In 1993 The Chinese University of Hong Kong offered its inaugural Executive MBA Programme (EMBA) — the first of its kind designed to offer a selected group of students the opportunity to analyse and subsequently practise modern management theories in real-life situations.
The structure of the programme however ensures that critical analysis of management techniques is not solely limited to modern managerial theories. It encourages executives to evaluate Chinese and Western management cultures alongside modern and traditional theories, drawing on the strengths of each to formulate a business approach which incorporates the four main themes of the programme: China, the West, tradition and modernity. Students must aim towards a thorough understanding of all four in order to maximise business possibilities in the region.
Regarding corporate success in the region, Andrew Chan, director of the EMBA programme at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) notes that, "Since its accession to the World Trade Organisation in 2001, China has offered a plethora of opportunities which every business executive should explore. Refusing to do business with China is akin to closing the doors to success."
Beyond China the degree of corporate connectivity is rapidly increasing. Professor Chan points out: "Only by looking at things holistically can executives devise strategies and action plans which bridge China and the world." In essence, understanding contemporary Chinese business practice is an essential leveraging step towards understanding future global business since Chinese GDP continues to grow despite mainland attempts to curb market activity and overheating.
Senior managers make up 90 per cent of today's classes in the programme. Executives begin with a residence week in a Hong Kong hotel which acts as an ice-breaker and networking venue followed by lectures and tutorials on the university's Central campus on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons. The first year of study provides a solid foundation in all major business functions including economics, marketing, accounting, human resources and operations management. During the second year the focus shifts to strategy and policy – making where corporate governance, business negotiation and leadership are explored.
The EMBA programme aims to improve students' analytical and decision-making capabilities which in turn enhance the competitive edge of the companies they work for. "During our initial interview process we handpick executives who demonstrate their capacity to become successful CEOs. It is our belief that such talented individuals will ultimately contribute to overall world development," says Professor Chan.
Once enrolled in the programme, students profit from the wider business perspectives offered by prominent business leaders who present success stories on a regular basis to the faculty. Senior figures from the government and other key organisations are also invited to share their wisdom and outlook in sharing sessions where open feedback is encouraged. Professor Chan finds such knowledge transfer experience particularly rewarding as the established leaders exert a positive influence on both students and faculty members.
In addition to external speakers, the programme provides a multitude of business networking opportunities. Participants regularly interact with EMBA, MBA and BBA alumni as well as renowned business leaders from around the world.
Beyond Hong Kong
As part of the programme's global business and management field study component, students travel to various overseas cities to gain exposure to different national environments and business operations. Since 1995 such visits have taken students as far afield as Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, New York, London, Frankfurt, Silicon Valley, Amsterdam, Seoul, Tokyo and Osaka.
Last year's locations were Nuremberg and Munich in Germany, where the students visited various sizeable corporations including Intechnica GmbH, ProLeiT AG, diplan GmbH, Friedrich Hofmann GmbH & Co, LK Metallwaren GmbH, Verlag Nurnberger Presse Druckhaus Nurnberg GmbH & Co, Schaeffler KG, adidas AG, Kitzmann Brau Kg, AUDI AG, Privatbrauerei Erdinger Weisbrau, Siemens AG, and Munich Technical University. Senior executives of these corporations participated in discussion sessions allowing students to form a more global idea of international business practices. Upon their return to Hong Kong, the students were encouraged to incorporate a wider international perspective and design a business plan set in the context of Nuremberg and Munich.
Distinguished business leaders, faculty members and experts in international research form an advisory panel for the programme ensuring students benefit from exposure to the best and up-to-date business practices available. This flexibility and commitment to excellence combined with the considerable potential of many EMBA students have moulded the programme into a successful entity. Accolades include the first ranked EMBA from the pool of independent programmes in the Asia-Pacific region from 2003 to 2007, and first of all independent programmes in Asia from 2001 to 2007 by the London Financial Times. It also ranked the EMBA 15th of 90 EMBA programmes across the world last year.