For movers and shakers like Jason Ma Ka-wai, a Master of Science in Electronic Commerce and Internet Computing is the right choice of study, combining a good grounding of business and technology courses. He is a graduate with distinction in this programme, meaning that he maintained an A-average across the 12 modules required to graduate. Mr Ma is director of project management at ebiz incubation. The company operates like an incubator, but is more hands-on than most venture capitalists, becoming involved with projects and often providing infrastructure support. The company is involved in various China projects, such as software houses or outsourcing, where clients provide applications requirements and the software is developed in the mainland where it is more economical to do so. It has also facilitated the US-listing of China software companies, and has recently gone into the credit-card business. Ten people form the company's core team. Hong Kong-born Mr Ma took his undergraduate degree in electronic engineering and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley. He then worked for a year before heading back to the classroom to complete his MBA at the University of Southern California. The 30-year-old returned to the SAR four years ago. Mr Ma decided on the HKU course because information technology was big at the time of his return to Hong Kong. Although he had completed the Berkeley course only recently, some information was already out of date, he says. He felt he had to update himself. His interest in venture investment, involving various forms of technology, also required a more formal background. 'I looked at other programmes and this one sounded the best. It gave me flexibility, an important point. Also, there were many visiting professors, so you had local and overseas expertise,' he says. Of special interest to Mr Ma were the courses on wireless communications relating to 2G and 3G, as well as the electronic payment course taught by a Carnegie Mellon University professor. Time management was crucial because the part-time programme meant he could keep his full-time day job. 'Sometimes it was very intense. I had to go to Vegas for a conference and had my laptop doing my programming homework.' Mr Ma took two years to complete the course, which cost about HK$120,000. He says it was 'definitely value for money'. In a pressure-cooker environment such as the SAR, time management is all, so it is not surprising that Josephine Woo Sau-yin and her husband, Luke Hu Voncin, found this their biggest challenge. At 38, he is an associate at Morgan Stanley, responsible for Asia-Pacific database services, while she is a marketing manager for Cathay Pacific Holidays. Ms Woo became pregnant when they were applying to take the course, and she has just had her second child. Little wonder the programme took the couple three years to complete. Mr Hu graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in computer engineering while his wife's first degree is from the Academy for Performing Arts in professional stage management. Ms Woo went on to get another degree in sports and recreation management from the University of Hong Kong. 'I was looking for some stimulation and at the same time some self-improvement,' Mr Hu says. He took the Internet computing stream while his wife opted for the e-commerce. 'The HKU course was one of of the first to put together the technical and business sides. In the IT field you have to keep up with the latest advances.' She joked that her background in stage management, where timing is crucial, came in useful in balancing her academic, professional and family life.