Turning aspirations into reality

by Nicole Wong

Charis Chung
course consultation and marketing
Kaplan Higher Education (HK) Limited
Photos: Dickie Tam
Talents alone cannot sustain career success in Hong Kong's fast-paced, knowledge-based economic system as companies tie qualifications to hiring, promotion, and pay raises

Changing socioeconomic dynamics determine the scope of competence required for surviving the highly competitive corporate landscape. Go-getters working within the sphere of their own skills will inevitably face the spectre of career gridlock.

"People that do not hold a university degree relevant to their current job positions will eventually need to entertain the prospect that they're next in line for promotion. Some of them have been quick to build up a career base and must now continue down their chosen path," notes Amy Lau, assistant manager, course consultation and recruitment, Kaplan Higher Education (HK) Limited, a member of global leader in lifelong education the Kaplan Group which boasts a global workforce of 34,000 and a student population of more than 1,000,000 worldwide.

A good general management orientation can help these aspiring individuals to navigate the corporate matrix, permitting a move beyond the confines of their professional boundaries that are demarcated archetypically by a hierarchy of constraints. Those smart enough to break away find a way out through advanced education.

Staying on course

A master's degree can be a major career boost, since this level of academic training facilitates learning that is instrumental to career advancement. This is even more so with a qualification that is globally recognised and entails eligibility for professional memberships.

The master of science (MSc) programme offered by the reputable and globally ranked University College Dublin, National University of Ireland, Dublin, is one such vehicle for professional advancement. The programme is currently administered by Kaplan Higher Education.

Charis Chung, manager, course consultation and marketing, Kaplan Higher Education (HK) Limited, says, "University College Dublin, National University of Ireland, Dublin, is a world top-five-per cent university and is accredited by ACCBS, AMBA , EQUIS."

The attainment of the MSc award, which can be achieved within an 18-month period, is evidenced by successful completion of two research papers, three core modules and three "pathway" modules of the students' own choice of concentration in finance, project management, human resource management, logistics and supply chain management, management consultancy and information technology and marketing.

"The programme is accredited by a strong array of professional associations including the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport and the Hong Kong Institute of Project Management," says Ms Chung.

This structure aims at cultivating managerial competence and new perspectives towards various professional disciplines. While certain knowledge and skills like those in sales and marketing can be immediately applicable to the workplace, others will help students tackle diverse business scenarios along their career tracks. "For instance, a business manager who has a good grasp of human resource management can get better insight into workforce issues," Ms Chung notes. "This is the kind of skills that will give business people a real edge."

Meeting of minds

People that are already in a capacity to discharge managerial duties will need to learn to bolster their executive and business administration skills. Those contemplating further education should therefore guide their learning towards very explicit goals. These may include attaining the qualification and knowledge, as well as building a managerial network.

A well-balanced executive MBA (EMBA) programme like the one offered by the University of Hull can fulfil these objectives. The programme has been on offer in Hong Kong for 20 years, during which numerous students have benefited from the synergy between Hull and programme administrator Kaplan Hong Kong.

The Hull EMBA curriculum is characterised predominantly by a practical and holistic approach where learning results are converted into organisational or managerial outcomes. Students can expect exposure to a body of knowledge, encompassing a full complement of topics that meet their everyday challenge at an executive level.

As such, the programme adopts stringent entry requirements, enrolling students with at least three years of managerial experience. Ms Lau explains: "Interaction between students produces the necessary stimulation that inspires and motivates, and the threshold ensures that every student is able to contribute to the class."

Regular classes give students ample opportunity to meet their peers and develop deeper, meaningful relations via sharing and discussion, presentation sessions, which engage them in mutual support effectively. Local students are taught by Hull's faculty staff who fly from the UK to deliver lectures in the Hong Kong centre. Ms Chung remarks: "Once graduated, they also become members of the 1,000-plus Hull Alumni in Hong Kong."

Plain sailing

The 2008 financial downturn has seen the demand for higher education soar, with an influx of quality overseas programmes. The difference between programmes administered by local universities and those by education institutions lies primarily in the level of student service.

Since working students often have to juggle work and family obligations, the range of administrative support will ensure that they are not thrown into the deep end. At Kaplan for instance, a dedicated programme manager is assigned to each programme to rid students of trivial matters such as getting textbooks and tuition arrangements, helping to alleviate a great deal of time burden on the students. Students are also reminded of class schedule and assignment deadlines along the "critical path". A programme manager, in turn, supervises every programme, while the institution ensures uninterrupted communication between the students and the overseas universities.

A higher education can certainly create a new professional dimension for career-minded individuals but Ms Lau believes that people looking for the next step up the corporate ladder should train their sights on paving a career pathway for the particular academic pursuit and align their aspirations with specific job requirements among other key criteria. "A good qualification opens many doors and a myriad of possibilities," Ms Lau says.

Taken from Career Times 12 November 2010, A9
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