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PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 April, 2018, 4:45pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 April, 2018, 4:45pm

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Gabriel Leung still remembers the moment when his data was analysed and results were graphed on the computer screen. He was sitting at the computer laboratory at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), where he had been spending many weekends.

The graph shown on screen told him that his Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) thesis – a quest in studying human motivation – was analytically sound.

“That sense of excitement is indescribable,” Leung said. “The happiness surpassed what I felt when I closed deals worth hundreds of millions.”

Leung, managing director Hong Kong and Macau of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, completed his DBA last year. He is one of more than 250 scholar-leaders who have graduated from PolyU DBA programme, the first DBA offered by a Hong Kong university, since 1996.

PolyU DBA programme is designed to nurture senior business executives to be “scholar-leaders” who are able to explore, research, digest and transform the findings to solve real-world management problems. The three-year part-time programme consists of eight taught subjects, two residentials and a doctorate thesis. Typically, the duration for the taught component and the thesis writing is 18 months each.

When Leung started his DBA, he already had over 20 years of experience as country manager, general manager or managing director leading the regional business for IT multinationals, including Sun Microsystems and EMC (presently known as Dell EMC). He also has advanced degrees in engineering. PolyU DBA gave him something that the business world couldn’t – the ability to think analytically with theoretical backup.

“In business situations I had been using my own career or personal experience to make decisions, but I knew there was more to it,” he said.

“I thought there must be an academic underpinning to the business scenarios I was facing. I didn’t want to limit myself. That was when a friend suggested PolyU DBA.”

The DBA exceeded his expectations in more ways than one. He never expected he would pull so many all-nighters on the weekends, he said.

“In the evening I would read academic articles that inspired me to think more. I wanted to continue reading to find answers. Before I knew it was dawn,” he said.

He described the state of flow he was in. “Even my wife found it a bit excessive,” he said. “But I felt very fulfilled.”

Similar to Leung’s experience, many business leaders would consider a doctorate in business administration as a path to personal intellectual advancement, said Petrus Choy, the deputy DBA programme director and professor of practice in shipping finance at PolyU Faculty of Business.

“Most DBA students want a breakthrough that helps them get to the next level in their career and personal achievements,” he said. “In some cases they have always dreamed of attaining a doctorate.”

“When pursuing their DBA degree, some of our students already have a plan in their mind that they want to share their practical experience in the academic field,” he elaborated. “Obtaining a doctorate is the key to materialize such goal.”

PolyU DBA, now with a 22-year track record, has evolved into a programme offering a valuable alumni network and a growing mix of international students.

Together with the Doctor of Management jointly offered by PolyU and Renmin University of China, PolyU Faculty of Business has built an alumni network of more than 420 doctorate-level graduates.

There are students joining from China, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam etc. Overseas-educated Chinese business leaders are flying in from cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou to attend the DBA weekend courses.

“We have also recruited students from Belt and Road countries such as India and Kazakhstan” Choy said.

When considering pursuing the DBA, potential applicants have to be sure that their employer and their family are all well-supporting their endeavor. Choy added that “Pursuing an advanced degree in part-time mode is a significant commitment. Applicants’ employer and family would need to understand this.”

“In the last 18 months of the programme, the thesis writing process is pretty much self-driven,” Choy explained.

Having to write a doctorate thesis might sound intimidating to some, but Choy said there is nothing to worry about. PolyU Faculty of Business provides plenty of resources and guidance to support the student in all respects.

Taught subjects, seminars and workshops of the Programme help the student identify a thesis topic and how to write a high quality and publishable doctoral level thesis. A thesis supervisor and other academic staff are available to provide guidance and advice.

PolyU DBA is as rigorous as a PhD sharing the same standards, trainings, structures, requirements and expectations, the only difference is that a DBA thesis focuses more on the practical framework and applications of new found knowledge in the business world.

“We’ve had over 420 graduates in the doctorate programmes including the DBA and Doctor of Management. If our 420 scholar-leaders have done it, why can’t you?”

If you want to know how to earn your doctoral degree from PolyU DBA, and how our taught subjects best prepare and equip you for a high quality and publishable doctoral thesis, please join the following event:

PolyU DBA Coffee Chat – Earn the doctoral degree in three years
Date: 28 April 2018 (Saturday)
Time: 2:15 – 5:00 p.m.
Venue: R1108, 11/F, Shirley Chan Building, PolyU campus
Speaker: Dr Petrus Choy, DBA Deputy Programme Director and Professor of Practice (Shipping Finance), Faculty of Business, PolyU

Register now via

Enquiries: Eric Leung (Tel: 3400 3578; Email: [email protected])

For more information on the programme, you may visit
PolyU DBA website:, or
its Facebook page: