Executives taking the Kellogg-HKUST EMBA often commend the way the programme offers fresh insights and broader perspectives on how best to run a business. But a number of students also find that mixing with classmates from numerous other industries, and tackling a range of less familiar subjects can prompt some serious thinking about their own career options.
That was certainly the case for Caron Hughes, now a Hong Kong-based director of professional practice at global accountancy firm KPMG. When she applied for the programme in 2010, she was working for a major US-headquartered investment bank, but starting to wonder where it could lead.
'I'd spent 12 years becoming an expert in financial instrument accounting and thought I was doing 'alright' in my job,' Hughes says. 'People said I could go further, but it is a very narrow, deep area and I felt the need to understand the concepts behind what we were doing and its relevance to the real world.'
Her initial aim was to achieve just that. But the various modules of the EMBA opened her eyes to all kinds of other possibilities. For example, the 'learning from leaders' course showed there was no reason to limit oneself. And concepts and processes taught in classes on operational efficiency or marketing inspired new interest in exploring different aspects of the business world.
'The programme clarified what I wanted to do and gave me more confidence when the opportunity to move came up,' Hughes says. 'I could see how the change of jobs would work for me and my family and, as when starting the course, I took a deep breath and got on with it.'
A few months into the new role with KPMG, Hughes has seen the benefits of being able to form an overall view of what's happening. Her approach was to assess first what her team needs to achieve its basic objectives and then to consider how changes could add value for the team and the firm.
'That's where lessons from the courses on strategy, marketing and communications come in,' she says. 'I'm not saying anything was wrong before, but I'm asking how we can make it better.'