Charles Chou of Vancouver is an MBA candidate at the University of Cambridge's Judge Business School in Britain. Prior to starting his graduate studies, the Taiwanese-born Canadian worked at Orbis Access, a retail venture at Bermuda-based global investment manager Orbis Investment Management. During his time at Orbis, Charles was responsible for a variety of projects ranging from business strategy and operations and to corporate finance. Prior, he worked as a senior associate at KPMG LLP in Vancouver. Charles holds a bachelor of business administration from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., and was class valedictorian. He is a chartered professional accountant (CPA – CA) and is the recipient of the City of Richmond's Top 30 under 30 Leaders award. This is his first post for MBA Diary.
In a matter of days, I will be commencing my MBA studies at the Judge Business School. As I completed the final days at work, I couldn't help but look forward to this incredible journey that I am about to begin. To study at one of the best MBA programs in the world, at a top-tier university such as Cambridge, has been a long-term personal goal of mine and the feeling of it actually happening is simply phenomenal.
One of the most frequent questions I received from my friends and colleagues after announcing my decision to study at Cambridge is: "What made you choose Cambridge specifically?" I often respond to this question by reflecting on the three key considerations that I held dearly while going through the MBA application process.
For those of you who are considering applying to business school, I highly encourage you to complete the following exercise and ask yourself honestly, early on in the process, what you truly want from your MBA education. (Is it brand recognition, an alumni network, opportunity for hands-on projects or internships, for example?) This will often help narrow down your choices of schools and programs and clarify your thoughts.
When starting out on my MBA application, I summarized my goal into a single sentence – attend a top-tier, one-year MBA program that provides strong international exposure and practical hands-on learning opportunities.
Given my background in business and professional training as a chartered professional accountant, I knew that I wanted a program lasting one year rather than two. By doing a year-long program, I will minimize the opportunity cost (salary forgone during the year of my full-time studies) and still be able to gain the full MBA learning that I seek.
Second, I was specifically looking to leverage the time when I am in business school to expand and diversify my academic, professional and social experiences outside of North America. Given the prevalence of globalization, it is important for aspiring business leaders, such as myself, to develop the skills to lead and work with people from all corners of the world. Doing an MBA abroad will help tremendously.
Last, but not the least, as a strong believer that the best way to learn is by doing, I specifically looked for opportunities to apply in-class learning to the real world. One of the traditional disadvantages of going through a one-year MBA is the lack of practicum and internship opportunities. But I particularly wanted to go for an MBA that allowed me to have the opportunity to work with real companies.
Using these considerations as my compass for decision-making, I came to the conclusion that Cambridge is the best fit for me. The Cambridge MBA program will offer me the international diversity and recognition that I seek in my MBA education. As an elite business school that is embedded within the broader Cambridge University, I will not only study with a group of wildly talented individuals but also be able to enjoy the benefits of having first-hand access to world renowned lecturers and fellow students. While the MBA program is one year long, I will have the opportunity to practise my in-class learning through three unique projects: Cambridge Venture Project (CVP), Global Consulting Project and Capstone Project. The school's close ties and network with the startups and established companies in the so-called Silicon Fen, a cluster of high-tech ventures around Cambridge, will also be invaluable and add to my growing interest in technology startups.
As I wind down my days in Vancouver, I am looking forward to embarking on an exciting journey at Cambridge and I invite you to follow my trials and tribulations at Cambridge through this blog.