Student Stories


The Journey to China – Markus Seidler

Class of 2010 (Austria)
Pre-MBA: Head of Trading Desk, Merit Group (Austria)
Post-MBA: Group Management Associate, AIA (Hong Kong & Manila)

For Markus, China offers more than just career opportunities. “Everything in Austria is different to China. I see new things, draw new insights and gain new perspectives every day here,” he says. Yet how could he settle in a completely different environment and continue to develop his career at the same time?

Markus knew that he needed an MBA program in Asia.

Exchange program

During his MBA at HKUST, Markus joined the international exchange program and spent a semester at one of the best universities in China. The Chinese way of living and thinking, particularly the emphasis on networking, really opened his eyes. A dinner is actually even more important than a great business presentation.

Before setting foot in the Chinese business environment, the Austrian had already learned that for a Westerner to work in China, priorities needed to change.


While the experience itself was extremely rewarding, Markus was surprised to find other Western MBA students from that university looking rather lost.

“There was little support from the school for foreign students. The Chinese students didn’t interact much with them because of the language barrier. And it was difficult to get into their alumni network.”

Markus recalls one Western student’s comment: “this program is better suited to offering an international learning environment for Chinese students than a Chinese learning environment for international students.”

Returning to Hong Kong, Markus found the city to be a much softer landing spot for a Westerner. Many people understand English and are more open to the West. Even the mainland students in his MBA program had a more global view of issues than those in China.

“Hong Kong is truly a bridge between East and West,” he says. “At HKUST, I got to see China in a global setting. The exchange program complemented that by allowing me to experience local China. This wouldn’t be possible without my MBA.”

Business Field Trips

Other than the exchange program, Markus also joined the China field trip, which took him to Beijing, visiting companies ranging from Google and Motorola to regional Chinese companies like Digital China and even local Beijing companies.

The experience gave him an overview of the operations and challenges of different businesses in China and how they deal with various issues. “For example, counterfeiting is a serious issue in China,” he says. “I learnt about a European retail company that actually sends their staff to look for those fake goods on the market and draw design inspirations for their own products. Making the best out of the realities you face is the key to success in China.”

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