In addition to mastering Western business and management theories, professionals hoping to do business in mainland China also need a thorough understanding of the mainland working culture.
Catering to this need, New Horizons Learning Centers offers an intensive one-year business programme culminating in an MBA qualification that is accredited by a leading Guangzhou university and a UK-based higher education institution.
"Students learn about the mainland China business culture through case analysis on mainland enterprises and occasional visits to successful Chinese companies," explains Burnet Lee, business development and marketing director, New Horizons Learning Centers. "At the same time, students receive a solid business foundation recognised by a Western education institution."
The initial phase of the programme, focusing on business, financial and information management, earns deserving students a postgraduate diploma in management studies from South China University of Technology (SCUT) in Guangzhou.
Students who choose to continue with the programme and successfully complete a thesis can then go on to earn an MBA from St Clements University in the UK.
Since its launch in May 2007, the programme has attracted more than 100 students. "Most of our students are experienced professionals or business owners," Mr Lee notes. "They are attracted to the programme because of its focus on the mainland China market and its systematic structure to gain business knowledge."
Classroom learning is conducted in small groups of less than 30 students who are encouraged not only to conduct discussions in Cantonese or Mandarin, but also to submit written assignments in Chinese as an option.
Although the economy is currently in a downturn, Mr Lee sees this as a good time for working professionals to reflect on their competitive edge and further their competency.
"In a knowledge-based economy, experience alone is not enough to succeed in an enterprise. It is also important to have good interpersonal skills and intercultural understanding. Now is the time for people who are serious about their careers to study and equip themselves for future challenges," he says.
Since time and money are often the main obstacles preventing people from advancing their studies, the programme is relatively compressed to fit into the schedules of busy working people. It takes an average of 12 to 15 months to complete the programme part-time, with a fee of around HK$60,000. "Everyone in the society should have the chance to study, and we aim to provide working people a viable option," Mr Lee states.
He advises students hoping to go on to an MBA programme to choose their subjects wisely. "Students should also match their abilities, aspirations and goals to an appropriate programme so that they will get the maximum benefit from it," Mr Lee concludes.