Laura Siu

Mainland China

Thunderbird University

Master of Business Administration

Class of 2010

Alumna

Laura with her international friends at Thunderbird from the US, Japan, Russia and India.

If anybody would ask that for the past 27 years of my life, what I believe the most exciting and moment was, I would answer without a hesitation that it was the moment in 2008 when I saw the email offer of the TAFAS full-tuition scholarship for my MBA study, which is cosponsored by The Hinrich Foundation and the HK Alumni Chapter of Thunderbird School of Global Management.

That moment meant more to me than when I received the official admission offer from Thunderbird School of Global Management for my two-year (from Aug 2008 to Aug 2010) full-time MBA program because offer from the school only gave me the chance of receiving the MBA education while the scholarship offer gave me a financial guarantee which is the indispensable prerequisite to fulfilling my MBA education dream.

My new professional journey started from there and my life has therefore changed significantly. As a matter of fact, the scholarship is much more than a simple financial support.

First of all, through the time of the scholarship application, I met people who have offered significant and selfless help on providing me information of the scholarship, connecting me to the right channel and leading me to the right application procedure etc. All these have strengthened my value of wanting to offer help to people in a professional and effective way whenever I can and affirmed my desire of making a difference to the world through my career development and prosperity. Having a goal and a value of that kind in mind has made both my personal and professional life more significant and meaningful.

The financial support of the scholarship has given me two amazing and productive years of my life. Through the two-year MBA education, my language ability has improved, my global mindset has been enhanced, my leadership potential has been maximized and my professional skills have been sharpened. The challenges and opportunities I have realized in these two years made me grow so much faster than any other two years of my life before that could make me.

One of the biggest challenges for people in a different culture is always how to well adapt to the different cultural and effectively communicate with others who are different from you culturally. In a more professional and practical setting, I call it team work. How to efficiently finish a team project and effectively play your role no matter as a team member or a team leader was a real challenge to me when I first got into the school. For one thing, team work wasn’t really an emphasis in my previous education. Moreover, I was teamed up with people from at least two or three different cultures. How to react when someone did or said something offensive according to my own culture? How do I avoid inappropriate behavior to other people’s culture? How to distribute works and motivate my team members to work toward the same goal? What can I do if someone in my team has completely different expectation on the team project results? Challenges like those and more came to me outrageously and I had to constantly make rough decision if I should spend most of my time dealing with those problems while risk getting a bad result for the project if I failed to solve the issues or if I should just give up and do the whole project myself which would probably take less time.

From my professional MBA education on cross-cultural communication and leadership and constantly dealing with those challenges, I came to realize that the first step to effective cross-cultural communication is to understand myself. By understanding myself, my own way of thinking, communication and my own leadership type, I gained the ability to analyze the differences I have from others and thus gain the ability to show more understanding and respect to people who are different from myself and make right decisions on how to minimize those differences for team projects. I also got to practice all these learning on being the president of Thunderbird Finance Association, vice president of Great China Club and a lot of other team projects. In the end, I became capable of managing team work and communication problems which I wasn’t able to deal with in the beginning. Both my confidence and my leadership skills have increased accordingly.

Being a TAFAS scholar has also helped me build up an invaluable professional network, through which I received a valuable work opportunity at Global Sources as an intern last year from May to July, 2009, which enabled me to put into practice as much as possible all the business models and theories I learnt at school. This has also led me to another precious work opportunity this year after I finished my MBA education in August, 2010. I’m currently working as a Management Trainee at Global Sources. I will be rotating through three different departments during my entire training. The first department I receive training from is Private Sourcing Events department which strives at creating and facilitating trade between suppliers and buyers by providing face-to-face meeting opportunities for them.

I enjoy the current training greatly for several reasons. First of all, what the department provides to buyers and suppliers is very much consistent with the value and goal formed during my TAFAS application experience which I mentioned previously. Secondly, Global Sources has a diversified working environment and thus provides me chances to implement my learning from my MBA education in Global Management. Moreover, instead of focusing on very small part of the business of Global Sources, I start to be able to see things from a wider perspective and have a bigger picture of the whole business. This helps me to focus and spend more time on the priorities of the business and changes rather than wasting time on dwelling on less valuable and less important aspects. After PSE I will be able to rotate through two other departments Client Service Ceter and Singapore eCommunity Development department, the training of which I’m also very excited and enthusiastic about.

Sometimes, one valuable opportunity can boost so many other opportunities. TAFAS is exactly like that, through which I have gained so much more besides the financial support for my MBA education and my appreciation is beyond literal expression.