​Why Old School Ties Matter - Hashtag Legend

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​Why Old School Ties Matter

Dec 20, 2016

Alumni from Columbia University, New York: Esther Ma, Jennifer Mak, Mariana Kou and Shirley Hsu

They’ve lived, loved and studied together overseas, gaining an education at highly regarded universities; now #legend brings them together to find out what they’ve learned, how they earn and why old school ties matter.

Photography / Samantha Sin
Location / The Iron Fairies

From Columbia University, New York

ESTHER MA
Occupation: Chief executive, Prestique
Class: 1992
Studied: Marketing and management
What’s your favourite memory of school? Having Professor Robert Lear as my mentor. He gave me a book he authored called How to Turn Your MBA into CEO which I applied to my career. I use this book to teach my mentees who aspire to start their own businesses.

JENNIFER MAK
Occupation: Fashion entrepreneur
Class: 2001, 2010
Studied: Psychology and economics; business administration
What was the most important thing you learned in school? I learned the importance of networking when I got to business school. Grades aren’t important in business school but the relationships you build last a lifetime.

MARIANA KOU
Occupation: Equity research analyst, CLSA
Class: 2009
Studied: Finance and real estate
What were you like at school? I was always running around from project meetings to student club gatherings to happy hour drinks, which was an important part of MBA life. Now, I am trying to maintain a better work-life balance and slowing down to enjoy life.

SHIRLEY HSU
Occupation: Chief executive, UCF Capital
Studied: International finance, East Asian studies
What were you like at school? I was a real geek but with a fascination for the money-power of high finance, international geopolitical development and high fashion. I’d hang out with lots of Europeans to feel cool. They wore high Italian and French fashion, drank awesome coffee and knew so much about films, romance and capital markets.

From Central Saint Martins, London

SARAH FUNG
Occupation: Founder, Hula
Class: 1997
Studied: Jewellery
Favourite school memory? I was in the Southampton Row campus in Holborn. The building was purpose built in 1908 and is full of history. There was a large spiral staircase, high ceilings, old tiles, marble pillars, creaky corridors, amazing print rooms, wooden carvings and stained glass windows. It was so beautiful, and I felt truly blessed to be there, that it didn’t bother me that everyone swore it was haunted. 

ANSON SHUM
Occupation: Co-founder, Ookonn
Class: 2002
Studied: Womenswear design
What were you like at school? I was quite eccentric back then – actually most fashion students were – I dyed my hair green, had piercings and an asymmetric wrap-over style. I still remember how shocked my parents were when I came back for summer holidays.

GRACE LAM
Occupation: Stylist, consultant, influencer
Class: 1997
Studied: Photography and fashion styling
Favourite school memory? I hid in the toilet to read my degree result and thought I got a 2:1. I was thrilled, especially since I put my portfolio together in such a short period of time. My classmate pointed out that I actually received first-class-honours. I had totally misread the result.

JOSEPH LI
Occupation: Founder and designer, Saami
Class: 2005
Studied: Womenswear
Most important thing you learned in school? Trusting my instincts and being open to change.

MICHAEL KWOK
Occupation: Visual merchandiser, event designer
Class: 1997
Studied: Womenswear design
Most important thing you learned in school? To be open-minded, always strive for the best and that God is in the details.

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