If you're a forward-thinking businessperson, the answer to some of these questions might be moving to Asia. With strong economic growth and plentiful business opportunities across the region, Asia offers not only an array of attractive options for where you could end up, but an accelerated journey to get there.
Here’s why Western professionals should make moving to Asia a key part of their professional development plan.
“There’s a higher probability of your career growing faster”
“One of the strongest reasons [for moving to Asia] is still the economy,” says Valter Viera, assistant director of the Career Management Center at CUHK Business School in Hong Kong.
“When you look at the Asian economy overall it is still growing an average of 6.5% [year-on-year]—not just in China, but all the economies around.
“That means there is a far higher probability of your career growing much faster, and being much more rewarding.”
This is perhaps particularly true for MBA graduates.
MBA programs are famous for accelerating students’ professional development, propelling grads into higher-salaried roles, even if those roles are in a completely different industry to the ones they had been working in previously.
At CUHK, MBA grads’ salaries increase by an average of 110% after they graduate, with 93% of grads securing job offers in Asia.
Clearly, making an MBA in Asia a key part of the strategy in your professional development plan could be a lucrative move.
Growing jobs in tech and entrepreneurship
CUHK has seen MBA grads placed into a number of different industries over the years, but when asked what are the most popular among students recently, Valter says that technological roles are the most dominant.
“There are definitely a lot of people going into tech, digital transformation, and fintech,” he says. “But there are still people going into more traditional areas—supply chain management, consulting, procurement, manufacturing…”
If getting involved in startups is one of your professional development goals, Asia also has a lot to offer in this area—particularly at CUHK.
“We are very focused on startups and entrepreneurship,” Valter confirms.
“There’s a big venture capital market growing across Asia, and there are quite a few of our students going into venture capital, private equity funds, and other very diverse roles.”
In fact, the school boasts of being the first MBA program in Hong Kong to offer dedicated entrepreneurship training, with a particular focus on remodeling and fundraising within Asia.
Students get to work on a real project and learn from active entrepreneurs, preparing proposals and pitching their ventures to investors for real money—a useful crash course if your professional goals are centered on entrepreneurship.
Tips for making a successful career transition to Asia
Part of CUHK grads’ success across all of these areas is due to the soft landing that the school offers for those coming from outside of Asia.
“I’m an alum from an Asian school and I’ve worked in Asia for 10 years—having an MBA here will allow people to understand the diversity of the region,” says Valter.
In particular, the MBA can help professionals understand what they have to offer to potential employers across the different regional markets.
“People need to be very honest about their own skillsets prior to the MBA,” Valter counsels. “They need to understand if those skillsets are what the market’s looking for, because although it’s big, it’s looking for specific types of skills due to its fast growth—for instance, technical skills like IT.”
What skills are wanted and which industries they are wanted by also varies greatly across the different countries and regions within Asia.
In Hong Kong, for instance, Valter says that finance has been the biggest player for many years, with fintech rising over the last few decades and investment and wealth management coming to prominence more recently.
In contrast, he notes that Singapore is much more technology-driven, and is becoming a real logistics hub, with some of the biggest international firms in the world, for instance Apple, having their offices there.
If you head across the border into China, there are still more options: “Shenzhen has jobs in VC, startups, and technology; if you go up to Shanghai and Beijing, they’re slightly different again, and more marketing-focused,” Valter says.
If you want to accelerate your professional development, moving to Asia makes a lot of sense—and using an MBA at a top Asian school as a launch-pad, perhaps even more.
This article was originally published in February 2020
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.
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.