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This Is The Best Of Times: Prepare Yourself and Grab Opportunities to Shine

27 May, 2020
img As the saying goes, “Wherever there is danger, there lurks opportunity; wherever there is opportunity, there lurks danger. The two are inseparable.” The year 2020 has posed more challenges than ever – an epidemic strikes, businesses and schools are closed, families and friends are separated, and the list goes on. Living the normal way of life has become a luxury.

Despite all uncertainties and hurdles, two teams of eight BBA students have triumphed at renowned competitions of the region in the past months, namely the CFA Institute Research Challenge and the HSBC/HKU Business Case Competition. In a challenging time like now, where the “new normal” of learning and schooling has become virtual, how did the students manage to overcome the complications – both physical and mental – and outshine other competing teams? “Train hard, fight easy”, as one of the teammates said. Here they share their experience.

Team A: Xu Huijing (Year 4), Zhang Yuling (Year 4), Lee Ka Chun (Year 4), Tang Di (Year 3), Khan Abbas (Year 4), BBA Finance – Second runner-up, CFA Institute Research Challenge Local Final. Coach: Dr. Astrophel Choo, Department of Finance and Decision Sciences

Team B: Lee Ka Chun (BBA Finance, Year 4), Lee Gong Kuen (BBA Applied Economics, Year 3), To Kin Tak (BBA Finance, Year 4) and Tsui Chun Lok (BBA Marketing, Year 3) – Champion, HSBC/HKU Hong Kong Business Case Competition 2020. Coach: Dr. Man Ko, Department of Accountancy and Law
 
On participating in competitions

Team A: This is a significant event for finance major students to get to know the industry and sharpen our skill sets. We believe that higher education is more than acquiring new knowledge but also discovering one’s strengths and weaknesses. While this competition has enabled us the self-discovery journey, it also allowed us to have a deeper understanding and better interpretation of the knowledge we learnt from school and how to apply it in the real world.

Team B: Participating in competitions like this allows us to have a taste of the real working environment, from daily workflow to business management. With online learning and working the new normal, the competition this year was held online, presenting a great opportunity for us to experience how multinational corporations work in real life, with branches and clients in different time zones and real-time communications required. It has also changed our way of thinking, as what we have to focus on is to provide solutions rather than just showcasing our knowledge. Though we admit that nothing beats the human touch and physical interaction, this online mode has definitely boosted our self-motivation, self-discipline and self-learning abilities. 
 
On preparations

Team A: The epidemic did not allow us to meet in person nor come back to campus to use the facilities as the outbreak was at its peak during our preparation period. We even had to cancel our site visit plans, which hugely reduced our efficiency but we swiftly got used to the online way of working. Alternatively, we reached out to the subject company’s customers for survey to learn more about the company. We also worked days and nights to collaboratively edit our report and presentation. Though inconvenient, we believe this has pushed our boundaries to think outside the box for alternatives to make things work. Being resilient and adaptable to the ever-changing environment has equipped us to excel in the competition as well as in our future career.

Team B: With the whole competition held online, the actual competing time was doubled, meaning we were required to lock ourselves up in a room to prepare and present for six straight hours all on our own. This could be torture if we had not got ourselves used to it. That was why we conducted numerous training sections with Dr. Ko to rehearse like it was real. Besides, when it was all virtual and technology-based, the skills we had to acquire were more than analysing and presentation, but also photo-taking and video editing, making transitions for presentation, dealing with technical issues of different software etc., which can be summarized  as problem-solving skills, except that there may be a lot more problems than at a physical competition. We were lucky to have a committed team and a supportive and experienced coach that we could foresee as many scenarios as possible during the training and get us well prepared for the competition.
 
On teamwork and confidence

Team A: Division of labour is key to enhance efficiency, so each of us can focus on specific areas without worrying about the other areas because we know they are in good hands. That said, we have faith in each other’s abilities as we have known each other for a long time. Though the epidemic situation has limited our means of communication, we were able to apply the valuable group project experience that we have accumulated in class over the years. We also share a common goal – to outperform ourselves and win the competition, which became a clear and strong driver for us to work even harder.  

Team B: We believe we had a really good mix of teammates in terms of expertise – finance, economics and marketing. This allowed us to complement one another when we worked on the cases – some might be more figure-driven while the others might bring a broader perspective. This is an excellent opportunity for interdisciplinary learning, as each of us has also become an expert in a particular area to lead and teach the team. Through the intensive training, we could also learn from each other’s experience to avoid mistakes and excel ourselves each time. We have formed a very reliable team and so we could really focus on building our knowledge and strengths which would not only be useful for the competition but also beneficial for our future career development.
 
What coaches say

Team A – Dr. Astrophel Choo: In such a challenging time, it is no easy task to even just go to school for learning like the old days. Yet the team has outperformed themselves by walking extra miles and learning by doing bit by bit to solve the problems that came their way during this competition. This remarkable resilience is proven to be a powerful attribute that one should possess to make a bright future.

Team B – Dr. Man Ko: I am really pleased to see how dedicated and self-motivated the team has been. As the region final is coming up soon, I expect them to perform as impeccably as in the local final, and make the most out of the competition. With the all-round preparations they have done and a positive mentality, my only advice to them is to respect all, fear none.
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