Embracing risk, uncertainty and Taobao------Ken Ho Shares His Experience at the Jiao Tong University Antai IMBA Program

Publisher : MBA Office       Nov.09,2015


From studying psychology to becoming an investment portfolio manager, Canadian-born Ken Ho isn’t ready to settle down for an easy life. His friends were startled by Ken’s decision to quit his stable job and start a new in Shanghai, but he has always felt that it was a risk worth taking.


Why did you decide to move to Shanghai?

I graduated from UBC as a psychology major, but eventually ended up working in investments at Bank of Canada. To be honest, it was difficult to find a job using my psychology degree.

After I graduated, I worked as an investment portfolio manager; one of my primary goals was to make sure that companies were investing in a socially and environmentally responsible way. I realized that I had two options: I could stay where I was, working in investments, or I could try something completely different. People in the investment world are always talking about Shanghai, and the city really interested me. I took a short trip to Shanghai, and was totally amazed. After that, I applied to three schools: UBC, Stanford and Shanghai Jiao Tong University.


Why Jiao Tong?

I know many people would go for bigger names, like Stanford, and be willing to pay more, but for me, it all came down to how the program could help me succeed after graduation. One of the biggest challenges I faced was my lack of fluency in Chinese – but Shanghai Jiao Tong University has the IMBA(International MBA) program that is taught entirely in English. The professors come from all around the world, working together and sharing their views.

That’s what attracted me to Shanghai and to Shanghai Jiao Tong University.


So what was it like when you finally enrolled in the program?

I arrived in a place where I had no family, no friends and no idea where anything was. I took a cab and asked the driver where the closest hotel was. The International Program Manager Miranda Liu and other faculties helped a lot by showing me around and putting me in contact with international students

through WeChat.


What are the classes like?

To me, the classes are more than just a networking club. My classmates feel really close to me, and we share our successes and our challenges. Now I’m working with one of my classmates on our own start-up project.


What is your start-up?

We are working on a pollution-proof hand cream. I read a report about how pollution in China has led to more people developing allergic reactions on their skin, like hives. That led to our realization that an anti-pollution cream could help people before their reactions started. Currently, our team is working on pricing and packaging.


Are you happy with the IMBA program?

At this point, the experience has been so great that I can’t imagine not coming here.


What’s your biggest concern so far?

One of the things that concerns us among the foreign students coming here is the financial support. Even though I’ve been working and had saved enough money to survive for a few years, I still worry about my lack of income. Again, the Shanghai Jiao Tong University's community helped me – soon, I was set up with a tutoring job, helping a graduate complete his English thesis. We met a few times at coffee shops – he is very smart and owns a company in Shanghai that manufactures air purifiers. That really interested me. Later, he invited me to view his company, and even offered me a job there. Since then, I have learned much about Chinese business practices, both within domestic companies and between Chinese and international corporations. We are working to bridge the gap between Chinese and Western businesses.


What is one of the highlights of living in Shanghai?

OMG, Taobao is the best website I’ve ever seen. I mean, what don’t they have?! When I first moved here, I was looking for many things: internet cards, pillows and everything in-between. Instead of going to IKEA, I visited this amazing website. After setting up an account and figuring out how to use WeChat pay, I’m good to go. It’s amazing!