Choosing a dual degree MBA and studying at two business schools ultimately broadens your career prospects. You’ll gain a greater cultural awareness, expand your network even further across the globe, and challenge yourself academically with a more intense degree.
Penny Prillot is one grad who is reaping the benefits of a dual degree MBA studied in Europe and Asia. Penny is from Korea but moved at a young age and was raised in France. After spending most of her career in Europe, she was curious to learn about Eastern work cultures.
“I look Asian but I grew up in Europe so I’ve had to navigate perceptions of myself and how I might act, to manage others' expectations, particularly in a work setting. I think it’s important to understand cultural differences,” says Penny.
We spoke to her to find out more about the benefits of a dual degree MBA in Europe and Asia.
1. Learning both Eastern and Western leadership styles
Leadership styles and ways of doing business in the East and West are hugely different.
For professionals working in a global role or searching for opportunities in a new region, it’s important not to buy into stereotypes but spend time gaining an in-depth cultural awareness. This will help foster more effective communication and stronger relationships.
Having grown up in France, studied in the UK, and worked in Germany, Penny felt she had a strong grasp of different European cultures and could easily adapt. Outside of Europe, however, there were gaps in her understanding, she admits.
While studying for the Dual Degree MBA at CUHK Business School and HEC Paris—which includes 12 months studying in Hong Kong and nine months in France—Penny learned about the nuances of how professionals from different cultures approach problem-solving and leadership.
“Leadership isn’t about how intelligent you are, it’s about how you’re able to work with diverse people and inspire them to collaborate and give the best of themselves,” she says.
While studying at CUHK, students work with a team to solve a business challenge for company in Hong Kong giving them the chance to see first-hand which leadership styles reap results.
2. Opening new opportunities in fast-growing economies
In today’s business world, employers are looking for talented professionals who can adapt to shifting economic challenges, have a global business perspective, and strong leadership capabilities. Studying at two renowned business schools in Europe and Asia is a unique asset to add to your resume and will broaden your career prospects across two advancing regions.
Asia in particular is home to many fast-growing economies with China, Indonesia, and India predicted to deliver the most growth globally in 2023 and 2024.
The MBA program at CUHK Business School focuses on preparing global leaders for both the challenges and opportunities across Asia's diverse business landscapes as courses explore business fundamentals through the lens of the Asian Century.
Recognizing the exciting opportunities that were waiting for her, Penny decided to take advantage of her insights she had gained into the economic growth of the Asia-Pacific during the CUHK MBA and move to Singapore. In doing so, she advanced from a managerial role in the healthcare technology industry to become the services commerical director of Philips Healthcare across Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Korea.
“Working in Asia is a very different dynamic than Europe because there is such a strong appetite for growth,” says Penny.
When studying a dual degree MBA, students can benefit from the valuable company connections at both business schools through MBA projects and recruitment fairs. For example, HEC Paris partners with top companies such as Schneider, L'Oreal, Bain and Company, and KPMG.
3. Building an international network
One of the top reasons Penny pursued a dual degree MBA at CUHK Business School was to build a strong network across two continents, one that she could tap into for opportunities and industry insights.
“I barely had to look for a job when I came to Singapore. One thing I learned during my MBA is how to effectively develop and nurture a network. The first thing I did was reach out to CUHK and HEC alumni,” she says.
When applying for her role at Philips, Penny says alumni she met in Singapore helped coach her for the interview and negotiate her contract. Not only that, Penny says she also meets regularly with fellow CUHK and HEC alumni for dinners and social occasions.
“It’s extremely insightful to listen to them and talk about our experience of different countries and markets. A business school network is so unique as its both professional and very personal,” she says.
4. Gaining insights into new markets
Whether professionals are looking to land a role in the dynamic business environments in Asia, expand their business to the region, or secure an international career opportunity, studying a dual degree MBA will help gain essential market insights.
“Companies that want to grow are looking at Asia so it’s a strong asset to have on your resume,” says Penny.
Students in the CUHK Business School Dual Degree MBA can gain these key perspectives through the China Business concentration, which is aimed at helping students discover market opportunities and gain practical knowledge about doing business in China. Courses include China in Global Economy, New Venture Financing in China and Emerging Markets, and Corporate Fund-Raising Initiatives in the Chines Equity Markets.
There is also the opportunity to travel further afield and gain insights into markets in Greater China, Asia, or the US through field studies.
“While you can read the news to find out what’s happening, it’s not the same as being in a country and really experiencing the economy and business environment,” adds Penny.
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.