HKUST Business School - World Bachelor in Business Program Talk (2022 intake)
Welcome, my name is Stephen Nason. I am the Director of the World Bachelor in Business program here at HKUST. And I would like to introduce you to one of the most exciting programs that I know of. This is the structure of the World Bachelor in Business program.
The first year everybody spends the first year at the University of Southern California. The second year the whole class comes to Hong Kong here at HKUST. The third year the class goes to the University of Bocconi in Milan, Italy. The final year they go back to whichever university they like the most or perhaps where they want to start their career.
And when the students graduate, they get three degrees. They get the same USC degree, like everyone else from USC, the same Bocconi degree like everyone else from Bocconi and the same HKUST degree like everyone else at HKUST. It's the only one of its kind, program, like this that I know of in the world. So let me tell you about what WBB stands for. WBB has an elite curriculum, a unique community, diverse cultures, and provides a career head start. I will talk about each of this a little bit more details So elite curriculum As I said, the first year the whole class spends at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
University of Southern California, USC, has one of the best undergraduate business schools in the US, in North America, they are particularly well known for their entrepreneurship, innovation, social responsibility, as well of course their film school. Beautiful campus and one unique aspect of USC is that they have a very tight cohesive alumni network. When you join USC, you are part of the Trojan family for life. Every city you go to, anywhere in the world there will be other Trojans in the USC alumni club. HKUST, one of the top universities here in Asia.
We are particularly well known here for our business school, finance expertise in greater china and all throughout Asia. Also you may have heard our Executive MBA program has been ranked number one in the world for eight of the last ten years. Our MBA program has been ranked top 20 in the world last ten years in a row. Our undergraduate programs are also very highly ranked in terms of career opportunities. The third year at Bocconi University in Milan. Milan, a finance and fashion center
not just for Italy but all of Europe and very strong expertise in consulting as well. Strong alumni tie throughout Europe, Africa, Middle East. This is the curriculum for WBB.
These are the set of the classes you would take as a WBB student. You don’t need to look at all of these, a few that I would like to focus on that are really unique for WBB. First, first year at USC. Global Social Impact, this is a really nice course. The way this course works is the class is divided into teams. Each team is connected with a client - a NGO a non-governmental organization, in the past it's always been a country in Latin America, and the team works with that client to solve that client's problems.
First they take a semester where they learn about the client country, whether it's Brazil, Argentina, Chile. They learn about the business environment in that country. They learn about the client and the clients’ problems. They interview the clients and perhaps customers, whoever else is relevant. They develop a strategic recommendation for their client, that is just the first step. The next step is now the whole class will travel to that country, whether it's Brazil or Chile. The team will meet the executives from their client
do additional research in the clients’ home country and then present their recommendations to executives from the client company. This is really a great opportunity, one of the best things that WBB does and that’s just the first year. The second year they come to HKUST and at HKUST we have different kinds of experiential set of activities. We go to a lot of business case competitions, the way these case competitions work is different, universities all over the world take turns holding their own competition and the competitions usually involve client companies, companies like Google or Amazon who have a problem - they have a real problem - a current problem - that they don’t know how to solve. Universities hosting these competitions write up this problem with the client company as a business case.
They bring in teams of students from all over the world to analyze this case and present the recommendations back to executives from the client company. The picture you see here in the middle of your screen is a team that I advised last year. The case was at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. The team, they won their first divisional round, they won the second round, they got the best presenter award, they won the final round and were the overall champions - it was a really fun opportunity to be involved in and we go to several such case competitions every year. The third picture highlights other experiential experiences we do. We send teams on study trips all over the world.
While they are at HKUST, the study trips are in Asia. Every year we have gone to Japan. This is a picture of a team that has gone on a study trip to Japan, they rung the bell in the stock exchange, they went to companies in Japan to learn more about the companies. The WBB students have also gone to Shenzhen, we bring speakers from companies to talk to the students here at HKUST. What you see from this slide - is a set of experiential activities,
a set of real world experiences that allows students to take their classroom experiences, combine it with real world experiences to develop solutions, solutions that real organizations face. WBB is also a unique community. This is where the WBB students come from, every dot here represents a location where WBB students have come from. This is where the WBB students have gone to work.
This is where we have taken the WBB students on study tours or experiential activities. This is the map of WBB. What you can see from this map is WBB is intensely rigorously international. Most business programs at universities say they are international and they do some international stuff but WBB is more intensely rigorously international than any program that I know of at least. Let me give you an example, we are not international for the sake of being international, we are international for solving business problems.
A couple years ago, one of the WBB students here at HKUST, his second year he came to HKUST and he loved his first year at University of Southern California. All he could talk about was how great USC was and all of his friends and stuff. I also graduated from USC, and I got my PHD from the University of Southern California, so I like USC too. So we spent a lot of time talking about USC and he told me he was gonna go back to USC over Christmas vacation to see his friends and visit and how much he was looking forward to it. Okay, so the semester ends, the student goes back to USC. In the spring, first day of class in February, he comes back, he’s in my class and I ask him “How was your trip to USC?” and he looked at me with a little bit strange expression on his face.
He said “the truth was, you know it was good, but it was weird”. And I said “really, why?”. He said “Well, I went back, met my friends, old friends. I had fun, but they’re all the same, they’re still just the same, ”I said “Well come on, what did you expect? You have only been gone for five months?” He said “Ya, they are still the same, but in WBB we are all so different.”
And to me this story captures what WBB is all about, even in just the first year and a half. The WBB students have had so many different experiences. Different experiences with different kinds of real world experiences on different continents that they had already developed differently. They had more experience solving difficult problems and they were able to translate that into solutions for real world companies. WBB students had matured beyond their years. Alright, now as should be obvious by now, WBB is all about diverse cultures. In WBB, you will immerse yourself in diverse cultures living, and working alongside local students.
In WBB, the class travels together, the class that is made up of people from all over the world, you will have roommates of different cultures and you will be living with these people from diverse cultures in a different location interacting with local students from the culture wherever you live. Interacting with them in the classroom, interacting with them in social activities, and student clubs, interacting them in career activities and with advisors, so it is a very immersive intercultural international experience. All of these help provide a real career head start.
Remember – WBB is three universities and you are a full time student at each of these universities and you get a degree from each of these universities. What this means is that you have three times the career tools as students at most universities. You can use the career services from University of Southern California, from HKUST, from Bocconi University. You can use the career fairs from each of these universities.
You can use the employer and industry talks and company visits from each of these universities. Three times the opportunities from three different universities, and more than that We have several career resources tailored just for WBB students. Let me give you an example, Joseph is a WBB student in our very first batch. He is a Hong Kong kid, and his fourth year he decided to come back to Hong Kong, come back to HKUST because he wanted to start his career in this area. He looked around and he decided he wanted his career to be at Oliver Wyman, the consulting firm.
Oliver Wyman - this was the best fit for him. But he was in our first batch of WBB students, we did not have WBB alumni yet. Now we have lots of WBB alumni, but back then we didn't. But Joseph was able to leverage the resources from the different schools. He was able to work with the head of the consulting club from Bocconi on how to crack cases in consulting company interviews - because when you interview at a consulting company, they usually give you a case and they give you thirty minutes to crack the case and to present your recommendations, so he worked on developing his skills with the head of Bocconi Consulting club and he wanted to find out more about Oliver Wyman. Even though WBB didn't have alumni yet,
HKUST has lots of alumni all over the world. In fact, we have alumni at Oliver Wyman and we were able to connect him with an alumnus at Oliver Wyman. So he just called up this guy, he said “Hi I am Joseph, I am a current HKUST student, majoring in WBB and I am considering a career at Oliver Wyman. Would you be willing to talk with me?” and the guy said yes and they started talking. They talked about their shared experiences at HKUST. He said “Oh ya, you had Professor Nason for some of your classes too.
I know - he thinks he is funny”, and they shared experiences, and then he asked them about Oliver Wyman and he found out what Oliver Wyman is about, what Oliver Wyman is looking for in a candidate and this reinforced Joseph’s belief that he is personally a good fit for Oliver Wyman. Not only that, he was able to find out the specific things, the structure, the interview process at Oliver Wyman, what they are looking for, all of this prepared him for the interviews at Oliver Wyman and it turned out that his contact at Oliver Wyman was even a panelist in the first round of interviews. Joseph made it through the first round, second round, third round. Oliver Wyman ended up making him an offer and Joseph accepted. He got his career job. This is an example of how WBB provided a lot of the resources, not just in terms of the opportunities you can see, he worked in internships in three different continents. Not just in the course concepts, but also with alumni with the different universities to help him succeed.
So by the end of Year 3, 100% of the WBB students have done an internship or start up. In fact, 70% have done internships in more than two countries . Most have done internships in three continents. All these have allowed our alumni to work in over 30 different countries around the world. WBB students get jobs in a lot of different types of business, most of them, over half go into management consulting or finance. We don’t train specifically for that but the WBB training does help develop students' critical thinking skills which is particularly sought after in investment banking and management consulting firms, and they offer nice salaries too, so a lot of WBB students go that route.
But they also go in all sorts of different routes. They go into technology, marketing, non-profits and even, travel. These are some of the firms WBB students have taken positions in. Tech firms, firms like Amazon, Alibaba, SpaceX. Financial Service firms the big I-banks like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley.
Commercial banks like Bank of China, Bank of America. Consumer goods, Consulting, the big consulting firms like Bain, McKinsey, BCG, and even entertainment, Discovery, Warner Brothers, even sports companies. Let me give you a story about a different pathway. Two WBB students Federico and Raphael, Year 1 at University of Southern California, they were both freshmen. Federico was working for a couple of different small startups and he became frustrated, frustrated when he hired people because there didn't seem to be an objective and unbiased way to really identify good candidates, just looking at the resume had so many problems- and there were structural biases that worked against minorities or people of color. He mentioned this idea to his friend Raphael that was working in a firm that was involved in AI and they decided to create their own platform Yobs.
Yobs - it uses AI to help identify candidates in an unbiased way that would be a good fit for the job. They pitched their idea, they didn't get any money. They tried to go to several accelerator programs, they failed, failed again, failed again, but USC supported them, HKUST supported them. They had a mentor at USC who helped support them. They decided to devote 40 hours a week to running their new start up out of Raphael's dorm room and within a couple years they had secured over 1.5 million US in funding, they have clients and Fortune 500 companies.
They graduated. They are now living and working full time in Los Angeles in their company and advising other startups and WBB students. They took a different pathway than the corporate, entrepreneurship.
WBB and the resources of the three universities helped prepare them for this. Another one of the WBB students, Analyst at Goldman. He is an American kid but through WBB he had an opportunity not just to live and study on three continents, but to work on social impact projects in Brazil and in Ghana in Africa. Internships in three different continents, case competitions in New Zealand and a lot of fun vacations. WBB students on the weekends tend to do a lot of traveling and fun vacations. He told us that “WBB is the absolute greatest program in existence if you are seeking global opportunities”.
So WBB – three top universities, three continents, three degrees, one unparalleled experience. Thank you very much. I hope to see you in the WBB program.
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