HKU MBA invited Jose Moreno, who managed to achieve his goal of triple changes of location, industry and job title after he completed his MBA at The University of Hong Kong. Jose shared with us his unforgettable journey from MBA to landing in his current job, and also his views on getting a job in Asia and Hong Kong given the current climate of uncertainty.
Can you please share your background with us?
My name is José Manuel Rodríguez Moreno. I am originally from Mexico, and I studied for my MBA at the University of Hong Kong. During my bachelor’s and after graduating, I started working in the manufacturing industry which led me to work and live across six different countries. I have always enjoyed meeting and interacting with people worldwide because I have always aimed to bridge people and projects.
In 2017, I co-founded a company in Mexico, where we empowered elderly people to live more independent lives. We also provided health-care services to our amazing students. We positively impacted four main aspects of their lifestyle: their mental, physical, social and family life. I had the honour of leading the deployment for Momentum’s first two years. Momentum is our health-care centre in San Luis Potosi.
I currently hold two different roles: a voluntary member of a board and a full-time position. The HKU MBA has been a critical part of me being able to achieve these positions.
I am currently the secretary-general at The Mexican Chamber of Commerce. As part of the Chamber, we aim to strengthen and support Mexican businesses in Hong Kong. We seek to be a bridge between Mexico, Hong Kong and Mainland China. We want to be catalysers for collaboration between the three regions.
I recently joined a clean-tech company from Boston called Spare-It. I was their first employee in their Hong Kong office. I am responsible for their interactions with the customers and Hong Kong operations. Our 2025 mission is to help 20,000 people in Hong Kong to reduce the amount of waste they generate in their offices by 50%.
To summarise, I went from manufacturing to becoming an entrepreneur in Healthcare. Now I am a bridge for business between Hong Kong and Mexico and have become an ally for
companies who want to become more sustainable and generate less waste.
What has your MBA journey been like? Can you talk us through the ups and downs, the opportunities and challenges?
I have definitely experienced more than I imagined. We never expected social unrest and Covid-19 to hit during our 14-month programme. Since the beginning, one of the ups was meeting my cohort for the first time. I clearly remember bringing my suit and dressing the part to give the “MBA impression”. It’s funny to look back on that day because those people that I “dressed-up” to meet became very close friends throughout the year. We supported each other and learned from one and other.
Stories? There are many; birthdays celebrations, Diwali, networking events organised by the MBA such as the Chinese New Year dinner.
I remember very clearly after a full day of classes we were exhausted, and I was about to go home. Five of my closest friends came up to me and suggested that we go for dinner. We sat down on the wet market’s top floor in Kennedy town and my friends started ordering food and beers. I looked around, really enjoying the moment, and said that I wanted to sit at this same table with the same people in 2050 because part of being an MBA student means being part of this community and this precious network that will be there for you over the years.
Needless to say, the most significant hurdles were the ripples that we had from the effects of Covid-19 on our in-person classes. I think that’s life, and if there is a hurdle, there is always an opportunity. I believe these facts allowed our cohort to be more united and to learn more about resilience. The constant communication with the helpful admin team of the MBA allowed us to reduce the impact and achieve valuable extra perks.
How did you land on your current role? Has HKU MBA helped you?
I landed my current job because of the help of the Career Development and Training (CDT) and the extended HKU family. I am deeply grateful to the CDT Team and all the alumni that sat down with me to have a chat and to share a cup of coffee and talk about their experiences while looking for a job. I particularly recalled two stories that can exemplify how the community’s support helped me find a job.
An alumnus was very kind to receive a weekly call from me. In this call, he helped me much more than he thinks he did. Every week I would call him and give him a brief of what I had done the previous week to find a job. I knew that if I didn’t do what I had committed to do, he would probably not want to spend his valuable time with someone that did not deliver. This helped me develop strong accountability. Secondly, he told me that he knew it was stressful to find a job and that I know it is very hard so don’t forget to take care of yourself; meditate, go for a walk, do something to take your mind off things.
The CDT team were challenged by my “different” curriculum. They kept on brainstorming and finding new ideas and new people for me to meet. A particular and extraordinary person from the CDT team constantly challenged me to contact and interact with people I would have never imagined contacting. I would have naturally believed they would never reply to me – yet they replied. She challenged me, and she encouraged me always to find new people, new opportunities, and new ideas.
So yes, I am happy to say that the CDT and the extended HKU family are a strong reason why I found a job in this tumultuous market. Relying upon and being supported by the team has made a significant difference.
The change of location, change of industry and change of job role: Is that something you expected before joining HKU MBA?
Yes, and no. I believe I was prepared for different variables. I like to explore, and I want to be amazed and to enjoy the journey. I didn’t have particular expectations about the job or the specific places where I would end. However, I am delighted with what happened and where I ended up. I know the journey has exceeded my expectations, and I know this is just the beginning.
How has the MBA programme equipped you for your current role?
If the HKU MBA were helping me by introducing people to me and allowing me to meet some of their contacts, then I had to deliver. So yes, the MBA programme equipped me to perform in my current role.
As previously mentioned, I used to run a day-care center for the elderly. While facing the
natural complications that come with being an entrepreneur and the particular difficulties that come with being in an emerging market, I noticed that I was missing something. I knew that I was giving my 100%, and that I was trying my best, yet there were specific frameworks and tools missing that would make my work easier. That’s why I signed onto the MBA in the first place. Now I know how I can handle certain situations or challenges better while managing a team. Now I can take an idea and link it to a framework to accelerate it.
Recently, while having a conversation with one of the MBA professors that I really admire, we discussed one of the main challenges that MBA students can face while working on early-stage start-ups. We concluded that linking the big frameworks and knowledge bases for well settled and developed companies and bringing them to an earlier stage start-up was one of those challenges. That’s what I am preparing myself for now, and that’s a very niche need that the MBA has opened my eyes to.
Do you think getting a job in Hong Kong, China or Asia is possible now? Especially given the current pandemic and weakened economy?
Yes, definitely. It is always challenging but isn’t that what we are prepared for? We were taught to become strong and resilient leaders; it’s a good time to put it into practice. One of our leadership professors, Diana Wu, recently invited me to do a life map. A life map is charting your life from the age of five onwards with the ups and downs that you have had. She made me do one of the most powerful exercises that I have ever done. You know, finding a job is very stressful and very difficult. The mind can go to places that it had never been before. I plotted my life and realised, from a macro perspective, that the time I spent “struggling” was just a small dip in the ride. It brought me learnings, opportunities and a new journey. It is worth it.
Any advices for those who would like to use an MBA as a door for career changes?
Be yourself and enjoy the ride. Listen to your advisors, mentors and coaches. They have almost certainly experienced similar situations as you. Don´t get too comfortable either, be open to the craziest things, and every week try to do something that you have never tried before.
Industry: Computer Software
Job Title: Customer Success Manager