Learn how The University of Hong Kong has given MBA student Brady Shwartz the freedom to explore other potential career tracks.
- Name: Brady Shwartz
- Business School: The University of Hong Kong
- Originally from: USA
Q: Where did you work before starting your MBA?
A: From early 2013 to late 2016 I was working in Shanghai, China for an education management firm called U-Learn. In short, U-Learn acts as the international office for several private Chinese schools, conducting study abroad programs and US college admissions consulting. From 2017 onwards, I was based in Bangalore, India helping another education company, Teachers for Asia, gain a foothold in the country.
Q: How did you choose your MBA program? What are your program's greatest assets?
A: Ultimately, my final choice came down to either HKU or a graduate school close to home in the USA. HKU was a much more logical choice for me, mostly because it would allow me to expand on my personal and professional experience in Asia up until that point. Plus, HKU’s alumni network is much more diverse in terms of nationalities and locations, so I thought it would give me some more flexibility in my post-MBA job search. Looking back, I’m really happy with my decision.
Q: What has been your favorite classroom experience?
A: We finished a course called Doing Business on the New Silk Road. It’s all about China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative. I don’t think I can pick out a single moment, but I was completely absorbed in our class discussions (which sometimes lasted over an hour) throughout the entire course. This was a 5-day “block style” course, but I was amazed at how quickly those days went by. Our professor, Dr. Shuetz, did a fantastic job at directing our conversations to hear varying opinions and viewpoints from our classmates, who hail from all different countries and industries.
Q: What activities are you involved in outside of class?
A: A few of my classmates and I are working on an online marketing project called MBA Insider. The goal is to provide potential MBA students around the world a glimpse into the day-to-day lives of full-time MBA students, so that they can make better informed decisions about where they’d like to study. Besides that, I’m also VP of our student-led Technology Club, and play in a pick-up basketball league about once a week.
Q: What have been the biggest challenges of pursuing your MBA?
A: Time management. Besides classes, electives, and extracurriculars, there are always group presentations or papers due on a constant basis—not to mention making time for career development, networking, and job searches. I’m beginning to learn that procrastination is no longer a viable “strategy” for me. It’s always been a bit of a weakness for me, so at least this is giving me a chance to finally improve on it!
Q: How have your classmates influenced your MBA experience?
A: My classmates and I talk about this all the time, and we all agree that our class profile only helps to enhance the experience. Class discussions are always very dynamic because we have classmates from all over the world, and from all different industries. Group work has been the most rewarding for me personally, as you need to learn to negotiate and manage many different personality types.
Q: How did you decide that an MBA was the next step for you?
A: I studied business as an undergraduate student, so pursuing an MBA has always been a personal goal. But the question I could never answer was, “when?” Well, I started to see the answer during my last few years in Shanghai. I had mostly exhausted the advancement opportunities in my company, and as I started to look at “next step” positions elsewhere, an MBA degree was either required or highly recommended. I also knew that pursuing an MBA would give me some freedom to explore other potential career tracks. In my view, it was a win-win.
Q: If you are an international student, what inspired you to pursue your MBA abroad, and what have been the greatest benefits of doing so?
A: Perhaps I’m in a minority amongst international students; I’ve been living overseas for the past 4-5 years. From that perspective, pursuing an MBA abroad made sense. I also knew it would give me many more networking opportunities (in terms of geography and industry diversification). Besides, I was a bit fearful of attending a school in my home country and thereby being subjected to the “echo chamber” effect—sharing similar opinions with similar people. Here at HKU, it’s superbly interesting to hear entirely polarized opinions, especially during class discussions about geopolitical topics.