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Asian Luxury Market Boom Entices Top MBAs

The dual MBA degree from CUHK and HEC Paris was a strategic choice for US-born Susanna Tang


Tue Mar 6 2012

Susanna Tang wants a career in marketing global luxury brands, and her ticket to this is the dual MBA degree from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and HEC Paris.

Susanna, 28, can’t express her love of fashion too much. Her dream job would be as a global brand manager for Stella McCartney in Asia Pacific. “Stella McCartney because she always creates a very feminine look using sustainable material and constantly reinvents the meaning of luxury while keeping the company sustainable”, says Susanna.

When I caught up with Susanna, London Fashion Week was in full swing and news about Stella McCartney’s party was all over the media. When I mentioned how well Miss McCartney had been received after being away from London’s catwalks for 16 years, Susanna exclaimed, “If Asia has a fashion week, I would so be there!”

Susanna is a US citizen and was born in New York City but her family moved to a suburb of New Jersey when she was a toddler. She went to college at Boston University where she studied Business Administration, Marketing and Finance and went straight into a career in buying.

Her first role was as a buyer for Linen N’ Things in 2005. She was there for a little over a year before moving to department store Saks Fifth Avenue where she was a Senior Associate Buyer. Her focus at Saks was Mens' footwear and Evening couture. Working in menswear had its perks, and Susanna describes it as a "fun and light environment".

In 2008, Susanna left Saks to work as Brand Merchandiser for Wal-Mart’s private label Faded Glory. “Talking with brands, managing the vendors and seeing the products before they’re released to the consumer” were the most exciting aspects of working in buying and merchandising. However, Susanna says she wanted to build the necessary skills and understanding required for developing and managing luxury brands.

HEC Paris and CUHK, are two business schools that recognize that companies operating in the luxury industry have unique needs. Susanna observes that “Luxury houses are mostly French or Italian and HEC Paris has great experience of knowing how to meet the branding and strategy needs of the best brands while CUHK is a great stepping stone for anyone who wants a career in Asia”.

“The most awesome thing about being in Paris was that you lived in a place where it was immediately obvious how the city in itself influences fashion...there is so much art around you, you can’t help but be inspired”, says Susanna.

She added, “being in Hong Kong means you can experience the energy of the city which is amazing. At CUHK, there’s a huge emphasis on China and how to do business in China which is something you don’t commonly get. You're also surrounded by so much diversity that you can never really guess someone’s background until you speak to them”.

Luxury as a market is huge with a global turnover estimated at about $200 billion annually and, “Finding ways to connect with consumers, and their motivations while building the brand’s place in the global market would be incredible”, says Susanna.

Susanna finishes classes in March but is planning to remain in Hong Kong to continue exploring opportunities in Hong Kong, mainland China and around Asia. Her top brands to work for are Stella McCartney, Celine, for its minimalism and sophistication and Jimmy Choo because, Susanna says, “What woman isn’t into their fabulous designs?”! 


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Student Reviews






One of a kind

I studied Bioinformatics at CUHK last year. It was the only Master's degree in Hong Kong in this field. This program developed my analytical skills and equipped me to be a Bioinformatician in a very practical way. I enjoyed my year here and met classmates from different parts of the world. If you are thinking to enhance your profile, this degree program would be a good option.




On Campus

general education courses, unique college system, large campus

The university facilitates multi-dimension and interdisciplinary learning. In social science faculty, we need to choose courses as our faculty package from other departments (architecture, psychology, sociology, etc.) to learn more than our major required courses. We are also required to finish general education courses, which aid our critical thinking and humanistic sensibilities. I do recommend the social science broad-based program, and the professors I met so far are all responsible and erudite.





The faculty of law is relatively new. You do not need to have a LLB to pursue a LLM, which is special. The taught programme is great for mature students who want to obtain legal knowledge. CUHK has good teaching staff too.




Amazing Campus and Great Educational Environment

Not only is CUHK's main campus breathtaking, it provides for a good educational environment for students. The university is well-equipped with modern and up-to-date facilities to help students with their study. We have 8 libraries in total around the campus; one for media, one for architectural studies, the medical library and the law library. The Professors are always helpful and are happy to talk to students when needed. Moreover, the college system within the university brings forth the uniqueness of CUHK. Each student belongs to a different college, and in that students are able to meet different peoples from different countries and students from different faculties. I think CUHK provides for a well-rounded university life for all students.





One of the most down to earth places in HK. A great opportunity to learn and embody the local culture. Also had one the most beautiful campus in Hong Kong up on the hillside. Glad to have graduated here.




Innovative and Supportive

My university provided me with all the support I needed, and encouraged me to be up to date with all the new developments in the world. They also provided me with the incentive to excel at what I do, and they take much pride in my achievements. I have had a very rewarding university experience.




Small, New But Friendly Law School

To being with, I think the campus of CUHK is the best and the biggest in Hong Kong, with fresh air and trees everywhere. I am an undergraduate Law student at CUHK and I think the teaching here is great, with very friendly and nice professors and the new Lee Shau Kee Building. In terms of the courses offered by CUHK, as one of the largest universities in Hong Kong, CUHK is an all-rounded university, offering a wide range of courses to students. Students may take the introductory courses of discipline other than their own major, or even declare a minor. For law electives, due to the small amount of intake, the variety of law electives are not that huge. However, the Faculty is offering some international programmes, which can be treated as law electives, but at the same time, provide us with an opportunity to travel and know more about the legal system of another country. The career support from the Faculty of Law is also amazing. The Faculty will organise CV Sessions and talks on how to get an internship from law firms or mini-pupillage from barrister's chambers. Each student will also have a Distinguished Professional Mentor, which is a current legal profession, providing us with practical advices and updates of the legal field. Finally, from my personal experience, I think the students in CUHK are friendly and genuine. As Law students, competition is inevitable for grades, GPAs, vacation schemes and training contract. However, I think the competition in CUHK Law School is a positive one, in a sense that help us grow together, instead of fighting with each other no matter what. That is the biggest reason why I am having a very good time here in CUHK Law School.




A place to explore your interests

As a law graduate from CUHK (both undergrad and post-grad), I realise that I had many opportunities to explore my areas of interests (legal and non-legal both). The faculty/university requires us to take a certain number of non-law electives, and offers a plethora of courses to choose from. Personally, I took 3 modules in Korean --I can't say it's made me highly proficient, but it's definitely given me a good foundation (I can walk into a Korean restaurant and confidently order food, at the very least). The fact that language courses are offered also provides students who are more financially constrained an opportunity to learn a language without having to shell out a premium for a decent language course. On top of that, we have a range of law electives as well. I know of classmates who have developed lasting interest in different areas of law because of the electives they took in school. The two electives that I would say have changed me is (i) mooting and (ii) family law. I think my experience in an international commercial arbitration moot competition has helped tremendously in formulating legal arguments and legal writing. On the other hand, taking a family law elective has made me very interested in the family law practice, especially in terms of child rights. For these experiences which I have gained, I'm grateful for the opportunities provided by the school. One main issue most students I know have is with the way our GPA is calculated and the lack of transparency in terms of how the honours system works. As our GPA is marked on a curve. it's highly unrepresentative of what we have achieved as individuals. Given that our GPA is the only criteria that is looked at when we apply for the compulsory post-graduate law course (mandatory should we want to practise law and/or be trainees in Hong Kong), it will put our own students at a distinct disadvantage when we compete for limited spaces with students from schools where GPA is not on a bell curve.




On Campus

Valuable time in CUHK

I like the learning environment and people at CUHK. Surrounded by hills and Tolo Harbour, CUHK provides a balance between nature and hustle. You can always escape from the busy study life and meet your friend around the big campus for different activities.