Gunning to be a champion of entrepreneurship - CUHK MBA

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Gunning to be a champion of entrepreneurship

Full Time MBA 2015 - Benson Cohun

Benson Cohun, Philippines, Full-Time, Class of 2015

Pre-MBA:  Assistant Vice President, Bank of America – Merrill Lynch

Post MBA: Group HR Technology Manager, The Dairy Farm Group, Hong Kong


Growing up in an environment with both parents running their own businesses, Benson Cohun’s ultimate goal is to follow their entrepreneurial path. To achieve this goal, Benson knows network and experience are crucial.


Banking experience offers the foundation for his growth

Benson spent 7 years at Merrill Lynch in Singapore as a software engineer and went through an acquisition by Bank of America, participating in the transition and integration of human resource departments and HR policies. Benson wanted to gain experience in other markets but was having a hard time moving inter-group because Bank of America – Merrill Lynch was consolidating resources in Singapore.

Contemplating his next step, an MBA instantly came to his mind to equip him with skills and confidence to move between industries. Hong Kong naturally became a top choice as he wanted to extend his experience into North Asia.


When career issues arise, it’s time to pivot

Immediately after completion of his MBA, Benson settled in with JP Morgan, taking responsibility for the HR technology initiatives in Asia Pacific driven by the US headquarters.  After a couple of years in the role, he hit a wall in terms of job satisfaction and it did not meet his long-term plans.  It has also become apparent to him that he could not leverage on the contacts and experience from the financial sector back in the Philippines as the country is more geared towards the import and export and consumer goods.

Through his network, Benson took his current role as Group HR Technology Manager at Dairy Farm, leading a group-wide HR transformation initiative across 11 markets in the Asia Pacific to support their long-term people strategy.  Dairy Farm is one of the largest retailers in APAC and the position provides him with a comprehensive view into marketing, supply chain as well as sales and distribution channels – all these combined help him set his aspiration for financial independence in motion.


Reflecting on the value of an MBA

Thinking back, the MBA curriculum at CUHK caught his eye because of its focus on entrepreneurship and on China business, allowing him to understand the Chinese market, one of the biggest consumer markets in the world and to grasp knowledge for the requisite building blocks of an entrepreneurial venture.

With a huge variety of courses, Benson enrolled himself in different non-finance courses including consulting, marketing, and entrepreneurship to expose himself to subjects that he had limited knowledge and experience in.

Furthermore, being part of the CSR Committee as Vice President of Operations was a practical learning opportunity where unique individuals came together with a common goal, from conceptualising, seeking sponsorships, preparing materials to the actual event itself.  There were achievements and enjoyment but also co conflicts and contrasting views, along with sharing responsibilities and executing on top of the MBA class work sandwiched in between.  Working around these differences, he was able to further enhance his teamwork skills and build a great bond with fellow committee members.

“I‘ve made friends from across different cultures and experiences which helped broaden my outlook globally and these friends I have made along my MBA journey will last a lifetime!”

As for his entrepreneurial aspirations, “My batch already had a couple of entrepreneurs coming in and has added some more in the past years- thanks to the school’s connections and it is looking positive!”

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