Can you briefly share with me your background?
I’m originally from Shanghai, China. After graduating from college, I went to Inner Mongolia to work as a teaching volunteer for about a year, before moving to NYC to study for my master’s degree in Industrial Engineering. I went on to start my career in a local New York cosmetics company as a supply chain manager. I worked there for about 4 years, in charge of new product development, sourcing, procurement and logistics. Before COVID-19, I was in charge of the Amazon and Greater China business for about 2 months.
I made the decision to study for an MBA for several reasons. Firstly, due to the small size of my company, I was able to work across all areas of the business, learning many different skills. During the pandemic, when I was working from home, I started thinking about what I could have done better. I realised that I may need some systematic knowledge in management, business development and marketing. Secondly, with time passing by, I had started considering going back to China to further develop my career, as the country is growing fast with tons of opportunities. And last but not the least, I wanted to learn from a programme that combines western management and eastern wisdom together, which I found at HKU.
The change of location, change of industry and change of job, is that something you expect before joining HKU MBA?
The change of location and change of job is definitely something I considered before joining HKU MBA. However, I changed my mind about the industry after I started the programme. Prior to studying for my MBA, I was so sure that I wanted to be in the cosmetics industry, but after joining HKU MBA, I found out that there are limited opportunities available. I talked with my mentor, various staff and professors from the programme, who all told me to keep an open mind to new opportunities. You don’t know what you don’t know, maybe there is something else I could be interested in. I took the advice and I’m happy with my current role at Budweiser APAC.
How did the career services at HKU MBA help you with the changes? How did you land on this job?
The mentorship and 1-1 coaching helped me a lot, especially when I was struggling with interview preparation and deciding which offer to take. Even though I didn’t get help on landing this particular job from the career services team directly, all the coaching sessions and workshops helped me to build up the capability of networking and learning from doing, etc. The most important learning I took from career services is understanding what a manager looks for. It helped me a lot when interning with Budweiser APAC. I understood what upper management was looking for and I was able to give them what they wanted.
Do you think the MBA programme has equipped you for your career development?
Yes, learning the methodology of thinking and solving problems and understanding the mindset of a great leader and high performing team, etc., all helped me in my current job. I believe they will be important for my future career development, too.
Do you have any advice for those who would like to use an MBA as a door for a career change?
Don’t expect the MBA to give you the resources you need by itself. Be clear on what you want from the programme and ask for it.