Partnership programme leads the field in Asia for executives seeking to expand career horizons The fifth class to graduate from the Kellogg-HKUST Executive MBA (EMBA) programme celebrates the completion of their studies today, following a gala homecoming celebration last night at the Conrad Hong Kong hotel in Admiralty. 'At least a third of this year's graduating class was promoted during or right after the programme, which means the companies sent the right people,' says Steven DeKrey, associate dean and director of MBA/EMBA/MSc programmes at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology's (HKUST) School of Business and Management. 'It really changes lives. It is a life-changing experience to go through this programme. For the right candidate we are really the programme to choose.' The programme, which started with 33 participants in 1998, now signs up about 50 and 60 students per intake. While programme enhancements are planned, enrolment will not pass beyond 60 - at least in the short term. 'We've got larger and our reputation has grown,' Professor DeKrey says. 'We are proud of where we are now.' With a proliferation of programmes targeted at senior level executives on the market, the Kellogg-HKUST programme has carved out a niche combining the best of two worlds. 'We are the leader in Asia for this type of programme,' Professor DeKrey says. 'The east-west model with mixed faculty input from two top business schools has proven to be extremely valuable. It's a unique approach to executive education in Asia.' The programme comprises 11 modules, 28 courses and two live-in sessions. Courses run from financial reporting systems and strategic planning to managing human resources in the Asia Pacific and the social environment of management. The programme takes 15 months. Participants meet twice a month at HKUST's campus in Clearwater Bay, staying in apartments at University Centre, which has been especially outfitted for senior-level executives. Classes are held on Friday from 3pm, and all day on Saturday and Sunday, ending at 6.15pm. Each course comprises 15 contact hours. On completing the programme, participants are awarded a Master of Business Administration degree by Northwestern University and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, becoming alumni of both universities. The first live-in session lasts a week and is held at HKUST at the beginning of the programme. The second, which lasts two weeks, is held at Kellogg's James L. Allen Centre in Chicago. During these sessions, participants are introduced to the issues and analytical skills to be developed during the programme. The sessions also allow participants to expand their business contacts and develop friendships. The first session is especially important, as it allows for the development of a class identity. Study groups are also formed during this period. Valerie Blaisdell, regional sales manager at Knoll, called the programme a 'rich and rewarding experience'. 'The professors were fantastic, and the teaching was enhanced by the diversity of experience within the class,' Ms Blaisdell says. 'Not only did I learn a lot, I realised how much I did not know. I can now relate better in many different business situations.' Now that classes have ended, she misses the stimulation and interaction she had at the weekend classes. But networking and functions following graduation help ot keep her in touch with former classmates. 'Some of my classmates will be friends for life, and I can call on any of them if I have a business problem or need to bounce ideas off of them,' Ms Blaisdell says. Asked if she has any advice for people thinking about doing an MBA, Ms Blaisdell says it is important to choose the right programme. 'If you are at a crossroads in your career, or you feel you are not growing at work, a quality MBA may be just what you need to get that jump-start to the next level or to expand your horizons,' she says. 'It is hard work, and takes dedication and commitment from yourself and understanding and support from your family and your employer.' Looking to the future, Professor DeKrey says course offerings are re-evaluated from time to time to keep them current. 'We are introducing a new course this year in corporate governance,' he says. 'It's a hot topic following the Enron scandal [in the United States].' He also sees further expansion into China. Applications for the next intake will be accepted until September 30. Classes begin in February 2004.