12 January 2021
Richard Yee, Head of Infrastructure Transformation with HSBC's Hang Seng Bank in Hong Kong says that studying for a doctorate allowed him to harmonise his work and personal life.
Back in 2012, I was busy with a global project that took up a lot of my time.
During a short break I asked myself what were my happiest times in recent years and immediately I remembered the period when I was studying for my Master of Business Administration (MBA). I loved interacting with classmates from different backgrounds to discuss business-related topics and it was a chance to focus on matters other than my job.
Realising what made me happy led to my decision to study for a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) and I submitted my application on the same day.
I am very aware of the importance of getting the work/life balance right and that on the surface of it, alternating a busy and demanding day job with the heavy workload required for the DBA will not be a lot of people's idea of how to achieve that.
But my reasoning was I had wanted to take on the DBA for quite some time and the only thing that stopped me was the excuse that I was too busy.
Learning to balance
My new course of study was intense with frequent and detailed discussions with the professors and my peers and a constant need to close any possible gaps in my knowledge. There was no choice every evening after work – I had to study or attend classes two nights in the week. And my Saturdays were blocked too since nearly all my leisure time was spent reading research papers and learning.
It might sound exhausting - but I loved it. I was energised by the process of learning and discussions that were held around it. By taking myself away from my day job I was able to achieve a work/life balance that suited me and it was the key motivating factor for me to continue with the DBA. My managers were very supportive through allowing me to work extremely flexible hours so I could handle my daily work and studies in a sustainable way.
Putting my academic studies to practical use
By combining practical experience and academic knowledge, I began to research digital banking and innovation management on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), an area not previously explored.
Since graduating, the research findings I produced in collaboration with two academics have been discussed in global conferences in Los Angeles and Sydney. While on secondment in Shanghai I was also able to deliver speeches and contribute papers to major journals in China, sharing knowledge on how innovation and FinTechs will transform the banking industry.
Hong Kong Baptist University has also granted me an Adjunct Professorship at its Business School so that I can continue to share knowledge with the younger generation because that is something that's very important to me.
I decided to study for my doctorate was because I was determined to do something to complement my day job – that was my choice about how to achieve a personal work/life balance and I completely understand that it won't be everyone else's.
However, what I can also say, is that when you find something outside your day job that inspires and motivates you, throw yourself into it with passion and energy because you can achieve extraordinary things.