Real-life success in running a virtual company

by Carmen To

News every month from the world of academia

Professor Michael Ferguson, director of MBA programmes of the Chinese University of Hong Kong; and Kitty Yip, human resources director of L'Oréal Hong Kong Ltd, joined the winning team
Photo: BJ

Three MBA students from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) distinguished themselves by coming first in the North Asia division and third in the international division of the online L'Oréal e-Strat Challenge business game. The performance of Caly Xiao, Peter Liu and Phoebus Ng delighted course director, Professor Michael Ferguson, who regards their success as an outstanding achievement.

"This year is the 40th anniversary of our MBA programme and we now have another reason to celebrate," he says. "Over the years, we have always aimed to provide a rich learning environment which takes in both intellectual and cultural aspects and this shows our efforts are paying off."

Kitty Yip, the human resources director for L'Oréal Hong Kong, is delighted that the contest has been so successful. "The e-Strat Challenge is a quality business training tool and has also become an innovative recruitment strategy for us," she says. "Students learn about our values, culture and vision, and see that the company is committed to education worldwide."

The challenge was first launched in 2000 with the dual purpose of helping students understand the business world and to attract new recruits. This year over 40,000 students from top universities around the world registered to take part. After winning the North Asia division, the CUHK team was invited to Paris for three days to compete against the other regional champions.

"I can't believe we did so well and we are still feeling excited about it," says contestant Mr Liu. Phoebus Ng admits he was a bit shocked when the judges made the announcement, but believes taking part in the competition has given him greater maturity and a new sense of perspective. Caly Xiao thinks that having a team with different strengths was a key factor in being able to compete successfully.

Mr Ng agrees. "For example, I am more creative and took on graphic design elements; Peter is good at languages and logical thinking; while Caly knows a lot about the China market," he says.

Their approach to the challenge was to carefully research product lines in order to identify various strengths and weaknesses. With that information, their strategy involved finding a way to integrate Chinese herbal products in other treatments and then to target the Asian market. At every stage from planning to presenting their ideas before the panel of judges, they collaborated closely and learned a great deal about teamwork. One thing they all agree on is that they would now like the chance to work in the cosmetics and beauty business at some point in the future.

Taken from Career Times 06 May 2006
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