London Business School

Farewell to the Ivory Tower

When I left the Blacks College Guesthouse today, this was not only a farewell to this peaceful habitat for visiting academics. It was also not only the end of my summer lectures in Hong Kong. It was the end of being a Professor for five years - a time in which I have taught over 3000 students, executives, government officials and managers. Yes, I taught a lot. But I learned even more. This was a time in which I had the freedom to choose any perspective on any topic and explore it. Education is a lifestyle and I had the privilege to have a five year break from the corporate world, generously supported by the Volkswagen AG, which I will join again in December. 

The list of people I want to thank is long. But it clearly starts with those who made it possible at all, that this experiment could be done at all. It was Professor KC Chan, the former Dean of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Business School and now Treasurer of The Government of Hong Kong, who replied by e-mail on his Blackberry and invited me over. It were Professor Steve DeKrey, the Senior Associate Dean, and Chris Tsang, the Diector of the MBA Programme, who pushed for practitioners in Business Education. Professor Gary Biddle, the former Dean of The University of Hong Kong Faculty of Business and Economics, who entrusted me the launch of EMBA Global Asia with London Business School and Columbia University Business School. Professor Chris Chan, the former Dean and Director of the HKU MBA Programme and now Dean of the Cornell University Hospitality School in Singapore, helped with advise and shared his experience how to run a programme during this time. Sachin Tipnis, the current Executive Director of the HKU MBA, I wish all the best for running and contiunue building the programme. Thanks also for the support of Dean Eric Cheung and Professor Amy Lau, the Director of the School of Business, and Professor Mervyn Peart, the former Head of the Geography Department. Thanks also to my colleagues for sharing whit and wisdom, the aministative staff for making possible things first impossible and then possible again. Last but not least, I thank the students for not choosing the easy way and for making my experience in and beyond the classroom a very memorable one.

Sometimes I am asked whether it was "worth it". Well, when I leave now, I do it with a better understanding of the world we live in. I have seen countries, people and ideas which I would not have seen otherwise. I built friendship with people I would have never met. Whether this is worth it, everybody has to answer for himself. For me it was and always will be.