Asia business schools must adapt to change
As the global economy continues to move sluggishly forwards, Asian markets remain some of the world’s most attractive. This is a trend that is also evident for business schools in the region, which are now a leading choice for MBA aspirants from all over the world.
Business schools in Asia can provide students with knowledge about Asian markets, access to regional hubs – such as Hong Kong – and immersion in Asian culture.
Being able to generate innovative ideas and having an entrepreneurial spirit are becoming basic requirements for success. At HKU MBA we have set up the Business Lab module, which provides an opportunity for students to pursue their passion for entrepreneurship. The aim of this module is to incubate the development and consolidation of business concepts using the knowledge and tools learnt during the MBA programme.
Business schools need to adapt to changing landscapes, and at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), we are working closely with students, alumni and recruiters to develop our MBA programme in terms of structure, content and delivery.
One example is our China Immersion Programme, which is conducted in Beijing so that all of our full-time students can experience the China market and culture first-hand – a must for those who want to be part of the Asian success story.
The courses also have to reflect the market. We have added electives such as Business Networking: Managing Social Networks for Business Success, Online Business Strategy, Asia and the New Global Economic Order, Private Equity, and Business Strategies in China and India to prepare our students well for current market scenarios.
With MBA students flocking to Hong Kong from all over the world, we have achieved a good balance at HKU, with 50 per cent of students coming from Asia and 50 per cent coming from outside Asia. This creates a dynamic mix of students who are able to learn a great deal from each other.
We are seeing a trend with part-time MBAs where students from neighbouring cities such as Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Macau are coming over on the weekend to pursue their study. Nearly 30 per cent of the part-time class is made up of expats who are working in Hong Kong, and most of the local students are working in mid- to senior-level management positions with regional responsibilities.
HKU’s MBA programme provides dedicated career services, including career treks to places such as Singapore, Shanghai and Beijing, so that our students can explore opportunities in the entire region. The job market is very challenging at the moment. Financial services companies are slowing down recruitment, while companies operating in the luxury, supply-chain and retail sectors are hiring more staff.
We are providing extra resources to our students, such as subscriptions to many premium job-related portals and access to better tools and resources. This year we have started a mentorship programme at the MBA level so that our senior alumni can provide guidance and coaching to our students.
Our buddy programme also helps students connect with recent graduates, who can share their experiences in maximising their MBA studies and looking at the best career opportunities.
Overall, the MBA market remains strong. Whether the economy is booming or sluggish, it is important for professionals to enhance their skills in order to stand out.
Sachin Tipnis is executive director of MBA programmes at the University of Hong Kong
As told to Michael Taylor