Meet HKU Business School’s MBA Class Of 2021

Hong Kong only covers 427 square miles – and they make every inch count!

In the 19th century, the “Pearl of the Orient” was just a fishing village with few resources besides a harbor and a vision. Over generations, the former colony built on this advantage. Eventually, Hong Kong became the Gateway to China, a free market haven where East meets West – a place where ancient customs and cutting edge practices enrich each other.

Home to 7.5 million people, Hong Kong is an investment and trade hub with a per capita GDP that’s five times larger than China. The region’s secret? Think minimal regulation, vibrant banking culture, and a legal system that has enshrined contracts and property rights. The City of Life ranks alongside New York and London as global financial centers, boasting its own stock exchange and currency. In fact, nearly two-thirds of all foreign direct investment to China flows through Hong Kong. Considering its premium location and commercial clout, many multinationals maintain their regional headquarters there, including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, IBM, Prudential, and FedEx. Let’s not forget entrepreneurship; Hong Kong startups have skyrocketed by 424% since 2014 according to StartmeupHK.

University of Hong Kong – Main Campus


That includes the HKU Business School, which ranks among the top universities in Asia in U.S. News & World Report. Here, you’ll find Hong Kong University Business School, a one-year MBA program grounded in the 3 I’s:  Internationalism, Innovation, and Interdisciplinary. Like Hong Kong, the HKU MBA combines the best of two worlds, taking a deep dive into business fundamentals while immersing students in Asian-Pacific business practices. This gives the program a distinct advantage over other business schools, says Laura Hawxhurst, a member of the Class of 2021 who previously headed up political advocacy and engagement at CVS Health.

Being in the middle of historic Hong Kong as the Greater Bay Area expands – with opportunities to study in mainland China, the US, or the UK – is an incredible opportunity,” she explains. “Hong Kong is a richly diverse city at the center of business and culture. HKU offers a unique experience to study business where business happens and expand our networks and experiences to other international locations.”

Enterprise, energy, influence, and imagination – that’s Hong Kong in essence. In the words of author Jonathan Gash, Hong Kong has a “knack of building where others wouldn’t dare.” You could say the same about MBAs – students who aren’t afraid to delve and disrupt. In Hong Kong, they’ll find the future – cash-free living and rapid public transit – the kind they can help shape and perfect. At the HKU MBA, they’ll find a partner with the connections and credibility to open doors to experts and employers alike.


“Hong Kong has long been known as the bridge between the east and the west,” adds Dr. Sangeeta Bhuyan, a researcher in the university’s School of Dentistry. “It’s a world city, a global financial hub and has a unique personality. HKU Business School has a deep-rooted network within HK community and this is demonstrated by all the workshops and guest lectures that have been carried out by the career development team. It has extended my network and opened exciting career pathways.”

That’s not to say Dr. Bhuyan had a dull pathway before joining the Class of 2021. After all, she was charged with enhancing the university’s dental education. This included creating digital content that fit an e-learning platform and tapped into a variety of learning styles. Impressed? Just ask Muhammed Manko how he got his promotion? Spoiler alert: the physicist-turned-banker resolved a bad loan worth a billion dollars. If you’re looking for grace under pressure, that would be Laura Hawxhurst’s differentiator. Before she entered policy creation and advocacy, she was a certified emergency medical technician – a job she started when she was just 16 years-old!

Towncentre Lecture Theatre

Looking for a woman who can do it all? Introducing Sandhya Narayanan. A chartered accountant by trade, she transitioned into being an entrepreneur. Her social venture, HashHackCode, provides education and mentorship to neurodiverse individuals with challenges like autism and Asperger. In her spare time, Narayanan works as a freelance writer with a very specific bent.

“I write stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” she tells P&Q. “I listen to candid tales of hard work and sacrifice from entrepreneurs, artists, teachers, and NGOs. To-date I have featured over 70 entrepreneurs and individual achievers in web publications. This has helped me believe in a cause bigger than myself.”


That’s an instinct that Narayanan shares with her classmates. Kenneth Jee, who brings a passion for data and healthcare to business school, describes the Class of 2021 as very driven. “Whether it is participating in spirited class discussions, collaborating on group projects, or seeking to further develop individual hard and soft skills, my classmates are all equally driven. As we seek to grow and learn together through the MBA program, I am constantly inspired by this passionate drive consistently shown by my MBA cohort.”

Like many class members, Molly Scott touts the program’s diversity. A “classic Canadian,” Scott notes that her last project group included peers from India, Finland, Switzerland, China, and Hong Kong. However the geographic differences were only part of the recipe for fostering unforgettable class discussions, observes Laura Hawxhurst.

“It is easy to focus on the diversity of our nationalities, but our diversity of opinion and background is equally important. It is an honor to learn from my classmates every day in our class discussions and projects. The insights we gain from different socio-economic backgrounds, family lives, education styles, and work experiences are just as important as the course material.”

Student cyberport group work


Despite these differences, adds Hawxhurst, the class has been able to jell into high-performing teams. “We have a heavy course load and being able to transform our projects from group work to true teamwork has been extremely helpful and productive. We are able to rely on each other’s strengths and differences depending on the project which allows us to learn from each other and get more out of each assignment. Every class requires active participation and team presentations, which facilitates all students to practice public speaking and pitching in a supportive and constructive environment.”

That hasn’t been easy with the advent of COVID-19. Dr. Sangeeta Bhuyan, for one, credits the program’s faculty and staff for holding the class together during unprecedented times. “They have been resilient and have supported the students to create a safe and risk-free learning environment. From hybrid to face-to-face classes, the professors have been able to bring energy and care in equal amounts to keep the students engaged and support effective learning.”

That’s the Class of 2021 from the ground level. Overall, the class includes 51 MBA candidates, with 60.8% of the class hailing from outside China. In fact, there are 17 countries represented in the class, the majority (57%) being women. On average, the class scored a 640 GMAT (650 median). The HKU MBA also accepts GRE scores and 17.6% of the class opted for this pathway.


In terms of professional experience, 23% of the class last worked in Accounting and Banking Finance. General Management accounts for 18% of the class, as does Sales and Marketing. Operations (13%), Consulting (12%), Engineering (8%), Professional Services (6%), and Other Professions (2%) round out the class.

Looking ahead, the Class of 2021’s prospects appear bright. The HKU MBA produced a 90% employment rate with the 2018 and 2019 classes. That happened with 75% of students changing job functions and 60% shifting to a different industry. Nearly half remained in Hong Kong, while another 10% moved to mainland China. The largest percentage of graduates – 35% – chose to work in Financial Services, with Consulting (18%), Consumer Goods (13%), and Technology (13%) also attracting larger shares of these classes. In the end, these graduates landed jobs with companies as diverse as Alibaba, McKinsey, Morgan Stanley, and Tiffany.

Go to Page 2 for 9 in-depth profiles of  Class of 2021 members. 

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.