A comprehensive MBA programme can offer a wealth of benefits, including improvement in self-confidence and personal effectiveness, an in-depth understanding of the factors of success in an organisation, and the ability to identify, facilitate and implement changes required to make an organisation successful.
Davy Wu, associate director of the MBA programme of the Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU), believes that their MBA programme delivers all these learning outcomes plus many other values.
"It provides an all-round business education for those seeking to build a successful career," he says. "The knowledge and skills it delivers are not confined to application in the world of business. We have had students from a diversity of backgrounds including the commercial sector, the government and non-governmental organisations. In fact, having students from widely differing backgrounds is one of our goals. We hope the students can inspire one another with their varying experiences since we put much emphasis on interaction between the students themselves, as well as with faculty members. And since we are offering the same programme on the mainland, we organise events as platforms for students in the two locations to exchange ideas and insights. This benefits both sides by broadening their experience."
With China's economy continuing to surge, the mainland element is an essential part of business education. To emphasise this, the vision of the programme is "International business balanced by a focus on China business". It follows that close collaboration with the mainland is a distinctive part of HKBU's MBA programme, which was launched in 1994 as the first in Hong Kong to have a focus on China business. This aspect is reflected in both classroom and non-classroom activities. For example, China field study gives students an opportunity to look into the business environment and operations of companies on the mainland and in Taiwan. Students are assigned to a "client company" on the mainland where they must become business consultants, studying, identifying and solving problems. Over the years, classes have visited enterprises in Chongqing, Qingdao, Dalian, Beijing, Wuhan and Nanjing covering such sectors as retail chains, manufacturing, foreign trade, high-tech and service industries. This enables students to grasp the business know-how of mainland companies.
HKBU has also set up alumni associations for both Hong Kong and mainland graduates which allow alumni to network with one another through recreational, social and cultural activities. More importantly, some alumni from the 90s have now become business leaders and elite professionals who personally contribute to the further development of the programme.
Besides its emphasis on business in China, the programme attaches considerable importance to global development, and has an international exchange programme to give students international exposure. Their managerial skills are enhanced through cross-cultural communication, and the credits they earn during the exchange programme are recognised by HKBU.
A new attraction for the current academic year is two new scholarship schemes, the Entrance Award and Graduation Academic Prize. The entrance award will offer financial support to new entrants with outstanding records to pursue full-time MBA studies, while the graduation academic prize is to reward students recording outstanding performances in their MBA studies. "We hope these awards will give MBA students the incentive to excel in academic performance, managerial skills, and leadership ability and social responsibility," says Dr Wu.
Practicality is one of the highlights of the programme, requiring students to study the environment, markets, technology and operations of a real company and then come up with workable recommendations for improving its performance. This helps students to develop problem-solving skills in real-life situations. The students must also design a business plan through which they acquire entrepreneurial skills.
The average class size of the programme is 35, which is small compared to that of many other institutions. As Dr Wu supplements, "We want our students to learn through interaction so as to capitalise on one another's experience."
The programme is offered both full-time and part-time. The full-time programme is well-received by fresh graduates and others just starting their careers, while those enrolling in the part-time programme have an average of 10 years' work experience and come from all walks of life, including professionals from the medical and the legal fields.