The SCMP/Henley MBA scholarship programme offers two Hong Kong executives a chance to study at one of the most prestigious business schools in Europe, the University of Reading's Henley Business School.
This year, Dyson Yu and Dennis Kwan were delighted to be named the winners of the scholarship at the awards presentation held on October 19 at Henley's Hong Kong office.
The winners received a full scholarship worth HK$215,000 each for the three-year, part-time MBA programme, which includes the total cost of one trip to the school's campus in Britain in March next year.
"Not only does the scholarship provide me with financial assistance, it is also a recognition of what I have achieved so far," says Kwan, vice-president, investment advisory for private equity at Sumitomo Trust Finance (HK). "I believe graduates of the MBA programme will be able to hold high ethical standards and have the determination to excel in their work, and act as a model citizen in the business world."
This is the 16th year Henley and South China Morning Post have sponsored the scholarship. "A message I want to send to our two winners this year and other students is seize the day - if you can do it, do it," says Rex Aguado, chief editor for SCMP Recruitment Services. "This is an amazing opportunity from Henley and SCMP."
The programme is open to Hong Kong residents with a minimum of three years' managerial experience and the ability to demonstrate how they plan to use the MBA. The straightforward application process was made rigorous by the intense competition from 22 other executives. "I believe it was my multicultural background and experience in working in different fields that impressed the judges," Kwan says.
"A piece of advice I can give to prospective applicants of the scholarship programme is to be yourself, understand your strengths and weaknesses, and show your determination to make personal improvements."
The Henley MBA programme takes in students with backgrounds in local and international markets from Hong Kong and the rest of Asia-Pacific.
"I was attracted by the high quality of the Henley MBA programme," says Yu, senior manager for agency services at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Online (Asia-Pacific). "The average age of students is 39 years old, meaning almost all of us are experienced in our own fields, so the programme provides us with an opportunity to share our experiences and learn from others."
Ranked by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) last month as the 17th best full-time MBA programme in the world - second in Britain and fifth in Europe - the Henley Business School offers part-time MBA students a flexible learning experience and a chance to expand their networks, while enhancing their international management competencies.
The programme provides practical training to students, who must study their own companies for assignments, which helps them to identify shortcomings within their own firms and suggest improvements.
"I look forward to putting what we learn through the programme into perspective," Yu says. "I believe this programme would help sharpen my strategic thinking, reflect on my management style, as well as understand modern business concepts in a proper context."
According to Henley's administrators, half of the students from last year's part-time MBA programme are stationed across the region, including the mainland, Taiwan, Singapore and Japan. Henley's MBA programme also offers a good mix of international students, with about 70 per cent from overseas and 30 per cent from Hong Kong.
"The Asia-Pacific region is going to have a major impact on the rest of the world in terms of positive changes over the next 10 to 15 years," says Julian Simmonds, managing director of Henley Business School.
Programme promotes ethics in business
A handful of full- and part-time MBA programmes offered in Hong Kong and elsewhere show the importance of further studies.
Those who wish to enrol in an MBA should choose carefully the business school that suits their needs so they don't waste their time, effort and money.
What makes the Henley MBA programme different from others is its focus on helping students understand the importance of morality and ethics in the business world, says Julian Simmonds, managing director of Henley Business School. "Henley is really concerned about producing leaders who make a difference, in a positive sense, to the society in which they operate," he says. "As we move forward in the next decade in Hong Kong and the Asia-Pacific region, our graduates will quickly be seen as major contributors in the society."
The three-year, part-time programme is structured to suit the busy schedules of senior managers and is ideal for those looking for greater flexibility.
Students can juggle the demands of their work and studies, and enrich their learning by connecting the lessons from the programme's 10 modules to the latest global and organisational issues.
The modules are delivered through a mix of workshops taught by professors from the Henley Business School, peer-group learning activities, and online and individual and group self-study.
Students are required to choose an elective subject after completing each module based on the programme's three elective pathways - strategic innovation, knowledge management and entrepreneurship.
The first of the MBA's three stages is "managing the organisation", which aims at providing students with a better understanding of management in the 21st century and the role of a manager in a corporation.
In stage two, students will be able to enhance their commercial and strategic skills and knowledge. They will then get to know more about managing, changing and leading a corporation in the final stage.
Completion of a module will require an assignment or research project, followed by an examination after the completion of each stage.