Behind the Scenes
A dedicated team led by Ms Judy Au, Kellogg-HKUST EMBA Program Director, is not only committed to help the students complete their demanding learning journey, but also work behind the scenes to make all graduates across the world stay connected, even after graduated for 20 years.
The goings-on behind the scenes on the Kellogg-HKUST EMBA program plays a huge part in giving each student a world-beating academic and professional experience - before, during and after their 18 months of study. Over the years, Program Director Judy Au and her team in the Program Office have been working tirelessly to ensure participants, past and present, get all they can from their unique learning opportunities.
For students currently engaged in the program, Judy and her colleagues handle everything from organizing and collecting their student visas, to satisfying their dietary requirements, to helping them cope with any medical emergencies.
“Thankfully, nothing too serious has ever happened, though,” Judy points out.
Her nine-strong team’s involvement begins with touring Asia to market the program to prospective candidates, but, as the Program Office also serves as the Alumni Office, it never ends.
“We are a one-stop shop,” Judy says. “So, while our job is always challenging, that’s the fun part. Many of the students are brilliant people and I’m learning something new every day.”
First class and friction-less
For the EMBA students coming to HKUST for their weekend classes, hotel accommodation, food and transport are all taken care of.
“We want to make sure they can focus on their studies and make a very good use of their time," Judy says. "We provide everything for them, from books, to cases, to photocopying, so they don’t even need to set foot in the library.”
As part of a policy of promoting diversity, the school is trying to attract more female students to the Program. To this end, support and a private space is offered to mothers needing to feed their babies, and one of the four scholarships established in recent years, is for women. “This year we hit a record high of 32 per cent female representation,” Judy notes with pride.
Everything, she adds, has to be first class, with the school more than willing to have smaller numbers of students in a cohort in order to maintain quality. This insistence on excellence even extends to the menu, which is supplied by outside caterers, which vary from day to day.
The changing student body
Judy’s knowledge of those taking part in the Program not only reaches back a long way, it even stretches into the future.
“I have been with the Program for almost 19 years - since KH02 – and we are currently recruiting for KH22,” she says.
In that time, Judy has seen significant changes in the makeup of the classes.
“The students in the first one or two classes were mostly from Hong Kong," she says. "In KH03 to KH05, or KH06, they were mostly Asian. Now we are very, very international.”
Today, in every class there is someone flying across oceans or continents, Judy adds, coming from the US, Europe, Russia, or Australia.
Initially, students were sponsored by their companies. “These days, the majority of our students are paying their fees out of their own pocket,” Judy says. And with tuition fees having increased over the years due to rising costs and inflation, and the Program’s reputation and ranking soaring, expectations have also risen. “We try to ensure that no requests go unanswered, though,” she adds.
Fifteen years ago, when the Program was not so well known, people would ask her to convince them why they should enroll, Judy recalls. Times have changed, however.
“Now people come to us partly because of the ranking - number one, globally, for eight years – that our world-class faculty, and our world-class students, has earned us,” she says.
An ongoing relationship
Judy and her colleagues support the ongoing links the alumni have with HKUST and their fellow graduates. She has also clearly bonded with many of them. The series of celebration activities organized for the Program’s 20th anniversary exhibits their strong commitment.
“We are still in touch with alumni from 20 years ago," Judy says. "We still organize activities and events for them, so I get to see them very often.”
What’s more, students' learning can continue long after graduation. “Alumni may never have had the opportunity to take courses in newer subjects, such as digital marketing and blockchain, so we organize regular seminars they can come back to,” Judy says, citing how these sessions are also recorded and made available online. “And, through what we call the alum auditing program, any alum can come back into the classroom and take a class along with current students,” she adds.
Thanks to the Program’s "collegial culture", its alumni really trust each other, Judy says, citing how such bonds have led to successful alumni collaborations on commercial projects.
They are also more than willing to help out with specific questions or problems, Judy says. She recalls an alum who graduated ten years ago, works in logistics, and who called her to say he had goods stuck in Taiwan and asked if she knew anyone who could help.
“I said, 'Let me send out an e-mail to all our alumni in Taiwan'," Judy says. "Within half a day, I received three replies from people who didn’t even work in logistics, but thought they might know someone. Two days later, the problem was solved.”