Han’s ability to look at things from both macro and micro perspectives also helped him to set priorities during his studies. Initially thinking he might become a consultant in the FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) sector, he began to consider other options.
“As I gained knowledge and expanded my network, I was making more and more connections within finance. It was interesting area and I felt it suited me well.”
This caused him to focus on corporate finance and broaden his understanding of that sector. During the MBA, he also wanted to learn more about overseas cultures and how business works in other countries.
“About 20 per cent of my class was from mainland China and we wanted the ‘Hong Kong experience’,” he says. “The international students wanted to know more about China and life there.”
Han became chairman of the China Association at HKUST with the aim of making new contact and sharing information.
“We wanted other students to understand China and we invited professionals who had worked in the mainland to tell us more about careers there. We also created internships.”
Along the way, Han undertook a three-month exchange at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, which opened his eyes in other respects.
“Chicago was one of the first US cities I’d heard of, because of Michael Jordan. I love music, especially jazz, so it really appealed. I had a clear target of what I wanted to learn in Chicago, so I took the right classes there and learned a lot.”
While there, he made a point of getting to know the people around him. The MBA group work was particularly useful, giving a chance to share knowledge and experiences from home. He also took part in recruitment events to learn more about the similarities and differences between the US and China when it comes to finding a job.
“I saw a lot of differences in the student culture, even in the way they behave in class, and found out that careers in the US are very different.”
Realising that what you get out of an MBA depends on what you put in, Han set clear targets: to change career track, apply himself to each class, and network for the future.
“I knew what I wanted and focused on it,” he says. ‘I joined different associations in Hong Kong to create connections that could help me back in China. I spent a lot of time, on and off campus, learning more about the world and creating my own network. I think the most important thing is to understand what you want from your MBA. Use all the platforms available to you. The time is surprisingly short, so sleep less and try to experience more.”
Editor's Note: Michael Han current works for the Investment Management Division at the Goldman Sachs in Shanghai