[Sponsored Article] For senior management professionals looking for an opportunity to undertake an in-depth research project that contributes to the advancement of business knowledge, the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree represents one of the highest levels of management education achievements. While the DBA programme offered by the College of Business at the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) is consistently recognised as one of the highest-ranked DBA programmes in the world, the College of Business continues to distinguish the programme from other DBA programmes by providing students with support and opportunity to develop critical research skills at the highest level. "We constantly monitor and conduct research across the wide spectrum of business landscapes," explains DBA programme director professor Muammer Ozer who emphasises the goal is to provide a platform where students become immersed in quality research and academic rigour. "DBA studies are demanding, but also offer an educational journey that is exciting, memorable and challenging," says Ozer. Offered as a part-time programme designed to be compatible with the busy schedules of professionals looking for a new challenge, the CityU DBA programme is aimed at experienced executives with at least 10 years managerial experience. To ensure the doctorate programme maintains its commitment to quality, close attention is paid to selecting candidates from different countries and industries, as well as NGOs. "Our focus is not about attracting a large number of applicants, but maintaining the quality of the programme by attracting the 'right' mix of candidates," Ozer explains. The challenge is how to select candidates from different business backgrounds and different research interests to maximise cross-learning experiences, vital to ensure that students dynamic experience in the classroom. "The knowledge and experiences our students share act as a lubricant for networking opportunities," Ozer says. Throughout the programme, doctoral students have extensive opportunities to collaborate with each other and students from different years, as well as meet prominent business leaders representing different industries. To help DBA students to refine their chosen research topic, they are assigned a mentor —usually a senior faculty member — with expert knowledge and understanding of the latest business practices and specific areas of business. For example, in addition to traditional business sectors, professors focus their research on FinTech, the Mainland China-led Belt-and-Road, blockchain, Artificial intelligence (AI), leadership and innovation. "Their research is published in leading academic journals," notes Ozer. As a result, the professor says students have access to the latest knowledge from the research community. "Students learn how to apply the latest research models and theories to solve emerging business problems in every aspect of business," Ozer says. For example spiral learning, a teaching method based on the principle that a student learns more about a subject each time the topic is reviewed or encountered. The doctorate programme also includes courses on research processes, including how to collect and analyse data and how to write academic papers to a standard where they can be published in local and global forums. The culmination of the DBA is a thesis, which has to be defended before a panel of academics and industry experts. "We help students to channel their research skills in specific areas that stimulates their intellectual curiosity, but at the same time, provide insights with real-world benefits to their organisation, an industry sector or the wider community," says Ozer. For Linda Biek, a current CityU DBA student who was seeking an internationally recognised, high-quality doctorate programme in terms of research and teaching, the CityU programme checked all of the boxes. "I was also seeking a traditional classroom setting to take advantage of interaction with classmates and professors," notes Biek, director, compliance at the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Choosing to explore audit quality as her research topic — specifically how culture and cognitive distractions influence professional skepticism — Biek says each year brings more reports of corporate failures with auditors being criticised for failing to identify the relevant fraud or accounting irregularities. "I would like to contribute to the conversation by making a difference rather than pointing a finger," says Biek who explains how her research investigates how professional skepticism is influenced by culture and invites consideration of these differences in the areas of training, standard setting and the regulation of the auditing profession. Expecting to refine her accounting and auditing skills as a result of increased research; Biek says she has been surprised by the amount of knowledge and insights she has been able to transfer from the DBA programme to the workplace. "Before enrolling in the DBA programme, my reports had a certain style which, in retrospect, lacked the depth needed to be more compelling," Biek notes. She has also become more aware of how information should be framed and the importance of supporting research with facts and figures. "My analytical ability has been refined as I find myself asking 'Why'?” more often," says Biek who enjoys the opportunity to engage with fellow classmates about accounting and auditing issues. "The comradery I’ve experienced in the programme far exceeds my expectations," she says. "It’s a fascinating journey," she adds.