Pull of knowledge
After graduating from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) with a degree in computer science, Eric Wong joined conglomerate Jardine Matheson for about a year before plugging into the telecom sector via Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN), where he has been for almost two decades. From a marketing executive position, Wong has risen through the ranks to his current role – associate director of the corporate division.
As part of HKBN’s programme for its high-potential employees, Wong enrolled in a part-time Executive MBA (EMBA) course at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) in 2007, graduating in 2009.
Why did you opt for an EMBA?
It is because of both push and pull factors. For the pull factor, the company had offered me a very good package at that time–it fully sponsored my programme. As for the push factor, I studied computer science [at HKU] and had been working in sales and marketing for a very long time, so I thought maybe it was time for me to learn something new and meet new challenges, and also to broaden my horizons.
Why did you choose CUHK?
Firstly, it was because of the quality of the CUHK EMBA programme. Its world ranking has always been very high and it attracts executives from different industries, which is important for good networking. CUHK’s EMBA programme has met my needs.
How did you balance the demands of your job and your studies?
Apart from my job, I actually had three other things to balance when I studied my EMBA: my studies, my family and my life. My two kids were just two and five years old when I started my EMBA, so I wanted to spend as much time with them as I could–but I was also very busy with my studies.
Eventually I figured out a way that allowed me to spend time with them while I was studying. Every time I had to read my EMBA books, I would also ask my kids to read their favourite books, so the three of us were reading at the same time, and they could immediately ask me if there was something they did not understand.
As a result, aside from doing my studies, I was also able to strengthen my bond with my kids.
How did your studies affect your personal or social life?
The programme did indeed help fill up my knowledge gaps in some areas, such as in finance and human resources. The EMBA has also helped modify my way of thinking. As I got to know more people from other industries, it made me see things from different angles.
What were the major challenges of your EMBA studies?
It would no doubt be time management. For a period, as I struggled to spend more time with my children during my EMBA studies, I even drove them to school in the morning so that I could make use of the chance to talk with them. I would then head to my office after dropping them off. As I started my day earlier than usual, I usually finished my work early as well, which meant I could have more time for my studies.
Did you get any kind of support from your family, friends, office colleagues, employer, classmates and professors?
My wife has certainly given me a lot of support, because I was sometimes not able to have more time for the kids. My professors were also very helpful, as they understood that we had full-time jobs. They sometimes offered us extensions if we were not able to finish assignments on time. And my boss offered me great support, too. [HKBN] encourages its staff to pursue further studies, so the drive for continuous learning is rather strong in the company.
How did you expect your EMBA to help you with your career or personal life?
The programme has definitely broadened my horizons as well as my knowledge. In fact, some of my EMBA subjects were new to me, so the programme definitely helped equip me with new knowledge. Besides, my classmates came from different industries, and talking with them was always mentally stimulating. I also got to know more about emerging trends, such as those in human resources.
How do you see yourself three to five years down the road, especially given your EMBA degree?
One of the biggest gains I got from the programme was realising that I can still always learn. After I finished the programme, I suddenly found myself with plenty of spare time. My desire for knowledge was still very strong and I did not want my learning path to come to an end. So I decided to try something new, such as learning how to play the saxophone. I also sat for the CFA [Chartered Financial Analyst] examination. So for the near future, my goal will be trying new things in my life and meeting new challenges.