When people consider elite global business education, HKUST is always part of the equation. In Asia our brand of business education is rated peerless. And the main man behind this University's highest-ranked programs (its joint EMBA with Kellogg and its own MBA) is none other than Prof Steve DeKrey, Senior Associate Dean of the Business School, often looked upon as its talisman.
After 16 giddy years at HKUST, Steve is finally saying goodbye, sort of. He is headed to the prestigious Manila-based Asian Management Institute (AIM) as its next president. Steve says that he will not be cloning another HKUST Business School with its special focus on China and on empirical scientific discovery, whereas AIM has an applied research orientation and tilted decidedly towards India. Under Steve, our masters programs have struck gold in recent years, the culmination of years of visionary planning, continuous cogitation and creative evolution. By any yardstick, the School and the graduate business programs have exceeded everybody's expectations. He is now seeking a new challenge.
But Steve is not exactly waving goodbye. He will remain an Adjunct Professor at HKUST to teach a couple of leadership courses at the Clear Water Bay campus, and perhaps at our Shenzhen IER Centre as well.
Asked to describe himself, Steve says that he is a man who is comfortable holding contradictory thoughts in his head--a sure sign of a fertile and innovative mind. Among his many innovations at the school is his practice of using adjunct professorships to tap the vast sources of applied knowledge out there in the community. Having sunk his roots deep in Hong Kong, he has adopted this city to the extent that he sees himself as an American-Asian who takes onboard the Eastern philosophy of harmony, to which he attributes part of his success at team-building. Quality is the only thing on which Steve would never compromise. He recalls that even in the early days of struggle at the fledgling school, he would rather accept just 18 students for a course than take in second-rate applicants. He is however quick to admit that we owe part of the success with our EMBA and MBA programs to our ability to capitalize on the rising strength of our economic environment, the immediate one in Hong Kong and wider one in close proximity on the Mainland. Certain favorable factors do not lend themselves to duplication.
But Steve says that it is to teamwork that we owe most of our success. As an inspirational leader, he practices what he preaches. He has a well-known theory of leadership, a subject of which he is regarded as an authority. He defines a manager as someone "perfecting the present", whereas a leader is one who "prepares for the future". As future-oriented leaders, Steve and his team have devoted themselves to building the culture and infrastructure necessary for excellence. His team couldn't have scripted its development any better. The programs produced are the object of emulation by sister schools in the region. As a good leader, he typically assigns most of the credit to members of his elite team. Now something of a living legend, Steve believes that while he is leaving, the solid team he has assembled will continue its magic work to deliver the undeliverable.
So, here is half a goodbye to the man with the complete Midas touch. We have no doubt that as Steve begins writing another script for a new challenge, early success will be the title of his next chapter.