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Hong Kong skyline at dusk viewed from Kowloon, China. (Alamy)
Hong Kong skyline at dusk viewed from Kowloon, China. (Alamy)

What Hong Kong showed a Canadian EMBA Add to ...

Sandy (Sandra) Dias is Group Marketing Manager for L’Oreal Canada’s Kiehl's Since 1851 brand. While doing a Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA, she wrote a blog for The Globe and Mail’s Business Education hub.

Through the Kellogg-Schulich partnership, EMBA’s have an opportunity to attend amazing electives around the world. The program includes a two-week session at Kellogg in Evanston, Ill. (in the summer), a choice of a one-week global elective (Hong Kong with HKUST; Germany with WHU; Israel with Recanati; Kellogg Miami Campus; and, of course, Schulich at York University in Toronto). Kellogg-Schulich students have the added advantage of taking their Module 4 electives during six alternating weekends at Kellogg in Evanston.

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A majority of my cohort and I chose the Hong Kong elective at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) in Kowloon. Reconnecting with a majority of the International Cohorts I had met at Kellogg reminded me of the exhilarating feelings we had when we were young children returning to camp after a long year away. The opportunity to connect again with the network we had formed at Kellogg over the summer was so special. We were no longer greeting peers but instead good friends with whom we had forged lasting relationships

HKUST is a modern campus set on the seaside in Kowloon, with majestic views over the ocean. Beyond the classes, I believe the appeal to students is HKUST is both the furthest location from North America, among the top-ranked EMBA programs in the world, and is 30 minutes outside of one of the most vibrant and exciting business centres in Asia: Hong Kong.

For many it offered an opportunity to visit a part of the world they had never been to, for others it was an opportunity to seek out new business or employment opportunities. Many tacked on additional personal travel (Shanghai, Beijing or Macau) or leveraged their trip to secure business meetings (Singapore, Malaysia and India).

As for our hosts, The Kellogg-HKUST Students lived up to their reputation of hosting incredible events. We enjoyed a spectacular evening at the exclusive Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club, founded in 1884; enjoyed drinks and amazing views off the patios of Ozone at the Ritz Carleton (on the 118th floor, and the tallest bar in Asia); blew off steam and reconnected with peers many a night at Lan Kwai Fong - a famous bar street in Hong Kong; enjoyed some shopping in Times Square (best spot to spoil yourself with a pre-graduation gift watch) and the famous blinding Night Ladies Market; visited the Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha on Lantau Island; and of course had a memorable boat ride and subsequent dinner in a fishing village called Sai King where every fish and seafood known to man was displayed in tanks, and later enjoyed in a private dining room overlooking the harbour.

These social moments allowed us to solidify existing connections, or make new ones: over laughter, over beers, over cigars, or simply taking in the views. This program is such a privilege: To be seated at a table with an entrepreneur from Germany, a junior mining executive from Canada, a financial adviser from Asia, an executive recruiter from Korea, and an operations executive from Italy is daunting. However, this program makes it seem effortlessly normal. And these are the experts you will call on when you graduate to give you advice, seek counsel, share best practices, start businesses with, or reach out for employment, should your circumstances change. It’s through these conversations that I began to understand my own capabilities and capacity to move my career forward. It was also through these conversations that I was also reassured that I would forever have a group of colleagues whom I could rely on in the future. Finally, it is through these conversations that I gained the courage, after 10 years, to make a recent change in my career, a move to marketing (still within L’Oreal) and away from sales.

If you can afford it, and a few have been able to, take as many global electives as you can. Many of my peers will have completed more than one international trip and many are attempting three. I am opting to do a global elective out of Kellogg called GIM. It is an elective that will take me to Brazil and Chile for a project - along with 50 other students - and promises to be an experience of a lifetime.

After this, the Kellogg-Schulich cohort began its six alternating weekends at Evanston. This time, it was only the Canadians (25 of us) descending onto the Evanston campus - I hope they are looking as much forward to us arriving as we are to attending.

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