Developing managerial qualities

by Nicolette Wong

Piyush Sharma
associate dean (internationalisation), and deputy programme director of MBA programme, Faculty of Business
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Photo: Dickie Tam

Top-notch MBA programme promotes academic excellence and cultivates executive competence

Master of business administration (MBA) degrees are by and large designed to sharpen business savvy and management skills, increasing prospects for career advancement. However, people that are looking to invest in an MBA education must choose a programme with the right mix of intellectual and real-life components in order to expand their professional horizons.

Currently, Hong Kong-based institutions offer a wide array of business management programmes. One highly rated option is the MBA offered by the Faculty of Business of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU). The business school has earned triple accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) and the Association of MBAs (AMBA).

Aside from this, the programme boosts a strong academic focus but at the same time strives to be relevant to actual business scenarios and the markets. "We include plenty of case studies and explore challenging topics such as ethical marketing. Our students research Hong Kong and mainland-based companies, as well as global corporations," says Piyush Sharma, associate dean (internationalisation), and deputy programme director of MBA programme, Faculty of Business, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Dr Sharma adds, "Most of our MBA students are experienced managers from various industry backgrounds. This essentially turns group discussions into excellent idea exchange opportunities."

Students are expected to hone their strategic leadership skills through teamwork. This interactive approach helps students to enhance their skills and reflect on each other's strengths and weaknesses.

No borders

The PolyU MBA programme has been structured in such a way that it covers essential business-related subjects, from marketing, accounting and organisation to finance and business research methods during the first year. In the second year, students are expected to gain more in-depth management knowledge, around the theme of leadership in the Asian context and they are required to address a significant management issue in their MBA investigative report. A wide range of electives is available for students who may choose to study general subjects or stream into different industry-specific domains.

In a bid to optimise the learning outcomes, the PolyU MBA faculty introduces new learning and research methodologies regularly. A new leadership centre is set to open soon and will provide an additional boost to students en route to senior management positions in their workplaces. Students also get the chance to network and establish solid contacts in different industries in the course of their studies, Dr Sharma points out.

Since the university regards international exposure as crucial for long-term career development, the programme immerses students in regular overseas study tours to experience different markets and operating modes. "We recently went to Bangalore, India's Silicon Valley, where we learnt about the challenges that Chinese companies face in the Indian market," he says.

In view of the increasingly affluent mainland market and proliferation of cross-border business activity, the university recently established a One China MBA system between the PolyU MBA in Hong Kong and that in mainland China.

The students in the two regions follow the same curriculum, which facilitates an uninterrupted flow of ideas. Workshops provide an additional platform for knowledge transfer. "We want our programme to be as relevant in mainland China as it is in Hong Kong, since the two markets are closely connected," Dr Sharma stresses. "Our One China policy is an important development since it gives Hong Kong managers a firm grasp of the economic environment across the border and, therefore, improves their chances to work on the mainland in future."

Making connections

A prominent feature of the PolyU MBA programme is its community initiatives, and students serve as mentors to undergraduates working on social-enterprise projects. The work benefits both parties, notes Dr Sharma. "At PolyU we heed the demands of the real business world. We look at what the community and employers expect and fine-tune our programme every step of the way."

Alan Chui, president of the PolyU MBA Alumni Association, states that his MBA study and involvements in alumni affairs not only have enriched his professional life, but also boosted his personal development. "During the programme, group projects and case studies enabled us to come up with practical and creative business solutions. The interaction and collaboration with executives from various industries helped to sharpen our managerial skills and broadened our horizons," he remarks.

Continuous learning is indispensable in today's fast-evolving business landscape. The PolyU MBA Alumni Association provides an excellent platform for past students to keep abreast of management trends and market ideas, often through seminars and conferences. The association also extends its reach to benefit Hong Kong society by contributing professional managerial skills to a number of social initiatives and by encouraging students and graduates to work with non-profit organisations.

"We're talking about sustainability and corporate social responsibility for any competitive businesses today. Giving back to society and voluntary work are another facet of life-long learning and self-actualisation," Mr Chui concludes.

In practice

  • MBA students sharpen skills and identify their strengths via interaction
  • New management centre to boost students aspiring to senior management positions
  • "One China MBA" system prepares managers to work either in Hong Kong and on the mainland

Taken from Career Times 14 January 2011, A9

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