Student Stories


From L’Oreal to Burberry – Carol Zhou


Class of 2014 (United States)
Pre-MBA: Marketing Director, L’Oreal (New York)
Post-MBA: Director of Marketing – Asia Pacific, Burberry (Hong Kong)
Current: Senior Director of Brand Marketing - Asia Pacific, Marriott International (Hong Kong)

Why did you decide to do an MBA?

Going back to school for an MBA has been my goal for a long time. My job in New York kept me too busy to pursue this goal. However, I realized that I will have my whole life to work, and only a limited time to go back to study. So finally, I decided to take the plunge and just do this before it was too late.


2. You were already doing very well at your old job in New York. What drew you to Asia?

Compared with Asia, the North American market is much more stagnant. For those seeking challenges and hoping to jump-start their careers, the growth in Asia offers more opportunities to accelerate your career path.

There is a saying: “If you can make it in China, you can be successful anywhere”. A couple of years in Asia will bring more returns than a decade elsewhere. I have always wanted to work in Asia and I was finally going to make this a reality.


3. Why did you choose HKUST?

At the stage in my career, it didn’t make sense for me to attend a 2-year program in the States. I wanted a program that focuses on Asia but still has a global perspective. I was attracted to HKUST MBA because of this East meets West concept.

Hong Kong is also one of my favorite cities. It offers wonderful culture, diversity of people, fantastic food, relaxing beaches; I can go on and on!

4. How did you end up working in Burberry?

Originally I had planned to work in Shanghai with my previous employer. Then one day, Burberry sent me a message through LinkedIn asking if I was interested in heading the marketing team in Asia for its newest division – beauty.

Long story short, I accepted Burberry’s offer and now manage 13 different markets in Asia Pacific for one of the most dynamic luxury brands in the world. This goes to show that life is full of unexpected surprises and we just need to embrace it with an open mind.

5. How different is your current job compared with what you used to do?


In my old position, I headed up the global team and developed strategies for all of the regional markets. It represented a very big picture and involved a long term strategy.

Here, since I am responsible for a new business area for Burberry, the work is much more challenging and has an entrepreneurial ring to it. My role is regional, which involves taking the global strategy from the London headquarters and adopting it to each of my local markets. It is more operational in nature and completes my experience.

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