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Managers go back to school to update skills

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If you are looking to learn with a group of seasoned business veterans, the MBA offered at the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong (PolyU) is an attractive choice, with students averaging 13 years of working experience from key industries in Hong Kong.

Programme director Professor Howard Davies says the course aims to provide a postgraduate education to experienced managers who want to enhance their general-management capabilities.

“Crises and uncertainties in the global economy have increased the need for well-educated leaders who understand that leadership is not just about crunching the numbers in a financial spreadsheet. Graduates should be capable of making an immediately enhanced contribution to their organisations, of assuming additional responsibility over time and of becoming effective general managers,” he says.

The programme prepares experienced managers and professionals to solve real-world management problems. Davies says participants will develop critical and creative thinking, leadership skills and the ability to manage changes.

“Graduates should have the analytical ability to select and apply appropriate conceptual frameworks to the resolution of business issues that arise at the general-management level in the business context in which they are working. Those issues include establishing the scope and direction of the organisation,” he says.

The programme takes a practical approach towards teaching. “There is a strong emphasis on ‘bringing reality into the classroom’, with students producing written analyses and making verbal presentations where theoretical knowledge is applied to practical problems,” Davies says.
To help students’ learning and interaction, public seminars are held regularly, where esteemed scholars and business practitioners are invited to share their knowledge and experiences. Visits and trips are also organised to expose students to business communities in other territories.

“In these ways, students of our programme do not simply acquire textbook knowledge. They are expected to interact actively with the business world and can thus develop a strong sense of identity and commitment,” says Davies.

The programme also provides a wide range of electives, with an opportunity to focus on the fashion business, financial services, IT management and innovation, and design management.
“In the core subjects, a broad managerial perspective is adopted, while the more specialised elective subjects are designed to suit the particular needs of participants and their current and future employers,” says Davies.

Assessment of the course is based on both coursework and examination. Students generally complete the programme in two years, with four years being the maximum time allowed to finish.

“The first year of the programme is designed to introduce students to all of the major business functions and to business research methods. The second year provides more in-depth management knowledge around the theme of leadership in the Asian context, and requires students to address a significant management issue in their MBA Investigative Report,” says Davies.

The MBA Investigative Report, which students are required to write in their second year, is an integrating element in the programme that builds on the business research methods taught in the first year.

“Students can select topics they are interested in. The 8,000-word report investigates a significant management issue by applying taught business concepts and making use of students’ creative thinking. They will receive guidance from a supervisor,” says Davies.
Students who complete 45 credits will be awarded the MBA qualification. Those who are unable to complete the MBA programme can graduate with an early-exit award of a postgraduate diploma in business administration upon completing 22 credits.

Applicants must possess an undergraduate degree and have at least six years’ working experience. Selected candidates will be invited to attend interviews. The MBA programme intake takes place every year in late August.

The programme is accredited by the Association of MBAs (AMBA), while the faculty had been accredited by EQUIS, the European Quality System, and AACSB, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

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