Knowledge Exchange

When MBA Students Meet Real-World Business Challenges

Corporate Partnership Project 2022

The Corporate Partnership Project is made possible through the connections and partnerships HKU MBA office has with local and regional organisations in Hong Kong. Through the project, students are exposed to real-world business and mentorship experiences by directly interacting and working with corporate professionals at their selected companies. They gain practical local market knowledge and expand their networks while working as a team to manage end-to-end projects, developing strategies, and finding solutions for the organisation’s given objectives.

The HKU MBA Programme launched the student projects in partnership with five corporations, including AXA Insurance, BCW, Nan Fung Group, Irostors, and CLP. The project assignments focus on trending business themes and topics: ESG, sustainability, Web3, metaverse, and business strategy. Following three months of rigorous research, discussions, and planning, all projects were recently completed and delivered to the corporate partners. Let’s meet with the student ambassadors to learn about their experiences and key takeaways from this project.


HKU MBA: Could you tell us about your project with AXA and the solution your team came up with?

Palak Agarwal: Insurance is a topic that is far away from my core expertise in fashion retail, but when the opportunity came up, I thought, “Why not?” We worked with Billy Wong from the underwriting team at AXA Hong Kong and I cannot express enough gratitude to him for being such a wonderful team guide. He was completely open minded, helped us identify a research topic, and then guided us to narrow down the scope to something concrete. Apart from just briefly pushing us towards an idea which he knew would work well, he did not shoot down our vague ideas. He even connected us with different sector specialists, including Commercial Manager and Product Manager, and gave us opportunities to learn more about current offerings and product information.

Presenting to the product head and other critical members of the AXA team helped us get practical suggestions and feedback on our project. It was a productive exchange of ideas between the company and the student which led to more feasible and practical solutions. Understanding positive, encouraging, and inclusive leadership skills was also an important learning point for me with the AXA team. Getting hands on experience working with an international company and understanding its culture has given me the confidence to work in new environments in my future roles. It was one of the best decisions during my MBA journey to join the project.


HKU MBA: You participated in the most technical project with BCW. How was it and would you recommend this type of project to future MBA students?

Claudia Barajas: Prior to the MBA programme, I worked in IT in Mexico with over 10 years of experience. Despite my background, the BCW research project on blockchain and Web3 was still challenging for me as I don’t have any expertise in this area. However, I was encouraged to be a part of the project and it ended up being such a fruitful experience.

The technology of blockchain and Web3 are becoming more ubiquitous in our daily lives. Our team conducted research on use cases in various industries, including telecommunication, gaming, pharmaceutical, carbon credit, automotive, and so on. It was really an eye-opening experience and I learnt a lot.

I would definitely recommend this type of project to future MBA students. It is a great opportunity to learn about new emerging technologies and the latest market trends.


HKU MBA: How was your journey in leading the Irostors – Business Development project?

Elaine Cai: I played a key role in managing the Irostors – Business Development project along with two other team members. I was really interested in this project given the scalability of the solution. I was certain that I could learn a lot from this project journey. Indeed, it has given me many opportunities to learn about fintech, start-up, and the investor relations industry.


HKU MBA: You led the ESG strategy project for the Nan Fung Group. What was your main motivation for taking this project and what was your biggest takeaway?

Shefali Gayawal: I have a background in architecture and Nan Fung Group’s project intrigued me right from the start. The objective was to come up with innovative solutions for their ESG offerings. The assigned project manager helped us understand their ESG framework and commitments. Based on our rigorous research and analysis, we came up with solutions based on AI data, experiential social engagement, workspace sharing initiatives, and so on.

My biggest takeaway from the project is that ESG is no longer a vague vision in the real estate industry. There are already many great initiatives being implemented. Nan Fung’s new commercial building project called Airside perfectly exemplifies how they are bringing their ESG strategy to life. It is great project that has helped me further develop my own professional expertise.


HKU MBA: Congratulations for the successful project completion. You took part in the CLP Smart Energy Solution Strategy project, what were the most challenging parts of the project?

Alex Xing Wei: The project was very interesting as it was to formulate strategy of real business case for CLP. The project members were able to catch up with a project manager in the CLP who guided and provided us with meaningful information.

The most challenging part of the project was finding a way to narrow down the scope. We were asked to recommend strategic corporate partners for their smart energy solution but there are many providers in the space. In addition, none of our project members have relevant background, so initially we spent a lot of time shortlisting target companies. Personally, it was the first time for me to deliver a presentation in person during the MBA and I was quite nervous that day. However, the delivery was well conveyed, and we all learnt a lot from the CLP staff.