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MBA Connect Story - Entrepreneurship: From Dream to Reality

While so many MBA students work hard to acquire an international outlook and a global vison, Patrick Monaco-Sorge has lived it since he was a child. Brought up and schooled in Belgium by Italian and Canadian parents

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MBA Connect Patrick Moncao-Sorge

Patrick Monaco-Sorge (Full-time, Class of 2015)
Co-Chief Executive Officerk Ginja Food Delivery

While so many MBA students work hard to acquire an international outlook and a global vison, Patrick Monaco-Sorge has lived it since he was a child. Brought up and schooled in Belgium by Italian and Canadian parents, he speaks six languages at the level of mother tongue or professional work proficiency, plus conversational Thai.

After getting his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from law school, Patrick decided to work with an NGO in India. In 2008, he joined the huge multinational Canadian company Bombardier and first worked for them in New Delhi, and later in Singapore, Russia and France, before being sent on a three-year assignment to their regional headquarters in Bangkok to cover the APAC market.

He appreciated this job opportunity, but after a while he felt he was not motivated enough by “being a small fish in a big pond”. 

“The job was not fulfilling me. The lack of ownership and passion was affecting me and that was the trigger: I decided to rather be a big fish in a small pond,” says Patrick, who today is the Co-Chief Executive of the start-up Ginja Food Delivery in Bangkok.

Having done law at school, he felt he did not know enough of the basics of running a business and decided to do an MBA. Since he already had substantial experience in India and Southeast Asia, but not in China, he was thinking of applying to CUHK. Since on previous visits they both enjoyed Hong Kong very much, they decided to move here. 

“I had a very good interview at CUHK and was offered a scholarship, which was also an important factor,” he adds.

Patrick primarily wanted to take a break, have a look around, meet new people and be inspired by new ideas and new realities. He says, his year at CUHK Business School fulfilled all his objectives, hopes and plans.

“Looking back, CUHK MBA allowed me to take a break and pivot my career,” he says. “It gave me a network and some distance to think about what I wanted to do. It really allowed me to make a massive shift.”

As he became more and more committed to the idea of starting his own business, he took all the classes the MBA’s entrepreneurship concentration offered and kept in close contact with the Hong Kong start-up community. He participated in a project in private equity and interned at a travel start-up. He found all the classes very useful, such as business strategy, disruptive technology, accounting and statistics, but especially liked the private equity venture capital.

“The classes completed my skills and directed my career,” he says.

He also sacrificed his weekends to join Google’s Empowering Young Entrepreneurs (EYE) Program, which further built his start-up experience. Visiting China, such as Shenzhen and Shanghai, has also exposed him to ways of doing business there. 

The MBA has greatly increased Patrick’s self-awareness and understanding of his strengths. He realized he was good at seeing the big picture, strong at leading, pushing, doing and selling and would sometimes act on impulse. By nature, he is nor detail minded, nor analytical, but he understands the importance of these and chose a business partner, who has these attributes.

After graduation, he decided to go back to Thailand and believes it is a good place for start-ups, with lots of investors and ideas, and the highest digital penetration in Asia.

“I have been launching companies since I graduated from CUHK,” he says, referring to four companies he has launched, including an incubator and a start-up providing digital tools to F&B companies. 

“It’s very exciting and keeps the adrenalin high. It forces you to own the process, give the best you can. You have the ownership and the liability of the project, and that is very empowering, even if it is stressful.”

In his experience, the top three most important focus points for start-up chief executives to ensure success are cash and managing the available funds, motivating the staff and hiring good engineers to build the products. He advises new start-ups not to be overly optimistic and be always on the ball, as there is no guarantee how the venture will turn out.

This interview was first published in the MBA Connect by MBA Programs Office, CUHK Business School in its August 2017 issue. Please click here to read more.