PBL has been a major cornerstone for my career development

Samuel Fung a Hong Kong native, first came to Maastricht University as an exchange student in 1998 from our partner university Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He graduated from Maastricht University with a Master’s degree in International Business in 2000. Samuel shares his personal story about how “problem-based learning has been a major cornerstone for his career development”.

Time flies, and it has already been ten years since I graduated from the Maastricht University School of Business and Economics (SBE; then known as the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration).

I remember the first day I landed in the Netherlands: I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interact with foreign students coming from Europe and the United States.  In particular, I enjoyed very much the problem-based learning system, which was an exciting and valuable experience for me. After six months as exchange student, I decided to further pursue my master’s degree in International Business, during which time I also went abroad as SBE Exchange student to top partner Purdue University in the USA. I ended up graduating Cum Laude in recognition of my fruitful years in Maastricht.

I started my career in management consulting for consumer and retail companies, where I gained experience in delivering what my clients asked of me, while honing my skills in project management. After three years as consultant, I realised that this job was the perfect blend of both consulting and commercial experience, and this was when I decided to move on to take up an in-house consultancy position at Schick (subsidiary of Energizer). In the course of my career I developed into a seasoned project management professional, and I am currently the Director of Business Partnering and Projects at Bayer Material Science, where I team up with the business units in order to implement marketing strategy and supply chain improvements projects.

The combination of the problem-based learning system and the cross-cultural exposure at SBE has enabled me to venture out of, and expand, my comfort zone. The learning environment at SBE has made me into an assertive professional who knows how to analyse complex issues, facilitate and lead discussions, and present ideas even at the top management level in my current job. I am positive that the problem-based learning has been the major cornerstone for my career development.

While I am based in Hong Kong, I still have very good connections with the International Relations Office at the School of Business and Economics. I have acted as “Ambassador” for my city and collaborated extensively with Lyan Ploumen, Head of the International Relations Office at SBE, and Nicole Weerts, Internship Coordinator at SBE, bringing Maastricht students to Hong Kong for internship positions, exposing them to the way of doing business in the Asia-Pacific area. On top of this, we just had our first alumni event in Hong Kong, which was amazing as I realised that there are in fact quite a number of alumni studying or working over here.

“It is better to travel 10,000 miles than to read 10,000 books”, an inspirational Chinese proverb, literally extols the virtues of travelling over those of reading in pursuit of knowledge. Studying in Maastricht indeed opened my eyes beyond the textbooks and so far has given me the cultural exposure that I have not yet got anywhere else!

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