Sacrifice was worth it for determined banker

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 October, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 October, 2008, 12:00am

CEO says demanding course gave him new insights and perspectives in problem-solving techniques, but work-life balance suffered during studies

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) graduate Li Siu-kei is the chief executive at the Bank of Communications Trustee and, as the company is responsible for the money and future of other people and organisations, he clearly understands that transparency and control are critical to the firm's success.

'We provide several services including retirement and pension funds, private and corporate trust business, asset protection services for wealthy clients, and back-office investment services, such as custodianship. But, true to our name, the binding element of what we really do is to manage our clients' trust,' he said.

With a keen sense of accountability for all principles in the organisation, Dr Li recognised the need to further develop his skills and abilities to keep pace with the industry's perpetual fluctuation and clients' increasing demands and market knowledge.

After hearing about PolyU's DBA programme from some of his classmates during his EMBA studies at another university, Dr Li joined the programme in 2003 and, within months, said he realised that it was 'not the wrong choice at all'.

Dr Li said that his work-life balance had suffered during his studies, as extreme dedication was required. However, he was lucky to have an understanding and supportive wife who took active part in helping throughout his studies.

'It is important for anyone considering entering a DBA programme to really think about the sacrifices to be made in personal and leisure time.

'And timing is also critical. Be well aware of where you are in your career path to ensure that the commitment is done at the proper time. In the end, if you persevere, you will become much more than you expected.'

In tandem with a well-structured programme, he cited PolyU's tremendous resources and excellent thesis support as key factors in persisting through the rigorous, demanding curriculum. He found that support and encouragement were offered by his professors and throughout the faculty chain. And the fact that the university's dean attended and spoke at several influential business and academic forums exemplified the university's dedication to quality.

Throughout his studies, he found that the networking opportunities presented through the course were beneficial, especially when co-operating with fellow classmates on projects and gaining new insights and perspectives in problem-solving techniques.

About one-third of the students were business owners and directors, while others were senior human resources executives. Building relationships with gifted individuals from other industries proved to be inspirational, which was important because of the demands of the programme.

Dr Li said more than half of the time spent on the course was dedicated to research, which proved to be invaluable training.

The process was one of proving and disproving, supporting and questioning, and teaching the students to make sound and progressive business decisions.

His thesis was on corporate governance for a company that is listed in the mainland, and he said that he was able to tap into the vast and rich experience of his thesis supervisor, who was a well-respected expert in the field.