WHY CUHK

Postgraduate Student Life @ CUHK
Deric Stephane TOCHE FOKA
From Cameroon
MSc Graduate in Information and Technology Management

A Global Citizen Thriving in Hong Kong

Despite the external circumstances beyond our control, we can take charge of our personal growth. Born in Cameroon in Africa, Deric Stephane Toche Foka moved to Thailand with his family when he was young. After graduating from business school at university, he began working for a global logistics group and embarked on a transnational career which saw him move among several countries in the Asia Pacific. When he arrived in Hong Kong in 2018, he was immediately captivated by the city's diversity and opted to stay. Meanwhile, the logistics industry has seen an increasing pace of digitisation. Once he settled down, Deric took a leap outside of his comfort zone to pursue the Master of Science in Information and Technology Management (MSc in ITM) at CUHK – a move which has opened up a world of opportunities for him to self-transform in a holistic way.

Cameroon has a rich cultural diversity comprising over 200 distinct tribes. Growing up in such environment, Deric is accustomed to meeting people from different walks of life. In his teenage years, his family moved to Thailand as his father was offered work there. Eventually, he studied international business at the Rajamangala University of Technology Krungthep. After graduation, Deric began working for Rhenus Logistics (Asia Pacific) as a management trainee, having stationed in Singapore, Manila and Shanghai before coming to Hong Kong.


Embracing Hong Kong's diversity in only six months


Hong Kong was originally one of the stops for work for six months, so Deric had not envisaged on staying for a few years. “Before setting foot here, my only knowledge of Hong Kong was from movies or television series. After spending a few months here, I have fallen in love with the city. While it is a bustling global financial hub, hiking trails and outlying islands that are really close by give me plenty of things to do on weekends. A melting pot of diverse cultures that is so friendly to expatriates, many Hong Kong people are willing to speak English, so making friends is easy for me. Furthermore, it has one of the busiest airports in the world. Being connected to most other Asia Pacific cities within three to five hours by flight, it is very suitable for frequent travellers like me. In terms of dining, there are so many types of restaurants to choose from. I enjoy milk tea from the ‘cha chaan teng’ (local restaurants) which is also an experience in local culture.”


Classmates with different backgrounds spark innovative ideas

Though he has settled down, Deric continues moving forward by studying to satisfy his keen interest in innovation, digitisation, and information technology. “As the logistics industry steps into the era of full digitisation, we must stay abreast of market demands, understand customer experience and its impact on the business, as well as gather insights in up and coming trends. Through basic training in disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and business intelligence, I have learned how to plan and implement the digital transformation process. With equal emphasis on theory and practice, the CUHK MSc in ITM is the best possible learning journey for me.

A part-time student who enrolled in the programme in 2019, Deric had classes at the CUHK Business School Town Centre in Admiralty and the main campus in Shatin. He jokes that every time he attends sessions in Shatin, he would pack his schedule to make the most of his time there. “The stunning environment and comprehensive facilities at the CUHK main campus are every exciting. I loved playing tennis with my classmates, and enjoy the great food in different restaurants. I have also really enjoyed studying in the library.”

Being a student during the pandemic, classes and group discussions were partially conducted online. This did not stop Deric from learning from his fellow classmates. “My groupmates are specialists in diverse industries, including a social media specialist in financial sector, an internal strategic consultant at a bank, and a financial control manager, to name a few. We would handle different tasks in group projects according to our strengths, and the discussions would spark creativity and expand our personal networks. These experiences are helpful for my work, giving me the confidence needed to build an innovative, multicultural team across different parts of Asia Pacific remotely.” Deric's efforts were handsomely rewarded. Upon graduation, he was promoted from Business Application Manager in his company, to Head of Innovation and Business Application in Greater China, and Regional Financial Controller of Asia.

 
Hone more skills with part-time studies and give back to society by teaching voluntarily

“We can never anticipate the changes happening in the world. Therefore, we shall continue to learn new knowledge and skills in order to stay authentically ourselves.” Having lived in Hong Kong for several years and built up his personal network here, Deric says he has no plans in leaving and he wants to study further. “Hong Kong is full of opportunities, which has enabled me to grow quickly. In the next few years, I plan to further develop my career here and study for the Doctor of Business Administration in part time mode, so that I can put my finger on the pulse of the world and industry trends. In the longer term, I hope to promote multiculturalism and gender balance in the logistics industry, which is currently dominated by white men. I would also like to give back to society with my professional knowledge, by teaching supply chain and logistics courses in Cameroon and Thailand voluntarily.”

 

(Originally published at Deric Stephane Toche Foka – A Global Citizen who Calls Hong Kong Home Achieving Personal Breakthrough with CUHK Information and Technology Management Programme. The article was republished with permission from the Alumni Affairs Office of CUHK.)