Harvard Prof Becomes Dean of CEIBS

Harvard Professor John Quelch teaching at CEIBS last year. He takes over the deanship of CEIBS in February of 2011.

The highest ranking business school in China–China Europe International Business School (CEIBS)–scored a coup today by recruiting Harvard professor John A. Quelch as its new dean. Quelch, who brings experience to the job as the former dean of London Business School, will assume the post in February.

This is the first time a Chinese school has successfully hired a former dean of a major business school. The hire will bring immediate prestige and attention to what many observers consider the best MBA program in China. Poets&Quants currently ranks the school 14th on its non-U.S. best business school list. Forbes already ranks the Shanghai-based CEIBS tenth among the best business schools outside the U.S.  with two-year MBA programs. The Economist ranks the school 100th in the world, while The Financial Times puts it at 22nd, tied with Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

CEIBS is a relative newcomer to the world of MBA education. It enrolled its first 61 MBA students in 1995. The following year, it became the first school in mainland China to accept international students in an MBA program. Two years ago, in 2008, the school finally won accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). CEIBS is still a small MBA program, graduating 188 students in its Class of 2010. The average GMAT score for enrolled students in the Class of 2012 is 691. About 56% of those students are from mainland China, with 15% from Europe and 7% from the U.S.

For Quelch, taking over the top job at CEIBS won’t be a complete culture shock. He was a visiting professor at CEIBS last year, an opportunity for him to get a close look at the school and for the school to get an equally close look at him. Between 1998 and 2001, he served as dean of the London Business School, and between, 2001 and 2008, as senior associate dean at Harvard Business School. Before his administrative jobs at both London and Harvard, Quelch was co-chair of the marketing unit at Harvard Business School. Quelch declined comment, saying he wanted to stay mum until he assumes the job, out of respect for Rolf Cremer, who has been CEIBS dean for six years.

As dean of London Business School, Quelch had a transformative impact. He brought a distinctly American approach to the school, by focusing on strategic initiatives that boosted London’s revenues and raised its international profile. In three years, he managed to increase the school’s revenues by 50%, partly by more deeply engaging the school’s alums.  When he arrived at London, the school didn’t have a single alumni chapter. When Quelch left, there were 35 alumni associations around the world. The school didn’t have any when he arrived. One alumnus even donated office space in Silicon Valley for visiting students and faculty to set up camp. Quelch also revamped the Career Management Service, which had gone without a director for more than two years.

Known for his teaching materials at Harvard, Quelch’s case studies in marketing have sold more than 3.4 million copies, the third highest in HBS history. In 1995, he developed the first HBS interactive CD-ROM exercise on Intel’s advertising budgeting process. In 1999, he developed and presented a series of 12 one-hour programs on marketing management for the Public Broadcasting System.

Professor Quelch was born in London, England, was educated at Exeter College, Oxford University (BA and MA), the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (MBA), the Harvard School of Public Health (MS) and Harvard Business School (DBA). In addition to the UK and USA, he has lived in Australia and Canada.

  • Gerald Foster

    Business schools, until recently have been the domain of the US and the very fact that CEIBS is capable of attracting such a high profile dean means that there is indeed something special going on at this school. No doubt connected to the many opportunities arising in China but I would argue as an expatriate in China, is that this is type of management that China specifically needs at this critical point in its development.

    An MBA from CEIBS is only superficially like MBAs from western schools. (ie. the academic level). China’s unique, rapidly changing business environment and development means that this schools graduates (and its professors and deans!) have a unique chance to influence the change that is happening in China (and by extension of its huge population and economy, the world) and likely this is the opportunity that has motivated Quelch and its students to locate themselves there. Its a unique, compelling opportunity that other b-schools will be hard pressed to match.

  • I wouldn’t call B-schools a major catalyst for innovation anyway.

  • Lehana Singh

    It’s a good step toward bringing western knowledge and management skills to the east. CEIBS is an ideal place for the amalgamation of both western management and eastern ideology.

  • Arthur Dullsworthy

    I agree with Saul. The Chinese, not unlike the Indians, are wasting their money. From my experience at a very fancy b-school, the MBA is utterly valueless apart from network and signaling.

  • Chinese MBAs don’t worry me as much as Chinese MFAs and degrees in Industrial Design. It will be far more concerning when top US design thinkers, practitioners, and leaders leave the country to lead Chinese design schools and help produce a generation of design and innovation talent in China. Roger Mandel, former head of RISD, and I discussed this trend a while ago and agreed it is only a matter of time until the Chinese recognize the transformative potential of educating a generation of innovators and designers.

    Saul Kaplan
    Founder and Chief Catalyst
    Business Innovation Factory