“Where do you want your next job to be?”
That’s the question American Jessica Beaton was asked when deciding between a full-time MBA program in Asia or back in the United States.
After several years working in editing in China—including setting up Asia-based travel and lifestyle website CNNGo Shanghai—she decided she wanted to stay in Asia.
Jessica chose an MBA at Hong Kong’s HKUST Business School to strengthen her all-round business understanding and make a transition over to the business side of media.
After graduating, she landed a job at Dentsu X, a global media agency in Singapore. She gained a place on its leadership program, and has since worked her way up to become the firm’s head of business.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at HKUST?
I wanted to continue to work and develop in Asia. Knowing that, it didn't make a lot of sense to leave to go to an MBA.
Around the same time, I had a number of friends come through with their international business schools to see China and Hong Kong on career treks. The Asian schools were trying to impart an understanding of Asia-based companies and operations in just two weeks. I didn't want to be a tourist as I would be if I went back to school in the US, I wanted to continue to live the experience.
How did your MBA help you take your career forward?
On a practical level, the marketing classes gave me great hands-on experience to showcase a portfolio that made career switching much easier. Also, you can play the ‘student card’. This gave me access to more people and conferences than I could have hoped for, allowing me to get insight into the industry before even starting my job search. This preparation allowed me to engage key contact in a targeted and informed manner as I entered the industry
How are you applying your MBA learnings in your current role?
Within the agency structure, the more senior your role, the more senior your client-side counterparts are. To be a real partner you need to understand their business and think of it like they do. Their success is your success.
The MBA program gave me the background to be able to work with clients across different levels, to understand their operational needs and ultimately work with them not simply on delivery, but also planning long-term strategic initiatives.
What advice do you have for anyone considering an MBA?
Have a serious think about and map out answers to important questions. What do you want to be doing in five years? Where do you want to be? What are the skills you need to have to get there?
While I took a pretty non-traditional path coming out of the HKUST MBA program, I knew going in the skills sets I needed to get out of it and the credibility it would give me to shift industries.
Finding your direction before you start will help to narrow down the list of schools you apply to, as well as help you focus your energy once you're there.
Read more stories about students,
alumni and programmes at HKUST Business School.