Course provides broader outlook
Jenny Li Lan was working in Shanghai, managing a Japanese logistics company, when she felt a need to improve her skills to work more effectively for an international company.
She decided in 2002 to take a two-year international Master Of Business Administration (IMBA) course, studying in Shanghai as part of the joint venture between the faculty of business and economics of the University of Hong Kong and the school of management of Fudan University. She hasn't looked back.
'I could feel at that time that I had certain limitations with my management capabilities,' she said. 'Working, as I did, for a Japanese company, and being Chinese, there were cultural differences, and I needed to know more about international business affairs.'
Now the supply director for Diageo China, the world's largest alcoholic drinks maker, Ms Li has gone from strength to strength since graduating in 2004.
Her work for the maker of Smirnoff vodka, Guinness and Johnnie Walker whisky includes managing the firm's China supply chain and organising China's commercial imports and logistics with this large international firm.
The class she began in 2002 was large, she said. 'At that time IMBAs were quite a hot topic - there were about 70 in the class.' At one point during the course 150 students were participating.
But the large number of students worked as an advantage. Ms Li, whose work then primarily involved the shipping industry, said the students gave her access to avenues of business she had not previously encountered. 'Once you join the IMBA you have the chance to meet different people, your classmates, from Hong Kong and all over China, and exchange views and gain valuable insights into other industries.'
Ms Li said the programme was of enormous benefit to her, enabling her to gain a more refined perspective of business management and administration so necessary for her career path in international companies.
'It gave me a broader, global outlook, and I found a lot of the programme could be directly applied to my daily work and my view of the company and its direction,' she said.
'Over the two years, and through the case studies and deep discussions with the different people from all business backgrounds and the knowledge I gained - I definitely graduated with a whole new outlook on management.'
Ms Li said the joint programme combined the best of Fudan University, with its emphasis on sound business theory, and HKU, with its visiting professors and practical hands-on methodologies.
She advised professionals considering the course not to look on the IMBA as a recipe for success.
'You need to understand that it's a chance to change your mindset and move to a different level of management. But you also should be in a position in your career where you can apply this new knowledge,' she said.