Quality is key to making Kellogg-HKUST EMBA the best
Top-notch staff and students help course stay a world favourite for two decades
It has been quite a journey. A programme launched 20 years ago, after a struggle to secure faculty, amid worries about whether it would attract sufficient applications for places, has blossomed into the EMBA, which has established itself as the number one programme in the world.
In 1997 Professor Steven DeKrey, associate dean of HKUST Business School, was recruited to run the school’s MBA programme. DeKrey had not only graduated from the Kellogg School of Management, but also taken on the role of that school’s admissions director for several years.
When Professor Yuk-shee Chan, then dean of HKUST Business School, began to talk to the Kellogg dean, Professor Don Jacobs, about jointly working on a programme, DeKrey pushed hard to make it a joint EMBA. “I needed it to be a flagship programme which showed the quality was here,” he says.
DeKrey, who holds a PhD in psychology, believes the quality of the programme’s first class sent a great message to the market. “I’m into leadership assessment and development, so our strategy from day one was to pick the best.”
While HKUST offers a number of electives, for the past 15 years the school’s EMBA students have also been able to take courses at Kellogg, in the United States, or the six other campuses. “We are now part of a global network that has access way beyond Asia – to Europe, the Middle East and North America,” DeKrey says.
Over the years, the faculty’s determination to continue improving the programme has never faltered. Professor Jaideep Sengupta, the programme’s academic director, points out that the professors teaching the curriculum come from either a high-class research background, or directly from practice, at CEO-level or similar.
“All the faculty, myself included, make a very conscious effort to stay up to date and relevant, in terms of course content and adding new courses,” he says.
Sengupta notes the key role the exceptional quality of the programme’s students has played in earning a consistent world-topping ranking. Making sure that nothing prevents these students getting from all they can from their unique learning opportunity has been the task of programme director Judy Au for the past 19 years. She and her team in the Program Office look after participants’ every need, before, during and after their 18 months of study.
For their weekend sessions on campus, the Program Office takes care of everything from student visas to photocopying, and from dietary requirements to medical emergencies. “We want to make sure they can focus on their studies and don’t waste any time,” Au explains.
The relationships forged between programme alumni, and between alumni and HKUST Business School, endure over time. “We are still in touch with alumni from 20 years ago,” Au points out.