Career Advice 進修新知

A foot in the door

Law grad Shuhei Aoki took eight years to realise he wanted to be in HK finance – and an HKU MBA is his key

The Student

Shuhei Aoki’s dream of working in Hong Kong banking saw him quit his financial services job in Japan to take up an MBA at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). A law graduate from Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan, Aoki worked as an assistant in a law firm for two years before his interest shifted to finance and he spent six years in financial services.

Eventually, he realised that Hong Kong’s financial infrastructure was much better than Japan’s, so decided that studying here would help him develop a career in the city. He expects to graduate this year.

Why did you choose HKU?

HKU is a renowned university with a very long history and a high global ranking. It is also very famous in Japan. MBA teachers at HKU are all very experienced and have good connections with the business community, which can help me achieve my goal of working in Hong Kong.

Are you funding your own studies or is your company subsidising the costs?
I am funding my own studies.

What are the most important things you have learned so far?

I have learned that I have to move and make decisions much faster than what I was used to in Japan. The Japanese tend to think deeply and consider things for a long time when it comes to making decisions. In some cases this is good, but it can also be inefficient. Here in Hong Kong, people tend to do everything faster. I have also had to learn to move faster and get used to the fast pace of this city.

What are the major challenges of your MBA studies?
My classmates have varying backgrounds and opinions, so the challenge for me has been how to lead them and take the initiative in group projects. I have been engaged in projects in my company before, but most of the team members were Japanese, with only a few foreigners. The situation is totally different when you are doing a project with members with different backgrounds and opinions. It is not always easy to reach a compromise or a conclusion when discussing an issue.

Language was another challenge. I had to get used to English as a teaching language here. Understanding Chinese is also important.

What kind of support are you getting from others?

I am getting huge support from many people, such as my parents. They encouraged me to come to Hong Kong to pursue an MBA. My friends in Japan have also been very supportive. They even helped me search for some useful information, such as how to communicate with people in Hong Kong.

How will your MBA help your career or personal life?

I hope my MBA will enable me to build a good network, not only with my classmates, but also with professionals in the business community here.

I have come to know more people from various industries through the programme. This is totally different from my life in Japan, where the people I knew were mostly from my industry. So the MBA has broadened my horizons and allowed me to learn more about myself through my interaction with classmates.

Where do you see yourself after graduation?
I hope to work for a financial company in Hong Kong by using the knowledge I’ve learned from the MBA and my work experience. I am sure that working here will be more advantageous to my career than working in Japan.