Not content with one master's degree, retired accountant Joseph Yu , 74, has completed his MBA WELL PASSED HIS retirement age, certified public accountant Joseph Yu was not content with one master's degree. So he embarked on an MBA programme five years ago at the age of 69. As he turned 74 this year, his wish was fulfilled following the completion of his thesis for the Manchester Business School in Britain. Mr Yu is a typical example of pursuing higher education throughout one's life. He has also inspired his sons to excel in higher education. Born in 1932, he completed secondary school in 1953. The poor economy at the time meant that he could not immediately pursue his full-time matriculation studies, so he joined the Hong Kong government as a general clerical officer. After work, he carried on with his studies, and matriculated in 1962. After he was transferred to the Inland Revenue Department in 1963, he was encouraged by the then commissioner to study with the Australian Society of Accountants (now CPA Australia). Six years later, he completed the three-stage course and was promoted to acting assistant assessor. In those days, a job with the government was considered an 'iron rice bowl' and guaranteed a steady income. But Mr Yu resigned to join the private sector. He joined Cooper Brothers (which later became Coopers and Lybrand, and is now PricewaterhouseCoopers). 'It was a big risk to leave the government then, but I wanted to be a practising accountant,' Mr Yu said. A year later he joined a Chinese firm as a public accountant. By the time the Hong Kong Society of Public Accountants was formed in the early 1970s, he was a certified public accountant. He went on to obtain the chartered secretary qualification. It enabled him to open his own firm, which he operated from 1977 until the downturn during Sars in 2004 which prompted him to hand over the business to a former colleague. While running his own firm, he encouraged staff to further their studies and in 1995 he too felt the urge to study again. 'So I took the Monash University and HKU Space joint programme on M.Bus (Acc). The initials are also MBA, but it's not quite the same. It's meant to be a stepping stone to a PhD, but that has to be done at Monash,' Mr Yu said. After one term, he got tired and suspended his studies. When he rejoined, he lost the momentum and did not finish the programme until six years later. Despite obtaining his master's degree, his desire for an MBA had not diminished. 'The 16 papers I did for the Master of Business programme were heavily accounting related. It didn't touch on management topics. I was hoping that with an MBA I could continue with my business for a few more years before retiring,' he said. So he joined the Manchester Business School's MBA programme in 2002 and completed the taught programme in 2? years. He completed his thesis earlier this year, and graduated in June. His motivation to study despite approaching retirement age came from wanting to keep pace with the corporate world. 'Hong Kong is in a knowledge-based information age. New graduates who were my assistants were equipped with new knowledge. If I didn't have the same qualifications, how was I going to lead them,' Mr Yu said. 'The MBA programme touched on economics, marketing and banking system management which were not covered in the accounting programmes. It helped me understand more about the knowledge-based economy.' Studying and working were both demanding, and Mr Yu was glad to have his family's support. His two sons, who went to the United States to further their studies after graduating from secondary school, felt that he did not need to continue studying but supported him nevertheless. 'I think my desire to study influenced my sons. My youngest son wasn't serious about his studies in secondary school, but when he saw that I was studying, he began to apply himself.' He is now a law professor at Michigan State University in the US. Mr Yu said with his newly acquired knowledge, he might consider taking up a teaching position.