Knowledge Exchange

MBA – a worthwhile learning journey

Joerg Riebel (Class of 2021)

Finishing my HKU MBA this month, I reflect on my experience and its value to me…

Virtual Classroom – the centrepiece of my MBA experience

Back in November 2019, at the height of the social unrest in Hong Kong, I wrote an article on LinkedIn regarding teaching and learning and how educational institutions, as well as students, have to adapt if campuses were closed. Never would I have imagined that a global pandemic would make virtual classrooms a centrepiece of my whole MBA journey.


Reasons to join the MBA programme – Brand + Content + Network

Everyone has their own motives to do an MBA. The most prominent reasons to join a business school is the brand, the content as well as the classmates and alumni network.

Since 2019, the economic situation in Hong Kong has been dire and so are the job-prospects of MBA graduates, but with vaccination, the outlook will brighten and with-it opportunities for graduates.

Content delivery via Zoom or hybrid models of teaching (with some classmates in a classroom and others joining online) is not the same as the full classroom experience and brings with it its own challenges in respect the in-class/online participation, lecture structure and the split attention of the professor.

While the number of webinars on offer clearly exceeded any in-person seminars or mixers offered in a typical year, there are benefits to personal, on-premises gatherings that are difficult to replicate online such as the unscripted and spontaneous discussions during the class-breaks.  I also missed the opportunity to mingle with students and alumni over drinks and canapés.  Social experiences are as important as the content of a webinar.  The university will make up for it once the situation allows, and I am looking forward to it.

My personal reasons to join the HKU MBA programme

I joined the MBA programme for all three reasons listed above but their priority changed over time. I learned much and enjoyed the opportunity to expand my knowledge in different business-related fields. The pandemic changed the world, from remote working and the #futureofwork to business models and corporate innovation. Strategic challenges lie ahead for organisations as they pivot and reposition themselves in the #newnormal. Work for MBA graduates should be plentiful in this VUCA-world. However, being noticed and getting hired requires a strong brand and alumni-network like the one HKU provides.

So where does this leave me in assessing the value of my MBA?

I will not speculate on the financial value or return on investment as this depends on personal mobility, i.e., whether you can and will move to where the jobs are. I enjoyed working in teams with my classmates and gaining first-hand knowledge of the people I work with and the projects we worked on together.  My teammates know that I am focused, and I excel in making everyone move forward by pushing the project over the finish line.

Overall, my MBA gave me a sound foundation to build upon in the future. If you are interested in continuous improvement and expanding your own capabilities, then challenge yourself and do an MBA at HKU.