Authors: Ekta Kulhare, Claire Borchers (Intake 2019)
One of the things we love about our school is the warm and welcoming alumni community. This was very evident in the recent General Management club event where two HKUST alumni from the 2017 intake were invited to share their MBA experience with us and explain how they made the most out of it. We met at Pong cafe at Central. Calvin Loke, currently working as HR Director for MetLife Insurance, and Akhil Nair, currently working as supply chain manager for Methanex, met us and enthusiastically shared their journeys. We were awed by their charismatic personalities and left the meeting with many new insights and ideas we could implement in our own MBA journeys.
Both Calvin and Akhil had similar goals during their MBA – they both wanted to focus on soft skills development especially because they were aiming for general management roles in the long run. “Your managerial skills, rather than your technical skills, are what help you rise in a rapidly evolving and dynamic organization.”
Calvin especially loved the course “Organizational behaviour” as it helped him understand the essence of a general management role, how companies work and how to deal with people effectively. He also advised us to take courses such as “Managerial Communications” very seriously as they can help to enhance presentation and public speaking skills; advice we have been consistently receiving from our alumni. Akhil also very intentionally picked courses that focused on communication and leadership and stressed the importance of these skills in all industries.
They also spoke about the value of building a strong network with our classmates. They both decided to join the MBAA not only for personal development but also to create and build this network and provide support for their classmates, who in turn kept them motivated through the challenges. Investing effort in building relationships with your class is important and “The bonds that you form during MBA really play out after the program.” Both have been very proactive in helping their classmates and see them as a support system rather than competition.
Their batch had several volunteers for the Global MBA challenge during which they had the opportunity to meet MBA students from around the world. “Your constant interaction with your classmates and professors will help build the required soft skills but you need to step out of school and meet the larger community.”
Both Calvin and Akhil are great examples of people who network very effectively although their approach to networking is quite different. While Calvin believes in building personal connections and prefers one-on-one meetings, Akhil loves networking in large groups. If your approach is more like Calvin’s, he suggests that you recognize the need to build a genuine personal connection. A key takeaway was that while trying to build these connections, make sure to tell the person how he/she can benefit from meeting you. It must be a two-way street!
To conclude, here are some golden words: “Although we are a very young school with a small class size, we are ranked in par with some of the best MBA schools in the world, testifying that we have great potential!”
A big shout-out to the general management club cabinet members for organizing this great meeting and big thanks to Calvin and Akhil for giving us their precious time!