Alumni Portraits

  • Bridge to the World of Finance

    Tolis Paschalis (MBA 2012)
    24 Mar 2014

    Tolis Paschalis from Athens, Greece, has found his HKUST MBA to be a passport to a different world in more ways than one. Starting out on the program as a globe-trotting civil engineer, on graduation Tolis switched into the high-powered field of finance. He went on to become a senior equity research analyst for the largest independent financial services firm back in his home country, despite the difficulty in the Greek employment market at the time.

    He credits his HKUST MBA with giving him the competitive edge to be offered the post as Senior Equity Research Analyst at Euroxx Securities. "My China exposure, my fellow MBA candidates with experience in financial modeling, the branding that HKUST MBA carries not only in name but with its solid program and "training" in being able to work for 100 hours a week, made an impression on the company management."

    "Three rounds of interviews and a financial modeling assessment later, I was covering the Greek energy sector. Not an easy feat in a country with the third highest number of university graduates in Europe and 27 per cent unemployment rate."

    Tolis has been a world traveler for more than a decade, studying and working in the UK, Italy, Singapore, Hong Kong and the US before heading back to Greece. His decision to acquire an MBA resulted from his wish to move to a more corporate role within the energy sector, and he wanted to take it in Asia. "I was in awe of the rate that the region was evolving into the bigger and better world business center," Tolis recalled. "So my desire was to do a world class MBA in Asia, and in less than the two years that is the norm elsewhere."

    A brief visit to Hong Kong while working in Singapore made his decision straightforward. The buzz of Hong Kong, HKUST's fame in finance and the beautiful campus all drew Tolis to the HKUST Business School. "HKUST fitted the bill," he said.

    One lasting impression for Tolis was the opening four months of the HKUST MBA program, which he described as a time of the "100-hour week" and a "surprisingly intense experience". "By the end of December, most of us had lost 5kg-7kg, we were trained to easily work until the sun was up, and we had a new family of 120 MBA candidates that were always there to support each other."

    Tolis was also elected to the Executive Committee of the MBA Association, a student organization that sets out to enhance the MBA experience, organize high-profile events, and find solutions to any concerns. "Everyone has an obligation to be involved in giving back and joining the MBA Association did just that. Leaving a legacy for the next MBA group to follow up and improve further is something we are still proud of doing."