MBA Connect Story: To Stand Out
Johnston Lo (Part-time Class of 2014)
Associate Director, Investment Services Department at BOC International
Climbing the career ladder often brings a slew of problems to freshly minted managers. While they already have considerable on-the-job experience, they may lack enough management experience to gain their team’s full cooperation. And when it comes to changing jobs or getting a promotion, they need something extra on their CVs to stand out.
After six years of hard work, that is how Johnston Lo, Associate Director, Investment Services Department, Equity Sales and Research Division, BOC International felt in his previous job.
“I felt that my career slowed,” he says. “My social network stopped expanding and I wanted to meet new people. I also needed to learn more about different industries for my work,” he says.
Looking into the options for doing an MBA, CUHK attracted him as he already had a BBA in Finance from the university and knew their high standards. He also appreciated the convenient location for the classes at the MBA Town Center located in Central. In addition, he discovered that several of his superiors had MBAs from CUHK, which made him stand out and created a special bond between them with a range of topics for discussion.
Anybody can read management books, but that cannot replace doing an MBA. For Johnston, it was important to learn the foundations but even more important to have developed strong friendships with his classmates. They are 12 to 13 high achievers who still meet up every month and support each other in their professional and personal lives.
One of them, for example, worked in a family business and Johnston could get a good understanding from him of how family businesses decide on investing into funds. This insight later helped him to give out-of-the-box advice to his clients.
“It is not about the textbooks, it is about personal development, building up your confidence, learning critical thinking and networking,” he says.
He also received important guidance on management and leadership. Giving staff positive feedback and encouragement, treating them as good friends, asking questions and listening to what they have to say are the preliminary steps. These have to be followed up by making relevant adjustments in the requirements and trying to help them solve their problems.
“A good leader has to have a very positive image. If you lack any of the elements, they won’t follow you,” he says, explaining that leadership is a lifetime practice of making innovative decisions, which can create new ways for others to follow.
Practical examples and summaries from case studies, and valuable tips from guest speakers’ sharing made it easy for him to remember practices. Guest speakers are all very successful business people who point students in the right direction, based on their long experience. In fact, even the classmates are accomplished and will share their best experiences in their careers and personal lives.
“The professors are very eager to teach and willing to help you in your work and personal life. They are very knowledgeable and want to share their knowledge to help you become a better person,” Johnston says. “That is why the two-year program is worth more than 10 years’ work experience.”
A year later Johnston changed jobs and joined BOC International, a bank with a much bigger potential than his previous employer. He is convinced that his MBA contributed to the success of his job interview.
He says: “The first impression is very important. Seeing that you have an MBA from a renowned university, your interviewee will know that you have a purpose in life, have sacrificed a lot and are willing to work hard for what you want to achieve.”