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Since university professors’ success is generally measured by the volume and results of their research work, PhD students and fresh graduates often focus on their research, putting less effort into getting a solid teaching experience.

Not William Wong Ho-yin, who is working towards a PhD in Business Administration at Lingnan University. He made it his mission to be as good at teaching the next generation, as doing research.

“For me, teaching is definitely not a job, but a calling,” he says. “Helping students is a meaningful task for me, a way to serve society and the community. My ambition is to become an educator in my field and teach at a university in Shenzhen.”

With this interest, he has definitely landed at the right place, as Lingnan supports PhD students’ teaching activities as much as their research. The university has a compulsory Learning and Teaching Development Programme for PhD students, (optional for MPhil Students). The seven-month active and experiential curriculum develops students’ abilities to start teaching in their second year.

This prepared Wong well for his job at Lingnan, where he taught a range of core and elective undergraduate-level courses as a visiting teaching fellow / visiting lecturer between 2012 and 2014, earning an Excellent Teaching Award in 2014.

“One of my most memorable moments was teaching an introductory accounting course at Lingnan. This practical training combined with the Learning and Teaching Development Programme helped me to develop my teaching competency and polish my portfolio, enhancing my employability,” says Wong, who received all his degrees at Lingnan, including a BBA and an MPhil.

His aim is to facilitate students’ development. He also provides academic advice for students on how to choose their electives or internship places and shares his learning and work experience with them. While teaching helps him keep abreast of the changing academic environment, he also learns daily by customising his teaching approach to students’ needs, trying to arouse their interest and leading them in case-competitions.

“Teaching helps me gain intrinsic rewards through recognition, advancement and growth,” he says. “My long-term plan is to deliver knowledge and findings to students.”

Wong, who is writing his PhD titled Two Essays on Supply Chain Variations – Evidence from Cost Behaviours and Audit Outcomes, says the biggest challenge was to find an interesting and unexplored topic in the accounting discipline. He went through feasibility studies, pilot tests and literature reviews before deciding on the topic, while a knowledgeable supervisor and supportive learning environment helped him to develop solid research skills.

He praises the cross-institution course enrolment system, which allowed him to take some useful courses, such as research methodology and accounting research, at other universities.

“This not only allowed me to gain new insights into research ideas and keep me abreast of the latest research results, but also helped me develop social ties with other junior researchers,” he says. He adds that the seminars organised by Hong Kong Institute of Business Studies were also useful.

Students now considering to join a university to do a PhD should fine-tune their life-plan and make sure by prioritising and sacrificing some of their activities that they have enough time for their studies, he says. They should be persistent in their research and extensively review the literature to find a research gap they can focus on. They should also develop research methodologies, he suggests.

When choosing a university, they should consider supportive learning environment, such as library support, research training and seminars, and the suitability of the supervisor. Other points include financial support and conference sponsorship, recreational and networking opportunities and accommodation.