Belinda Cheng had been a fashion designer for more than 10 years. After graduating with a higher diploma in textiles from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, she was recruited by a British-based website that provides information to fashion industry professionals. 'I had a good network in the industry, good communication skills and a background in fashion design,' she says. 'Because we had to set up the Hong Kong office from scratch, it provided a chance for an artistic person like me to become a business person.' To build up her skills, Ms Cheng decided to return to the classroom. 'I signed up for an MBA the year I joined the company. I thought I should go back to school and pick up some practical business skills. I found the programme interesting.' Ms Cheng is one of 32 students to receive an MBA focusing on the fashion business. She took the course with the hope of becoming an international businesswoman. Although she wanted training in general management, she also wanted to deepen her knowledge about the fashion industry. 'I thought an MBA would give me a wide perspective of the business world. I liked the fact that PolyU offered an MBA with an industry specific focus.' The glamorous fashion world may seem like a low-tech industry, but this is not necessarily the case. 'Fashion is no longer just about manufacturing,' explains Warren Chiu Chi-kwan, associate professor, programme director (MBA), at PolyU's Graduate School of Business. 'Although the products don't sound hi-tech, the way the business is managed in terms of logistics and e-commerce is very hi-tech. You can imagine all the pieces you've got to put together. If you can't get it all done by Christmas, it's already out of fashion. You need sophisticated management skills to succeed in this business.' PolyU's fashion business MBA is a joint venture between the university's Graduate School of Business and its Institute of Textiles and Clothing (ITC), the largest provider of fashion business education at the tertiary level in Asia. The programme is specifically targeted at those working in or planning careers in the fashion and textile industries. 'We set up this programme for two reasons,' says Dr Chiu. 'First, there was a market need and, second, PolyU had the strengths to meet that need.' Following a year of courses in general management, students in their second year select from design management, e-commerce for fashion industry, fashion and textile styling and design, fashion retail management, integrative fashion studies, international business in fashion industry, quality assurance in fashion business, and supply chain management in fashion and textiles. 'They can learn quite a bit about general management in their first year and then deepen their knowledge of the fashion industry in their second,' Dr Chiu explains. 'They can also network, meeting their counterparts in the sector while exchanging business information and benchmarking and learning from one another.' Interestingly, Ms Cheng left the fashion industry to pursue a career in land banking six months before completing her degree. Now a team manager at Walton International Group, she has no regrets about pursuing a specialised MBA. 'The knowledge I gained can be applied to the business world as a whole. After working in one field for 10 years, a lot of the skills and knowledge you acquire is more general than operational. So a lot of what I learned is transferable.'