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Prospective students weighing up different MBA courses must look at more than just the core curriculum, electives and seminars, and what they promise in terms of future career advancement.
It is also essential to consider the practicalities of how to fit a major extra commitment into or around what, for most people, is already a busy day-to-day timetable.
“That’s why I was looking for a programme with flexibility,” says Wilfred Leung, a recent graduate of the part-time Global MBA offered in Hong Kong by the University of Manchester. “The course uses a ‘blended’ method combining online sessions with face-to-face workshops taught by academic staff who fly in from Britain. This works well for anyone who is studying, while also keeping up with the demands of a full-time job.”
For Leung, it was similarly important to choose a programme which would provide genuine international experience. In this respect, he had the choice of attending workshops in Shanghai, Singapore, Dubai and Sao Paulo, besides Hong Kong and Manchester. That kind of opportunity was deliberately designed to facilitate interaction between students from different parts of the world, thereby opening eyes and creating a whole new network of useful connections.
It is also a natural extension of the school’s policy of looking for a diversity of nationalities and industry backgrounds in each intake. This encourages lively classroom discussions, spurred by different ideas and viewpoints. And it highlights the fact that each challenge or business problem should be assessed on its merits, and that no approach or solution is automatically right.
Leung’s own class included students from the mainland, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, the United States and Europe. He is in no doubt that this mix contributed significantly to the overall learning experience.
“Clearly, the programme’s quality and reputation were also major considerations,” he says. “Fortunately, as one of the first two business schools established in Britain, there is a long history of academic excellence.”
As a trained scientist with no other formal business education, his specific goal was to pick up modern management skills and know-how, which could be put to work in the non-profit sector. He is general manager of the Charles K. Kao Foundation for Alzheimer’s Disease, which focuses on dementia care and education. The role entails oversight of fundraising functions, project management and general administration.
“The MBA struck a good balance between the theoretical aspects and what happens in practice,” Leung says. “The ‘Manchester Method’ also emphasises the value of learning by doing, with plenty of real-life case studies and projects requiring a practice-based approach.”
He adds that the time and work involved is a serious commitment and should not be undertaken Wilfred Leung lightly. The key is to stay focused, be well-organised and, as far as possible, stick to a clear routine.
“It was demanding, but not impossible,” Leung says. “After all, time management and prioritisation are also important aspects of business training. Along the way, what I found particularly worthwhile was being able to apply lessons from the course to my daily work. The MBA definitely broadened my horizons and has enabled me to see things from several different perspectives.