Hong Kong MBA

CEO of Principal Global Investors (Asia) Discusses Her Tippie MBA Experience

Carmen LamStudents who are accepted into the University of Iowa Tippie MBA program can expect to be challenged by real-world situations and solve issues they are likely to face as they develop their careers.

Consistently ranked as one of the world's leading MBA programs, the curriculum is designed to meet the requirements of working professionals who aspire to become global business managers and leaders. The Financial Times recently ranked the Tippie MBA ninth in finance worldwide and No. 1 among public MBA programs in the U.S.

Carmen Lam, CEO at Principal Global Investors (Asia), says she was attracted to the program because of the strength and depth of the curriculum, the student mix, and the internationally recognized faculty.

"When I was researching MBA programs, the Tippie MBA stood out because of the comprehensive curriculum that covers areas you don't find in textbooks," says Lam, who in the space of 20 years has advanced her career from being a secretary to CEO of a diversified asset management company.

Describing her Tippie MBA experiences as a "life-changing event," Lam says the program is more than a business education. For instance, the program's instructional strategy facilitates the exchange of experiences and ideas as an integral part of the learning process. "The program provides a firm platform for daily decision making and a diverse toolkit for future career advancement," says Lam.

"You have the opportunity to develop the skill sets needed to be an effective leader, which are consistent with the diversity and complexity of rapidly changing business operations," says Lam. She adds that in much the same way that pilots are trained through flight simulators, students are exposed to a number of experiences and tasks that reinforce business management concepts.

Offered in Hong Kong as a part-time program, the courses are taught face-to-face by the same faculty that teach the on-campus Tippie MBA program in Iowa. In addition, students also benefit from a few carefully selected local faculty who are experienced educators and possess core competencies that will enhance the applicability of the courses to the Asian economy and marketplace.

"A key strength of the Tippie MBA program is being able to acquire knowledge, build on it, and use it," says Lam. "Because of the strong reputation the program enjoys, those who know that I am a graduate often ask for my views of business situations, which makes me feel proud," she adds.

To keep pace with an increasingly interconnected and fast-changing business world, courses are regularly reviewed to reflect global trends and contemporary events. They also draw on the expertise of Tippie faculty on issues in global corporate governance, ethics, social responsibility, and best business practices in the context of the ongoing global economic and business turmoil.

"Those who know that I am a graduate often ask for my views of business situations, which makes me feel proud," Lam says.

To harmonize with the schedules of busy professionals, monthly classes are offered on Saturdays and Sundays at tailor-made executive venues conveniently located in Admiralty. As an additional option, students can choose to study one semester at the Iowa U.S. campus.

Designed for individuals who have at least three years of solid work experience and a good command of English, Lam says students learn through interaction with the faculty and from each other.

"The cross-industry, cross-border, and cross-cultural student mix provides lots of opportunities to discuss case studies and business situations where solutions are found and problems solved," says Lam, who completed her final semester at the Iowa U.S. campus. "The knowledge and team-based project learning experiences shared in the classroom can immediately be adapted and applied to your own career situation and workplace," adds Lam, who graduated in 2006 and remains an active member of the Tippie MBA alumni group.

The program providers say going back to school for a master's degree is obviously a major investment of time and money for each student and that each student wants to get the greatest possible return on that investment. Therefore, enrolling in the Tippie MBA program, which is offered locally, allows the student to gain some of the benefits of studying abroad without the sacrifice of leaving their current employment.

Lam advises candidates who apply to join the Tippie MBA program to prepare themselves for a rigorous but rewarding education and learning experience. She says a key priority is commitment to the program, which requires careful time management and a clear strategy to maximize the study experience. Candidates should also seek support from their families.

"The main point I would make is that the Tippie MBA program helps students to become flexible and capable business managers and future executives who possess the requisite leadership skills and competencies to compete in the dynamic global marketplace. Therefore, they should enjoy the experience," says Lam.