The long-term aim was to build a school that could rival any in its scope, standards, faculty and global reputation. But DeKrey realised the best first step, made easier by government funding, was to impose a more stringent admissions policy while cultivating a genuinely international outlook.
"We eliminated `straight through' graduates [who had just completed their first degree] and reached out beyond Hong Kong," says DeKrey, who takes justifiable pride in the school's jump from ninth to sixth in the
"You have a vision of what top quality is and then go after it, but getting there is incremental. Not to disparage others, but at the time Asia was not known for good MBAs, so there was also a huge opportunity to set new standards."
From two MBA groups in the mid-1990s, there are now 10 distinct programmes, including full-time and part-time options, a bilingual executive MBA (EMBA) and a master's specialising in global finance. Intake has risen correspondingly to between 500 and 600 students a year, though class size is capped at 60, with a continued stress on quality over quantity.
In one of the early initiatives designed to accelerate improvements in the curriculum, DeKrey made a point of establishing closer contacts with the business community and appointing senior executives as adjunct professors. This helped ensure topicality and corporate realism to balance the theoretical and research-based aspects of courses.
"We now have 14 to 15 high-calibre guys from industry teaching subjects such as business law, venture capital and Asian investment," he says. "If you bring in people from successful companies, they have valuable lessons to share and stimulate discussion in the classroom."
When launching the EMBA programme in 1998, DeKrey also saw that a partnership with Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management would provide a significant boost in terms of international reputation and joint courses. "I went