Course offers global vision

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 November, 2008, 12:00am

Master's degree enables logistics professionals to keep up with rapid growth in industry

The growth in the number of factories in developing countries over the past two decades has changed the landscape of procurement forever. The industry is now global.

Hong Kong Baptist University's School of Continuing Education and the University of Strathclyde jointly provide a master of science in procurement management degree course to produce logistics professionals with a global vision that caters to this growth.

Lecturer Paco Lai Chi-kwong said: 'The course is able to provide graduates with knowledge about the international business environment. It gives them a clear view of the professional relationships between different corporate, upstream and downstream players in the entire supply chain.'

Designed for management personnel, the course has helped people from sectors including manufacturing, government departments, airlines, banks and finance. 'Generally, we accept applicants with a bachelor's degree and at least 10 years of working experience in the procurement field,' Mr Lai said.

The course comprises eight core subjects, an action learning project and a dissertation. There are 16 hours of face-to-face teaching for every subject. The lectures are conducted by lecturers from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow and experienced local procurement professionals. All tuition and assessment is under the control of the Scottish university.

Students can choose to complete the course in a period of two to three years, depending on their schedule. The course is also accredited by the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply and the Institute of Purchasing and Supply Hong Kong. The course produces about 20 graduates every year.

Teresa Woo Ka-ping, a student who has worked in the procurement field for eight years before joining an information technology company as a consultant, said: 'I took up the course to get more academic knowledge about procurement and to gain professional recognition. [The] Hong Kong Productivity Council speaks very highly of the course and that was one of the reasons for me to study. I think this qualification will help me to get promotions in the future.'

Ms Woo has a higher diploma in marketing management from the Hong Kong Management Association and a higher diploma in strategic procurement issued by the Hong Kong Productivity Council. She warned that the course was quite demanding.

'When lecturers came from Britain, they would give lectures for two whole Saturdays and Sundays and I could not rest, even on holidays. I was grateful that my company was so supportive. They gave me support financially and helped me to manage my time. If I had lessons on a weekday, I was allowed to leave the office on time so that I could go to class,' Ms Woo said.

She said the practical nature of the action learning project was very helpful. 'It is like a smaller version of the dissertation and going through it really helped me to prepare for the dissertation. I also think that the course did a good job listening to what students had to say. Students are able to meet one to one with the academic director regularly to discuss the course.'

Millie Poon, a graduate of the course, had worked in the procurement industry for more than 10 years. She took the course in order to upgrade and add value to her professional skills.

'The industry has become a global business and I need to equip myself with knowledge of other countries and get to know the entire supply chain,' she said.

She thinks people entering the industry these days are more qualified and in order to stay competitive, it is important to keep up with the latest trends.

'The industry is growing rapidly, with more and more foreign companies setting up regional headquarters in Hong Kong. The demand for professionals in the industry has increased in terms of quantity and quality. Now many university graduates are entering the industry and it is essential for me to get a master's degree to stay competitive,' she said.

Ms Poon said her company did not provide any support for her to study. Another price she paid was spending less time with her family and friends, but she thinks that it was all worthwhile because the course was really beneficial to her.

'All the eight core subjects are useful for me. They are able to provide me with well-rounded professional knowledge. I appreciate the professionalism and the versatility of the course,' she said.