2020 has been a momentous year for the City University of Hong Kong (CityU), who, for the first time, made their way into the prestigious Financial Times Global MBA rankings.
Most notable is the school’s outstanding achievement when it comes to the careers of its MBA graduates. CityU grads have the seventh highest salary increase among the top 100, seeing on average a 159% increase on pre-MBA salaries after graduation. Overall, in the career progress rankings (which measures comparative seniority and size of company), the school comes in at 39th.
So how did the Hong Kong school become one of the best in the world, let alone Asia, for career progression?
Experiential learning with a careers focus
Professor Kevin Chiang
To a certain degree, most MBA programs will cover similar bases, in running students through the cores and fundamentals of business and management.
Where some schools, like CityU, differentiate themselves is the emphasis that they put on practical or experiential learning. Kevin Chiang, director of the MBA program at CityU, firmly believes that this is the key to strength of his students and graduates.
“Given the complex nature of the global business environment and the needs of today’s business practices, experiential learning enables our students to gain practical experience which they can then apply in real-world situations,” Kevin believes.
Crucially, this experiential learning is international in character.
Take the global brand management workshop, where students are whisked off to Imperial College Business School in London. Students work with some of the UK’s top brands like Tesco and Bentley, working on developing branding and marketing strategies for these tailored to the Asian market.
For those with entrepreneurial leanings, there’s an opportunity for a trip to the University of California Berkeley—immersing in the school’s startup ecosystem and the nearby Silicon Valley. Google and Intel are among the industry leaders that students can meet and interact with.
Here, students also get the opportunity to draw up and develop their own business plans, which they must present to real venture capitalists who offer real evaluation.
“They learn the important lesson of how to formulate an idea and communicate the proposal in a succinct way that makes it a viable project for potential investors,” Kevin adds.
For those looking to launch a career in Asia, CityU runs an Asia residential trip, focusing on regional business challenges and working with real companies to offer solutions. Countries have included South Korea, Malaysia, and Cambodia in recent years.
All these experiences offer CityU students an important insight into the uncertainty and pressure of real life business.
“As business challenges become increasingly multifaceted, such experiences cultivate students’ cross-functional and cross-regional problem-solving skills that are crucial for them to stay globally competitive.”
Building MBA careers from networking
Cultivating a network forms the backbone of any successful career, and networking begins for CityU MBA students at school.
Principle to this is the SHARP Forum, CityU’s own networking and careers events platform. Through this, MBAs can meet anyone from leading business executives to government officials to eminent academics.
In the past few years, the SHARP Forum has hosted executives from Fortune 500 companies including Amazon, Huawei, and Tencent, as well as CEOs of Hong Kong-based businesses like Octopus.
Engaging with these individuals, Kevin believes, is a central to their education.
“Allowing in-depth interactions with industry leaders, SHARP Forum provides our MBA students with distinctive opportunities for career networking and development.”
What sets these networking events apart, however, is that it is student-led. CityU MBAs must take the initiative to organize and host these events for the school. “Decisiveness, organization, communication, delegation”—all important for executing these events, and all important for the MBA skill set.
Diverse career opportunities
Kevin is proud of the diversity of the MBA class at CityU. This is partly a result of the launch of CityU’s full-time MBA program in 2013, opening up to many more international students as a result.
But this diversity also applies to careers and industries. MBA graduates find jobs at tech companies like Amazon and Tencent; in finance for Bank of America and Merrill Lynch; in consulting for Deloitte and KPMG.
What unites them, however, is career progression, which remains a top priority for Kevin and his team. “Our job is to prepare students for success,” Kevin says.
There’s no perfect way to measure this, but rankings like the FT Global MBA 100, he believes, gives as good an impression as any as to how the school’s graduates are performing.
Given CityU’s recent rankings success, they are clearly doing their job.