Quest to be even better
The joint faculty of the world-class executive MBA programme works hand in hand to focus on future refinements
All those involved with the Kellogg-HKUST Executive MBA know the best way to maintain its top ranking is to focus on further improvement.
The intake of 50 students embarking on the 18-month programme can look forward to new courses or greater emphasis on data analytics, fintech, and China’s “Belt and Road Initiative”, which is Beijing’s global trade strategy. There will also be broader opportunities to take cutting-edge international electives at partner business schools elsewhere in the world.
“We continue to refine the curriculum based on changes seen in the economy and, increasingly, in the tech space too,” says Professor Tam Kar-yan, dean of the School of Business and Management at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).
“We are also exploring closer collaboration which will lead to courses or exchanges in the best places to study innovation, emerging European markets, and China’s economic growth.”
Such enhancements are designed to provide a mix of classroom learning and real-world exposure to new concepts and challenges. This ensures students, all of whom hold key positions in their respective organisations, engage in debate, question previous assumptions, and adopt an open-minded approach to developing issues and unfamiliar problems.
“In the EMBA, students don’t just learn from the professors, but also from their classmates, who come from a wide range of sectors,” Tam says. “They want to be exposed to different ideas and to understand what is behind emerging technology, so they can apply it to their own businesses.”
When teaching tech-related topics to senior executives, explaining the why and what carries more weight than the how. That will generally be delegated to workplace colleagues or contractors. Therefore, most of the case studies and examples used present an overview, allowing the class to draw inferences and discuss the business applications or alternatives.
“They need to comprehend what is possible and know what to ask for and how to monitor the situation,” Tam says. “We don’t go into all the nitty-gritty, but with technology being used to automate more and more white-collar tasks, we consider the social and ethical issues, as well as the potential for change.”
To introduce the latest perspectives on everything from financial instruments and effective leadership to acquisitions and launching start-ups, the programme makes a point of inviting guest experts and alumni to share their stories. These regular events can also be an invaluable networking opportunity for students who may be thinking about a change in direction or branching out on their own.
Referring to the Kellogg-HKUST EMBA’s consistent attainment of first place in the Financial Times global rankings, Tam is grateful for the accolade, but would never view that as an end in itself.
“We take it as recognition that we have done something useful for our students,” he says. “But we are forward-looking and always see what can be improved in order to provide a unique value proposition for senior executives.”
Professor Sally Blount, dean of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, is also quick to emphasise that the EMBA will keep evolving to reflect the ever-changing business environment with its new forms of economic might, global operations and social status.
“The old rules have been unwritten in a world now characterised by reduced barriers to entry, shorter product and idea life cycles, endless data and information - and too many distractions,” Blount says.
“All of this results in harder and more complex problems to solve, and it is changing the way we approach management education in the 21st century.”
She notes how the Kellogg-HKUST EMBA looks to offer a unique integrated delivery model and gives executives the opportunity to take courses at seven different campuses on four continents. This encourages students to work collaboratively and learn from each other, while the diverse strengths of faculty members bring real breadth and insight to every group project and classroom discussion.
“Our students enjoy a clear advantage: deep knowledge and experience in global challenges and leadership practices combined with rich, local expertise,” Blount says.
“In addition, they are fully engaged with an alumni network that spans the globe, forming meaningful peer relationships across countries, organisations and markets.”