Hong Kong was his first choice as it offered both a large job market and an easier transition for foreigners not fluent in the local languages. After investigating the schools in the region, Hong Kong’s HKUST Business School was the one that best matched his ambitions.
During his degree, an internship at insurance firm MetLife in Sydney, Australia, proved the perfect testing ground for the next stage of his career. It was exactly the kind of practical opportunity that he was looking for when he joined HKUST’s full-time MBA—ranked number one in Asia six times in the last eight years.
Nico went from an internship to a full-time job—he now works as MetLife’s director of digital strategy, driving digital change initiatives and exploring behavioral analytics, based in New York.
BusinessBecause caught up with Nico to find out more.
How important are digital skills in today’s work environment?
Understanding behavioral analytics is the biggest thing being thrown around right now. You need a base level of analytical skills, understanding how things work, and trends. I think it’s important to know how people interact with new digital channels in the insurance industry.
My role is all about keeping user experience up to date. You have to understand why and how people use these things; where things are now and where things are likely to shift. A general understanding of people and technology is key.
How have you profited from your MBA experience?
I was fortunate in that in my first job with the company, I faced challenges that were similar to what I did on the MBA. It was as if the job was written for an MBA grad and everything that I’d learned on the course was helpful.
I also found the network really useful. I had to reach out to health and wellness startups in Asia, so I could utilize the MBA network for this. The HKUST MBA opened my eyes to networking to create new opportunities. I’m thinking about my career much more proactively now. Before school I had a laissez-faire approach, but now I have a spreadsheet and reminders to reach out. I’m a lot more conscious about these things.
Why was the MBA internship important?
I had the opportunity to move to a different arm of the finance industry and visit and work in a country I’d never been to. What it really allowed me to do was evaluate a company I wanted to work for. Getting this experience, allowed me to decide if this was where I’d spend the next phase of my career.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at HKUST?
There are a number of MBA programs in Asia, but only HKUST had a broader appeal for me. The electives on the course, particularly around finance, were really strong. The school performed well in the rankings and the MBA class size—at around 100 students and with a high diversity—was important too. I thought this would allow me to make personal relationships with everyone in the class.
What advice do you have for anyone considering an MBA?
Do your research and reach out to alumni—people are always happy to offer advice. An MBA is a big time and money investment so you want to make sure you get the school that’s a good option for you. If you want to do an MBA and get into finance as a Westerner in Asia, HKUST Business School maximizes that opportunity.