On the home stretch
Jerry Pu, from Nanjing in China’s Jiangsu province, majored in computer science at Nanjing University. After graduating he worked for Intel China as a product manager, where he focused on designing and deploying tailor-made computer solutions for emerging markets.
His dream of international study experience saw him pack his bags and move to Hong Kong to study an MBA at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), with the help of scholarships from HKU and Hang Seng Bank. He graduated in 2009 and returned to the mainland and Intel, taking responsibility for local ODM (original design manufacturer) sales development.
Then his wife started a PhD at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Pu repacked his bags and returned to Hong Kong, where he is now responsible for corporate strategy at the Jebsen Group, a trading firm that markets and distributes international brands in Hong Kong and China.
What prompted you to pursue an MBA?
Firstly, I wanted international study experience. While it was a happy experience studying in the mainland, it failed to give me any international study experience. Studying in Hong Kong gave me the chance to fulfil my dream.
I also wanted to build up an alumni network through studying an MBA as I believed it would be beneficial to my work. By studying in Hong Kong, I would also increase my international work exposure.
What were the reasons behind your choice of school?
HKU is one of the best universities in Hong Kong and has a good reputation in Asia. Alumni come from different industries and may even be prominent figures in their own fields. Knowing as many of the alumni as I can will undoubtedly be helpful to my future career.
HKU also offered me a decent scholarship which was able to significantly cover the course fees.
Did you fund your own studies?
I am self-financed. The company I worked for before subsidised employees to study part-time in Shanghai, but that wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to go to an international city to gain international study experience. That’s why I chose to come to Hong Kong, even though it meant funding my own studies.
How did your studies affect your social life?
As Hong Kong is close to mainland China, people here are able to speak Mandarin, so it was quite easy for me to communicate with local people. I made many friends on the course and they offered me a lot of assistance in helping me to adapt to life here. I was very grateful to them.
The friends I made during the MBA even helped me find employment here when I returned with my wife. My job was recommended to me by one of my classmates.
Having such a wide social circle has greatly helped me improve my social skills. As I am from the engineering field, social skills were not something I was particularly good at. It helped me change from an engineering person into an all-round managerial-level candidate.
What were the major challenges of your MBA studies?
The financial crisis exploded two months after I started my MBA studies. At that time, the economic situation around the world was really bad, as was the job market. Many people lost their jobs. I was under huge pressure during my studies, worrying about whether I would find a job or not after graduation. The future was kind of blurry to me at that time.
What kind of support did you get from those around you?
My family and my wife gave me huge support. I also got great support from my previous boss. When I was working on my MBA in Hong Kong, I kept close contact with him. I told him everything I learned from the course and he always asked me to go back and work for him after graduating.
How did you expect your MBA to help you with your career? Were these expectations met?
One of the reasons I decided to study an MBA in Hong Kong was to explore the opportunity to work outside mainland China. Now I have got a job in Hong Kong, and I enjoy my work life in Hong Kong very much.
The other reason I came to Hong Kong is to gain international study experience. This expectation was met as well. During the course, students were required to spend four months at either Columbia Business School or London Business School. I chose to go to London Business School. Those four months greatly enhanced my international study experience, and it also broadened my horizons as well. I always feel glad that I made the right decision to come to study in Hong Kong.
Where do you see yourself five years down the road?
Before I came to Hong Kong, I only felt comfortable working in mainland China. But after spending some time here, I now have sufficient confidence to work outside the mainland. But my goal is to go back to the mainland, the place which I am familiar with, because I believe my expertise can be applied there to a large extent. Eventually I hope to start my own business.