Developing leaders with a global vision

by Nicolette Wong

HKUST - Business executives training course in Hong Kong business school
Yan Xu, associate dean
HKUST EMBA programme
executive education and China strategy
School of Business and Management
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Photo: Dickie Tam

Esteemed Hong Kong business school produces modern managers with an edge

As business becomes increasingly globalised, professionals need an international perspective and innovative outlook to become leaders in their fields. The School of Business and Management at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) is renowned for its quality executive education programmes in business and management. The establishment's executive education office aspires to grooming local and international senior executives aiming to make their mark in the business environment.

The executive education office draws on the business school's extensive research experience and world-class teaching faculty to train executives, says Yan Xu, associate dean for HKUST EMBA programme, executive education and China strategy, School of Business and Management, HKUST. To keep students abreast of the latest market developments, the curriculum covers markets across the US, Europe and mainland China, he adds.

The participant body is diverse, an important factor adding to HKUST's reputation as a top education provider. "We have strong connections with not only Hong Kong's business sector, but also those of the mainland, the US, and Europe, and there are business leaders from all those regions enrolled in our programmes," Professor Xu remarks. "We offer an environment conducive to learning, and the university enhances our teaching facilities on an ongoing basis."

Broad perspective

Considering the university's emphasis on research, the executive education office reviews its programmes on a yearly basis, based on market research and consultations with senior business executives and business leaders from a wide range of industry backgrounds.

Professor Xu and his peers also frequently attend international conferences on executive education and HR management in order to broaden their perspectives and understand the latest trends in this area. New modules are added to the curriculum to reflect major industry developments. Recent additions include a "Corporate Innovation and Growth" course in 2011 and a "Leading Change" course this year.

HKUST is a learning organisation that strives to closely collaborate with its experienced teaching staff and external organisations regarding the design and review of curriculums, Professor Xu notes. To identify the skills and knowledge needs of the business sector, his office also pays attention to hiring trends and consults HR directors from various industries.

"Across all sectors, there's strong demand for business managers with an innovative and global perspective. For companies, the major issue is how to update their operations and transform themselves into international players. Even small companies can develop an edge given the rapid development of Internet," he explains.

Current approach

Both aspiring and experienced managers need to adapt their leadership styles in response to a changing business environment. While many business leaders still have a traditional approach to staff supervision, the younger generation values opportunities for self-determination, self-expression and peer support, stresses Professor Xu. Managers should familiarise themselves with the communication channels and styles preferred by more junior employees, and identify their expectations and needs in order to build closer working relationships.

For senior executives these days, effective interaction is essential to good leadership, managing change and communication. It is therefore important that they continue to adapt and renew their strategic-thinking skills, based on new knowledge. Willingness to learn is instrumental to maintaining a competitive edge in the current business scenario, Professor Xu believes. "For example, we offer training courses for civil servants, who have the opportunity to engage in dialogue and cooperate with the business sector and other social enterprises. For any company, the insight and networks gained from such exposure is essential to developing all-round strategies."

HKUST's executive education programmes are popular among international professionals with a keen interest in developing their careers in the Asian markets, and they attract candidates from countries as varied as the US, France, Saudi Arabia, Korea, Japan, Singapore and the mainland. Participants typically have an average of 15 years' work experience, with the majority in senior executive positions such as chief executive officer, managing director, general manager or regional or department head.

Participants embark on the executive programmes because they want to acquire theoretical and varied practical business-framework knowledge, Professor Xu remarks. The international nature of the participant body, hailing from a wide range of fields, also facilitates networking, the development of new business relationships and opportunities for collaboration. The executive education office always strives to expand the number of industry professionals employed by the teaching faculty.

"The fact that our visiting lecturers come from a range of backgrounds, including law and telecommunications, ensures a balance between theory and practice in our programmes. We also invite professors from other universities to teach some of our courses," Professor Xu concludes.

All-round perspective

  • Curriculum covers cases across the US, Europe and mainland China
  • New curriculum modules added to reflect major industry developments
  • Managers must adapt leadership styles in response to changing business environment
  • Candidates have an average of 15 years' work experience, mainly in senior positions

Taken from Career Times 24 February 2012, A8

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