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Career Coaching And Kung Fu: Here's How Asia's Top Business School Welcomes Its MBAs

Language courses, careers and team-building trips are all dealt with before HKUST MBAs even begin their studies


Fri Sep 30 2016

It’s a big decision to move halfway across the world, and Hong Kong can prove a shock to the system, even for the most well-traveled MBAs.

It’s a good thing, then, that HKUST Business School fully integrates its international MBA students to Hong Kong life well before they start classes.

Beginning in July and ending in August, the immersion program at the AACSB and EQUIS-accredited school begins with an optional Mandarin immersion experience in Beijing, followed by a week-long mandatory course on campus.

Then, in August, HKUST MBAs go through accelerator courses for core subjects, personalized career coaching, and even a case competition. To round it all off, there’s a two day experiential learning program.

We spoke to two international MBAs to find out about their experiences, and how they’ve settled in to life at the Financial Times top-15 b-school.

Michael Straub

I’m originally from Switzerland, but I’d had working experience in South-East Asia, and I decided that for my MBA I’d like to be in the region to learn Mandarin, as well as Asian business culture. HKUST offered a great location, diversity, and a world-class faculty.

For me, visiting their beautiful campus and getting to know some of the amazing students helped me realize it was the perfect school for me.

Their immersion program was a fantastic start to my time here, helping everyone bed in and get to know each other, as well as the area. The local Hong Kong students also organized some great events like boat trips and dinners for us to explore Hong Kong.

For the first ten days, we were given intensive Mandarin classes by HKUST, which even covered some basic Cantonese to help us get around the city. There were also careers sessions with one-on-one coaching, industry primers, and CV workshops.

For the case competition, we were tasked with creating a strategy for Ocean Park, a local amusement park facing competition from huge competitors like Hong Kong Disney. In the final round, we presented in front of the whole program as well as a senior executive of Ocean Park. It was the perfect way to end the immersion program, and helped me forge real bonds with my team-mates.

Finally, we participated in a two-day outdoor team-building course, which was incredibly fun and enabled us to get to know our classmates in different ways.

I’m looking to become fluent in Mandarin and travel around Asia, and I’m confident that studying at HKUST will help me with both.

Michael Ryback

Coming from Arizona, I was always looking for an international feel that just can’t be found in American MBA programs. Things are swinging towards the East, and it’s clear that HKUST is the leader. Meeting the students and MBA office, as well as experiencing their gorgeous campus clinched it for me.

I’ve been living in the dorms, which really helps with meeting people. We only have 100 students here so it’s quite intimate. Hong Kong becomes a better place to live with each day, and we even have a Whatsapp group to organize hiking trips.

Before moving to Hong Kong, I was in Beijing for HKUST’s optional Mandarin program at the Mandarin Leadership Center. It was there I made my first two friends at HKUST, and we shared an apartment in Beijing.

The teachers there were exceptional, and we even got one-on-one lessons. It left me in a really good place to communicate with locals when I arrived in Hong Kong.

Their weekend cultural activities were amazing too, we visited the Great Wall and tried everything from Kung Fu to traditional tea ceremonies.

The mandatory week of Mandarin on campus also bolstered my skills, and I was surprised to discover that there was no overlap between it and the Beijing course. I’d definitely like to continue learning Mandarin throughout my MBA.

Of course, everyone is required to participate in the rest of the program, and the Ocean Park case competition was a real highlight for me. It meant a lot of late nights, but we ended up as one of the three finalists from 21 teams at the start. Presenting in front of the entire MBA cohort and faculty in one of HKUST’s auditoriums was a truly exhilarating feeling.

Even though I essentially uprooted my life to move here, I’d do it again without even thinking.

Student Reviews

HKUST Business School




On Campus

Excellent Supporting Staff

HKUST campus is a very scenic place. However, the best part of the university is the professors and administrators. I have had numerous instances where I have approached them outside their office hours and asked them for help. I have always received full support, and they have helped me escape some very tricky situations. I will miss the faculty and especially the UG Hall 5 Residence Master. I am grateful for his help during my undergraduate program. I will recommend people choose HKUST for their bachelor, master, or Ph.D. studies. Do experience the hall life and you will never regret it.




On Campus

Stressful university

Vibe Students in HKUST is really competitive, they study really hard. Environment Nice sea view and modern campus Teaching Many professors are from mainland, whose accent are difficult to understand sometimes. Harsh grading from most of the professors from my department Opportunities HKUST provides many opportunities and guidance for students on careers and extracurricular activities




On Campus

Hard working and motivational

Major selection activities are very competitive. 1st/2nd year students work hard to get into popular majors they want. If you enjoy working in a competitive environment, this is a great place. Great ocean view with sports facilities and activities ready for you. Many programmes and social clubs available to boost your cv, learn practical skills for future jobs and interviews.





Good for academics but not that good for student life

Professors and teaching staffs definitely know what they are teaching and have strong knowledge in their discipline; Academics can be quite tough and stressful for students as everyone works very hard and course grades are rather competitive; Student societies exist but are not extensive. Activities are also mostly non-existent.