Kaifeng is now working as the Portfolio Strategy Director at Morgan Stanley, a top tier financial institution. In this interview, Kaifeng shares with us his MBA journey and how it equips him for the challenges he has encountered, especially during the pandemic. He will also tell us about his method for managing his time between his hectic work schedule, frenetic studies and personal life.
1) Can you please share your background with us?
I work within the Corporate Real Estate function as the Portfolio and Transaction Manager at Morgan Stanley and look after the firm’s 2 million occupied real estate footprint in Asia. I will soon be celebrating my fifth year with the firm.
2) Why did you choose to take the MBA with the HKU Business School? And why undertake the part-time programme?
Hong Kong is where Eastern and Western culture meet and gel together. Hong Kong is second to none when you are discussing which city is best to conduct business between the East and West.
It was a no-brainer to choose to study and to develop my business skill sets, at HKU as the university is the most well-established in Hong Kong and houses the best talent in the region. I have 3 friends who had studied at the HKU Business School before me and each of them gave me positive feedback about the programme. The part-time programme suited me the most as I was able to continue earning my salary to fund my participation in the programme.
3) Can you share with us how the programme has equipped you for your current role?
I very much appreciate the positive intent and mentality of the teaching staff. The modules on “Business Ethics and Executive Leadership” have so far been the most impactful. The lecturers nurture ethical leaders and we were given many real-life business case studies from various industries on which to apply the knowledge we have acquired from the lectures and the face-to-face sharing events. The face-to-face sharing events broadened my horizons as I was able to interact with leaders from different backgrounds that are outside of my core business expertise of real estate.
4) Would you mind sharing with us the challenges you come across with your job, especially during the difficult time of the global pandemic?
The best, or perhaps worst, the gift was the ability to work from home. I appreciate the fact that I could get out of bed five minutes before my morning meetings began and then have my breakfast on the calls that I don’t speak much on. I have not seen my colleagues for a very long time, and the lack of social interaction almost resulted in me developing depression in early 2020. The depression came with shoulder and back pain and a lack of exercise so I felt my health was being compromised.
5) How has the MBA helped you face these challenges?
Thanks to the vigorous weekend teaching programme I achieved a record of continuous working and studying for a 15-day period (non-stop) which in turn helped me to prepare for quarantine when I entered the Mainland in late Jan 2021.
6) Given the intensity of the MBA programme, how do you manage your time between work, study and personal life?
There were so many helpful tips given by some of the lecturers; one example was on time management by David Lee on the Business Ethics course which allows me to examine my time spent in a typical week to find improvements and efficiencies. This is turn allowed me to focus my time on the most important areas in my life and career.
Secondly, it’s the experience that counts. Experiences such as learning with like-minded individuals so that we can grow and improve together. I was lucky to have a strong team spirit on the part-time programme with some wonderful personalities. It was great to hang out with the team after the lectures.
7) Plenty of our applicants would like to use the MBA as a door for career change, or to accelerate current careers… Is there any advice you could give to aspirants?
My thinking is that you shouldn’t use the MBA as only a stepping stone or just as a tool for advancement because you will be amazed by the amount of exposure you get from unexpected places. For me it was all about the learning process and the overall experience. I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I do.