‘I really appreciate this programme. The strategies that I’m using now are something I had never thought of. That’s how we were stuck. After graduation, I have acquired the skills to find order in chaos, develop rules and hence build an operating structure for the farm. Our business has been gradually picking up since.’
Back in 2011, Ken Kwok Ka-chun’s father put his dream of setting up an organic farm into action. Seeing that his father was having a hard struggle, Ken, who has been in the marketing field after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, lent a helping hand in marketing. His efforts did not immediately pay off, though; the farm business was caught up in a bottleneck. To make a breakthrough, Ken decided to earn professional knowledge from a Master of Business Administration. He enrolled in the OUHK in 2013, finding its flexible distance learning mode a perfect fit for his schedule and impressed by its faculty qualifications.
In spite of working two jobs, Ken was rarely absent for the tutorials, as he found the contemporary business cases discussed highly relevant. He has volunteered to present the business conditions of the farm in class, which the tutor responded with constructive feedback. Listening to the practical experiences of classmates from diverse backgrounds also enriched his understanding of various industries. Once he invited his class to the farm for a barbecue. ‘From then on we have had more frequent interactions,’says he, ‘We often discussed assignments and key areas of revision. It’s a pleasure to be able to maintain friendships as such even though distance learners don’t always meet.’ When he runs into operational problems, he will also consult classmates of relevant industries.
And Ken resolutely puts what he learnt into practice. The course on marketing management, for example, taught him the importance of understanding one’s business competitors in order to lead them. To stand out from the pack, he began to probe into competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and employ a strategy of differentiation, bringing in new crops and farm activities. Strategic management theory, which emphasizes business diversification, inspired him to develop an integrated farm that offers an array of services consisting of not only the sale of produce and farm rental but also workshops and guided tours, as well as to broaden the customer base by strengthening online marketing.
He appreciates the ample learning resources offered by the OUHK, especially the support of the online learning system. Recently graduated, he has acquired the skills to find order in chaos, develop rules and hence build an operating structure for the farm. His business has been gradually picking up since: ‘I really appreciate this programme. The strategies that I’m using now are something I had never thought of. That’s how we were stuck.’ Meanwhile, he is running the farm full time and has nailed down the strategy of diversification, planning to tailor programmes for schools, organizations and corporations. He is determined to bring the farm to the apex of the industry: ‘I hope one day when people in Hong Kong talk about organic farms, they’ll think of us straight away.’
The father’s dream has become the son’s dream: ‘I love creating things from scratch and making them flourish. The farm is an example that I take pride in.’