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Broadening business horizons

The Graduate

Prior to studying for an MBA at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), Gauri Dehadrai spent five years in marketing in three of the world’s most exciting cities: London, Hong Kong and New Delhi.

In London she worked in the digital marketing team of the Independent newspaper, while in Hong Kong she was a part of the digital marketing team of UBM Asia, one of the world’s largest B2B media companies. In New Delhi, she worked for India’s foremost media corporation, The Times of India Group.

She graduated from her MBA in August and is now working for Microsoft HK.

What prompted you to pursue an MBA?
A number of reasons. First was curiosity and the need to switch industries. I had done media marketing for a long time and, although I loved it, I was looking for something new.

I also wanted to have a more holistic view of business. While I excelled at marketing, I always felt I was at a disadvantage because I had no formal education in finance or strategy.

The third reason was to understand the way business was done in China and Asia.

Why did you choose HKU?
The first thing I did was look at the rankings. HKU’s business programme was ranked No.1 by The Economist in Asia. The fact that it has a partnership with Fudan University in Shanghai, a highly reputable business school, also helped. It fitted into what I was looking for in a business school.

I had also been in touch with the MBA director and I liked his vision and passion for the school and the path he had charted for it.

Did you fund your own studies or did your company subsidise the costs?
I funded them myself.

How did your studies affect your personal life?
The one thing that I have learned during the course of my MBA is to make time management an art, and learning to prioritise. I had a new-born baby when I started this course, a very big social circle in Hong Kong and an overwhelming volume of coursework. But I did not want to miss out on anything. I can look back and say that I worked hard and played hard. Having a supportive husband and family went a long way towards me successfully finishing my course.

What were the major challenges of your MBA studies?
The one challenge that most of us faced was balancing our studies and widening our network of professionals in the industry in which we were planning to pursue a career. There are too few jobs and far too many candidates vying for those opportunities, so the key is to stand out, prioritise and manage time effortlessly.

What kind of support did you get from those around you?
I had immense family support. I can also proudly say that I have been able to keep in touch with some professors from the HKU fraternity, as well as those who visited, who continually help to broaden my horizons in different fields and subjects. The MBA office was very active in mentoring and guiding us throughout the job-search period.

How has your MBA helped you?
Careerwise, I did the MBA to change industries. I have been able to achieve this and am now working in the IT industry. Personally, I am a much more confident person. I was able to explore, and gain knowledge of, subjects that I did not have access to before.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years I see myself as an entrepreneur with operations in Asia.