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Self-study cultivates leaders of tomorrow

Published on Friday, 19 Oct 2012
Dr Mujtaba Mian


Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s (PolyU) Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) programme brings together world-class local and international scholars to deliver an interdisciplinary programme course with international dimensions and academic rigour.

“We believe that leadership can be learned and cultivated through a continuous process of education, training, self-study and experience,” says Dr Mujtaba Mian, deputy director of the DBA programme. “This belief led us to introduce the first and pioneering DBA programme in Hong Kong in 1996. We were the first to offer a DBA programme in Hong Kong and thus have the strongest DBA alumni network.”

The programme is offered in collaboration with the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Switzerland and aims to cultivate the strategic leadership skills of corporate managers. Students are also able to join the prestigious Orchestrating Winning Performance programme at IMD.

With the tremendous influx of information, rapid development of society and increasing globalisation, leaders in both private and public sectors are facing a more complicated world that requires lots of specific skills. “This has created a demand for a DBA programme that equips scholar-leaders with leading-edge business thinking and superior analytical and problem-solving skills. This can help them better anticipate strategic trends and key risks facing their organisations in an increasingly complex and international business environment,” Mian says.

One of the advantages of the programme is the networking opportunities it offers. “A large number of prominent corporate and governmental leaders in Hong Kong, Mainland China and other countries have honed their leadership skills by participating in the PolyU DBA program. Most students and graduates are senior executives who hold positions as presidents, CEOs, directors, general managers and managing directors.

Participants come not only from the private business sector, but also from educational institutions, non-governmental organisations, and government departments,” Mian says.

“The programme introduces experienced executives to the latest analytical techniques and leading-edge business theories. A significant component of the programme includes the thesis, in which participants go through a hands-on application of the latest scientific techniques and business theories to the strategic issues important for their corporations,” he adds.

To graduate, students are required to complete eight taught subjects, two DBA residential workshops and a thesis. Applicants should have a master’s degree, preferably in a business-related area, and at least eight years’ senior management experience.

The normal study duration is three years, with a maximum duration of six. Classes are usually held at the PolyU campus on weekday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays.

Dr Eric Chu, chairman of PolyU’s DBA Alumni Association, thinks change is the biggest challenge to leaders nowadays, so senior executives should be prepared.

“A senior executive is responsible for the management of people from diverse backgrounds. He or she must be equipped with a wide spectrum of knowledge that prepares them to lead under different environments. The programme allows me to meet with senior executives from different backgrounds and to learn from them about various disciplines. Learning from leaders in different industries certainly prepares me to be more flexible and creative in changing environments,” he says.

Chu advised senior executives to take the chance to learn from one another when they take the programme. “Not only is the business environment continuously evolving, organisations keep on pushing companies to become diversified and innovative. Networking with a group of elites, intellectual competence cohorts and distinguished scholars is definitely a valuable resource for the development of a successful leader,” he says.

Abundant research resources were another reason why Chu chose to take the programme. “Taught subjects of the programme provide excellent opportunities to experience a wide range of research areas. Facilitated by the learning activities among experienced executives, and the required applied research, graduates can fully appreciate the merits of academic theories and can realise their knowledge at work,” he says.

“Research skills enable graduates to tackle difficult details in real-life workplaces. More thoughtful and accurate decisions are supported by different quantitative and qualitative skills developed over the years.”

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