Software engineer Markus Pessara had a high-flying career at one of Germany's leading traffic systems developers, but opted for the Chinese University Hong Kong MBA to shift his career to the emerging markets.
Markus, 29, was born in Leverkusen, Germany and came into contact with computers at a young age. His ambition to become a software developer had its roots in his childhood and he went on to study Technical Computer Science at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.
Whilst at university Markus wanted to gain practical experience and worked alongside his studies at electronics firm DELPHI Deutschland on ultrasonic security systems for automobiles. Finding the time to work whilst studying was worth it for the contact with mentors in the business world.
His first graduate job was at Jenoptik Robot GmbH, one of the world’s leading suppliers for traffic law enforcement systems. “I started my career as a Software Developer for radar systems. After a short time I was involved as a Project Manager, and became the Head of Sensor Technology, which meant full responsibility for radar, laser, loop and piezo systems. After four years working in this position, I decided to start my MBA in Hong Kong.”
The desire to study for an MBA began when his company nominated him for an on-the-job leadership program which lasted one and a half years. “This cross-cultural program opened a new world to me. On one hand I gained skills as a manager, on the other hand I realised the management skills I was missing.”
Markus knew that he wanted to work in an emerging market and so considered Brazil, India and China. Due to his interest in Chinese culture, Chinese economy and the fact that he had already made contacts with China and had some crash-courses in Mandarin, he chose to study in China.
Markus looked at top business schools in Asia; Ceibs in Shanghai, NUS in Singapore and The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). “I received an offer from CUHK, my preferred university, in the first round. Therefore I did not apply for other schools in the second round.”
Having been at CUHK for just over a month Markus says he has already had many diverse experiences. The teaching style differs greatly from undergraduate-style lectures, the intercultural groups – “I have worked before in intercultural teams but it is completely different... working in a team with five nationalities and having no common background.”
Markus, as the president of the Student Association, is relishing the challenge of organising and leading a team full of diverse, intelligent, students.
CUHK has a wide variety of field trips, field seminars and exchanges, and this weekend Markus is heading to Shenzen for a short field trip and in December will be heading to Shanghai for a business field study. He also hopes to have an exchange or an internship in Brazil.
So what drove Markus to leave his safe job and step into the unknown? “One wish was to improve my management skills in general, to be prepared for upper managerial positions in world leading companies. Another reason was the desire to spend several years in a foreign country, and to use my MBA as a door-opener to one or more emerging markets, especially China and Brazil. Both together mean an international management position in for example consumer goods markets like luxury goods.
"My dream is to be the link, a ‘bridge’, between Europe and Brazil/China.”
When asked whether Markus thinks he will stay in China he said it is dependent on the job offers he gets. “The whole package should be attractive. This means the triangle between: job-position, job-location and company.” He would ideally work in Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paolo in a general management position.