Part Time MBA

Siri Avayou

Siri Avayou
Class of 2019

I moved to Hong Kong from Thailand in 2007. Having worked in junior management roles for some time in the city, my career was naturally progressing to a more senior level of management. However, I didn’t have the experience I felt I needed to really thrive in this type of role. I have a very entrepreneurial mindset and had always planned to set up my own business at some point, however, coming from Thailand, I felt that I didn’t truly understand Hong Kong culture. It was for these reasons that I decided to get my MBA from Hong Kong University. I knew that the programme would provide me with the skill sets needed to not only grow, but really excel in my next role, as well as give me an in-depth understanding of the local culture.

Choosing HKU as my place of study was an easy decision. Not only is it a top school in Hong Kong and throughout the Asia Pacific region, but it has an impressive reputation on a global scale. The flexibility of HKU’s part-time weekend mode was ideal for me, as it allowed me to study whilst working and looking after my young son. Indeed, I received offers from other business schools in Hong Kong, including partially paid scholarships, however, I enjoyed the group interview process so much – meeting Senior Executive Director Sachin Tipnis and seeing how peers interact in a group setting – that I was sold. I knew it would be tough, but I also knew it would push me outside of my comfort zone.

My experience at HKU was invaluable and I thoroughly enjoyed studying for my MBA on both a personal and professional level. I learnt about leadership, strategy, creativity and most importantly, soft skills – all of which I am now able to apply to my new senior management position. The programme not only helped me to understand business from a holistic perspective, allowing different teams to work better together, but also helped me understand how to manage people of all backgrounds and cultures, due to the many nationalities I encountered throughout my studies.

What I found most useful throughout my experience was the networking aspect, as all classmates have such different life experiences and backgrounds. The connection amongst classmates on the part-time course was strong, as the individuals tend to be older, more experienced professionals. Everyone was supportive and respected one another and I treasured our time together. I realised along the way that when you build a network, it isn’t about who you know, but how your cohorts help you grow throughout your journey. The knowledge they shared helped me grow and, I believe, led me to my current role of Chief of Staff at NTT Ltd. Outside of building connections another aspect I enjoyed was the course structure, both core and elective, including entrepreneurship, marketing and business ethics. I liked the case study approach to learning, as it’s interactive and involves discussions and also found the business experience talks extremely useful – especially those with senior management experts from MNC companies providing real life examples.

Whilst many people might be hesitant about juggling the workload of an MBA with a full-time job, I believe that if you want it, you have to go for it. Two things are very important: your family and your office. It is important to have the support of both, and to be completely transparent with your workplace about your commitments. It may feel overwhelming at first, but you will quickly adapt to a new life with classmates. The part-time programme is flexible and professors are supportive and understanding. Communication is key and you must set expectations. Just believe in yourself and you can do it.

For those looking to do a part-time MBA I would give them the following advice: you have to commit. It is a very challenging 2 year programme and there will be days when you will question yourself, but you must always remember the aspiration of why you are doing it. It gives you the drive to continue, focus and succeed. In the end, it is rewarding and you will see the transformation.

Industry: Information Technology & Services
Company: NTT Ltd.
Job Title: Chief Of Staff