ARINGO enjoys providing MBA aspirants with inside knowledge about the top MBA programs available. In this article, we shine the spotlight on the Hong Kong University Business School by speaking with two current students, Pavan Kumar Arasappa ‘22 and Alexander Haylonde Lam ‘22.
Prior to starting his MBA, Alexander earned his degree in Applied Economics at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. After graduation, he took a role in FX trading at BNP Paribas in Hong Kong, then worked for three years in Canada’s financial industry at the custodian bank CIBC Mellon.
Pavan was born and raised in the vibrant city of Bengaluru in the heart of South India. In 2015, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and was recruited out of college by Toyota Industries Engine India. He served in the Customer Quality Engineering department as a key window person to address domestic and international engine warranty claims. Pavan travelled to more than 50 cities in India to support dealerships and suppliers with technical concerns.
What is special about HKU Business School – MBA?
Pavan: The global economy is gradually tipping towards the east, with China’s influence growing in the region. For engineers looking to expand their horizons and learn the ropes of doing business in Asia, choosing HKU Business School for an MBA was relatively straightforward. An HKU MBA provides an Asia-pacific focused learning experience in a small cohort filled with diverse talents. The programme also offers three unique study tracks New York, London, and China, allowing students to study abroad at the world-renowned international programs Columbia Business School, London Business School or Fudan University. The electives cater to any professional looking to build an international career by acquiring cutting-edge skills in Finance, Technology or any domain of their choice. HKU has a Bloomberg terminal for anyone who is finance or research savvy. When I searched for a highly ranked university in Asia to pursue my goals, HKU was the only programme offering these options within a one-year curriculum. I look forward to moving to New York to complete my coursework at Columbia.
Alexander: Hong Kong is a culturally diverse and sophisticated city and the centre of global finance. The HKU Business School blends Western and Eastern cultures by recruiting high-profile candidates from across the region and internationally. Students share their varied personal, cultural, and business experiences inside and outside the classroom, enriching the experience for everyone.
Share more about the atmosphere at HKU – Between students, between students and faculty?
Pavan: The past six months have been quite intense. Although classes have engulfed most of my time, it’s easy for me to recall the memorable moments I’ve shared with my classmates. The MBA office was great about proactively organizing bonding activities and get-togethers. In November, my classmates surprised me with a birthday party. We also gathered to celebrate international holidays such as Diwali, Christmas and the New Year. We organized a basketball team and competed in the university tournament. I’ve learned so much about my classmates quickly, and I have already developed life-long friendships.
The HKU administration is very supportive, lending an ear to our concerns and offering valuable information. I’ve walked and chatted with them to share my ideas and listen to their advice. The Career Development and Training team and Alumni Relations team are always available, providing valuable connections to learn about a position, company or just the way business works in this part of the world.
Alexander: The atmosphere has been good overall. Many of my fellow students come from China, but also from Peru, Lithuania, and Czech Republic. It’s nice to hear from classmates about their respective industries and their experiences, as well as learn what they want to get out of an HKU MBA.
How do you spend your free time?
Pavan: I didn’t select HKU just for academics. I wanted to join a community where I could grow and live life to the fullest. I can now call HKU my second home. Hong Kong has beaches and hills within a radius of 30 minutes. I’m very outdoorsy, so I go running and exercise in the parks and by the sea. I try not to miss the Salsa nights on Mondays in Lan Kwai Fong. If I’m not climbing the peaks with my friends or alumni during the weekends, I’ll be exploring the city. I went surfing once, and I can’t wait for summer to hit the waves again.
Alexander: The pandemic has put a damper on some things, but I like to be active in my free time, as I love to play basketball, go for runs, and explore the various hiking trails here in HK.
What is special about the area and location of the school?
Pavan: HKU Business School, nestled in the heart of Hong Kong, is a stone’s throw from the Central Business District. The international community regards Hong Kong as a social metropolis, a melting pot where the east and west form an eclectic and multi-cultural fusion.
The proximity of the Admiralty Campus to Asia’s financial hub provides HKU students opportunities to meet many business leaders and executive coaches in person. Numerous networking events connect students to seasoned professionals and influential alumni who offer career guidance.
The HKU administration organises company treks to provide students with a fuller understanding of international businesses. The Alumni Relations team helps arrange internship opportunities so we can apply our learnings in a real-world business environment. Overall, HKU’s location places untold opportunities within easy reach.
Alexander: HKU’s placement in the hub of the financial district helps with networking and meeting alumni and mentors. I recently completed a Fintech project focused on ESG in partnership with an HKU MBA alum. He launched a website called Finstep.Asia that is helping promote the Fintech industry here in Hong Kong and across Asia. That was a great project to complete and helped with my industry knowledge.
What do you like about HKU?
Pavan: The curriculum is structured to build upon our learnings as we pass through subjects. The subjects are laden with relevant case studies and have a China focus to broaden and deepen our understanding of the nuances of doing business in this region. Professors facilitate class discussions that encourage different perspectives from the diverse talents in the class. From class discussions, it’s clear that the HKU professors hone their skills often and stay abreast of the trends in their fields. For example, Artificial Intelligence for Business Leaders, taught by industry professional Prof. Kevin Pereira, enjoys keeping pace with the AI industry and shares his knowledge of the latest advances. He can educate even a person with absolutely no technical background about how AI is making inroads into different verticals of business and influencing the global economy at large.
Business Ethics, taught by Mr. David Bishop, gave me sleepless nights not because it was demanding but because it challenged my beliefs and got me thinking about how to be an ethical leader in the future. Mr. Bishop is very passionate and engages the class with a great sense of humour. The learnings from the class have given me a sense of direction to ask the right questions and provided me with the resources to answer them as well. The group assignments develop collaborative and problem-solving skills while tackling real-world business challenges. Working with international students sharpens effective communication while being mindful of cultural differences.
Alexander: I appreciate that HKU is a one-year program, but the amount of content and resources provided feels like you’ve completed a two-year program. I enjoyed the Business Ethics and Executive Leadership classes, which challenged my thinking about future leadership and ethical working practices. HKU’s dynamic learning methodology is enjoyable and insightful. Taking courses in two global financial centers, Hong Kong and New York, will prepare me for a great international career.
Any classes/clubs you would recommend for future students?
Pavan: HKU MBA provides many opportunities to form clubs and channel your interests. I’m part of the Consulting Club and I have benefited from the guest speakers and discussions we’ve had. We had support from the Career Development Team in planning activities and events that were necessary for our growth.