‘Get out of your comfort zone’
Cho Min-kyung was a full-time student of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST)’s MBA program. She was hired by Li & Fung, a global trading group based in Hong Kong, after graduation, and is currently working as a management associate.
She had worked as a conference interpreter for Samsung Electronics, Mckinsey & Company, and Citibank for many years in Korea before she came to Hong Kong. As an avid fan of Asia, she wants to contribute to the development of Asia and her long term goal is to manage an international business in the region that offers enormous opportunities.
What made you go to Hong Kong and choose the MBA course of HKUST?
I wanted to get a job in the most international Asian city, and thought Hong Kong is the right place to live. Hong Kong is relatively close to my home country, Korea, and I have an easy access to different countries around the world from here. Besides, I wanted to make the most of exponential opportunities in the China market.
HKUST seemed suitable with my requirements because it offers the great diversity of faculties and excellent academic programs.
What makes a successful MBA life? In retrospect, what did you know before you pursued your MBA education?
To make as many friends as possible is one of the most important things you should keep in mind in order to make your MBA experience successful. By helping and supporting your friends, you can make yourself visible in the community.
You also need to impress classmates with your capability. They are the ones who will connect you to their acquaintances, so you need to share your strength with them.
Lastly, challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone and try to deal with completely different people, whom you do not feel very comfortable with.
Doing a business in an internal arena poses many challenges and one of them would be handling people who come from different cultural background or upbringings and working styles. In that sense, letting them know who you are by exposing yourself to different people is one of the most timeless achievements from MBA education.
What factors should prospective students consider when choosing an MBA program?
If you want to work in the Western world, you would probably have to go to schools in those regions, as networking is the most significant part of MBA. You should be at a place, where you want to get a job.
What kinds of networking opportunities did HKUST provide? Which one did you find most helpful?
I didn’t have any friends at all in Hong Kong before I came here. I now have friends not only in Hong Kong but in many parts of the world. HKUST offers an extensive network of friends including alumni everywhere in the world. HKUST also provides a variety of events, for which they invite well-known figures in different industries for speeches and arrange small group executives meetings to enable students to talk to senior managers in different companies.
Both of them are very useful but what is more important here is that you have to be proactive and try to stay in touch with them.
Did a degree from HKUST make a difference in landing you in the job at Li & Fung?
I did not have any financial or management background before and getting a finance degree changed my career path. I joined program for management development, similar to a management program but is targeted at more mature students who have some years of working experiences.
What kind of skills international companies look for when they recruit foreign applicants?
The ability to speak English fluently is a hygiene factor with the skills of managing an international team and communications skills. Most of all, however, you have to be armed with the skill sets and attributes that each company is looking for.
What kind of advice would you give to potential MBA students?
Define your goal first and come up with strategies that will make you achieve your goals. Make plans in advance and get ready to challenge.
Don’t confine yourself to your own frame of thoughts and values. Maturity comes when you are able to cope with differences and difficulties.