MBA Careers: Why I Swapped The Magic Of Disney For An MBA At HKUST

Maiko Asano worked at the Tokyo Disney Resort for almost a decade prior to her MBA

“The only thing I really miss is not seeing fireworks every day!” says Maiko Asano, who spent almost a decade working at the Tokyo Disney Resort in her native Japan before relocating to Hong Kong for a full-time MBA.

In her eight years working for the Oriental Land Company – which owns the Tokyo Disney Resort – she organized and ran events at Tokyo Disneyland, led staff training sessions, oversaw over 30 ticket booths and managed 100 part-time staff serving around 15 million guests per year at DisneySea.

Determined to take her career forward, Maiko chose Hong Kong’s HKUST Business School - ranked 15th in the world by the Financial Times – for her MBA.

HKUST offers a 12 or 16-month format with the opportunity for an internship and international exchange. Already, Maiko’s gained from a close-knit but diverse MBA class of 120 students representing around 30 different nationalities.

HKUST is ranked 16th in the world in terms of the global employability of its graduates by the New York Times. After graduation, Maiko is gunning for a marketing role in the entertainment industry. She’s open to working anywhere in the world. One day, she hopes to work for the Walt Disney Company itself.

What stands out from your experience working at the Tokyo Disney Resort?

Ever since I was a kid, I have loved Disney and its mission to make people happy. At Tokyo Disney Resort, I’ve managed ticket booths, created content for brochures, and organized special events – like a Valentine’s day event at Tokyo DisneySea.

While I achieved my first goal of working at Tokyo Disneyland, I am still looking to accomplish my long-term goal of working for the Disney holding group. I am hoping that my MBA will help me achieve it!

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at HKUST?

I wanted to gain business knowledge, practical management skills, and long-lasting connections with diverse communities.

The HKUST MBA program and location were ideal for me. HKUST gives me the chance to learn about the Asian market – one of Disney’s fastest-growing markets. Plus, unlike other programs, HKUST is unique because it allows students to undertake both an international exchange and an internship.

What advice do you have for applicants considering an MBA?

Talk to MBA students, alumni, and admissions staff to better understand a program. If possible, visiting a campus is also a good way to learn about the school.

The MBA is a chance to learn new skills and brush up on your strengths at the same time. Research what kinds of knowledge, opportunities, and experiences you want to gain from the program – and how they’ll help you in your career.

How have you profited from your MBA experience so far?

Hong Kong is a friendly city and I have met many interesting people who have given me valuable insights. My professors are always on hand to help. My classmates are diverse, not only in terms of nationalities, but also backgrounds and characters.

I feel that I am always learning something new, both inside and outside of the MBA class. I’ve gained a good, supportive network, and improved my ability to see things from different points of view. 

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