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Born in Hong Kong, Stephon Ho moved to Canada with his parents when he was only nine years old and grew up there. Throughout university and early parts of his career in finance, he served in the Canadian Forces as a military combat engineer reservist for six years

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MBA Connect Stephon-Ho

Stephon Ho (Full-time Class of 2015)
Executive Director, Goldman Sachs

 

Born in Hong Kong, Stephon Ho moved to Canada with his parents when he was only nine years old and grew up there. Throughout university and early parts of his career in finance, he served in the Canadian Forces as a military combat engineer reservist for six years. As a Bachelor degree holder of administrative studies, he joined a leading Canadian bank and worked both in Toronto and later in Vancouver for more than five years, until the attractions of his birthplace and a booming Asian economy had won him over.

Having only enjoyed Asia on holidays so far, he wondered if he could fit in and decided to spend a year doing an MBA at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), rather than starting work right away. "I decided to do a full-time MBA first, to see if I liked to live here and could adapt. It was a great experience," he says.

For Stephon, the biggest gift of doing the MBA was making close, life-long friends with his classmates. They still get together every two to three months and every couple of years he gets the chance to see some of those who moved abroad. This autumn he travelled to Romania, to the wedding of one of his ex-classmates.

Stephon emphasizes the importance of CUHK's strong China connections, which contributed to the success of the business field study trip he attended to China's Silicon Valley and the course offered by a former mainland central banker. "We were able to learn how a Chinese central banker sees the world; he taught us how to persevere to become a successful person and be ready for the world. This kind of teaching is a bonus," he says.

The business field study trip to Beijing was also remarkable, with group visits to Lenovo, Tencent, Baidu and the large state-owned Foton Motor Group and meeting senior executives of these companies. "The China field trip was the most memorable event. Meeting all these amazing companies, I was blown away," he says.

He also praises CUHK MBA's highly committed career service team for their professional support and the valuable experience he gained by participating in orientations from the LVMH Group as well as a three-month long summer internship program at Citibank.

The different networking opportunities and meeting professionals at industry events were also very helpful and he encourages MBA students to take advantage of these opportunities. He takes his role as an alumnus seriously and gives talks at orientations and different MBA clubs. He also refers job opportunities to his MBA alumni network where he sees fit.

Inter-university business case competitions test participants' readiness to lead and work in teams with short deadlines and under pressure. Stephon participated in the Asian finals of a stock pitch competition in Singapore and representing the only university from Asia at The Negotiation Challenge competition in Athens. This latter was so memorable because he and his team scored ahead of the group from Harvard University and this is where he realized he had a gift for public speaking and mediation. "The MBA had a great impact on me by helping me further understand myself and discover strengths I didn't know I had. I had no idea I could be good at public speaking. My team always wanted me to do the presentations and it's really helping me now in my work."

An executive director at Goldman Sachs and a member of the Asia third-party distribution team in the Investment Management Division, Stephon's professional life includes continuous learning, staying informed about the markets, talking to the stakeholders and having a long-term view of the business. He says the real challenge is to keep up with changing regulations across various jurisdictions, which can have an impact on the business landscape for his industry.

He advises today's MBA students not to just focus on books. "Build your network in the region, utilize the resources of CUHK MBA Career Management Center and participate in competitions with students from other schools and countries. Teamwork brings out the best and the worst in people. You have to realize that and learn from it. When communicating, make win-win deals and learn about yourself, evaluate and think of how to further improve as an individual," he says.


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