Solid base for finance high-flyers

by Nicolette Wong

HKU - Master degree programme for business executives
Sachin Tipnis, executive director, MBA programmes
Faculty of Business and Economics, The University of Hong Kong
Photo: Wallace Chan

Top Hong Kong master's degree pushes executives from varied backgrounds to excel in the world of business

Economic development in Asia has become a strong focus for many regional and international corporations. To steer business effectively, as well as advance their careers, many ambitious executives are equipping themselves with Masters of Business Administration (MBA) qualifications to enhance their knowledge, leadership skills and networking opportunities.

An MBA becomes even more valuable with the growing need for outstanding leaders to help companies grow in Asia, says Sachin Tipnis, executive director, MBA programmes, Faculty of Business and Economics, The University of Hong Kong (HKU). Given the volatile economic conditions prevailing in the US and Europe, professionals from abroad are increasingly moving to Asia in search of better opportunities, he notes. As a result, competition is intense in the region.

"A quality MBA adds value to candidates' expertise and leadership attributes, including decision-making capabilities and cultural sensitivity," Mr Tipnis remarks. "Such a combination of business acumen and interpersonal skills is highly sought after in today's corporate environment. Employers seek candidates that are able to understand and drive businesses quickly after joining."

Knowledge of the China market is also essential for those aiming to develop their careers in Asia, since the mainland is one of the world's fastest-growing economies. The HKU MBA therefore focuses considerably on this market and includes a four-week China immersion programme in Beijing to give students a deeper understanding of the work issues and practices, as well as culture, on the mainland.

Sound principles

All top managers should possess good financial skills in order to have a firm grasp of their business operations, Mr Tipnis believes. A vice-president of marketing, for example, should understand how brand equity can be converted into market shares and financial success. HKU therefore reviews the MBA modules on an ongoing basis. Courses such as risk management and private equity have been added to enhance core financial knowledge, particularly useful for students from non-finance backgrounds.

Business executives must have a keen sense of entrepreneurship in order to be successful, Mr Tipnis notes, adding that good ideas must be backed by practical elements, such as financing and networks. "Our programme introduces students to the fundamentals of financing and different aspects of running a business, as well as communication skills to persuade and negotiate with potential business partners. It also helps them expand their connections with other top executives in Asia, which is key to getting their ventures off to a good start."

HKU's reputation as a world-class university is one of its great strengths as a MBA programme provider, since it attracts outstanding teaching staff and students from around the globe. Another major benefit is that it offers students from diverse fields the chance to network. The regional focus allows students to understand the Asian business environment and culture within the greater context of the world economy, Mr Tipnis says.

Broad perspective

The MBA is supported by the university's Asia Case Research Centre, established in 1997 to address the demand for research and instructive materials relating to Asian business. Students are given an overview of the complex and varied business strategies around the region through extensive class discussions and group projects.

"Beyond the mainland, it's important for participants to gain a broader perspective on other Asian economies, such as Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia," Mr Tipnis points out.

International exposure is a key component of the programme and the university has expanded its partnerships with top institutions worldwide, including the London Business School, Columbia Business School in New York and Fudan University in Shanghai. Full-time students get the chance to engage with overseas counterparts during a four-month study trip, helping them to improve their understanding of global business practices. Part-time students that are able to take time off can also go on study tours during their second year of studies.

Candidates wanting to enrol in the HKU MBA programme should have at least three years' working experience and solid bachelor's degrees, but, most importantly, they should be determined to succeed, Mr Tipnis stresses, noting that the university targets candidates that are motivated and passionate about their careers. It is crucial for international applicants to have a genuine interest in Asia, as well as a vision of what they can bring to the region, he says.

"We maintain a diverse body of students from different backgrounds, including lawyers, doctors and architects, that are driven to take their careers forward, and we appreciate the wealth of insight they can offer the programme, as well as their classmates," Mr Tipnis concludes.

Towards business success

  • Quality MBA enhances candidates' expertise and leadership attributes
  • China immersion programme offers deeper understanding of mainland practices and culture
  • Course introduces students to fundamentals of financing and running a business
  • World-class university attracts outstanding teachers and students from around the globe

Taken from Career Times 24 February 2012, A10

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