Alumni Portraits

  • Off to an Early Start with HKUST

    Naubahar Sharif (BBA 1994)
    24 Mar 2014

    Around 560 HKUST undergraduates in total, no exchanges, few course options, not even many phones. Back in 1991, when Naubahar Sharif became a founding student of the Business School, life at the University was different to say the least. "It sounds absurd today with mobile phones but when we first got to the dormitory, we had to line up to use the one fixed-line telephone per floor to tell our parents we were here and okay. The queue was six or seven people long!"

    Naubahar is in a good position to note the changes as he is now back on the HKUST campus, this time as a professor in the School of Humanities and Social Science.

    When he started at the Business School, he was one of the few non-Chinese students at HKUST. Through an introduction by his school principal, he even ended up meeting HKUST Founding President Professor Chia-wei Woo. "At the time, I didn't really take in what a big deal such an interview was. But after starting at HKUST, I realized that Professor Woo had this vision of making the University as inclusive and representative of Hong Kong society as possible. He recognized that Hong Kong society was not just made up of Chinese people. There were other ethnic groups that had been in Hong Kong for generations and he wanted to capture individuals from such groups to be students at HKUST."

    During his years at the Business School, his association with its world-class faculty made a major impression: "We knew more would be expected of us students given the standard that the faculty had set for themselves." The excitement that he and his fellow classmates felt to be at the Business School was another unforgettable element. "There was only a small faculty team therefore not many courses to choose. But I don't remember a grumble of complaint. There was an upbeat atmosphere and a real can-do spirit of 'Let's get on with it!'

    "We had all chosen this spanking new University that had no name, no history, so those who came to the Business School were pioneers, innovators, students who were looking for the non-traditional."

    In his current role, a major part of his research work focuses on science, technology and innovation in Hong Kong and he has served as a consultant for the Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Commission. In addition, he teaches several courses related to his Business School background, including one which looks at how business can leverage science and technology.

    To share his HKUST experiences and knowledge with others, Naubahar has also mentored Business School students and talks to potential applicants at international schools. "I feel I have received a great deal from HKUST and should give back as well. And students are always interested to hear about undergraduate life when HKUST first opened from someone who was there."