What’s It Like To Get An MBA In Shanghai?

Susanne Fischer, Feldkirch, Austria

Susanne Fischer. Photo by Nathan Allen

Susanne Fischer. Photo by Nathan Allen

Susanne Fischer is already pursuing a Chinese-focused business degree. From Denmark. And while Copenhagen is charming, it’s certainly not Shanghai.

“Shanghai is very vibrant,” says the 26-year-old Fischer. “It’s at the pulse of time. Everything is changing and it’s very fast-paced.” Compared to Zurich, Switzerland, where Fischer earned a degree in economics and business administration, and Copenhagen, where she is earning a master’s in business and development studies with an emphasis on China, there’s not a lot happening in the European cities compared to the Asian one.

“I really think this is where the business opportunities are going to be,” Fischer says of Shanghai. “Europe is going to be the Disneyland for the Chinese and Indians. Europe is sleeping a little bit and that’s not where I see my future headed. I need innovation and excitement.”


Fischer’s infatuation with China began when she was 21 and she spent a semester studying abroad at Fudon University in Shanghai. Since then, she has been going through the exhausting and challenging task of learning Mandarin. Despite her interest and belief in the strength of the Chinese economy, Fischer has yet to do a Chinese deep dive. Until now, perhaps.

“CEIBS is a great opportunity to make that switch completely from Europe to China,” Fischer says. Ideally, she says, she’d be able to split her time in Europe and China after an MBA, combining her banking and startup interests.

As for yet another business degree, Fischer says it’s necessary — just not yet. At 26, she is a couple years shy of the average age for a CEIBS student. And since she has spent a lot of time in school, she could build up the professional part of her resume, which is exactly what she plans on doing.

But in three or four years, when Fischer does take the MBA plunge, CEIBS should probably count on her application. “CEIBS definitely has everything I am looking for,” she says.

Ryan Flamerich. Courtesy photo

Ryan Flamerich. Courtesy photo

Ryan Flamerich, 24, Birmingham, Alabama

As one of the youngest boot campers, and the only born-and-raised American, Ryan Flamerich looked incredibly comfortable in a Chinese MBA classroom. The 24-year-old was often called on to give his Western perspective. And he surely didn’t back down when his opinions differed from the consensus. A 10-minute conversation with Flamerich reveals why: He’s already done a lot and had plenty of success.

When Flamerich graduated from high school, he spurned a few elite northeastern schools to attend nearby University of Alabama, where he graduated with degrees in chemical engineering and political science. During his junior year, Flamerich was awarded the uber-competitive Truman Scholar Award, resulting in him spending his first year after graduation with the Appalachian Regional Council, where he did life science investments and trade work. After a year, Flamerich made the leap from Appalachia to the United Kingdom to do similar life science investments and trade strategies. After another year Flamerich was snatched up by Deloitte’s New York office.

Flamerich’s interest in China extends to his undergraduate days in Alabama, when friends he made from Asia talked about CEIBS. After his first trip to the Shanghai campus, Flamerich says, he walked away very impressed. “Its location in Shanghai — the growing financial capital of Asia — is a compelling sell,” he says. “It feels like New York. It is very developed. It is a modern developed city that you’re going to find in Europe, North America, or anywhere else. Its GDP is as much as most American states.”


Still, for all the appeal, Flamerich noticed some reasons for hesitation — mainly the air quality and difficulty getting access to Google and all of its platforms. Also, Flamerich says, Shanghai is very different from the rest of China. But he certainly understands the importance of China and its relations with the United States. “It’s difficult for me to rationalize a world in which the business community here in Shanghai and greater China and the United States doesn’t become more integrated,” Flamerich reasons.

While he believes knowing Mandarin “would be key to learning the most” during time spent in China, he says it’s not necessary for those planning to work in China. As he points out, many of his Deloitte peers working in China operate in English. “Most of our clients have operations in China,” Flamerich says. “I think it would be naive for anyone in the States to not be thinking about China.”

As for applying to CEIBS in the next couple years? “I think it’s definitely on the list,” Flamerich says.

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