The course enriches students’ real-life business experience and further hones their problem-solving and professional skill sets necessary for leading and working in a team.
The projects are sponsored by Hong Kong corporations of a variety of business sectors and each is undertaken by a team of three to five students. They are supervised by a faculty member and a senior staff of the sponsoring company, who pledges assistance and support for the successful completion of the project.
On average, students spend one day a week on the project, which covers one term as published by the university calendar. A project proposal must be approved by the supervising faculty member, the Director of MBA Programs and the Director of the sponsoring company.
In the past three years, 10 to 14 Business Practicum projects were undertaken annually. As one of the most popular concentration options, Finance was a leading project topic with participation by prestigious banks and financial organisations. The wide range of topics covered finance in the Chinese market and marketing of various products.
The Chinese market was looked at from the point of view of opportunities and risks posed by the reform of Chinese state owned enterprises, factors affecting the growth and competitiveness of Chinese investment banks in G3 currency fixed income, long term, fixed income strategy for securities, Chinese investment in Cambodian agriculture and similar-company pricing.
Marketing research included marketing financial services to the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme segment, A-Share exit strategy alternatives for private equity investments, a strategic plan for a bank to remain competitive in working capital finance, market potential of Asian securities lending, digitalization in SME lending, improving broker experience and crowd management, and the structure of a centralized library to cater for the future trend of robotics reply, among others.
Established and start-up technology firms participated in the Business Practicum with projects including online platforms, applications, social innovation, software and business development. While most of them restricted research to the Hong Kong market, a few were also interested in China.
Several looked for an analysis of potential customer segments, market testing and validation of business assumptions to kick off a service. Others, such as a cloud-based pay-as-you-use platform and an anti-phishing software and app, wanted to see the opportunities for a scalable business model and marketing strategy for growth.
Research included chief information officer preparedness to build digital intelligence capability and support digital transformation to take their enterprise into the next “Cognitive Era”. Challenges and solutions were also looked at.
One project assisted an established fashion and apparel product company to test the feasibility of a comparison website and smartphone app for branded ladies’ fashion products. The website, similar to those used in the airline industry, would allow people to compare prices before they buy.
Another project presented a qualitative marketing research on the size of the shoe market in Hong Kong and China, analysis of three relevant competitors’ businesses and qualitative consumer research on the opportunities for business improvement. The company is working on 3D measurements for ordering shoes online.
A new fashion marketing concept, which would use crowdfunding to get the size of demand before production, was also in need of a marketing strategy to successfully launch the business.
Hong Kong is well known for a high consumer demand for wine. An established transportation company wanted to explore demand for specialist delivery of wine, with special attention to the fragility of bottles and sensitivity to changes in temperature. The project was launched to formulate a marketing strategy for the new potential market, find out the size of demand and whether customers were willing to pay for this specialised service.
In another case, the transportation company delivering to Hong Kong sushi chains noticed that the restaurants had problems with some logistics companies and were not satisfied with transportation costs. They wanted to conduct a feasibility study for supplying Japanese companies in Hong Kong.
With the fast increasing elderly population in Hong Kong, a product which can help osteoarthritis - a common degenerative disease of the joints affecting old people - should be popular on the long run. As a start-up, the company turned to CUHK MBA students for a well-designed business strategy testing the acceptance of the new product among healthcare professionals.
Another project’s objective was to help a foreign company to re-launch in Hong Kong its flagship product, a toothpaste that inhibits the development of night-time bacteria, to a specific target market. The students worked out a business and marketing plan to promote the product to people who work in the banking and finance industries.
An international luxury hotel chain worked with the students to formulate a set of global strategies for its rapidly expanding portfolio now spanning four continents. The chain wanted to create a set of competitive advantages for the group that would help them seize opportunities with agility and respond aggressively to rapid market changes and strong competition by other luxury brands.
A year later, the same hotel chain launched a project to work on a brand strategy for their luxury chain. They identified and evaluated market trends and opportunities, researched customer groups and examined the competitiveness of major players to develop a brand strategy which created competitive advantage for the group.
A Hong Kong headquartered leading property company conducted a project on investigating their brand pillars with primary research on customer groups and secondary research on brand equity. The Hong Kong listed company has an extensive international portfolio of office, residential, retail and hotel properties.
They wanted to prepare for any future changes in the business climate by formulating a set of effective business strategies that can provide aggressive and immediate response to market needs and build a brand that is dynamic, flexible, customer centric and forward-looking.