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How An MBA Helped Me Launch A Dual Career In Digital Transformation & Entrepreneurship

This graduate is juggling a corporate job with her immersive mystery entertainment company—drawing on the skills she gained at CUHK Business School


Mon Jan 11 2021


An MBA degree, career in business development, and a unique events startup—they all point to one person. 

Whodunnit? Polina Milashevskaya, who launched an events management agency offering mystery experiences in Hong Kong, after graduating from her MBA at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).

Alongside her company, Polina balances a full-time role as business development manager with global digital innovation enabler, Zühlke Group. 

Before the MBA, Polina began her career while earning her first degree in international management, juggling studying and part-time corporate positions. Upon graduation she started working as product manager with MTS Group—the leading telecom provider in her native Russia.

Two years in she felt the itch to continue her education, and decided to broaden her horizons by studying overseas. 

 At first, Polina considered a Master’s degree, but since she already had significant work experience under her belt, she opted for an MBA.

“I wanted to engage with a more practical learning experience, and focus on my development as a business leader,” she explains.

The search for the perfect MBA led her to Hong Kong, a city she didn’t know much about. But when she first visited Hong Kong, Polina fell in love with the city. 

She turned down offers from schools in Boston and Singapore to study at CUHK, attracted to its prestigious reputation for developing innovative leaders with a deep knowledge of Asian business.

“At first, I was drawn to the huge economic growth occurring in Asia, which shows no signs of slowing. Then, since the very first visit, I instinctively knew that Hong Kong would become my new home," she recalls.

"Thirdly, having visited CUHK, I was impressed by the school, its campus and history, as well as the curriculum and the international landscape."

Experiential learning in Hong Kong

When Polina arrived at CUHK, the practical learning experiences were exactly what she was hoping for.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the entire learning process, which combined practical case studies, team work, field trips, and several public presentations,” she explains.  e8da2d0d84a4ec5ca07730b21a5c980ae149a425.jpg

CUHK equally cemented her passion for innovation, which was initially sparked by her work with MTS. Through the managing innovation and technology module, Polina dived deep into how emerging technologies can be a disruptive force in business—and how to leverage these breakthroughs to the advantage of a company or sector. 

Attending a business school in the heart of Hong Kong also supported Polina’s transition from a European business landscape to an Asian one. This meant adapting her communication and teamwork style—a process she honed through group work projects and visits to Asian companies.

 “I found the real-world case studies and teamwork exercises incredibly helpful in preparing for developing my new career abroad,” she explains. “And the CUHK career services team assisted me with the adapting and sharpening of my resume and cover letters, as well as preparing me well for job interviews.”

Taking a leap of faith

When she graduated from CUHK, Polina transitioned from product management to B2B sales—first with ecommerce and digital marketing specialists, Digitalab, and subsequently with electronics wholesaler and distributor, Trends Trade Hong Kong.

Throughout her time in these roles, Polina continued to learn more and more about her adopted home of Hong Kong, and was eventually inspired to take another—unexpected—career leap: quitting her job to launch a company.

“I was heavily inspired by the beauty of Hong Kong and its unique heritage, so I wanted to create something that would convey this and help others to feel it,” she explains.

With the support of her co-founder, who shared her enthusiasm for Hong Kong’s history and culture, she founded Harbour Secrets. The agency creates immersive ‘murder mystery’ parties, where guests are thrust in a fictional crime scene and must work together to solve the crime.

Though the company’s first party was just for friends, things rapidly developed, and now they run several business lines, including private and large-scale corporate events for over 400 people. Polina attributes the success of the company to finding a lucrative gap in Hong Kong’s entertainment market.

“Residents of Hong Kong find that while the city has a lot to offer and is truly unique, its entertainment scene is sometimes limited,” she notes. “It can be challenging to find an experience that’s fresh and immersive—I think we identified a novel opportunity in the market.”

Since the coronavirus pandemic reshaped the entertainment industry, Polina and her co-founder have managed to adapt, adhering to new social distancing precautions and offering some DIY options for smaller gatherings.

A dual career in innovation

Just one year after founding Harbour Secrets, Polina took her latest career step: adding a full-time role with Zühlke Group to her portfolio. In this dual career, Polina finally feels able to reach her full potential, making use of everything she learned at CUHK and in her career so far.

As business development manager, Polina is responsible for bringing in new clients who could benefit from digital transformation. She specializes in the insurance sector, which has been undergoing significant digitization in recent years.

“Hong Kong is a global business hub, and has one of the most booming scenes for tech innovation,” she says. “But equally, in terms of technology, traditional approaches often persist, hence there’s ample demand for innovation across industries.”

As the coronavirus pandemic continued to disrupt the global economy, the silver lining is an uptick in digital innovation.

“Although Hong Kong was already known as a supportive environment for startups and innovation, many corporations have made astonishing leaps in digital transformation, and achieved in three months goals that would have originally taken two years,” Polina explains.

Growing her business while working full-time, Polina’s MBA has been hugely useful, thanks to the time management skills she developed juggling multiple assignments, an internship, and extra-curriculars. She is excited to continue working in Hong Kong as the city makes these strides in tech innovation.

“Choosing to study an MBA at CUHK was one of the best career decisions I’ve ever made. It allowed me to move to an amazing city, while providing me with the ideal skill set to kickstart my career in a previously unfamiliar place,” she concludes.

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.