Academic Background

Ling Deng, Intake 2017

Study Mode
Part-time MBA (Bi-weekly Mode)
Student Nationality
Deng Ling

Ling Deng enrolled in HKUST’s Part-Time MBA Program (Bi-Weekly Mode) in 2017. She is currently a research manager at the Accenture Institute for Business Research. She has a strong data analytics background and extensive cross-sector management experience. 
“It is a waste of time if I do not learn something new every day.” It has been over a year since Ling graduated from the MBA program at HKUST, but she has never stopped learning. Because of the demands of her work and her own curiosity, her schedule is filled with learning activities, such as reading news and research findings in technology and business, holding in-depth talks with industry experts, studying Python and AI courses, and attending design workshops.
Ling is an excellent student. After earning a double degree in mathematical statistics and accounting from a Chinese university well-known for its finance and economics courses, she then went to the U.S. to pursue a Master’s degree in statistics. In early 2017, she came to HKUST to study for a part-time MBA. She obtained a 4.2 GPA with A+ in almost all courses, was voted by her classmates as the best citizen, and earned the highest academic award for the best GPA of the year.
In the second year of her MBA program, she won the opportunity to study at the University of California, Berkeley, U.S. on a student exchange because of her excellent academic achievements and outstanding contributions. Shortly after obtaining her MBA, she joined the nascent Accenture Innovation Hub in Shenzhen, where she is responsible for business research.
Step out of your comfort zone to seek breakthroughs
In the fifth year of her career, Ling Deng, who was then a statistician at W. L. Gore, was invited to transfer to the Project Department and serve as a project manager because of her ability to point out strategic issues in meetings. Ling took the challenge to start from scratch in a new area. She boldly reformed the process and successfully completed several heavyweight projects in two years.
This experience opened up her mind to new possibilities. “I realized that the ability to obtain important information for better decisions matters more than experience. My strengths in communication and analysis, identifying key nodes and roles in a project, extracting information, and making judgments have combined to help me through the transition smoothly.”
The experience of developing new products at Gore aroused Ling’s interests in consumption and customer service. To further expand her horizons, she came up with the idea of studying for an MBA. What Ling valued most about the MBA program at HKUST were the interactive learning experiences, the strong faculty, and the diversity of student backgrounds. “HKUST was the ideal choice for me because of its international advantages and cutting-edge business education system. In addition, I could study for an MBA without quitting my job or leaving Shenzhen. I chose the best.”
In the same year, her career path took a whole new turn. She joined Walmart China’s supply chain team, responsible for strategy and planning. New product development in manufacturing and supply chain management in retail have totally different job requirements. However, they both require data analysis skills. “After careful consideration, I accepted the Walmart offer. Looking back, it was the experience of transitioning from statistics to project management that gave me the courage and confidence to do well in whatever I do.”
Doing the best both in school and at work
Ling demonstrated her high achiever traits in her very first MBA class. Back on campus after eight years, she provided solid answers to the professor’s tough questions and even checked all the footnotes. Her performance impressed both the professor and her classmates. Then, Ling took on the role of class representative with the support of her classmates. She went through the course structure for her classmates and helped them to prepare for exams until she went to study abroad on exchange.
Looking back, Ling said that although she was not good at all subjects, it was the trust of her classmates that gave her the motivation to carry on and the courage to share. At first, she gave lectures, and later she invited other students to share. Learning together was enjoyable.
The pressures of work and study did not affect Ling at all. She saw learning as a pleasure. She enjoyed a full course schedule, group discussions, intense competitions, and assignments. HKUST’s approach of combining theory with practice allows students to flexibly apply the knowledge they have gained in their work. In addition, discussions may offer inspirations for students to solve problems at work. Work and study support each other. Although it is difficult, studying whilst working brings tremendous personal improvement.
“At first, I only expected to learn something new. But later I found that good work performance is attainable if I can apply the way of learning, which encourages asking questions, communication, and sharing, at work.” During her more than two years of work at Walmart, Ling further improved her strategic thinking, analytical abilities, and communication skills by collecting and integrating information through multiple channels and consistently assisting senior management in decision-making.
In an organization as large as Walmart, it is very important to “put yourself in others’ shoes and master the skill of asking questions,” said Ling. “I love to ask questions. When learning new things, I would ask questions until I understood everything, without feeling embarrassed.” To avoid embarrassing the people being queried, Ling would share her knowledge and information with them. This “back-and-forth” interaction has become her way of communication. “Frequent interactions help us build a wide social network, which offers great support to solve problems.”
Always be a student
“I enjoy the process of learning and improving.” This love of learning drove Ling to apply for the exchange program with UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. “Haas boasts an open and inclusive culture that respects the value of each individual.” Continuing her habit of “meeting every student for dinner” during her time at HKUST, Ling met many interesting students and experienced a great atmosphere for innovation and entrepreneurship, which resonated strongly with Haas’ value-driven environment.
Haas Improv Club Play Time—One of Ling’s favorite activities during her time in Berkeley.
Shortly after finishing the MBA program, Ling joined Accenture’s new Shenzhen Innovation Hub and took on the responsibility for business research, which marked her second transition to a new field. Her strategic thinking, communication, and leadership skills honed in the MBA program were soon put to use in her new role.
As a senior staff member, Ling took the initiative to build the team culture. Her new work environment gave her enough space and freedom, and the entrepreneurial mindset she had acquired in Haas was applied to team building. The growing team and the solidarity and enthusiasm of the team members are the recognition and rewards of Ling’s efforts.
Along with the new position came a completely new interpersonal environment and different job requirements. Ling had to shift her role from a knowledge disseminator to a knowledge producer. Her daily routine with clear standards and timelines was replaced by creative work full of unknowns. If reading and discussing can be regarded as processes of input, and knowledge processing is deep thinking, writing and sharing are all about outputs. This work is easier said than done. Producing outputs places a high demand on a person’s knowledge base and ability to summarize. “There are no standard answers to research. The only thing I can do is to keep learning, think deeply, and have discussions with people to spark new ideas.”
Ling shares her research findings on opportunities in the Greater Bay Area for HKUST MBA students at the Accenture Shenzhen Innovation Hub.
Based in the Greater Bay Area, Ling has chosen AI, robotics, and smart manufacturing as her research focus. These ever-changing fields are challenging for her, despite her background in statistics, manufacturing, and supply chain. “I believe there is nothing I can’t understand,” said Ling, who is confident and curious about the unknown. Since joining Accenture nine months ago, Ling has been involved in a number of projects, including the study on Greater Bay Area opportunities, the Greater China enterprise digital transformation study, and commercial real estate in the age of intelligence. She also presents the latest business insights to clients visiting the Shenzhen Innovation Hub.
“I’m really lucky to have met great teachers, classmates, colleagues, and friends along the way. They have all given me a lot of inspiration and encouragement.” Ling’s valuable tips include to face learning and work with an inquisitive mind, and enjoy the process of growth. Ling, who is good at learning, summarizing, communicating, and sharing, has already woven a large interpersonal net around herself over these years. Heading for an infinite future can perhaps best describe her current situation.