Chris Tin reflects on the challenges and benefits of pursing his MBA internationally at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
MBA, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology- School of Business and Management
Marketing Manager at Uber- San Francisco Bay Area
What do you think is HKUST’s greatest asset?
HKUST’s greatest asset is its proximity to the world’s powerhouse, China. You really get a thorough understanding of how business in China works, the cultural norms, and gain a first hand experience of being in a Chinese city.
Outside of China you get a one-sided view of the country and what is happening there, but often this is biased or inaccurate. China is a vital business partner for our generation and the classroom and business experiences I received have allowed me to better relate to businesses there, and that is something I could not get back home.
Sharing a border with mainland China, Hong Kong also allows easy access for you to make short trips and experience business there. HKUST will often have organized business trips to China as well. For example, I had the opportunity to visit the Toyota factory in Guangdong province.
How often are you in touch with your alumni network? Are they helpful in making connections?
I’m very close with the alumni network, especially others who graduated from my class. Being such a small program, HKUST’s network is very strong. We all have a bond and many alumni love meeting fellow alumni on a regular basis.
Most of the alumni I have met are great at introducing me to other people within their network. Everyone is friendly and generous and that’s one of the benefits of being part of a small program, you feel like you’re all part of one family.
What inspired you to pursue your MBA abroad and what have been the greatest benefits of doing so?
I wanted to pursue my MBA abroad primarily because I wanted international work experience. It was a great way to meet people from Hong Kong and around the world. I don’t feel I would’ve had met these people if I had gone to a MBA program in my home country, the US. I felt I could always return to the US if I didn’t like it overseas.
The greatest benefit of going abroad is learning about different cultures. The American culture has their own method of decision-making, prioritization, negotiating, building relationships, etc; but that doesn’t mean it’s the best. Attending HKUST, I was able to learn to cater my style based on the different cultures and situations I’m forced to deal with on a day-to-day basis in the global environment.
What was the biggest challenge you faced as an international student?
The biggest challenge in Hong Kong is the language, assuming you don’t speak Cantonese. Luckily for me, I did have a basic grasp of the language, so I was able to learn and expand my language skills while I was there. I would certainly suggest taking full advantage of being immersed in another culture when you’re abroad and don’t be afraid to speak the local language, if someone laughs at you, just join in the fun, they’ll usually correct you and you’ll know better next time.
Although Hong Kong is primarily Cantonese speaking, you can survive perfectly fine using English, as it’s an official language as well. All official signage is in English, and many restaurants and stores use English signage. Going to school in Hong Kong is a great foray to Asia where you won’t be thrown into a completely different environment as it has many similarities with Western countries as well.
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