Classmates ‘ready to work as team’
Kei Chan rounded off her Kellogg-HKUST executive MBA (EMBA) studies with a week in Germany in May. She visited the country to take global electives on luxury brand management and entrepreneurial finance at WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management, near Koblenz – one of the programme’s seven international partners.
The experience emphasised the many plus points of being able to learn from highly-rated professors and alongside high-flying classmates.
There was the chance to tackle challenging subjects, discover surprising perspectives and network with senior executives from a wide range of industries, who had flown in from around the world.
In the quieter moments, it was also a time to reflect on how far she had come over the past 17 months and how any doubts about taking her place on the programme had been put to rest.
“I struggled at first with subjects like the probability and statistics, and wasn’t sure how I would fit in with people who knew much more about finance and operations,” says Chan, who is Asia-Pacific head of marketing for e-commerce fashion company, Yoox Net-a-Porter Group, which houses brands including Net-a-Porter and Mr Porter. “But the group study activities helped me realise that each person has different talents and skills, and everyone can contribute. I thought there would be a lot of egos in the room, but classmates were always ready to explain, guide and work as a team.”
In group projects and class discussions, Chan stood out for her ability to come up with creative ideas and consider the longer-term vision. Before offering opinions, she told herself not to be intimidated by the hothouse environment or to worry about her less “conventional” career path, which started in graphic design in New York before branching into client management and fashion marketing. And she quickly recognised that the more you put into the programme, the more you get out of it.
“The EMBA has given me a broad spectrum of knowledge that relates to every aspect of running a business and the strategic framework,” she says. “I can understand the direction my company is moving and the dynamic of where we are versus where we need to be to expand into new markets.”
Her general advice for future candidates is to talk to alumni to get a good feel for the programme and, if possible, to take a sample class. That convinced her to apply.
Chan hopes to see more female applicants. “If I can do it, you can too,” she says.