True love for gloves
After graduating from the University of Toronto with a degree in economics in 1996, Juliana Lam returned to Hong Kong and joined her family’s glove manufacturing business, the AML Group. After working there for over 10 years she decided to pursue an Executive MBA (EMBA) at the Richard Ivey School of Business Asia to broaden her business knowledge.
Now director of the company, she has discovered that, since graduating in 2009, her EMBA has been a huge help in running her business.
She was selected as an “Entrepreneur of Tomorrow 2010” by Capital Entrepreneur magazine and was included in the China Top 100 Women Entrepreneur Awards 2012 by the China Association of Women Entrepreneurs. She is also a founder ambassador of Green Monday, a non-governmental organisation which promotes green and healthy lifestyles.
What prompted you to pursue an EMBA?
I always thought that pursuing an MBA was one way of moving up to a higher level in my career in the long run. Bringing my company up to the next level was linked to this. Although I have always contributed lots of my time to my work, I believe that there is always room for improvement.
During 2006 and 2007, I suffered a major setback in my life. I couldn’t help but feel depressed during this period. However, as I was born happy and positive person, I began to question whether I could turn that negative energy into positive proactive tools. The path of pursuing an MBA happened to come at the right time.
After researching MBA and EMBA courses from different schools, I found that the content of an EMBA was a more suitable choice for me because of its emphasis on executives. As an executive, poring over textbooks is not my interest, but having a platform to discuss cases and listen to points of view from other executives from different industries is much more useful.
Why did you choose Ivey?
The main attraction is the reputation of the school. The Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario is the best business school in Canada and is known for focusing on case studies in their EMBA. I talked to a few Ivey alumni and they all spoke highly of the course. They were generally impressed by the quality of the teachers and the well-organised course content.
The convenient class schedule and campus location were also factors. Managing career, family and study is really not a small job and with my commitments in all these areas, I wanted to choose a course that could fit in with my already very busy schedule.
How did you balance the demands of your job and your studies?
It is all about time management and how important you regard your studies. If you think your studies are important, you will spare the time no matter what.
The best thing about Ivey is that you only need to attend classes two weekends a month. As the class schedule is prepared beforehand, you can arrange your own schedule according to the timetable.
What were the major challenges of your studies?
I think the major challenge was the difficulty in finding time where all of our study group members were available to meet up. All of us in our study groups had busy work agendas and travelled a lot.
Unfortunately, due to my tight schedule, I was sometimes not able to join some of the activities or gatherings. I remember I wished I could hang out with them more.
Other than that, there were no major challenges. I enjoyed my studies a lot and I stay in close touch with my study group even now.
What support did you get from those around you?
I got tremendous support from my classmates. A few months after the programme started, I had to have to make a vital decision for my company regarding the ownership of company shares. I consulted with some of my executive classmates for their thoughts and received some valuable and insightful opinions. My company board agreed with my findings and an important decision was made.
My work colleagues supported me by having a good understanding of the time I needed to spare for studying. Many of my managerial-grade colleagues took control of their own areas in a more independent way. I could then still keep in touch with my teams in the office while involved with the course.
Did your EMBA fulfil your expectations?
What I obtained from the EMBA went far beyond my expectations. Originally, I was expecting to learn something from the case studies, but in addition to that, it inspired me to think more deeply and from more perspectives.
How has your career developed since graduating?
Since graduating I have made good use of the knowledge I learned from my EMBA. Despite the problems in the global economy, I have performed a miracle in maintaining double-digit growth for the business.