Student Stories


Asia Adventure far beyond expectations – Erik Emilsson


Class of 2011 (Sweden)
Pre-MBA: Senior Auditor, Ernst & Young (Sweden)
Post-MBA: Global Engagement Management Associate, Citigroup (United States)
Current: Head of Global Subsidiaries Group, Nordics, Citigroup (Sweden)

Erik has a truly international background, having been born in Sweden and completed his bachelor’s degree at UCLA following a couple of years of high school education in Europe. He enrolled in HKUST’s full-time MBA program in 2009 to broaden his horizons to include Asia. Erik is the co-Chairman of the student-organized Finance Club.

Why did you choose HKUST for your MBA education?

It was all about the reputation and exposure to Asia. I wanted to diversify my portfolio. I came from Europe and I studied in the US. Many companies are planning to expand in Asia, so this is the next destination to which I would like to extend my reach. Hong Kong is one of the most dynamic and westernized Asian cities and it provides an easy transition for me into this part of the world. HKUST also has the best ranking among the Asian business schools. I am very excited about what the future holds for the program, which our recent World’s No.9 ranking by Financial Times clearly indicates.


What did you expect to gain from the program and how has the program met your expectations so far?

I have gained much more than I expected. I was expecting to get more knowledge about the China market and to be taught by faculty with high quality research and credible insights to share. My experiences so far have gone well beyond these expectations. The adjunct faculty is very close to the China market and they have a lot of interesting stories and knowledge to share and teach. The diversity of the student body, with over 80% being international students from all around the world, has helped me to realize the different problem-solving and thinking approaches by people of different cultures. Through debates and discussions, I have really learnt how to listen and build up trust among people from a totally different background to mine, especially those from Asia. This is a very unique and key quality of the school!

What has been your experience in the program in training to be a responsible leader?

Responsible leadership is somewhat of an intangible concept but nonetheless very important and something leaders have to keep that in mind all time. Setting the stage, at the beginning of the program we were taught a leadership course called Responsible Leadership and Ethics emphasizing the approach of how to become a caring leader. The message of responsible leadership is also consistently conveyed to us in discussions with professors, which helps us to develop a framework as well as principles to understand and evaluate our personal values and where to take those values in the long-term. We are taught the importance of considering the long term effects and overall optimized well-being of different parties and stakeholders when making a decision.


You are one of the key members of the Finance Club. How has this benefited you?

In a lot of ways! Especially from the meetings and projects I have with my peers in this club. Students here are very generous and we compete and learn from each other in a positive atmosphere and a good way. The club organizes gatherings to share views and experiences on different topics, ranging from corporate banking to private equity and hedge funds, and we also organize visits and talks with external parties, a number of those bulge-bracket banks. During the meetings and preparations for these events, we gain a lot of soft skills. We learn how to bridge the expectation gap between different parties, to communicate effectively, to be flexible, to manage relationships and to improve our own time management by setting priorities. Debates on hot topics help us to get updates and insights from different perspectives of the market. The club also provides a lot of networking opportunities.

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