P&Q: One area where CEIBS is increasingly concentrating is technology and innovation. What are some of the ways that CEIBS has recently beefed up its programming in these areas?
Fernandez: “China is one of the leading investors in digital technologies. But what is more fascinating is the incredibly high adoption rate of these technologies here. This gives CEIBS a very unique position as a leading business school and we are proud to call ourselves the most advanced MBA program in Asia-Pacific and one in which people and the digital revolution live together. To further solidify this position, we have introduced a concentration in Digital Business and we have introduced many new electives such as Blockchain Business Applications and China’s Fintech Landscape and Business Models Overview.
Already very popular amongst our MBA students, this is also very reflective of the demands from the various industries and 91% of organizations have adopted, or have plans to adopt, a “digital-first” business strategy.
Furthermore, we are also instilling the innovative spirit in our students through electives in Shenzhen, Israel and Silicon Valley. Our annual business proposal pitch competition, INNOVATEChina, is also an extremely popular event.”
P&Q: What is the most underrated part of your programme that you wish prospective students knew more about?
Fernandez: “The most underrated part of our programme is probably our proximity to the business world. Shanghai is a truly dynamic city and always at the forefront of innovation. This enables our students to closely witness these disruptions and be extremely connected to the business community here. There is a huge gap between the city’s perception and actuality, especially outside China. The city is a multi-cultural metropolis of history and modernity. For someone who has not been here, it’s very hard to understand the true nature of the city. And for someone who has visited the city even once, they want to keep coming back.”
SHANGHAI IS THE NEW PARIS
And why not? Shanghai is sometimes described as the “Oriental Paris,” a concentration of capital, culture, and commerce that blends the best of East and West. The city – home to 24.2 million people – draws 318 million tourists a year. The “Gateway to China,” Shanghai is known for its array of shopping and culinary delights – not to mention an electrifying nightlife. More than that, Shanghai is China’s financial and commercial center. Awash in assets, it drew $800 billion dollars in foreign investment in 2017 according to The Economist – nearly double Beijing’s take. The city is a haven for multinationals, which have set down 625 regional headquarters and 426 R&D centers. Of course, Shanghai is a transportation hub. The city is home to the world’s busiest cargo port. At the same time, residents can hop on a bullet train and quickly reach metros like Hangzhou, Nanjing, and Suzhou and their 21 million inhabitants.
“Just like New York or Paris in the past, Shanghai is the new center of the world, where new trends are born and the most influential decisions are made,” writes Raluca Georgescu. “More than most academic degrees, an MBA may be most rooted in the reality and practicality of the world community, business trends, and economic shifts. It is for this reason that I think CEIBS’ location is a massive advantage.”
CEIBS leverages its location well, with a portfolio of capstone-styled core and elective courses that enable students to connect with the business ecosystems around them. Georgescu, for example, is looking forward to retail- and digital-themed courses like Strategizing in Digital China, Rethinking Strategy for the Digital World, and China Within the World. Charatsri Tanaphuwanont shares Georgescu’s interest in digital and touts CEIBS’ ability to address the concept through both technical and strategic lenses. For Karan Sharma, the programming was the perfect avenue to experiment with entrepreneurship.
“Innovation-focused initiatives such as the CEIBS eLab and the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Club have helped many CEIBS graduates start disruptive ventures in the past such as CureApp and Falafel Games. I feel certain that my stint at CEIBS would help me conceptualize a venture that would be a perfect fit for the market’s needs. In all, I felt that CEIBS MBA would bring me up to speed with current ideas and provide me with a radical framework of outlook and perspective towards my endeavor.”
HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE THROUGH CHINA-BASED PROJECTS
However, the most anticipated offering is unquestionably the Integrated China Strategy Project (ICSP). Think of ICSP as a team-based consulting assignment…with a Chinese twist. Over four months, students partner with Chinese companies or multinationals on projects relating to operating in the Middle Kingdom. “Companies come to CEIBS and look to current CEIBS students to develop a solution to a problem that the company is facing,” explains Max Hinchman. “There are companies from every industry, each with their own unique perspective on the business environment in China. Having the opportunity to learn about business in China outside of the classroom is exactly what I was looking for”
In the past, CEIBS MBAs have worked on projects for sponsors like GE, Coca-Cola, MasterCard, and Alibaba. Supported by faculty advisors and executive mentors, students may, for example, conduct marketing campaigns or devise market entry strategies. ICSP projects are designed, says JP Morgan banker Andrew Qiao, to provide students with a platform to “explore new-found interests or strengthen existing skills.” More than that, adds Mtha Moses, programming like ICSP projects bridges the gap between international business practices and their “implications” in China.
“This is something you cannot experience at any other business school in the world,” he asserts. “We are given an opportunity to be immersed both in Chinese companies seeking to expand outside of China and in international businesses seeking to make a meaningful entry into the world’s most advanced and dynamic business environment. This takes the guise of the ICSP, where teams of students are tasked with solving some of the most challenging business projects facing organizations in this market. Given the current global environment, this is particularly exciting, as within the 24-hour news cycle companies investment strategies can change at a moment’s notice. I believe working in this dynamic context equips CEIBS students with a broad understanding of how business and society intersect.”
Making this happen requires a gifted and committed faculty. In this area, CEIBS has invested heavily, attracting professors from fabled programs like Harvard, MIT, Wharton, Columbia, and Northwestern. In fact, two-thirds of the faculty come from outside China, which further instills an international mindset among MBA candidates.
“Something probably unique about the professors at CEIBS is that they are either Chinese professors with many years of overseas experience or international professors with as many years in China,” adds Zhe Wang. “In both cases, they bring world-class expertise…In addition, from what I’ve had in the classrooms, I’m also convinced that the professors here are not only teaching with what they have read or heard but (more importantly) with what they’ve personally been through and what they’ve been able to truly understand in their own lives.”
Faculty aren’t the only ones who dispense wisdom at CEIBS. Jensen Ren, a 2019 P&Q MBA To Watch, was able to land a one-on-one mentoring session with Nobuyuki Idei, former Chairman of Sony, though CEIBS ties. William Yan, a 2018 Best & Brightest MBA, experienced alumni support first-hand, landing five internships in one year alone thanks to networking.
A TICKET TO CHINA…AND ASIA
“CEIBS has an incredibly strong network in Chinese business and political world. This closely connected network can be a lifetime fortune in terms of both job searching and entrepreneurship. Frankly speaking, all my internships and projects done within the process of CEIBS MBA were connected through CEIBS alumni. They either hired or recommended me to these important opportunities.”
For the Class of 2021, China symbolizes a world packed with opportunity, the center of business innovation and the entry point to a new set of possibilities at an unprecedented scale. “It is such a dynamic, complex, and fast-changing place that it requires living in China to be able to understand China,” writes Max Hinchman. “The importance of China to the world economy – and China’s influence on the world – is only going to continue to grow. An MBA in China will help you develop the skill sets needed to succeed doing business in China or with Chinese companies. This is undoubtedly an asset that will only increase in value going into the future.”
That value extends far beyond China, adds Jérôme Poitou. “Earning an MBA in China – the leading Asian economy – provides not only a soft landing in China but also offers a credible gateway to Asia’s corporate world.”
What led these professionals to enter business schools? Which programs did they also consider? What strategies did they use to choose their MBA program? What was the major event that defined them? Find the answers to these questions and many more in the in-depth profiles of these incoming MBA candidates.
DON’T MISS: MEET THE MBA CLASS OF 2021: THE GO-GETTERS
|MBA Student||Hometown||Undergrad Alma Mater||Previous Employer|
|Jan-Peter Boeckstiegel||Loehne, Germany||Harvard University||McKinsey & Company|
|Irene Chen||Jinhua Zhejiang, China||University College London||Minsheng Royal Asset Management|
|Raluca Georgescu||Romania||University of Barcelona||Baozun E-commerce|
|Max Hinchman||Lodi, CA||University of California, Berkeley||M&R Co.|
|Mtha Moses||Johannesburg, South Africa||University of the Witwatersrand||AECI Mining Solutions Ltd.|
|Frank Zefeng Peng||Chongqing, China||University of Maryland||Global Times|
|Jérôme Poitou||Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe||University Pantheon||Teigland Hunt LLP|
|Andrew Qiao||New York City, NY||New York University||J.P. Morgan|
|Karan Sharma||New Delhi, India||Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC)||Leverage Edu|
|Charatsri Tanaphuwanont||Bangkok, Thailand||Thammasat University||CIMB Thai Bank Public Company|
|Zhe Wang||Jinan, China||Beijing Foreign Studies University||Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China|
|Cindy Wu||Shandong, China||Fudan University||Fosun Group|