Academic Background

Prof. Joon Nak Choi, Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Management, HKUST Business School 

Prof. Joon Nak Choi (JC)

It takes the best teachers to bring out the best in students. Our faculty includes renowned scholars from prestigious global institutions, as well as business leaders with experience at leading companies. Sharing their valuable insights and real-life business experience, they will challenge you and inspire you to make a lasting difference. Moreover, our close-knit classes serve valuable and in-depth interactions between our faculty members and students.  

With that being said, we welcome you to tap into the expertise of Prof. Joon Nak Choi (JC), Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Management of HKUST Business School. He shares his insights into teaching techniques and advice for prospective students interested in pursuing an MBA at HKUST Business School. 


JC observes that too often, there is a bridge that needs to be built between two worlds: the world of the classroom with collaborative discussions, book learning, and case studies; and the world of the practitioner and entrepreneur, where the focus has to be upon expediting deliverables quickly, often leaving little time to think. It becomes a cycle of “acting, reacting, and responding to something that you are reacting to”. This leads you to lose sight of the bigger picture. 

To address this, JC introduces the concept of the 'Helicopter Methodology,' which combines classroom learning with practical experience. Imagine yourself in a helicopter hovering above a forest, looking for forest fires. When you see a forest fire, you will descend from the helicopter with a team of firefighters to extinguish the fire before you fly back up in the helicopter, giving you a high-level perspective.  


JC believes that there are three pitfalls to avoid: the traditional top-down academic classroom, simply inviting guest speakers from various backgrounds, and an unstructured academic classroom. 

The traditional approach to learning in academic classrooms is often top-down, with teachers delivering lectures and students expected to take notes, memorize, and reproduce information. While this method may enhance memorization skills, its effectiveness in other areas may not be very relevant. “I think most students, especially at the MBA level, would agree that what you learn in these types of learning environments is not always relevant.” said JC. 

The approach JC uses to mitigate these pitfalls is taking the combination of industry experience and having a structured academic classroom. JC teaches you the entire process from start to finish. Each student is assigned a project for which they are responsible. JC breaks down this project into manageable tasks, which are assigned as weekly homework. He lectures upon the tools and techniques needed for these weekly assignments, before you apply them towards your own project. Then, you will present your progress to JC and your classmates. Once JC approves your progress, you will move on to the next step. By the end of the semester, you will have completed the entire project, step-by-step. This approach will provide you with a thorough understanding of the entire process, enabling you to apply it in a professional setting. 

Prof. JC is eagerly anticipating the opportunity to teach this process during his course in the coming spring semester.  


With some highlights of the HKUST MBA Program being the #1 ranked MBA in Asia by Bloomberg Businessweek Best Business School 2023-24, #2 World's Top 600+ Young Universities, Times Higher Education Young University Rankings 2023, and the Top 15 in Global Career Progression, Global MBA Ranking, Full-time MBA, Financial Times 2023. JC points out that excellent students coming through year after year become change leaders after the program, and top educators sharing their expertise contribute to the success and rigorousness of the HKUST MBA Program. 

“It’s my honor to join this tightly knit circle. To get here, I had to prove myself by teaching undergraduate courses for HKUST Business School to teach in the MBA classroom.” Prof. JC remarked. 


JC shares that “my advice for applicants is that you should be yourself and push yourself to be who you believe you can be.”   

JC advises that you should avoid trying to make yourself into what you think of the MBA program. He shares that this is the wrong approach to looking at this. As you embark on this journey, you should take the time to reflect on your goals, the areas in which you can contribute to the cohort and wider MBA community, and what aspirations you aim to gain from the MBA program. “Believe in yourself and push yourself to be who you believe you can be.” Prof. JC raises the point that “an application to the MBA program is just part of that, and if you believe in yourself, have the confidence and conviction about who you want to be and how you plan on getting there, then you will naturally do well as we [admissions team] look into each application holistically.”  


Below are the courses that Prof. Joon Nak Choi is teaching for the MBA program:

  • MGMT 6501J: Innovating via Entrepreneurship & Intrapreneurship
  • MGMT 5410: Strategic Management (for the Part-Time MBA Program)

Prof. Joon Nak Choi is also coaching an MBA team for a business case competition.


Learn more about Prof. Joon Nak Choi (JC):