Academic Background

Lin Yuan, Full-time MBA, Class of 2021

Study Mode
Full-time MBA
Student Nationality
Lin Yuan

“Pursuing an MBA at HKUST has been one of the best decisions that I have ever made. It has not only transformed me professionally, but also personally. It has been such a rewarding experience that if I had the chance to do it all over again - I would."

Meet Lin Yuan, from our Full-time MBA program, Class of 2021.  

Lin was born in China and grew up in Sydney, Australia.

At that moment he had two options in mind, either to look for a new job or to pursue an MBA.

MBA: why Hong Kong instead of Australia?  

Lin highlights his key factors of deciding to pursue an MBA in Hong Kong. 

“Having worked in Hong Kong previously, I have always experienced the city as a melting pot between the east and the west cultures. Its geographical location also serves as a strategic advantage, within 15 minutes you can take the high-speed rail across the border to mainland China, or a two three-hour flight to anywhere in South East Asia."

Were there any obstacles that you overcame during the admissions process? 

The decision for Lin to pursue an MBA came within a short timeframe. With limited time to prepare for his GMAT and juggling personal and professional responsibilities, his first attempt resulted in a less than impressive score.   

“At that moment, I felt like my chances of obtaining an MBA at HKUST had completely vanished. To my surprise, which later became my motivation, was the admissions team encouragement and patience to have a second go at the GMAT exam (even after the admission deadline). To me, this truly shows that HKUST selection criteria’s for their candidates, is not solely based on exam scores, but it was a basket of consideration factors such as working experience, previous qualifications, life journeys, interpersonal skills, and lastly which I think the most importantly, our motivation and aspirations to become a better individual after an MBA. We quite a lot hone on the word "diversity" in the MBA program, for me I believe this is reflected in our selection process and the appreciation that every person brings something different to the table.” 

Gaining International Exposure and Maximizing your experience at HKUST: Exchange Programs and Internships 

The HKUST MBA program offers full-time and part-time MBA students access to a world of international collaboration and enhance their global perspective to maximize their experience during the MBA program. Through our partnerships with the Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM) and being the only member school in Hong Kong along with other renowned universities across 28 countries, Master of Advanced Management (MAM) Program at Yale University’s School of Management (Yale MAM), Exchange Semesters, and Doing Business In (DBi) Program and networks, our students can broaden their horizons and take advantage of global opportunities. 

“Internships during the MBA program are not mandatory, however most of us decide to undertake one. The main reasons why are that it allows us to apply the skills that we have learned in the classroom and also to try new industries and roles that we wish to pursue after the MBA. For me, the internship also offered a platform for me to learn about the organization’s culture and values to see if this is the right fit for me for my career."

HKUST has established a strategic connection with BASF, a leading global chemical company, based on a shared vision of nurturing future business leaders equipped with a solid foundation in business fundamentals and the agility to thrive in an ever-evolving landscape. Initially, Lin began a three-month internship at BASF, but due to the circumstances at the time, he extended his internship to 11 months. Lin shared that his MBA exchange with NYU Stern School of Business was delayed due to the disruptions caused by COVID-19. Despite the challenges, Lin successfully secured a full-time role at BASF, which he accepted. He postponed his classes for two months to embark on a business trip to Shanghai while simultaneously starting his virtual exchange with NYU Stern School of Business. 

During his internship at BASF, Lin experienced his 'ah-ha moment.' Reflecting on his MBA journey, he noted that the most significant change he observed in himself was his way of thinking.  When he laid everything out in terms of the scope, and in terms of his broader thinking, not only from a sales perspective, which is where his strong suit was, but also obtaining the perspective of the understanding all aspects of each departments within a company such as marketing, finance, logistics, operations, strategy, technology, and more, was the breadth that you get going through an MBA. “You are no longer a specialist, but now you’re a generalist who knows a bit of everything."

The importance of having a diverse group of professionals in your intake 

At HKUST's MBA program, we take immense pride in our strong and close-knit community, which continues to grow. With over 6,300 accomplished MBA individuals from more than 70 nationalities across 60 countries, our diverse network is truly special.     

Lin stated that the professional and cultural diversity of the HKUST MBA program served as the catalyst for his broader understanding of business. His classmates from the 2019 intake represented various professions, including consulting, finance, accounting, HR, IT, marketing and sales, operations, and logistics, resulting in a rich mix of expertise. The average age of his classmates was 29, and 96% of them were non-local students. 

An unforgettable example that Lin shares is “During one of my financial account classes, I had a question that I did not know how to answer – my first reaction was not going to go to Google to search for the answer. Actually, my answer was to pick up my phone and call a classmate with a financial accounting background.”  

Lin expresses that he uses this example on a regular basis “as you transcend into the business world, these are the people that you build relationships with throughout your MBA journey that you can rely on and help each other to maximize both career and personal goals.” 

Is an MBA for everyone and is an MBA still worth it? 

Lin shares that an MBA is not for everyone. However, he believes that by reaching out to alumni and students to learn about their MBA experiences and success stories, one can start to determine whether an MBA program would align with their career journey. In Lin's case, he feels that he received a return on investment (ROI) from pursuing an MBA at HKUST. Reflecting on his own success story, he believes that pursuing an MBA has “changed me both personally and professionally, but at the same time, I measure the ROI of an MBA not over the new few years that I have completed the program, but it’s really over my lifetime with the networks that I have built and the continuous learning mindset that we have developed throughout the program.”

As the Head of Product Management, Dispersions, Asia Pacific at BASF, is there any advice that you would give to prospective students interested in this industry? 

For Lin, the decision to go for an MBA did not cross his mind where he had a fixed mindset of which industry he wanted to pursue. Lin adopted an open-minded approach, recognizing the value of maximizing his experience with the various global exposure opportunities offered by HKUST MBA such as global exchange programs, company visits locally or abroad, recruitment events, executive talks with industry leaders, career coaching, and more.  

After completing the MBA program, Lin pathed his way in a leading global chemical company, BASF. “If you asked me if this was where I saw myself after the program – the answer is not in a million years. However, if you followed up with the question; do you think you made the right decision and are you enjoying your work – the answer would be a million yes-es.” 

During the early stages of thinking of pursuing an MBA, candidates may not always have a clear career path. If you are someone like Lin who is more curious about what other industries or career paths are out there, Lin suggests to “use these 16 months (standard study mode Full-time MBA) wisely and keep an open mind, because sometimes if you are so focused on just one target often you might miss some of the golden opportunities that are just right in front of your eyes.” 

Beyond the Classroom: Social Impact Club 

The Social Impact Club is one of the eight student clubs at HKUST and is a non-academic club, established by Lin and fellow classmates, leveraging the skills of each member with the same objective to make an impact on society.  

Embracing the belief that “to learn is to lead”, we empower our Full-time MBA students to take the initiative in establishing professional and cultural student clubs aligned with their passions and interests. These clubs provide a platform to apply classroom learning, hone networking and leadership skills, and enhance communication capabilities. Our diverse range of student clubs have included Consulting & Strategy Club, Finance & FinTech Club, Entrepreneurship Club, Sustainability Strategy Club, Japan Club, and more.

Advice for future MBA students 

Lin has always had the attitude of ‘work hard, play hard’. If there is one quote that he can share, it would be “There is more than a GPA, in an MBA.” 

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