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Capital of compassion
John Cremer
update on Friday, November 25, 2011
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The Graduate Trainee

Kelvin Ma says he was slightly confused after the first class on corporate social responsibility (CSR), which was part of his BBA course at the University of Hong Kong.

"I suppose I had always thought that business was about making a profit, making money," he says. "But the courses on CSR and corporate governance changed me by showing there is much more to it."

This insight also came from seeing the impact companies can have in the community by supporting even comparatively small initiatives. Without seeking publicity or commercial advantage, they can - if they choose - change many lives for the better. And there were no shortage of ways to get involved.

"I saw companies carrying out programmes - not for profit - but to help the sick and the elderly," says Ma, who is currently a first-year graduate trainee in investment banking. "It gave me a new perspective on business and a different sense of what is important."

This outlook was further developed by time overseas. Ma spent the second semester of his second year at New York University, taking courses in investment and financial statement analysis.

For him, though, the biggest draw was being in a new environment, both in and out of the classroom. New York students were always ready to speak out, challenging their professors and voicing their opinions. And, simply living in another country forced Ma to stand on his own two feet.

"The experience overseas definitely made me more independent and outgoing," he says.

"I saw that students shouldn't just accept what they are told."

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