Knowledge Exchange

Be Curious and Open to the Unexpected

Karolis Navickas (Class of 2022)

The Full-time HKU MBA is an intensive 1-year programme with three tracks: the London track (at LBS), New York track (at CBS), and Hong Kong/China track. Students can choose from a list of elective courses from the programme, depending on their chosen track. We met with Karolis Navickas, Full-time Class of 2022 graduate, who had an exceptional experience during his time at Columbia Business School. Here, he shares his career tips and reveals how he landed his dream job in the USA.


HKU MBA: What made you choose the Columbia Business School Track?

Karolis Navickas: I chose Columbia Business School (CBS) for a few reasons. First of all, I wanted to gain experience in the US market and start to build a bridge between Europe, Asia, and the US. I had already worked and lived in Europe and Asia, so North America seemed a natural next choice. I believe that the more international exposure you have, the more valuable you are in the job market – and that your experience is more rewarding.

CBS students come from all over the world, and learning from them was an excellent opportunity to expand my knowledge and networking skills. For example, during business case analysis, I gained a unique understanding of management concepts and business ideas.

Furthermore, Columbia Business School (and with it, its MBA programme) is one of the best business schools in the world. Studying there is a huge privilege, giving you the opportunity to build new capabilities and learn from the best.

CBS’s prime location in New York City is exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to live in a city that never sleeps. Hong Kong and NYC are both considered places where everyone wants to live or study, so it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to live in both financial megapolises.


HKU MBA: Can you elaborate on your academic experience at CBS? Are there any particular classes you would recommend to future students?

Karolis Navickas: I would recommend all of my classes. During my time at CBS I took economics of strategic behaviour, food entrepreneurship, transforming the healthcare sector, managerial negotiations, operations strategy, and governance. All of these courses were excellent – the professors did an amazing job sharing their knowledge, and students actively shared their views on interesting topics. We studied in a newly opened building where everything was new and high quality.

My courses were divided into two phases – block week courses and regular through the summer semester. During block weeks, I spent most of my time in lectures or preparing for these lectures. I was assigned many readings about interesting companies and business cases. During the lectures, we spent a lot of time discussing management ideas. Also, professors invited distinguished guests from finance, sports, and consulting industries, where we were able to ask direct questions from people running their companies.

The food entrepreneurship course was also interesting because the professor invited industry leaders from the food and beverage sectors. They shared their ideas and showcased their products. During the class, we ate burgers, sausages, and brownies, or drank non-alcoholic drinks.

I would say that personally, CBS helped me make new friends: we went to drink at bars, enjoyed lunches and discussed business ideas. I still keep in touch with them now, as I will work in NYC in my new position.


HKU MBA: Karolis, you’ve been known to participate in various student activities during your studies in Hong Kong. What were the most memorable activities from your time at CBS?

Karolis Navickas: I would say it was exploring NYC and making new friends. I felt that during my time studying at HKU I spent a lot of my time undertaking various activities and going to networking events. So while in NYC, I decided to focus more on understanding NYC and the US in general. One of my goals was to stay and work in NYC after my MBA, so it was a great opportunity to explore and understand more.

I think I spent my time effectively – I met lots of new people, visited different museums and dining places, drank cocktails with friends, enjoyed various activities with my wife in NYC, and went to different states and cities on the US east coast.

My view is that once you know your goal, it’s way easier to plan your steps accordingly. I knew my goal and I systematically worked towards it. The same I did in HK – I wanted to enjoy meeting new people, explore HK, and learn.


HKU MBA: It is such amazing news to hear about your career achievements in the USA. Congratulations on your full-time offer! Tell us how you found this opportunity and how you found the hiring process.

Karolis Navickas: It was an unexpected but truly interesting opportunity. In June, my wife and I went to Philadelphia for a business conference. I met a businessman at the networking party and we hit it off immediately. We discussed many things and shared our experiences during the conference. After that, we met several times to talk about our future ideas. It was a natural process in terms of the application. I’m very happy that we went to that conference and because of my experience, curiosity, values and their needs, I am happy to say that I will be working in NYC as chief executive officer.

My recommendation for everyone who is looking for a job is to be truly curious about people who are looking for a candidate and be open to the unexpected. During my time in HK and NYC, I was able to secure job offers from HK, Lithuania, and NYC. These offers came to me because I did not rush my experience, and spent quality time with key decision makers.


HKU MBA: Karolis, you’ve been positive, thankful, and generous in sharing your knowledge and experience. What tips would you give to aspiring applicants?

Karolis Navickas: Firstly, I would recommend caring for yourself and your family. These are, for me, the most important things in life. If you do not take care of yourself, then you will not perform well during lectures or internships. Also, you will not take care of others.

You could practice mindfulness, do yoga and sports, spend time with your friends outside, and read books – I highly recommend picking at least 3 things that you like to do. Just write 3 simple things that you want and love to do – it could be drinking your morning coffee, reading 5 pages of a book, or spending time with your spouse watching movies. This practice helped me a lot during my MBA journey.

Moreover, I think the world is a better place when you are positive – so my second tip is to be positive and curious about the environment around you. People can generally tell when a person has empathy, but more importantly, they need to know if the person has a high DQ (meaning Decency Quotient).

During the executive leadership course, I learned about a new framework called DQ. People will have heard of IQ and EQ in reference to behaviour or personalities, but DQ goes a step further than EQ. DQ implies a person not only has empathy for friends and colleagues, but also a genuine desire to care for them. Again, my advice would be caring for yourself and take care of others.