MBA Full-time (Class of 2005)
New horizons have opened up for Donna Lam who combined Chinese entrepreneurship with inspiration from her MBA course at Aston Business School.
After leaving college in Hong Kong with a Higher Diploma in product and graphic design, Donna was already fired with enthusiasm to do well in the business world. However, she was also aware that in a vibrant country full of keen, young entrepreneurs she had to develop her skills much further in order to stand out from the crowd.
Donna was already working at management level in a company manufacturing a range of products from desktop items to furniture.
Her first step on the higher academic ladder was to take a BA (Hons.) in Design in Business at the University of Central England in Birmingham (now Birmingham City University) and it was while in the city that Donna began to hear and learn more about Aston Business School’s MBA.
She explained: “Aston has a really good reputation for its MBA and in Birmingham lots of friends and people I met were really recommending it as a great course and a very useful higher degree for business.
“The more I looked into it the more I was convinced that Aston’s MBA programme could give me a much broader outlook on business and higher management.”
So in 2004 Donna took the plunge and enrolled on the MBA course. She had already spent time in Birmingham and had visited other European cities, but Donna immediately liked the Aston campus.
“It’s so convenient for the city centre and it’s a smaller campus than many universities so it’s easy to get around,” said Donna. “You are on the doorstep to the dynamic centre of Birmingham yet everything about Aston is peaceful. I loved it.”
Donna’s father works in manufacturing in China but she had made an early decision not to work for the family firm in order to gain a wider experience of the business world.
At Aston, her MBA stretched Donna, particularly in the first semester. She found the course intensive with a lot of background reading, assignment work and case studies. As English is not her mother tongue, Donna had to push herself even harder. However, she found Aston’s staff supportive and encouraging. She has particular praise for the help and generosity of staff.
Donna enjoyed every aspect of her MBA programme. She said: “The professors helped me understand so much about the business world, including the difference in cultures and countries. I learnt about leadership training and to understand the importance of team working as well as time management, collaboration and negotiating skills.
“I don’t think we could have had the opportunities in the fierce business world to learn and develop as we did at Aston. The course was intensive but I enjoyed it very much.”
Donna also enjoyed the social life at Aston and made lifelong friends on the MBA programme. “The friendship at Aston was fantastic and I made friends from around the world. We helped each other on the course and are now planning reunions.
“The MBA not only gave me business skills, it built up my confidence and self-motivation. It made me think much more broadly about everything around me, not just about business, but about people, the environment, social networking and personal skills.”
After graduating Donna worked in industry in China and headed the branding division of a watch company. However, she is now establishing her own design and branding company with her partner in the booming, cosmopolitan city of Shanghai as well as exploring other business opportunities.
The self-confidence that Aston’s MBA gave Donna has also put her on the path to becoming an author. Her first book, about travelling and studying abroad, is soon to be published and she is already planning a second business book which will draw on her experience at Aston Business School. So don’t be too surprised if you see Donna’s name on future business best-sellers!