gysler

Class of 2008 (Switzerland)
Pre-MBA: Associate, Union Bancaire Privée (Switzerland)
Post-MBA: Vice President, Team Leader, Credit Suisse AG (Singapore)
Current: Head of Intermediaries, VP Bank (Singapore)

Sylvain Gysler fell in love with Asia at the age of 20 and started to visit the region on an annual basis. After graduating as a Swiss-certified banking expert in Geneva, he studied finance in Sydney to leave his comfort zone before returning to Europe to work. Not long after, Asia beckoned yet again.

“I talked with my boss to see if they could relocate me to Asia. But no such opportunities were available,” he said. Not wanting to give up easily, Sylvain took matters into his own hands. “I figured out that you have to do it yourself.”


With Asia rapidly becoming the centre of the world economy, executive openings in the region attract applications from all over the world. The chances of a European professional with only Western experience being recruited are slim.

“I needed to differentiate myself from other Europeans as someone who already had Asia exposure – through an MBA,” Sylvain mentioned. He thought about studying in Singapore, “but Hong Kong is an English-speaking community and much closer to China, which made it a more interesting choice to me than Singapore.” There was also the crucial matter of quality: “no local schools in Singapore came close to the HKUST in the global rankings,” he explained.

Sylvain kept in touch with his former colleagues after he left Credit Suisse in Switzerland. When he completed his MBA, he learned that his old company was looking for someone to manage the North Asia business region for the department from the Singapore branch. With a European background, Asian exposure and a reputable MBA degree, Sylvain immediately stood out.


“My decision to study at the HKUST proved to the company that I was fully committed to working in Asia. Also, from a management point of view, it saved resources by employing someone already settled here than flying someone over from Europe,” he said. “This matters especially in times of recession.”

Although Singapore is now his home, Sylvain’s job in private banking requires him to manage clients located mainly in Hong Kong and mainland China – a task for which he is ideally suited given his MBA experience. When reflecting on his decision to study at the HKUST, Sylvain stood by his original choice.

“If you asked me whether I would do this MBA again, my answer would be yes,” he said.

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