A job earns you the salary, while a career fits your capabilities, actualises your goals, and most importantly makes you a happier person. Finding a career with all three of these is not as simple. For Samuel Ho, a candidate on our Global Online MBA 2018-19, his career path has not been easy, but delightful and fulfilling.
Eager to find his way up the corporate ladder, Samuel started his career with the FMCG industry. He identified the eye-opening opportunity as a global finance trainee with the Adidas Group.
Samuel recalled, “It offered the opportunity for job rotations along the finance value chain, from sourcing to retail finance in Asia, and of course the German headquarter placement was the highlight. I seized the chance to have a one-on-one mentoring meeting with the group CFO, Robin Stalker.” At the Adidas Group, Samuel not only applied himself to the finance assignments and projects, but also obtained his professional qualification as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Hong Kong.
Samuel took his learnings from Adidas to move to another local FMCG retail chain, serving the group CEO office. “I planned to consolidate my experience within a local context to strategically have more achievements,” Samuel says. He managed the Greater China business for over 120 retail stores and e-commerce channels in the branded eyewear and watches segments. The experience of launching various strategies to improve profitability and corporate control sowed the seeds of pursuing an MBA.
Further down his career path, Samuel came across another FMCG giant, PepsiCo. “It was a regional finance position to oversee and analyse the whole Asia Pacific food and beverage markets,” Samuel explained. He worked across seven time zones, which was not easy, paired with the dynamic planning exposure by leading the annual operations and strategic planning, he encountered plenty of learnings.
“I identified the skills gap and management hurdles from my job at PepsiCo, I was thinking better ways to lead the planning agenda and my next steps to achieve this,” Samuel says. That was his turning moment to think about doing an MBA.
“There was an evening that I walked out of the office in Times Square and attended the QS MBA fair, where I was introduced to the Global Online MBA programme by Andy Durban, Student Recruitment Manager at Imperial College Business School,” he said.
Shortly after the initial touch base, Andy invited me to submit my resume and have an initial call.” Encouraged by his PepsiCo director, Samuel reminisced: “At that time, I struggled about the workload, return on investment and commitment, but I saw Imperial as a platform to consolidate the working experience, updating myself with the state of the art business concepts and the chance to explore my future career options that follow my ambition.”
Over his seven years working with the FMCG industry, Samuel saw how fast fashion and mass production are hurting the planet, as a major source of greenhouse gases with discarded clothes and fabrics going to the landfill sites and the sea. His ultimate goal is to join the quality fashion sector and to influence a sensible buying lifestyle.
“I attended the interview call while working on an overseas assignment in a Bangkok hotel lounge. When Imperial offered me a scholarship to join the programme, I was sure this is the moment to not hesitate and take the challenge.”
He credits his time at Imperial College Business School with raising his strategic mindset and leadership skills for the future, sharing ideas with like-minded people from different walks of life.
“My cohort consists of 50 nationalities with 11 average years of working experience, we all come from various backgrounds and sectors; it is a very collegiate atmosphere. Samuel highlighted a key occasion that he had to lead a change management project at work, that he followed the Kotter’s model outlined in the Organisational Behaviour module. “Coming from an accounting background, it is a great value add to learn tested management tools for plug-and-play use at work,” Samuel said.
In his second year of the MBA, Samuel was approached by the head-hunter for a senior management position with a luxury fashion group. “This is the industry that I have been thinking of and it finally became a reality, but I had no previous experience with luxury,” he said.
Samuel realised the gap and arranged a Skype call with his Career Consultant at the Business School, Ana Penalver. During the two-hour call, Ana provided comments about his resume and suggested Samuel talk to alumni from the industry.
Imperial’s alumni community consists of more than 16,000 graduates, representing over 130 countries and covers almost all industry sectors. Eventually, Samuel took his personal interests, analytical skills and business knowledge, to shift industries by joining the Lane Crawford Joyce Group, where he manages planning and strategy projects.
“It’s a lot of hard work, but you can get the best out of it!” Samuel said. His MBA journey continues by going on the study abroad MBA exchange with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, as well as joining the IB Glocal Elective with New York University.