Working in one of the largest global retail groups as a regional procurement specialist, Vladimir Emmer (Class of 2022) was supposed to be heavily involved in international travel to meet with different suppliers and to build robust relationships. However, the pandemic restricted his travel while working from home changed his daily work patterns. In this interview Vladimir will share with us the challenges he has encountered since Covid-19 hit, and how HKU’s MBA programme has helped him to embrace the pandemic related challenges.
My name is Vladimir Emmer and I’m originally from the Czech Republic. I have a civil engineering background and have been living in Asia since 2010, working on various large-scale commercial developments in China, Singapore, and Macau. I moved to Hong Kong in 2016 to work for a global retail brand as a regional construction manager and then later on a facility manager. Today I am employed as a regional procurement specialist for the Greater China Expansion team.
The main reason for me joining the HKU Business School’s MBA in 2020 was to expand my knowledge and to refresh my career opportunities in the years to come.
- Procurement is known as one of the fastest growing careers in the world but is known to be very challenging. Could you please share with us any challenges you have come across at work?
Recently, our team in Greater China went through a reorganisation with the aim to streamline functions and to create a more effective, agile organisation to adapt better to the changing retail environment. As part of this change the new role of regional procurement specialist was create. and given my cross-functional experience, I was asked to take this role and help to set up the way of working going forward.
2. Would you mind telling us why you choose to do a part-time MBA? And why did you choose The University of Hong Kong?
For me, the main reason for beginning MBA studies was to refresh my knowledge and to expand my horizons and opportunities, as working in the same industry and company for years can make you lose your focus and your career can become less challenging. I wanted to challenge myself, to improve and hopefully to find some inspiration for my future career. After thorough research, I decided on the HKU Business School’s MBA. It is an excellent school with great rankings, and moreover its possibility to take the weekdays part-time programme in the HKU’s Admiralty Town Centre campus which suits me as it allows me to better manage my time in terms of my work, life and family balance.
3. Has Covid affected your role?
Covid had a great impact on both the industry I am working in and has greatly affected how we work. Given my previous responsibility for teams in Greater China, it was normal for me to travel frequently to visit overseas offices and meet teams in person. I travelled every other week and visited different parts of China. That changed overnight and we all had to learn how to implement and utilise technologies better in our daily work. It has had its advantages and accelerated the implementation of new systems but has also detached some people personally. Ultimately, the pandemic brought me to my new role.
4. Could you share with us if HKU MBA has equipped you for the challenges you mentioned?
The MBA is providing a lot of learning opportunities, insights and networking that will be beneficial to my professional life. Frankly speaking, the offering is so great that it is challenging to follow up with everything I would like to do. The leadership talks (in class or online) are excellent and are an inspirational way to learn insights into a successful leaders’ journey and their ways of thinking. One particular subject I would like to mention is the “Business Ethics” course by Professor David Lee. It was a very insightful topic which made everyone think about the ethical challenges faced in business, as well as in your personal life.
5. Do you think HKU MBA has helped to expand your network?
The HKU MBA is surely expanding my network and I have met a number of great classmates from different industries during the first year of my studies. I am sure that it would be better if we weren’t living through a pandemic, with all the social distancing measures in place. We all certainly hope that there will be greater networking opportunities next year when we are able to meet face to face again.
6. What advice would you give to the MBA aspirants who would like to use the MBA to accelerate their career, or perhaps even to change it?
I think if you have the desire to study an MBA then the HKU Business School’s MBA is definitely the one to consider. You should prepare yourself for a challenging and demanding year (or two depending on what modules you take), with intense classes and workload. However the sense of progress and personal development is very rewarding. It will also be lots of fun but most importantly you are going to meet some great people along the way, all of which when combined will have a great influence on your future career plans.