A Chinese B-School’s Quest for Global Fame

Quelch is betting heavily on the China card to attract new faculty. And his bet has already started to pay off. Just recently, CEIBS managed to recruit George Yip, a renowned strategy and marketing expert and former dean of Rotterdam Business School. In fact, even Quelch’s appointment as dean points to the fact that the tide might finally be turning in favor of Asian business schools. “Having done Europe and North America, I was interested in Asia — not in Singapore or Hong Kong, but only in Mainland China. If I were to make a move, I wanted to make sure that I was going to a place in the belly of the beast as it were,” says Quelch.

Many globally oriented business schools in Asia have relied heavily on a visiting faculty model — and that, in some ways, continues to be a problem as many try to take their programs to the next level. “Now one of the challenges is that my desk is piled high with the CVs of faculty who are interested in spending a week or spending a month in China. We are rapidly moving past that stage of entertaining academic tourists,” says Quelch.

What do Asia-based managers need?

According to Quelch, Chinese managers are often strong in the “hard skills” like finance, accounting, and economics. “Where Chinese managers need the most assistance and support is in the softer skills…. Leadership, change management, entrepreneurship and innovation are all major thrusts for us where we are especially in need of recruiting additional faculty.”

Many schools have repositioned their MBA programs and refreshed their curricula. At CEIBS, too, Quelch hopes to drive the theme of “responsible leadership” in its curriculum. “We have found in our conversations with students and in our research that particular theme resonates in students in their 20s worldwide,” he says.

The school already has a Responsible Leadership Project, which is a required group project dealing with managerial problems in sustainability. “We feel pretty confident that we can anchor our curriculum around this responsible leadership concept for the next five years,” he says.

On the executive education front, Quelch wants to raise the level of executives who come to the programs. “We have some programs that are pitched at middle managers which are useful and generate good margin for the school. But perhaps the faculty who teach these programs don’t necessarily learn that much,” he says. “If you can shift your program base to address a higher level of executive, you are more likely to motivate the faculty to develop new material … and they are more likely to learn new things from teaching a higher level executive group….”

CEIBS’s executive MBA program is a critical part of the school’s business model. The cost per student of an executive MBA is lower than a full-time program because full-time students need support services such as a career office, student counseling, and placement services. You can also charge higher tuition for executive MBA programs. Out of CEIBS’s revenues of about $100 million, $30 million come from executive education, about $12-15 million from the full-time MBA program, and the rest comes from the executive MBA program.

Going forward, Quelch hopes that the school’s publication division, which publishes the CEIBS Business Review, will start to turn a profit. He also would like to harness the potential of the school’s alumni network to raise funds to create chaired professorships and student scholarships.

For now, though, Quelch has his hands full with building the school’s name. “There is a large number of faculty who really want to be associated with institutions that have momentum…. I believe that once the word gets out on what we are doing in CEIBS, there will be a surge of faculty and student interest,” he says.