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Be creative and adapt to changes

“Be creative and adapt to changes” – Guest Professor Dr. Wing Him Yeung from Lakehead University in Canada

In March 2021, Dr. Wing Him Yeung joined Business School Pforzheim as a guest professor and taught an online course on Investment Controlling. In the interview with student reporter Svenja Maurer the professor for finance shares his experiences with online teaching, his fascination for numbers and figures, and the benefits of gaining international experience.

Is this the first time that you are teaching in Pforzheim or have you been here before?
It is my first time teaching at Business School Pforzheim. When we made this arrangement back in 2019, the plan was for me to go to Pforzheim in person, but now I am doing it online from my home here in Canada. Apart from connecting flights through the Munich airport in the past, I haven’t been to Germany yet.

Is there anything you would have wished to see in Pforzheim or in Germany in general?
I am very much interested in the local culture and the people. But I would also love to see the campus, the city of Pforzheim and the nature because I heard that it is very nice. And for sure, I would love to eat some local food as well!

Getting to know the students is more difficult in times of online teaching. But still, what is your first impression of the business school and the students?
First, I am very positive that the Business School is of a very high quality because it earned the AACSB accreditation. And second, I like that the programs are very practical in a sense that the students are required to do one semester of internship and are encouraged to spend another semester abroad. In Canada, the exchange programs and internships are optional, and most students do not take these opportunities. So I am very impressed with the Business School Pforzheim because they provide very good opportunities for the students to get some experience in the work place and in foreign cultures before graduation. And my impression of the students is that they are very self-motivated, disciplined, serious and hard-working. They always come to my class well-prepared and are ready to participate and to ask and answer any questions. So I am very impressed with all those things. But if I had the opportunity to actually go to the campus and meet with them in person, that would be much better.

You already named some differences between the German and the Canadian system. How would you describe the Canadian education system?
One thing I like about the Canadian education system is the flexibility in terms of the courses we could pick, especially during my Bachelor’s studies. I did by Bachelor in Finance and Accounting in Vancouver, but the program required me to take a large number of courses in other majors I could freely pick. For example, I took physics, maths, philosophy, sociology, kineseology and even Japanese. And this flexibility allowed me to get exposed to knowledge in different areas which was very beneficial to myself. And the other thing is the multicultural system. Canada is very multicultural in a sense that we have a lot of immigrants and about 15 per cent of international students at my home institution, Lakehead University. This way, students are getting exposed to other cultures which I like because I am a person who loves learning new things and cultures in other countries.

As you said, you have specialized in finance. In Pforzheim, you are teaching Investment Controlling. Why are you so fascinated by this discipline and how do you convey this enthusiasm to the students?
I know finance is special as it is very quantitative and many people might think it is not relevant to them. But after I did my education in finance, I realized that it is a topic that is highly relevant to every person because sooner or later, everybody is going to do some investments. Even education, retirement planning or buying a house are investments that we do on a regular basis. Therefore, it is important to know how to manage these things in a proper manner. So what I do is trying to simplify and to explain the equations, so that they get the basic idea behind all those formulas and numbers and be able to apply all those to their day-to-day investing decisions.

Why do you recommend an exchange semester at Lakehead University to our students?
First, if they like the smaller city feeling in Pforzheim, I am sure they will like Thunder Bay. Because of the smaller population, they would have an easy time to get into the local culture and to meet local people. And the other thing about Lakehead University in particular is that it is a small to medium-sized university meaning that the class sizes are much smaller. So depending on the year or level, there may be only 10 to 50 students in one class. Thus, the advantage is that there is more interaction between the professor and the students so that students can ask questions or have an informal chat with the professor.

In a globalized and fast-changing world like today, what is your final advice to our students?
I would say that the traditional advices stay the same: stay self-motivated, hard-working and disciplined, no matter what. But given Covid-19, everything has changed, which is why I think that life-long learning is another advice. Every person has to keep learning, regardless of his or her education because you need to remain competitive. Maybe there is going to be a structural change in the economy and then one has to adapt. As we saw in the past one year, some industries were able to, but others were not. And then there are also new industries, so one must be creative at the same time. So I would say, one advice would be to continue learning on a regular basis. And another thing is to be creative and to adapt to the changing environment.

Thank you very much, Dr. Yeung.

Lakehead University has two main campuses in Thunder Bay and Orillia, Ontario, Canada. Thunder Bay is a city in Northwestern Ontario with a population of about 111,000, while Orillia with its 31,000 inhabitants is located near the Greater Toronto Area. The university consists of faculties such as Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Law and Social Sciences & Humanities. More than 8,500 students from over 70 nations around the world study there and profit from the comprehensive course offer of undergraduate and graduate programs. With classes consisting of less than 50 students, direct contact with teachers and classmates is encouraged. In 2020, Lakehead University was awarded as one of Canada’s Top 10 Primarily Undergraduate Universities in the Maclean’s ranking 2020.