CityU DBA - Doctor of Business Administration

29 March 2023

Professor Muammer Ozer and Dr Bradley Schwartz, our DBA graduate, were featured in SCMP

When fast track executives first decide to take a postgraduate business programme, most have a pretty clear idea of what to expect. That is usually the result of a detailed review of the various options; discussions with current students and alumni; campus visits wherever possible; meetings with faculty members; and useful advice from friends, family and colleagues.

In today’s complex world, one thing is for certain, the business landscape is changing rapidly, and leaders face a host of challenges many of them unseen before. It is for this reason that post-graduate business degree programmes are highly sought after by executives who want to excel and progress in their careers and learn how to navigate these challenges.

It is also for this reason that the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) rolled out its Doctor of Business Administration programme in 2006 as it wanted to instill business leaders with a passion to solve complex business issues that have implications well beyond the boundaries of their organisations.

“CityU DBA is designed for senior executives who are eager to engage in rigorous business research with practical and societal impacts,” explained Professor Muammer Ozer, Director for the DBA programme.

As one of the top DBA programmes in the world, the CityU DBA programme stands out because while most postgraduate programmes are taught-based, this one is a research-based programme. The programme mainly teaches students how to do research in a given field to gain in-depth understanding in a specific area.

This gives the programme an edge as students are able to deep dive and focus on a research area that is relevant to them and to the business world today.

“We focus on solving important business problems, and the research that our students do also change as business problems change,” said Ozer. “So, for example, our recent students focused on research projects such as big data, innovation, leadership, blockchain, and because of the COVID pandemic, some of our students are studying topics such as resilience, work-from-home and employee engagement.”

Indeed, this is one of the biggest draws for students who applied to the programme.

CityU DBA Alumni Dr Bradley Schwartz applied to the programme with extensive experience in the financial services industry. Having worked all over the world, he held senior leadership positions at some of the world’s largest financial institutions such as HSBC and Merrill Lynch. Schwartz applied at a time when the banking industry was coming under enormous pressure to reform itself following a series of high-profile scandals including money laundering, the manipulation of benchmark interest rates and foreign exchange markets and many others.

“The frequency of unethical behaviour in the banking industry was alarming,” he said. “Recognizing that ethical leadership would be required to help banks clean up their bad behaviour and strengthen their culture, I wanted to become an expert in that particular field of study.”

And Schwartz never looked back.

“My DBA studies have given me a competitive edge in business and have unlocked opportunities for me to assume roles with greater responsibilities,” he explained. “After completing my DBA, my confidence in tackling complex business challenges and making well-informed decisions was notably heightened.”

Indeed, he is not alone and the programme’s alumni and students credit their career successes to the programme’s well thought-out structure and plentiful resources.

“We are proud of our world- renowned professors who have extensive global expertise and in-depth China knowledge,” said Ozer. “Similarly, we are much honoured to work with our diverse group of students who are successful business leaders with a passion to solve complex business issues that have implications well beyond the boundaries for their organisations.”

Of course, to ensure quality and one-on-one personal attention, intake is limited every year so that students can get abundant support and attention given how rigorous the research-based programme is.

For the first 1.5 to two years, coursework or taught components are delivered to students designed to help them build a solid foundation in research skills and business knowledge. Following that, students will undertake research methodology training which underscores the DBA programme before they commence into their own areas of research. This ensures that students are well equipped to handle their research and to ensure that their work can have maximum impact.

“We hope that our students engage in meaningful research that is personally relevant and, at the same time, beneficial to their industry as well as the society at large,” said Ozer.

But research and academics aside, students of the programme have found that it has gone a long way to hone plenty of their other skills. Time management and resilience are just a few things that Schwartz credits to the programme.

“During the program I returned to the United States to assume a new position with my employer. It was especially difficult to balance the responsibilities of my new employment with the pressures of conducting research remotely, so improving my time management abilities was important to successfully navigate this difficult period,” he said.

Furthermore, he notes that under pressure, it is easy for anyone to come up with countless excuses as to why they should give up on the programme. But he persevered through those and committed to making incremental progress, valuing every step forward as a meaningful accomplishment.

So, in recommending the programme. Both Ozer and Schwartz agree that this programme is best suited for someone who has already attained a high degree of accomplishment, but still has a desire to grow and develop.

“Completing a DBA is one of the toughest personal challenges you can take on, but it is also one of the most rewarding,” Schwartz said.