Bulletin January 2018 (Vol. 19 No. 2)

Professor Hongbin Cai has the hybrid background and energetic vision befitting a Dean of Business and Economics in one of the world’s top financial centres. TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS good foundation in terms of faculty research capacity and business education programmes. But obviously I hope to work with my colleagues to make it better and stronger,” he said. Professor Cai brings to the job rich life and academic experience. Both of his parents were engineers and worked for an SOE in Jiangxi province that was supposed to produce helicopters but switched to making minivans when China started economic reforms. “I grew up in that company town observing all the he took up a position at his alma mater Peking University. “I was trained as a game theorist, but when I moved back I changed my research focus from theoretical work to more real-world issues and empirical work on the Chinese economy,” he said, investigating such topics as inequality and economic development, the impact of corruption on firm performance and economic development, and comparisons of SOEs, private firms and multinationals. In 2010 he became Dean of Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management, then last summer came to HKU, leading a faculty that is still young within HKU terms (16 years old), but growing in strength and international standing. For example, its EMBA was ranked number two in the world in 2017 by the Financial Times and its MBA is ranked best in Asia by The Economist , while its scholars have a strong record of publication. A grander vision Professor Cai’s mission is to take the Faculty to the next level. He plans to recruit more top From growing up in the shadow of a state- owned enterprise (SOE) to graduating from Stanford and teaching at UCLA and Peking University, Professor Hongbin Cai is at home in the East and the West. Fittingly, he is now at their symbolic meeting point, Hong Kong, leading the Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE) of the city’s oldest tertiary institution. “The University of Hong Kong has a great reputation and attracts the best students from Hong Kong and beyond, and the FBE has a very changes that went down starting in the 1980s. It motivated me to try to understand economic problems and social changes,” he said. He initially studied mathematics at Wuhan University, then switched to economics for his Master’s degree at Peking University. In the 1990s he went to the US where he did his PhD in economics at Stanford, then taught at UCLA until 2005 when, attracted by the fantastic dynamism of China’s growth and a desire to understand the forces that were driving it, scholars from around the world, develop young promising staff, and continue to improve and enrich education programmes. A new Faculty-based career development office is being set up to provide advice and services to all undergraduate and taught Master’s students. Facilities are a particular concern because they have not kept up with the FBE’s rising stature. “All business schools around the world have very good space and facilities, but not at HKU,” he said. He will be working with the University to try to address this. Apart from these bread-and-butter issues, Professor Cai also wants the FBE to fulfil a grander vision that involves strengthening its international focus and its impact in the community. More ties will be forged with business communities, not only in Hong Kong but in Mainland China and abroad, to provide opportunities for students. “Future leaders in the business world will have to have a global perspective. One of our most important competitive advantages is that we prepare our students to be leaders in the business world for Hong Kong and beyond,” he said. He also wants to see the Faculty achieve stronger social impacts through its research and other activities. He cites the example of Professor Richard Wong Yue-chim, Philip Wong Kennedy Wong Professor in Political Economy, whose work on housing, demographics and immigration has helped inform policy-making in Hong Kong. Professor Cai also sees potential for the FBE’s scholars to advise on the future economic relationship of Hong Kong and the Mainland. “I would like the Faculty to develop a stronger institutional capacity so that collectively we become a sort of think tank on Hong Kong economic policy,” he said. A final priority is to strengthen ties with alumni. “The alumni I have met in Hong Kong and in recent trips to Shanghai and Beijing are so proud to be members of HKU. This is a good asset for us and we should take advantage of that,” he said. █ Professor Ian Holliday (centre), Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning), and Professor Cai (second from right) at the launching ceremony of the Bachelor of Finance in Asset Management and Private Banking programme. Professor Cai is delighted that HKU Business School’s EMBA-Global Asia programme has achieved second place in its first ever entry in the annual Financial Times Executive MBA ranking. One of our most important competitive advantages is that we prepare our students to be leaders in the business world for Hong Kong and beyond. Professor Hongbin Cai 35 | 36 The University of Hong Kong Bulletin | January 2018 People