ONE OF THE things that sets Hong Kong University of Science and Technology's Business School apart from many of its peers is the emphasis it places on quality teaching and the employment of highly qualified faculty members. Associate dean and head of the school's department of accounting, Gary Biddle, said students would be hard pressed to find a better faculty at another school. 'All of the Business School's faculty members have PhDs from some of the world's top business schools. 'No other school in the region can say that,' he said, adding that the most common business degree among the teaching staff was from Berkley. Such an impressive faculty had inevitably attracted a higher class of student, the professor said, and no course more so than the Executive MBA HKUST offers in partnership with Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. 'From the start, this programme began attracting top executives. I characterise them as the top rising stars of firms in the region,' Professor Biddle said. The steep career track which some of the programme's graduates had followed was testament to the value of the course and the inherent quality of the students. With a minimum of 10 years' management experience, most students are already successful before they even apply for the course. 'The average salary among our students is the highest in the world,' Professor Biddle said, adding that statistic was all the more impressive when one took into account the number of students that came from the mainland, where salaries tended to be lower across the board. 'And even with that, we are still the highest,' he said. Teaching such experienced and powerful executives could be challenging, but it was also rewarding, Professor Biddle said. 'From the standpoint of an instructor it is just wonderful. You get questions that you just don't get in a typical MBA class. [The students] have very different responsibilities, different perspectives.' But as experienced power players, students also tended to be demanding about the course content and the pressure was on to keep up with the pace. 'We always endeavour to evolve the programme to include the latest insights and developments. It all has to be timely and relevant,' he said. Professor Biddle said class discussions were the most enjoyable part of the course, as the students were more than keen to give their opinions.