Top executive upgrade through part-time course

by Maggie Tang

Gary Biddle, EDM academic director; Synergis-Geoffrey YEH chair professor; head of the Department of Accounting; associate dean, School of Business and Management, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Photo: Johnson Poon

Newly-taught lessons immediately applied back in the workplace

New knowledge and trends emerge so fast in today's dynamic business environment that organisations must constantly upgrade their practices and skills to keep up with rivals in both local and global markets.

Only by keeping abreast of the latest management developments and business trends can business owners and senior executives make the correct decisions necessary for ongoing, profitable growth.

To high-performing executives, time is a luxury never to be squandered. But there is nothing wasteful about the time required for the executive diploma in management (EDM) programme offered by the School of Business and Management of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). As emphasised by Gary Biddle, EDM academic director and associate dean, it allows participants to pursue world-class management education but does not interfere with their career.

HKUST first launched its EDM programme in 1998, and in 2006 saw its 10th intake. "This part-time management programme for business owners and senior executives can be completed in seven months, but much of the knowledge covered in the curriculum can be applied immediately in the real-life context of business," says Professor Biddle. Management essentials contained in the curriculum include finance and accounting, negotiation strategies, management strategies, marketing, supply chain and operations management. "All the concepts and discoveries students are exposed to in the programme are practical. They are the essence of management education," he explains.

The EDM programme integrates the core contents of the long-running number one MBA programme in Asia Pacific. But since the EDM programme is tailored for busy executives, it requires less reading. Also the course has many innovative aspects tailored to the intellectual level of the students. They include educational simulation games that are used in its management strategy and marketing modules.

Simulation games

In the management strategy game, student teams compete with one another for market share and profits. They are also expected to engage in case analysis and team projects leading to business decision covering various issues such as strategic tradeoffs. The objectives are to develop a broad perspective in making managerial decisions and an appreciation of economic and social factors that drive modern global organisations.

In the strategic marketing module, the game involves a business situation in which the students must evaluate opportunities, develop a strategy and devise marketing plans. The game aims to help the players develop skills in identifying opportunities, marketing analysis and making strategic marketing decisions.

The School of Business and Management takes pride in the EDM programme, which is the first of its kind offered by HKUST's Business School and is regarded as its "flagship" executive development programme. All 120 faculty members of the Business School are PhD holders from world-renowned universities. Faculty members come from all over the world, the US in particular, and so bring substantial international perspectives to the programme.

A significant feature of any executive education is the chance it gives participants to network and exchange business insights. The EDM programme attracts executives from a wide range of business activities including manufacturing, trading, real estate, beauty and fashion, telecommunications, engineering, accounting and finance, banking, IT and government. "When we recruit an intake we try to create a good mix of student backgrounds so they can acquire new knowledge and experience from one another," Professor Biddle notes.

The average work experience of students in the 2006 intake was 12 years. More than half held Bachelor's degrees or above, while 30 per cent were non-degree holders but with recognised professional qualifications or with extensive managerial experience.

Professor Biddle describes the values of the programme as creativity, self-awareness, leadership, personal communication and aptitude for teamwork. He firmly believes that every successful manager needs refresher education. The programme resembles a "learning circle" in which students collaborate to solve problems and brainstorm new ideas. It helps students enlarge their business network and build relationships with other leading executives in the region. Today, HKUST Business School is also offering the EDM programme (Chinese) in Beijing.

Core advantages

  • Curriculum incorporates practical fundamentals
  • Simulation games motivate learning
  • Part-time course of only seven months is specially suitable for busy executives
  • Diverse backgrounds of students enrich learning and business networking

Taken from Career Times 12 January 2007
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