Each EMBA-Global Asia class brings together experienced managers, professionals and executives from around the world. They are a diverse and highly engaged group of individuals who are working at the very forefront of the rapidly changing world economy.
Hear what students and alumni have to say about the programme: the challenges, debates and what they learnt from each other.
- Travis Ledwith
- Co-Founder, Flip Bank
- EMBA-Global Asia (2014)
Doing the programme from New York to Hong Kong and London, exposes you to the latest innovations coming out of these regions.
- Louis Houdart
- Founder and group CEO, Creative Capital China
- EMBA-Global Asia (2017)
“The programme was a life-changer – certainly one of the best professional experiences I’ve had. It opened doors and gave me confidence.”
Louis Houdart enjoys a steep learning curve. When he started working in China over two decades ago, interning as a brand manager for the wine firm Summergate, he had to learn Mandarin fast. “My assistant didn’t speak any English, my colleagues didn’t speak any English, my customers didn’t speak any English.”
What helped were the cultural similarities he found between China and his native France. “We value relationships, we love food and wine.” He first set up Secret Garden, a Shanghai-based floristry company, then sold it to local buyers after 18 months. “I learnt a lot from working in retail. We had created a B2B department, matching flowers to brands – I realised my key strength was in brand creation.”
He saw the EMBA-Global Asia as an opportunity to spend two years setting up his next business – the branding agency Creative Capital China – while gaining new knowledge and meeting new people. It paid off big-time. “I signed my first client in Beijing while I was still doing the programme,” he recalls.
He says LBS helps people benchmark. “Running a start-up can be cool or it can mean you’re starving. A famous-brand business school is a statement – people see that you’re an entrepreneur by choice. They know that having been to LBS you could have got a very big job somewhere. In Shanghai it gives you instant credibility.”
The programme meant travelling for block weeks of study at London Business School (LBS), Columbia Business School and Hong Kong University – a hectic schedule that’s not unusual for anyone working in China, he says. “This week I’ve been in Korea, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, the UK. In six weeks I’ve only been in Shanghai for five days.”
As founder and group CEO of his company, Louis now works with large Chinese companies moving from manufacturing equipment for other companies to becoming brands. “We help them sell a story,” he explains. “I have an amazing team of more than 30 people now and some very good clients – we have fun.”
Why did he choose LBS? “I thought, ‘If I’m going to spend a lot of money on a programme like this, it had better be a good brand. LBS is definitely the best brand in Europe, HKU is the best brand in Asia and Columbia is one of the top brands in the US. Second, I wanted to gain access to a financial network. LBS is well-connected to the private equity world. So it was the proposition of the alumni.”
Beyond that, he says, he liked the human scale of LBS and its international aspect. “It’s global – you gain real depth. There is something about London that is very special and at the same time when you’re on campus you could be anywhere in the world.”
The career impact was huge. “The programme was a life-changer – certainly one of the best professional experiences I’ve had. It opened doors and gave me confidence. I’m very grateful to it.” He remains close to various members of faculty. “It’s really cool building trust and respect with people,” he says. “And I had a great coach who helped me know myself better and optimise my strengths. It was an amazing journey.”
- Thomas Wong
- Managing Director, ADV Partners
- EMBA-Global Asia (2013)
Meet Thomas, the alumnus whose dual citizenship meant he was ‘born’ to join the partnership programme, EMBA-Global Asia.
“The atmosphere and vibe of learning at the core of a global financial centre is simply different to being elsewhere.” Meet Thomas, the alumnus whose dual citizenship meant he was ‘born’ to join the partnership programme, EMBA-Global Asia, between London and Columbia Business School and the University of Hong Kong. When Thomas considered an MBA, he was faced with tangible work challenges: to identify attractive investment opportunities globally, across multiple industry sectors. Once he’d closed an investment, he was then tasked with monitoring it, ensuring it had the right management team in place and was operating in-line with industry-wide best practices.
“The trio of school networks have helped me significantly broaden my opportunity sourcing channels,” says Thomas. “The networks have also helped me in my current job where I’m responsible for investor relations/marketing. Alumni from all three schools help narrow down the prospective clients I need to reach out to – they have been generous in sharing their contacts, ideas and experiences.”
Thomas, in the long-term, aspires to build a successful global investment franchise with a multicultural, multi-generational team of diverse backgrounds, and, he says, the extensive alumni network has helped bring his goal ever-closer.
“The diverse network of my classmates will help me to build broader linkages and identify top, like-minded talent. With their help I will better identify new investment opportunities and potential investors – two of the biggest business challenges facing anyone in the investment business,” Thomas says.
“Learning in three different cities on different campuses has allowed me to travel to and experience three corners of the world and gain first-hand experience on cultural nuances and working preferences. Each of these cities offered me useful links to North American, European and Asian business environments.”
The network has an inclusive feel according to Thomas, who says: “Wherever you are in the world, you will almost certainly find someone who’s involved in working in your area of interest and understands the local business practices. But most importantly, we are bonded together by a common interest.
“The EMBA-Global Asia network is continuing to grow and will only become stronger as the brand attracts other business leaders.”
For anyone considering EMBA-Global Asia: Thomas shares his message. “Not only will you benefit from the outstanding networks and world-class faculty at the three universities, but you’ll harness the synergies from collaborative efforts of three universities – providing a truly global professional education. You will form bonds that can only serve to benefit you in ways which, until realised, will remain unknown.”
- Sam Senanayake
- Technology Partner, Ascend Worldwide Advisors
- EMBA-Global Asia (2013)
EMBA-Global students are global connectors. We have impact because of the way that we perceive business and opportunity.
When you attend a business school you take on a brand that's with you for the rest of your life, so making the right decision at the outset is critical. By the time I started investigating postgraduate study options I had already enjoyed a very international lifestyle, living and working in Singapore, Taiwan, the US, Bermuda, and the UK. Travelling extensively, I had seen the world becoming progressively more interconnected, and it was important to me to choose a programme that would augment this perspective. Thorough research eventually led me to EMBA-Global Asia. Studying at three leading business schools and splitting my time between London, New York and Hong Kong offered me the chance to interact with an incredible array of professors and gave me direct access to leading global markets.
Throughout the programme I've been exposed to international companies, been inspired by renowned faculty and speakers, and seen first-hand how business is done in three major global cities. The courses are world-class, although it is the network of people and the colourful mix of classroom experiences that really differentiates this course from others. EMBA-Global Asia students are global connectors. We have impact because of the way that we perceive business and opportunity - we've lived in different countries, moved across different industries and seen how business operates across boundaries and geographies. We're comfortable interacting in different social and commercial contexts and skilled at bridging different groups of people. This allows us to recognise opportunities, picking up an idea in one place and linking it with one somewhere else.
I co-founded a tech start-up serving the sports industry with a couple of schoolmates in London Business School during my MBA. Within the first 12 months, we've signed up several hundred sports facilities in London, we've closed a round of funding and we are planning to expand into other countries soon. Two other classmates initiated a social media start-up in China and a third founded a wind and solar energy company in Japan. This breadth of drive and perspective creates a unique desire to spend as much time as possible with other participants. You want - need - to invest fully in your residential block weeks, to engage and discuss in class and to maximise social interactions. If you don't, you miss out on a crucial part of the programme.
Making EMBA-Global Asia work is about becoming an expert in time management, revising and reading in advance and finding time in the day to study when you won't be disturbed or distracted. I was very lucky that my wife, Angelina, joined the Americas & Europe stream of EMBA-Global the year after me. From the very start, she's been a wellspring of support, something that's paramount when you're juggling work, study and home life with extensive travel. Setting expectations with those close to you is essential, but doing this together means that we've been perfect sounding boards for each other.
- Linh Khanh Vu
- Director, Key Hospitality Consulting
- EMBA-Global Asia (2012)
EMBA-Global Asia is a very pragmatic and personalised programme.
I found out about EMBA-Global Asia by talking to alumni. I then started to look at the class profiles and I realised that EMBA-Global Asia was exactly what I'd been looking for. I now think that I was very lucky to have found this programme.
EMBA-Global Asia is a very pragmatic and personalised programme. It really was my EMBA and I could decide what I wanted to get out of it. The world-class faculty and the facilities at each school really helped me.
As an entrepreneur some modules were not directly applicable to me at that point in time, but enabled me to develop skills and ideas ready to implement as my company grows. The core skills in finance and accounting are extremely useful.
EMBA-Global Asia has given me the opportunity to learn a lot about myself and what motivates me, the type of leader I am and want to be. It has forced me to stop and think about where I am in my career and life, how people perceive me and how I perceive myself. Now I can make changes as I have access to great coaching and career services.
- Henri Arslanian
- FinTech and RegTech Lead, China/HK, PwC; Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Hong Kong
- EMBA-Global Asia (2014)
“We live in a global business world now. Your academic background should be truly global as well.”Did Henri Arslanian really need to go to business school? In 2012, he was a director in the Prime Brokerage Capital Consulting Team at UBS in Hong Kong, a financial markets and hedge funds expert with two masters degrees in law – one in transnational law from the University of Sherbrooke, Canada, the other in Chinese law from Tsinghua University, Beijing. But he wanted to gain a broader range of skills relevant to today’s business world – from accounting and finance to marketing and strategy. So he decided to join the EMBA-Global Asia programme.
“I’m a big believer that investing in your brain is probably one of the best investments you can make,” he explains. He saw the Executive MBA as a springboard for the next step in his career. Balancing its demands with his role at UBS was pretty intense. “I didn’t take any annual leave for those two years. I always tell people, you need to be fully committed to this, to really want to do it. You can do it in a light-touch way or in a very intense way, but you get out of it what you put in.”
Why this particular programme? He chuckles. “If you get married and it doesn’t work out, you can get separated and then get married again. But it’s very unlikely you’ll do a second MBA. So you’d better choose the right one! I’m a very global individual, personally and professionally, so to do an MBA in one place wouldn’t have made sense. We live in a global business world now. Your academic background should be truly global as well.
“I liked that I could pick and choose the courses I wanted to do from each university. It had a really good global perspective – not only academically but physically, being in three different locations. It also gave me access to three different alumni networks in Europe, America and Asia.” After Henri graduated he was a board member of the London Business School Hong Kong Alumni Club for a number of years.
He recalls the incomparable industry knowledge of his fellow students. “Case studies feature in MBAs around the world but at LBS you meet people from around the world who have first-hand experience. I remember on one private equity course, the professor was giving a case study on a recent telco company acquisition deal and he asked, is anybody familiar with this particular transaction? Well, in the class were an investment banker who had been working on that transaction, the CEO of a direct competitor of the acquired company, an engineer who had designed the assets sold in that transaction as well as an accountant who was working in an advisory firm advising on that transaction. Really showed you the quality of the program and of it students. That was a defining moment for me that I will never forget.”
There were great moments were outside the classroom too, including on a study trip to Brazil, which Henri describes as “a summer camp for adults”. But the real beauty of the Executive MBA is it opens your eyes on topics you didn’t previously understand. “It gives you technical skills in areas you’re not familiar with and it broadens your horizons to think about what’s coming next, what the future is going to hold. It’s about learning, sharing and connecting.”
Most of the people Henri met on the programme changed jobs during or after it. Henri was no exception. Not long after graduating he switched from banking to fintech. After a year at a small start-up he jumped to PwC where he leads the firm’s fintech and regtech [regulatory technology] practice in Hong Kong. He also teaches Entrepreneurship in Finance at Hong Kong University and has published a bestselling book on the same subject. He sits on various boards and even advises the Hong Kong regulator and government.
Henri’s TEDx on how fintech is shaping the future of banking has been watched by nearly 60,000 people. “We are living in the most exciting time in banking history,” he says. “There will be winners and losers in the fintech revolution – some banks will be able to adapt and transform, others won’t. I have a 15-month-old daughter and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if she opens her first bank account with Amazon or Facebook.”
- Qingru Zhang
- Founder & CEO, eBrandingChina (Hong Kong) Ltd
- EMBA-Global Asia (2015)
After only studying for a while, I have already changed my business strategy!
- Dave Nash
- Asia Operations Manager, Kyani
- EMBA-Global Asia (2015)
Attending the EMBA-Global Asia programme was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
- Ivan Shyr
- Investment Director, Sussex Place Ventures
- EMBA-Global Asia (2011)
The creditability of my arguments and logic has increased co-workers' awareness of my opinions and suggestions.
I decided to apply for EMBA-Global Asia because I got to a point in my career where I was given the responsibility to make corporate-level business decisions that had an immediate impact on the future of the company. I felt I needed to expand my exposure to a broader set of tools and knowledge to analyse the situations thoroughly and make the most informed decisions. I hoped that EMBA-Global Asia would give me the well-rounded knowledge and skills to look at problems from a variety of angles so that I would be a better manager of people, processes and critical decisions.
The EMBA-Global Asia programme has had a direct impact on my day-to-day activities at my job. During meetings, I am able to provide concrete examples and reasoning for my suggestions. I often develop these suggestions based on analysis techniques referencing an idea from one of my professors. The creditability of my arguments and logic has increased co-workers' awareness of my opinions and suggestions. I am transitioning my role in the company to focus more on finance. Learning from classmates whom are already well established in the finance industry and have a wealth of practical knowledge has been invaluable.
The past year and a half has been life-changing. I've met amazing people, developed new friendships, and been given the opportunity to stretch my horizons and learn new skills. Looking back, I would make the same choice again.
- Igor Gorshunov
- CFO, Yugragazpererabotka
- EMBA-Global Asia (2015)
On the EMBA-Global Asia programme you feel like you are connected to something big and important. The programme puts you on the edge!
- Emma Lu
- HR Director (China), ConAgra Foods
- EMBA-Global Asia (2012)
I could continue working while studying and was able to adopt and implement what I learnt immediately.
I decided to apply to the EMBA-Global Asia programme to pursue a premium education and gain international exposure. I wanted to feel more confident in dealing with complex business situations, advance my career to the next level, and develop an alumni network that I can call upon for the rest of my life.
Due to the fact that I could continue working while studying, I was able to adopt and implement what I learnt immediately. I have found that my efficiency at work has greatly improved and I have also learnt to manage my time better to balance my work, study and other commitments.
In the long term, this programme will help me to accelerate my career development in two ways. One is advanced professional expertise, which enables me to be qualified for more challenging roles. The other is the rich global network, through which I have access to a diverse source of information and useful resources to help me make the right decision, find the right job or business opportunity.
- Anthony Ho-Yin Mak
- Director, Hong Kong Trade Development Council
- EMBA-Global Asia (2014)
Connecting three prestigious schools across three continents is a unique concept and there’s simply no parallel.
Having worked at Hong Kong Trade Development Council since the mid-1990s, in various locations, Anthony is now stationed in New York, promoting Hong Kong’s international financial and trading platform. Anthony was a Section Head Manager when he started the EMBA-Global Asia programme and was promoted to Director in New York after completing the programme in 2014.
I’m trilingual, and lived in France and Canada when I was young. This greatly influenced my global mind-set, giving me the desire to live and work in different countries. Before applying for the EMBA-Global Asia programme, I had already changed location several times to cities including Paris and Moscow, with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and I was looking at a possible move to London or New York. As the business world is increasingly dependent on international networks, I was interested in an education programme that would give me maximum global exposure. Once I’d found EMBA-Global Asia, I didn’t consider any other programme. Connecting three prestigious schools across three continents is a unique concept – there’s simply no parallel.
Relocating with ease
Without a doubt the EMBA-Global Asia programme was a major factor in my relocation from Hong Kong to New York. Having an MBA conferred jointly by London Business School, The University of Hong Kong and Columbia University added enormously to my academic credibility. My employer also appreciated the exposure and connections I’d gained in New York, as well as the benefits of having such an extensive alumni network. At first I was a little bit nervous about taking on a more senior role that would be quite different from what I had been doing in Hong Kong. However, with such a strong network of alumni and faculty support from all three Schools – I have the resources to help me. And although it can be daunting moving to a new city, having spent so much time in New York during the programme, I felt settled within the first few weeks of my relocation.
Completing the EMBA-Global programme was certainly a challenging experience – my career was already demanding, and the coursework was very intense. The communication from the three partner schools was excellent and essential in making my time away possible. The entire programme was exceptionally facilitated; study agendas were provided well in advance, so my colleagues and I knew precisely when I would be away, enabling us to work around those periods of absence.
My international assignment in Rio de Janeiro was an eye-opener. It was the first time I’d been to South America and I was fascinated by how Brazil’s emerging economy is vastly expanding. I had no idea that South America was so diverse – learning about the economic conditions across the different countries was extremely useful. Part of my new role in New York is to supervise the work of South American agents, so having a better understanding of the continent helps me to communicate more effectively.
Working with faculty
Being appointed as our class Academic Representative was an enriching experience. The diversity of the student group, whether it’s the different academic and professional backgrounds, areas of expertise or cultural upbringing, is one of the programme’s great strengths. My role as representative was to provide faculty with insights to the varying needs of our class. This fed directly into my line of work, as channelling different ideas and opinions, and bringing people together to facilitate communication is an important part of what I do.
On a professional level, the programme gave me a secure grounding in some essential hard skills that I’ve fed into my new role, including marketing aspects of offshore RMB business, fundraising and international M&A for Chinese enterprises. The electives I chose including entrepreneurial finance, corporate merger and restructuring, have given me crucial insights into corporate decision-making. On a personal level, the programme gave me a great deal of endorsement and opened many doors, allowing me to develop my career and build strong friendships around the world.