Understanding business management will be just as important for tomorrow's chief technology officers as grasping the wizardry behind the latest computers and communications tools. Mending the gap between business and technology is the main purpose of a master's programme offered by Hong Kong University of Science and Technology that aims to produce the well-rounded chief technology officer. The Master of Technology Management programme is an 18-month part-time course designed to sharpen the management skills of information-technology (IT) executives with a minimum of five years' work experience. Since its launch three years ago, the programme has been divided into two study streams: information technology and global logistics management. Programme director Professor Helen Shen Cho-man says the course is designed to give IT and related professionals more exposure to the management issues that will help them progress in their career. 'Technology is the basis of a lot of things, but unfortunately a lot of us in the technology field lack the necessary business and management expertise,' says Professor Shen, who completed her PhD studies in systems design engineering at Waterloo University. 'The main idea of the programme is to offer business and management courses to some of the more technically trained professionals.' Classes are designed to suit the busy schedules of working professionals. Administrators decided to go with a weekend study formula rather than ask students to fight the fatigue that comes with evening instruction. Course participants are expected to stay at the university's Clear Water Bay campus from 9am on Saturday to 6pm on Sunday. Overnight accommodation is provided in campus apartments. The main reason for on-site residence is to encourage social interaction among students, thereby creating opportunities for discussion and to build contacts. The programme is modular in nature, allowing students to hit the books with minimum interruption to their career. The four main components include technology modules, business and management modules, professional activity series and a compulsory study trip to technology companies in an Asian city. An optional overseas trip to companies and world-class research institutions will also be incorporated. At present, 15 students are enrolled in the information technology stream and 25 in the global logistics management stream. Both streams offer generally the same business management courses, but the content differs on industry-specific technical issues. 'The idea of offering the technical modules in the course is to upgrade students' knowledge and provide them with the latest technology in that area,' Professor Shen says. She notes that the programme is intended to fill a hole in the spectrum of executive educational offerings. There are now dozens of executive MBA programmes, but very few deal in a focused way with the effects of rapidly changing technologies. 'Our programme is designed to create synergy by bringing technical knowledge along with business perspectives,' Professor Shen says. 'The participants will learn from international faculty members from the School of Business and Management and the School of Engineering, as well as from invited global technology and business experts.' Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree in a relevant science, engineering or related discipline. A minimum of five years' work experience is required, but 10 years is preferred. The self-financing programme costs HK$195,000, which includes expenses such as laboratory costs, group project costs, professional activity series expenses and accommodation for the live-in sessions and study trips. Classes start in January and September. Professor Shen says the programme has won praise from participants. Its first congregation will be held this week. 'The public is still not too aware of what [Master of Technology Management] means. It is a fairly new concept. But our students have been telling their friends this is a worthwhile programme,' she says. Professor Shen says several students have found the programme a significant career booster, as some have accepted promotions and new positions before completing their studies. 'After completion, people do change jobs with a positive impact upon their career and salary,' she says. 'To me, this is the best time to take the programme because the economy is likely to turn around by the time they finish.'