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Exposure to mainland company gave insight

Despite a tight travelling schedule, Jack Watt Mong-kwan managed to effectively juggle his work and MBA studies at the Hong Kong Baptist University. And he thinks it is all worth it.

The idea of pursuing a master's degree dawned on him in 2000, after he noticed the value of advanced qualifications in the labour market. He finally enrolled in the Baptist University programme in 2004. Classes were held two evenings a week, while his work required him to meet clients around Asia, including China.

'I had to rearrange my travel to make time to attend school. Fortunately I could do that. I learned a lot about time management,' said Mr Watt, regional managing director of a European surveillance products company.

He gained a lot more than that. One important benefit is the building up of networks with students enrolled in MBA programmes run by the university in mainland cities.

Mr Watt said he developed a better understanding of the Chinese culture and market through seminars held in Hong Kong or the mainland and contacts with his fellow schoolmates. Having emigrated to Toronto with his family from Hong Kong when he was 15, he had a limited knowledge of China.

'Even Hong Kong people may not know much of the Chinese culture. They may be familiar with southern China, but once you go further north to places like Shanghai, things are different.'

The compulsory China study trip of the course proved valuable. His group of six members spent one week studying the structure and operations of a manufacturing company in Qingdao, interviewing its management and staff. Before leaving, they presented a report to the management by combining theoretical knowledge and the data collected.

The rare exposure to the workings of a Chinese company broadened his understanding of the Chinese system and helped him to know how to deal with clients in the vast market. 'It's good for us to look at a company from the inside.' Mr Watt said. 'At least I have a different kind of view, a little bit more understanding of the Chinese operations.'