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HKUST MBA Joins Tech Startup Using Blockchain To Disrupt China's Insurance Industry

Ally Cheung's HKUST MBA experience inspired her to work with disruptive new business models

By  Robert Klecha

Mon Aug 14 2017

Before an MBA at Hong Kong’s HKUST Business School, Ally Cheung worked for a Chinese conglomerate specializing in recycling plastics. With exposure to business operations and international business trips however, she soon realized how rapidly the business world was changing.

With her interest sparked in how technology and innovation were disrupting traditional business models, she sought an MBA.

She joined the full-time MBA program at HKUST, with an overseas exchange at NYU Stern in the US, which has ultimately enabled her to change industry and role. With HKUST ranked number one for research in Asia and with 90% of its students being international, the school encourages a global perspective. For Ally, working with driven people from diverse backgrounds was an inspirational experience.

Now, having completed her degree, she has a deeper understating of how a business runs and how to cope with an ever-changing business world. She works for a small tech startup, Galileo Platforms, which is using blockchain technology to disrupt the insurance industry in China and make life insurance accessible to Asia’s digital generation.

How is Galileo Platforms hoping to disrupt the Asian life insurance market?

Our ambition is to enable the insurance ecosystem to engage Asia’s digital citizens by providing better financial inclusion.

Galileo Platforms is developing a blockchain platform for the insurance industry which increases efficiency and lower costs. It takes functionality from insurers’ 30 year old legacy systems and puts it on the blockchain. This makes it accessible to all the industry participants including distributors, insurers and reinsurers.

In short, the cost and speed to market with innovations is reduced significantly. This opens up new revenue growth opportunities.

Was working at a tech startup something you've always wanted to do?

I wouldn’t have thought I would do something with tech before my MBA, but after immersing myself in the program and learning all the case studies I developed a deep interest in tech. I was amazed by how it is shaping us and business nowadays.

Look at Amazon, Apple, Alibaba, Uber, Facebook you name it, all these tech companies are shaping the way we live now. The startup ecosystem nowadays lets people kick off their business more easily, with lower costs and more resources.

During my MBA exchange in NYU Stern, I was stunned by the startup culture in New York. Hackathons, coding boot camps and Meetups are all over the place. I believe there are more disruptions coming and more are driven by the new tech startups. They are poised to change the way we live, work and learn.

How has your MBA prepared you for this career change?

My MBA program has equipped me with the business knowledge to understand business models and essential skills for teamwork. There was an intensive one-week course called Enhanced Presentation Skills (EPS) which significantly improved my presentation skills and problem solving abilities. This helped my team win an international case competition last year.

Personally, I’ve become more self-aware and know my strengths and weakness better through working in all those projects.

What made you choose HKUST?

I wanted to work in Asia where I feel there are a lot of untapped business opportunities. I also live in Hong Kong, so it made my life so much easier that there was a top ranked school was close. The HKUST MBA is ranked in the world’s top 15 and is one of the best in Asia.

The MBA program also fulfilled all my needs. I wanted to get a better perspective of the business world in Asia, so HKUST was undoubtedly the best option for me.

What advice would you give to potential MBAs?

To be bold and get out of your comfort zone. This is the best time to live by far. Do not stop chasing your dreams. You will be surprised by the steps that you begin to make today!