She resigned from a prominent Hong Kong headhunting company 3 weeks after being promoted. She turned down a placement in the finance program at the University of London. Instead, Melle Li, packed her bags and moved to Prague to study CEMS International Management.
“I don’t think expensive programs give you a better education unless it’s one of the TOP 10,” she says. Judging by her experience, it sounds like she knows what she’s talking about.
Her first visit to Prague came almost a year ago. At that time, it was for personal reasons, but she also began to look around for opportunities. It’s been three years since she graduated from a bachelor program in Hong Kong and she was ready for a change.
“Even though I got some job offers I knew I didn’t want to work here because the market didn’t have the international vibe for me.”
She looked at various MBA programs and graduate programs at Charles University until finally she found out about CEMS. Melle names all the positives, explaining, “it was in English, affordable and well ranked.”
She appreciates CEMS for the diversity of its curriculum. “It’s almost like a junior MBA program,” she says. “Studies are important, but it’s also about networking.”
Is it possible that she always thoroughly calculates her next move? “I chose Prague as it is a good base and the opportunity costs of me quitting my job and moving here were the lowest.”
Next semester she will be in St. Gallen and it was, again, a well-thought-out step. “I will be looking for an internship or a job afterwards and Switzerland with its prosperous economy is the place to do that,” says Melle.
With the Christmas season fast approaching, her head is full of ideas what to do with the free time during holidays.
“Christmas’s always been a vacation time for me,” explains Melle. “While my European friends are going home for Christmas, my Hong Kong friends and, I are usually travelling and visiting each other.”
Even though she finds CEMS more demanding than her previous studies in Hong Kong, it seems that deciding where to spend the New Year’s Eve is the toughest decision she is facing right now. London, Paris and Berlin are all on the list.
My interview with her was almost over when I realized I hadn’t even asked her what pops into her mind when the evidence of holidays being just around the corner is hard to escape?
While we in Europe take Christmas as an excuse to spend time with our families, for people in Hong Kong it is mostly a time of Christmas parties, going out to clubs and having a good time with their friends rather than sitting down to fried carp, schnitzel or roast turkey in the quietness of their own homes.
Sharing is a big part of Melle’s culture. “It’s an unwritten agreement that when you order a meal in the restaurant you are willing to share it with others.”
Melle and couple of her best friend throw a Christmas bash each year.
She says, “it’s a tradition. We each invite our friends and it’s our way of saying thank you for what they did for us during the year.”This year is going to be the first party she is going to miss in a while, since she will be spending her holidays in Sweden.
Originally published in the CEMS Club Prague Quarterly: Winter 2013