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Time to go global

Published on Friday, 15 Jun 2012
Angie Wong’s studies have deepened her understanding of other cultures.
Photo: Nora Tam

Angie Wong emigrated to the US when she was 13, and obtained a degree in economics from the University of Washington at the end of 2003. After graduating, she came back to Hong Kong to develop her career. She is now the business director of Fat Tat Lee Watch Company.

Wong is devoted to the watch industry in Hong Kong, where she is a prominent figure. She is a member of the board of directors of the Federation of Hong Kong Watch Trades and Industries. In 2008, she was made an associate fellow by the Professional Validation Centre of Hong Kong Business Sector.

This year, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council invited her to become one of its advisory board members, offering her opinions on market trends and the development of the Hong Kong watch industry. Wong is now pursuing a OneMBA, a Global Executive MBA programme at Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).

What prompted you to pursue an MBA?
I already had the intention of pursuing an MBA when I was an undergraduate student because I thought that having just one degree was far from adequate in this competitive world.

However, I thought it would be meaningless to work for an MBA when I did not have any work experience because I simply could not apply what I had learned to the real world.

After returning to Hong Kong and working in the watch industry for a couple of years, I thought it was time for me to realise my goal of pursuing an MBA. Moreover, my father had obtained a PhD in 2010, and this also helped to motivate me.

Why did you choose CUHK?
I had done some research on MBA courses offered by a couple of schools, and I found that CUHK’s OneMBA course is quite unique. It is actually co-organised by five schools in different countries. Apart from CUHK, the other schools are The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in the US, Rotterdam School of Business Erasmus University, in the Netherlands, Escola de Administracao de Empresas, in Brazil, as well as EDADE Business School Tecnologico de Monterrey, in Mexico. Around 100 to 110 students from the five universities attend the same course. It could give me a valuable chance to learn the cultures of other countries and help me develop a more global view. My goal is to explore and develop a global market. So I think CUHK’s OneMBA course suits me perfectly.

Are you funding your own studies or is your company subsidising the costs?

My company is subsidising about 30 to 40 per cent of my course fees.
How do you balance the demands of your job and your studies?
It is no easy task. We all have 24 hours in a day, and I think I simply could not give up everything for my studies. I still have to go to work – it is my responsibility. Besides, I could not give up my social life either. So time management has become highly important. I spend two to three hours studying on any three nights, from Monday to Friday. And I spend 10 hours studying on Saturdays and Sundays. My time management has been quite smooth so far.

What are the major challenges of your MBA studies?
The major challenge is undoubtedly holding a video conference with classmates from other parts of the world. We are required to finish three projects with classmates from other universities each term, so we will have to rely on video conferencing to discuss them. However, considering the time difference, it is certainly no easy task to have classmates from other parts of the world all sitting in front of the camera talking about our project at the same time. Besides, sometimes I need to go on business trips, and in these circumstances, I will have to miss the video conference.

Are you getting any other kind of non-financial support?
My family and friends are quite understanding. They know that I am now working for an MBA and may not be able to attend their gatherings all the time. They just keep reminding me to give them a call once I have the time. My office colleagues are understanding, too. They know that sometimes I have to attend classes for a whole day and may not always be there for them. But it is good for them as well because it gives them the chance to solve problems on their own. As for my classmates, since we only have around 14 to 15 local students, we are quite close and can help one another. The professors are also quite helpful. They even gave us their mobile phone numbers and welcomed us calling any time. I once gave them a call at 11pm but they were still glad to answer my questions.

How do you expect your MBA to help you with your career or personal life?
I think the programme’s main characteristic is communication. It gives me the chance to get to know more people, whether locally or even globally. I have been working in the watch industry ever since I came back to Hong Kong from the US. The course gave me the opportunity to get to know more people who work in other industries, such as electronics and the banking industry. What’s more, since we are required to work with classmates from other parts of the world, I had the chance to gain a deeper understanding of the cultures of people from other countries. I think this is the chief benefit I obtained from the course.

How do you see yourself immediately after graduation? How about three-to-five years down the road?
The company I work for may have plans to open branches in other countries. Considering the global view I have gained from the course, I think the main benefit will be for me to help the company achieve this goal.

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