To Inspire. To Be Inspired. – 30 Stories on HKUST Faculty, Alumni and Students

CEO of AirAsia Hong Kong and Macao, Celia Lao, believes in the power of lifelong learning and is testament to how even the most visionary and accomplished leaders can take their expertise to the next level with further study. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the energy and dynamism of the international travel industry can feel like a distant memory. But travel is in Celia Lao’s blood, and she has a steadfast commitment to the sector and work she loves. For nearly two decades, she’s worked in the airline and aviation industry, including 18 years with AirAsia, where for the last 5 years she’s been the CEO of Hong Kong and Macao. She was AirAsia’s first employee in Greater China, and her work has seen her solidify her expertise in government and airport affairs, regulatory compliances, marketing strategy, negotiation, and operations. It was when Celia was promoted to her current position as CEO that she saw the company’s business challenges holistically and realized that intellectual stimulation would be key to her success. To help her business thrive and survive, she would need to acquire new skills, build a global network, and advance her career as a high-impact leader. Setting her sights on an Executive MBA, she was relentless in her criteria: quality program content, structure, academics, classmate profiles, and university culture. The world-class Kellogg-HKUST Executive MBA, jointly offered by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the HKUST Business School, fitted the bill perfectly. 21