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From India To Hong Kong: HKU MBA Flies Flag For Women In Business

Kritika Kumar sees the MBA as an enabler for women in business

Kritika Kumar worked at credit rating agency Moody’s in her native India prior to her MBA. After four years, she found herself stuck in her job, with little chance of a promotion.

So, in 2015, she joined the University of Hong Kong’s 14-month MBA program, determined to diversify and explore new career opportunities.

On the MBA’s London track, she studied in Beijing, Hong Kong, and at London Business School in the UK. She visited Singapore, Japan, and interned at Citi in Hong Kong and a private equity firm in Myanmar.

In her first few months at HKU, she became president of the school’s women in leadership club. She organized the club's flagship event in partnership with Macquarie Group, networking with 100-odd attendees from 17 different organizations, and hosting a panel discussion on quotas for women in business.

Still today, the topic of women in business is never far from her mind. After graduating from HKU in November 2016, she landed an internship at Schneider Electric, a Fortune 500 electronics firm which has recruited over 23,000 women in the last three years.

How far is an MBA an enabler for women in business?

An MBA is a very big enabler because it introduces ideas which you may not have and it shows you role models who you can look up to. If you have an MBA, you’re looked at differently. It’s very easy to approach people, and people respond very positively to you. It gives you equal opportunities whether you are a man or a woman.

Will top-level CEO roles one day be occupied by as many women as men?

Yes. There is a glass ceiling - it does exist - but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be broken.

I don’t think it’s a problem of the pipeline or having enough qualified women. It’s about how to move up the ladder; what you need to do. I think, as more women are becoming aware of this, and more companies are supporting women in business, change will happen.

Why did you choose HKU for your MBA?

I was working for a Moody’s subsidiary in India, and while I tried to speak to the stakeholders for my career growth within the organization, the organization was not able to provide me with a clear career path.

At that time, everyone around me was either doing an MBA or a CFA. I thought I’d do an MBA to increase my opportunities. And my supervisor did advise me on MBA opportunities and fully supported my decision to go for the MBA.

Asia is where business is, and where business is going to be. The global perspective of the MBA program, the small but diverse class, and the opportunity to study in three cities – Beijing, Hong Kong, and London – made HKU stand out.

What should applicants think about when deciding to do an MBA?

You should know what you want to do after the MBA, and how an MBA will help you get there. You should talk to as many alumni from your chosen schools as possible. Ask yourself: do you want to be part of that same brand? Who are the people who are part of it? Do you want to be associated with them? At the end of the day, if you are with the right people you will learn a lot.

What stands out from your MBA experience?

The people I’ve met, the class discussions I’ve had, and the places I’ve had the opportunity to visit. Aside from visiting China and the UK, I went on a career trek to Singapore and I had a Japanese classmate who organized a fabulous trip to Japan. Travelling together, you learn about different people and their culture. You broaden your knowledge about how business works on a global scale.

How have you grown as a professional since the MBA?

One thing I’ve learnt is how to follow a targeted approach. Whether it’s for my post-MBA career, an event I want to host, a club I want to lead; I have a plan with a target and I work towards it.

I’ve also learnt that I’m a really good networker. In Myanmar, I was able to connect an entrepreneur I was working with, with a potential investor. Networking is not very common in India. At least professionally, it’s not the way it is in Hong Kong. Without the MBA, I would not be able to market myself  in the same way.

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