The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology's (HKUST) business school's success comes in no small part from the grand vision and solid strategic plan the school was founded on. After its inauguration in 1991, the school was immediately home to some of the brightest students taught by some of the most talented faculty that the business education world had to offer. 'The original plan was to build a top business research school within the first decade,' explains Professor Chan Yuk-shee, the founding dean of the school, and present president of Lingnan University. 'We aimed for a high standard in teaching and research that would be on a par with the top 20 schools in North America and Europe.' Two guiding principles steered the initial development of the school towards its goals: firstly, to build a strong research-based school, and secondly to apply international standards in the recruitment of staff. 'These were the pillars for the research and the internationalisation of the school,' Chan says. As planned, the high standards that the school set itself worked like a magnet in attracting faculty of the highest calibre. 'Our timing was good. In the early 1990s, we were able to recruit a lot of talent from top business schools in North America because the US market was sluggish. These senior faculty members brought to our brand new school their international networks, leadership, high visibility and credibility,' says Chan, whose deanship ran from 1993 to 2000. Professor Woo Chia-wei, HKUST's founding president, says the business school was helped in its success by being in the 'right time, right place and with the right people'. Against the backdrop of the rapid rise of the mainland, Hong Kong faced challenges in the late 1980s as it was getting ready for the handover. 'It brought to Hong Kong a new life and uncertainty. Along with the new life came more opportunities identified by people with vision. At the same time, the uncertainty posed challenges which attracted individuals with courage,' says Woo, who was the president from 1988 to 2001. 'Challenges are essential for a start-up, otherwise courageous people with vision would not come. The right people are the most critical because the faculty is the soul of a university. Since its inception, the business school's faculty knew where they had to go, what they had to do to get there, and how to go about doing that. They worked together tirelessly, and the real secret ingredients of success were the teamwork and camaraderie. 'Our strategic alliance with UCLA Anderson School of Management in the early days was also crucial. The Anderson School provided valuable input to the establishment of the school, in particular the recruitment of top-notch faculty members. Credit should also go to Sir Sze-yuen Chung [former Executive Council convenor] and the then Hong Kong governor David Wilson, who set out to create a top international research university knowing that Hong Kong would need to compete in the emerging knowledge economy,' Woo says. Chan believes the business school really came into its own when it formed its partnership with the Kellogg Graduate School of Management in offering the joint Kellogg-HKUST EMBA programme. 'This alliance helped us catch the attention of business schools worldwide. It became much smoother for us to forge collaborations with other schools from then on,' Chan adds. 'As the founding dean, I feel extremely fortunate to have had this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help build a strong business school. It feels great that we have achieved something we set out to do despite the challenges and hurdles. The success of the school is very gratifying to me.' With its solid foundation and reputation, the business school will continue to thrive in the years to come. However, in such a dynamic part of the business world there will always be challenges to face. 'To maintain its competitiveness, [the school] must maintain high standards of research and teaching,' Chan says. 'It is also essential for it to continue to become an academic powerhouse, especially on research of critical business and economic issues pertaining to China. It should leverage all the resources and expertise it can, especially from the strength of its faculty members. The school should also continue to focus on nurturing and developing business leaders not just for Asia but for the world.'