PolyU offers specialised programmes that combine design skills with corporate acumen to help widen the vision of creative people IN THE PAST, hard work was enough for a successful career, but today people must also work smarter. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) offers part-time MBA courses to boost student experience and equip them with the skills and insights to thrive in some of Hong Kong's most important industries, including the fashion business and innovation and design. The quality and professionalism of PolyU MBA programmes have been approved by the Association of MBAs (AMBA). The university acquired the full accreditation status endorsed by AMBA's International Accreditation Advisory Board in December 2005. It was the first business school in Hong Kong and the mainland to be granted such status and is among 120 business schools worldwide that have it. Warren Chiu Chi-kwan, PolyU's MBA programme director, said: 'The fashion business is one of the most powerful engines driving Hong Kong's economy. 'A quarter of employment in Hong Kong is related to the fashion business. 'We have a strong business school and our Institute of Textiles and Clothing is the sole tertiary education provider for Asia's fashion business. 'So we decided to combine the two and launched a new programme [six years ago].' The MBA in Innovation and Design Management programme (IDM) was initiated last year. Responding to the government's motive to turn Hong Kong into an innovation hub, the Faculty of Business partnered with the School of Design, a world-leading design school, to offer the IDM programme. 'The business and design synergy is a new world trend. Our programme aims to bring business to design professionals, introduce innovation to businessmen and provide a good mixture of the left and right brain training,' Dr Chiu said. The school also strives to provide students with a global perspective. The programmes attract students from Germany, India, Japan, South Korea and many other countries. The school is working to draw more international students to make it an even more developed student body that can bring more stimulation to classroom discussions. Derek Yeung Man-wai is a second-year student of PolyU MBA in Fashion Business programme. He has 23 years of experience in fashion and was promoted to management level seven years ago. Before taking the programme, all his management concepts were based on experience. He wanted some proper training and wanted to see if his management methods were workable. 'Most executives in our company's management level either have studied or are studying MBA courses. Taking the programme gave me more understanding of some companies' recent changes and helped me contribute positive suggestions. 'Having an MBA is like an entry ticket to a company revolution. Only after the training can I discuss [things] with other managers on the same channel and wavelength,' Mr Yeung said. He regarded his classmates as valuable resources. Students shared similar backgrounds so they could easily understand each other's work difficulties. The discussions were inspiring and constructive. Teachers had practical experience in the industries and the case studies they brought up were useful, he said. 'It has greatly widened my horizons. The knowledge I got from the interaction with teachers and students cannot be acquired in books. I shared what I learnt with my staff. They are very impressed,' he said. Mr Yeung said the programme was so practical he could apply what he had learnt at work the following day. The whole process had deepened his understanding of the theories involved and his company also benefited. Virginia Lui Sau-wai, a design consultant at an international electronics company who started the IDM programme last autumn, agreed with Mr Yeung. 'In the past, I made decisions based on logic and experience. Sometimes much time and effort is lost through trial and error. 'Now I can make decisions relying on other people's experience and it broadens my vision enormously,' she said. Ms Lui said designers often had difficulty thinking from the business perspective. She now saw things from her business partners' point of view and was able to provide a better quality service. 'As a consultant, you want to provide all-round advice to clients. I can now provide more strategically sound solutions before problems occur. 'I understand myself more through the course,' Ms Lui said. 'Sometimes I surprise myself by my insightful thoughts. I have rediscovered my potential, as well as my weaknesses.'