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CUHK Professor Helps Students Get Into China’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Scene

Uber connected Professor Chau uses case studies of firms that flopped in his venture capital and private equity classes

By  Ifeatu Nnaobi

Fri Aug 31 2012

Chinese University of Hong Kong's  Professor Wilton Chau not only teaches students about private equity and venture capital, he also helps them gaining practical work experience in those industries.

Prof Chau has been in the VC field for 26 years and has managed portfolios in several Asian countries. He’s successfully completed investment projects ranging from a US$200,000 bioinformatics investment to a US$28 billion infrastructure project.

He also manages a seed fund called QLeap Asia which manages a venture capital fund mainly for Asian seed and early-stage projects.

Additionally, Professor Chau is the lead consultant to the Incu-Tech Programme of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park, and the founding Vice Chairman of the Hong Kong Business Angel Network.

Professor Chau has been lecturing for nearly two years because he wants to transfer some of the knowledge and experience he’s gained, including his personal network, to students.

We caught up with the busy professor who shuttles between his home in Singapore and work in Hong Kong to learn about some of the projects students have worked on during the year. 

What do students like most about the course?
They like the practical stuff. MBA courses can be quite theory-based but our students are quite experienced, with some of them having up to 10 years of experience, and so they want to know how the knowledge is applied.

I try to teach students using cases from real projects I’ve worked on. VC as an area has more failures than success and I tend to use cases of failures because I believe they will learn more from them. They compare their initial expectations to the actual outcome and learn from the logic of what happened.

Can you give us some examples of real life investment projects that students have worked on?
We have a lot of opportunities for students to get involved. By the end of September, we will have a group of technopreneurs coming from Hawaii to visit potential investors.

I have an arrangement with a group of ten to 15 investors to get students involved, bringing them around the companies individually to meet and discuss. We also have events to match investmentment funds with start-ups that students can get involved in.

I’m the lead adviser to Science Park and Vice Chairman of the Hong Kong Angel Network so I get students involved when matching investors with entrepreneurs. Student participation in these events allows them to learn how investors ask questions, and deal with other concerns.

There are also opportunities to assign students to help on tech ventures, with preparing presentations and planning negotiation strategies. After learning on the course students can then join VC and PE firms, sometimes through internships, and learn from there onwards.

What are some of the companies that students have done internships with?
Students have gained both internship and employment opportunities through the course. My VC and PE course is in the summer term of the MBA programme and in Hong Kong, companies recruit summer interns in May and June. But even though the course starts in July and August, some students still get internships.

Some of the companies students have done internships with are Orion Partners, Sequoia Capital - a famous US VC firm, Sumitomo, and Citi Bank. There are also other Chinese companies and a company specialized in green tech investment. Next year we’re starting the course in April and May so that more students will have a chance to get an internship.

Roughly how many students go on to work in the VC world after taking this course?
Last year four to six students entered the VC world through the connections they made with companies on the course. The Sumitomo guy is now an investment manager, the lady at Sequoia is still there, the guy who was with the Chinese VC firm was recruited as a part-time investment manager but he recently resigned. His boss called me the other day to tell me.

We have one student who started a PE firm, but of course she’s from a rich family so she has the resources.

Does this mean that if I come to CUHK, you can get me a great role in a VC or PE firm?
No, it's you who will do the work. I can help to open doors but of course you are the one who will have to perform well at the interviews.

Can you help a student who has a good business idea get started?
Tentatively yes. If the idea is tech related, I can at least get them into the Science Park.

Student Reviews






One of a kind

I studied Bioinformatics at CUHK last year. It was the only Master's degree in Hong Kong in this field. This program developed my analytical skills and equipped me to be a Bioinformatician in a very practical way. I enjoyed my year here and met classmates from different parts of the world. If you are thinking to enhance your profile, this degree program would be a good option.




On Campus

general education courses, unique college system, large campus

The university facilitates multi-dimension and interdisciplinary learning. In social science faculty, we need to choose courses as our faculty package from other departments (architecture, psychology, sociology, etc.) to learn more than our major required courses. We are also required to finish general education courses, which aid our critical thinking and humanistic sensibilities. I do recommend the social science broad-based program, and the professors I met so far are all responsible and erudite.





The faculty of law is relatively new. You do not need to have a LLB to pursue a LLM, which is special. The taught programme is great for mature students who want to obtain legal knowledge. CUHK has good teaching staff too.




Amazing Campus and Great Educational Environment

Not only is CUHK's main campus breathtaking, it provides for a good educational environment for students. The university is well-equipped with modern and up-to-date facilities to help students with their study. We have 8 libraries in total around the campus; one for media, one for architectural studies, the medical library and the law library. The Professors are always helpful and are happy to talk to students when needed. Moreover, the college system within the university brings forth the uniqueness of CUHK. Each student belongs to a different college, and in that students are able to meet different peoples from different countries and students from different faculties. I think CUHK provides for a well-rounded university life for all students.





One of the most down to earth places in HK. A great opportunity to learn and embody the local culture. Also had one the most beautiful campus in Hong Kong up on the hillside. Glad to have graduated here.




Innovative and Supportive

My university provided me with all the support I needed, and encouraged me to be up to date with all the new developments in the world. They also provided me with the incentive to excel at what I do, and they take much pride in my achievements. I have had a very rewarding university experience.




Small, New But Friendly Law School

To being with, I think the campus of CUHK is the best and the biggest in Hong Kong, with fresh air and trees everywhere. I am an undergraduate Law student at CUHK and I think the teaching here is great, with very friendly and nice professors and the new Lee Shau Kee Building. In terms of the courses offered by CUHK, as one of the largest universities in Hong Kong, CUHK is an all-rounded university, offering a wide range of courses to students. Students may take the introductory courses of discipline other than their own major, or even declare a minor. For law electives, due to the small amount of intake, the variety of law electives are not that huge. However, the Faculty is offering some international programmes, which can be treated as law electives, but at the same time, provide us with an opportunity to travel and know more about the legal system of another country. The career support from the Faculty of Law is also amazing. The Faculty will organise CV Sessions and talks on how to get an internship from law firms or mini-pupillage from barrister's chambers. Each student will also have a Distinguished Professional Mentor, which is a current legal profession, providing us with practical advices and updates of the legal field. Finally, from my personal experience, I think the students in CUHK are friendly and genuine. As Law students, competition is inevitable for grades, GPAs, vacation schemes and training contract. However, I think the competition in CUHK Law School is a positive one, in a sense that help us grow together, instead of fighting with each other no matter what. That is the biggest reason why I am having a very good time here in CUHK Law School.




A place to explore your interests

As a law graduate from CUHK (both undergrad and post-grad), I realise that I had many opportunities to explore my areas of interests (legal and non-legal both). The faculty/university requires us to take a certain number of non-law electives, and offers a plethora of courses to choose from. Personally, I took 3 modules in Korean --I can't say it's made me highly proficient, but it's definitely given me a good foundation (I can walk into a Korean restaurant and confidently order food, at the very least). The fact that language courses are offered also provides students who are more financially constrained an opportunity to learn a language without having to shell out a premium for a decent language course. On top of that, we have a range of law electives as well. I know of classmates who have developed lasting interest in different areas of law because of the electives they took in school. The two electives that I would say have changed me is (i) mooting and (ii) family law. I think my experience in an international commercial arbitration moot competition has helped tremendously in formulating legal arguments and legal writing. On the other hand, taking a family law elective has made me very interested in the family law practice, especially in terms of child rights. For these experiences which I have gained, I'm grateful for the opportunities provided by the school. One main issue most students I know have is with the way our GPA is calculated and the lack of transparency in terms of how the honours system works. As our GPA is marked on a curve. it's highly unrepresentative of what we have achieved as individuals. Given that our GPA is the only criteria that is looked at when we apply for the compulsory post-graduate law course (mandatory should we want to practise law and/or be trainees in Hong Kong), it will put our own students at a distinct disadvantage when we compete for limited spaces with students from schools where GPA is not on a bell curve.




On Campus

Valuable time in CUHK

I like the learning environment and people at CUHK. Surrounded by hills and Tolo Harbour, CUHK provides a balance between nature and hustle. You can always escape from the busy study life and meet your friend around the big campus for different activities.