Asia's MBA Programs Catching Up With the West

Asia's MBA programs are catching up with those in North America and elsewhere, as evidenced by HKUST Business School's advance to the Top 10 list of Financial Times' annual Global MBA Rankings.
Overall, HKUST's MBA program ranks no. 9 in the world, tied with the University of Chicago, while the school’s research ranks no. 10, a major breakthrough for Asian schools in the history of the paper’s annual rankings.
The latest ranking of HKUST’s MBA program highlights the abilities of Asian graduates to prevail in challenging and difficult financial environments. The school’s MBA program ranks no. 6 in the world, with a salary percentage increase of 131%. Meanwhile, the school’s research rank has advanced from no. 17 to no. 10 and doctoral rank, measured by the number of doctoral students and faculty positions they took up at major MBA schools in 2009, has moved up 20 spots from no. 41 to no. 21.  
The university says their MBA students are well sought after by employers. According to an internal study conducted in 2009 to understand recruiters’ talent acquisition needs, HKUST’s Business School says they found that a school’s reputation was a great influence upon most recruiters. It also said that its MBA graduates had strong general business management skills, technical or quantitative skills and ability to reach goals.
When it came to the top criteria for hiring MBAs, the school’s study also found that soft-skills including communication skills, interpersonal skills, cultural fit with the company, ability to reach goals and leadership were ranked by recruiters as most important. 
“Recruiters nowadays are searching for all-rounded MBA graduates with both competent business knowledge and leadership skills," says Professor Steven DeKrey, Senior Associate Dean of HKUST Business School and MBA Program Director.
MBA: Not Important?
But will having an MBA boost a finance executive's career? No, says a 2008 study which found that while many senior finance executives are MBA holders, those that are CPAs are more likely offered CFO positions.
According to a 2008 HKICPA survey of 39 listed blue-chip companies in Hong Kong, nearly 40% of the CFOs were CPAs, vastly outweighing the percentage of MBA and EMBA holders (21%) and those who have finance-related postgraduate qualifications (10%).
For those who have set their sights on rising to top management, a CPA qualification is the best way to go, according to a report by recruitment agency Ambition. “If you are an accountant and want to pursue a career as a CFO, then choose the CPA over the MBA – you can always do the MBA later in life, but you must get a formal accounting qualification as soon as possible,” Andrea Williams, recruitment agency Ambition’s director of banking and financial services, told the HKICPA.

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