The currency crisis, the restructuring of Japanese business and China's move towards a market economy are some of the challenges facing executives in Asia. However, Dr Eric Chang, chair of finance, HKU School of Business, says these challenges can translate into opportunities. The school believes Hong Kong is in a position to make a significant contribution to the region's economic transformation and that HKU will be at the centre of this process. 'Every time you come up with a new idea for a financial product, people need to know how to manage the risk involved in using it,' Dr Chang said. 'To be a financial centre, we need to continue to do the research, explore new ideas and disseminate the knowledge and information we gain in the process to professionals and to the general public.' Dr Chang hopes to see executives returning to the classroom to enhance their knowledge and skills. 'Knowledge has no boundaries. We want to hold public lectures, seminars and workshops to promote awareness of these issues.' Changes over the past 15 years had revolutionised business methods, Dr Chang said. 'Management teams have moved up very fast, taking on bigger responsibilities,' he said. 'I think a continuing education is very important to help them handle the new demands on their job. The School of Business wants to make a contribution in this area, too.' If big changes have already taken place, even more are on the way as economies throughout the region, led by its two economic giants, continue with a basic restructuring. 'I believe the financial system of Japan is undergoing some big changes.' Dr Chang said. 'The country's financial community used to be conservative and closed, but now they've decided to change. 'I think there is a greater demand for financial professionals and experts in Japan and throughout Asia.' Dr Chang said China was moving towards an economy that was more market-oriented. 'It will rely more and more on what we call 'invisible hands' to drive the direction of economic development,' he said. 'So we need an open market, free access, low transaction costs, high efficiency, transparent operation - all these are necessary to succeed.' Leading the way will be Hong Kong which is viewed as a model of how to do business. 'I think Hong Kong is more open, more competitive and more sophisticated in terms of the cutting edge of knowledge,' Dr Chang said, adding that the SAR had a reputation for being 'more experienced and professional'. The university's role will be teaching and research. 'You need first-rate scholars to explore new ideas and you also need to be able to train your students to handle the challenge they will face on their job,' Dr Chang said.