Knowledge Exchange

Discovering Empowerment Through the MBA Programme

Janice Li (Class of 2020)

The HKU MBA programme provides opportunities for students to discover and be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to navigate their careers and beyond. The HKU MBA team caught up with Janice Li, an alumna from the HKU MBA Part-time Class of 2020, who reflected on her journey after completing the MBA programme.


HKU MBA: We hear that you work in an industry that is not commonly represented in the MBA cohort.  Can you tell us about your work?

Janice Li: I work in the aviation industry in Hong Kong, which I think is quite niche and fascinating, despite current challenges.  While I have come across a fellow course mate and a few alumni who have worked in aviation, there haven’t been many others.  After graduating with an Aviation Management degree in Australia, I have always worked in aviation.  I began my career in the ground handling business, first in the area of private jets and later at a company that had a customer profile of over 40 international airlines.  I now work in strategy and service design at Cathay Pacific, in a role that designs and improves customer experiences on the end-to-end air travel journey.


HKU MBA: Prior to the HKU MBA programme, you attained a Master’s degree in Transport Policy and Planning from The University of Hong Kong. What was your key motivation to further pursue the MBA programme?

Janice Li: There were two key motivations. 

Firstly, I specialise in the aviation industry and I have always focused on operational service improvement.  I realised that there were still many business-related skills and further knowledge that I had yet to come across in my job, so I decided to pursue an MBA programme that could help me discover and develop pathways to mobilise my career.

Secondly, it was the timing and availability.  Many people expressed that I was studying for an MBA quite early in my career, as I only had 5 years of experience, compared to the average 10 years in the cohort. Though I was one of the younger students, I was more available in my headspace compared to some of my peers in senior working positions, who had to juggle responsibilities such as their job and family in addition to the programme workload.

In reflection, I feel grateful that I was able to complete my studies during the first year of the pandemic.  I started my programme without masks and without gathering restrictions, which allowed us to interact more freely in person.  The pandemic also showed us how vulnerable jobs can be, and that education and knowledge is one thing that no one can take away from you.


HKU MBA: You were elected as a Class Representative for the Part-time Class. What was most memorable about your role?

Janice Li: To this day, I am still surprised that I was selected as a class rep, as I’m quite an introvert.  But there were certainly occasions when I was forced to come out of my shell to communicate with different people and I appreciated the opportunity. I look back fondly on the time we organised our annual dinner: we had great ambitions, but it was no easy task, as our group of class reps had differing opinions.  It took a lot of honest communication, teamwork and support from our cohort. In the end, the annual dinner had a great turn out and everyone was able to enjoy a good evening together.

Throughout the programme, I met a diverse group of people whom I was able to learn from. Quite a few have now moved home or relocated for work. Even though we don’t see each other often, they continue to influence me in various ways.


HKU MBA: How has the MBA programme helped your personal development?

Janice Li: The MBA programme exposed me to unfamiliar areas of business and solidified my knowledge in other areas.  More importantly, my peers have been able to keep me accountable in regularly reflecting and seeking new challenges.  There was a time when I contemplated how to progress in or pivot my career post-graduation – it was especially important to consider in the current climate after having lived through a global pandemic. Considering a change in career added another layer of complexity.

I was reserved to take a big leap, but I took advice from a fellow course mate who advised me to explore pro-bono opportunities without risking my job stability.  I volunteered part-time in a new field I’ve never worked in before, where I met people from all over the world who were different culturally and professionally, and being able to collaborate remotely with them was both refreshing and rewarding.

I believe there is no definitive timeframe when considering a career change after completing the MBA programme: some people jump immediately, some people move in gradual steps.  For me, I believe the impact of the programme will be felt in the longer-term, and learning doesn’t stop at the completion of the programme.  Studying for an MBA not only taught us academic knowledge, it empowered us with ways to keep learning, which will shape and guide our future adventures.