Scarlett Rong built up a strong managerial career but after pivoting from real estate to IT she decided to upskill with a part-time MBA to stay ahead of the curve.
What can a part-time MBA do for a flourishing career? Even if you are succeeding in a managerial role, an MBA can help future-proof your career, particularly in a rapidly advancing sector like tech.
This was the case for Scarlett Rong, who, despite excelling in her career in the information technology (IT) sector, decided on a part-time MBA to advance her knowledge of the IT sector and expand her business acumen.
Entering the IT industry
After graduating from the Chinese University of Hong Kong with a bachelor's degree in finance and marketing. Scarlett worked for three years in real estate development, equipping herself with a strong business knowledge.
After this she decided to pivot her career and move into the IT sector, She landed a job working at the Alibaba Group, for Ali Pay, where she stayed for another three years.
Scarlett progressed in her IT career by moving from Ali Pay to Tencent’s WeChat pay, a mobile payment and digital wallet service based in China. In her current role, she works to expand the business in the Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau markets.
“Tourists come to Hong Kong from Macau to visit, travel, and spend money. So we will target them for promotions,” she explains.
Despite her growing success in the IT sector, first as a business development manager at Ali Pay and then as a business director at WeChat, Scarlett decided she needed to advance her knowledge to keep up with developments in tech.
“In the IT industry you need to work to be up to date, and absorb new knowledge,” she says.
Choosing a part-time MBA to enhance her career path
Scarlett decided to enroll in a business degree to further her career. When it came to choosing a business school program, HKUST was an obvious choice because of its expertise in cutting-edge tech.
“HKUST is famous for technology. I knew the program would enhance my knowledge in data analysis, AI, machine learning, and so on, which is the future for me,” she explains.
The part-time program is for working professionals who want to expand their business knowledge, skills, and network to accelerate their careers. HKUST’s reputation, expansive network, and links to her employer also attracted Scarlett to the business school.
“The reputation of this program was a big positive. I had other graduate friends enrolled in this program and they only had good things to say.
“I have our senior management also enrolled in his program who said the experience was good, I think that will be very useful to my future career development.”
Scarlett chose to study a part-time program so she could gain these useful connections and coveted skills while continuing on her positive career path.
“My career developed quite smoothly and well. So I decided to balance work and study at the same time. That's why I chose a part-time MBA.”
Gaining a transferable skillset at the HKUST MBA
Currently enrolled in the HKUST MBA, being able to study the intersection between business and tech has been a major highlight for Scarlett so far.
Supplementing her in-depth tech skills with broader business insights is helping her bridge the gap between IT and business directors at work.
HKUST mixes soft and hard skills within its core courses and electives. Core classes include Financial Accounting, Marketing Strategy & Policy, and IT Management, and students can choose from an array of electives that range from Big Data Analytics to Responsible Leadership and Ethics.
IT Management has been very beneficial for Scarlett both in gaining specific information technology skills and in understanding how it intersects with business management. She has been able to apply her new managerial point of view to her job.
“It made me understand how to balance the IT needs and the business needs,” she says. "From the perspective of an IT team, more advanced technology is better. That is a no-brainer. But from the business or operation side, the implementation of new technology might negatively affect the current operation.”
Another key advantage for Scarlett has been the network and connections she has gained. The HKUST MBA is made up of a diverse group of students from various professional backgrounds, whose different perspectives supplement each course.
“In the MBA, I think the most valuable part is that the students are professionals in different fields. In accounting class, there is already an experienced auditor in our class, who debates with a professor, which makes the classes very interesting.”
The diverse backgrounds have also taught her how to work with people with varying personalities and work approaches. This has been important when leading a team at work.
“In team projects, we figure out how to communicate and execute the project, and understand the right way to work with people,” she says. “In work, you can't choose your teammate or your boss the only way you can further your career path is to work together.”
The skills, soft and hard, and network and connections Scarlett has developed at HKUST have elevated her managerial acumen and will allow her to continue to thrive as a woman in the demanding and complex IT industry.
“In Hong Kong, the IT field is mainly dominated by men. So I would like to try to include more women in the field. Women have an interesting viewpoint and they know how to make things happen.”