Drilling into new opportunities

August 23, 2018. Shanghai - With a few weeks left of the summer, many of us are busy finding ways to enjoy the seemingly ephemeral sunshine. However, not everyone has their eyes set on travel, leisure, and comfort. The new MBA academic year has just kicked off, but for several members of the MBA Class of 2020, the journey to explore “China Depth, Global Breadth” began back in July.

MBA 2020' Patrick Harris during his drilling engineer days in central Australia

Meet former drilling engineer Patrick Harris, one of the incoming students who arrived a whole month early intent on bolstering his Mandarin skills. Patrick decided to pursue an MBA as part of a plan to perform an industry and function switch from his previous job in engineering. With an international background and a family history rooted in Taiwan, he chose to explore his options in China, eventually coming across CEIBS. In order to understand whether the programme suited his goals, Patrick participated in the CEIBS Pre-MBA Summer Bootcamp back in 2017, where he immediately stood out from the crowd, earning the award for the most active participant. “Come visit the school, meet the people, and make sure you like the city,” he says, acknowledging that the boot camp confirmed his desire to develop his career at CEIBS.

Patrick alongside his fellow Pre-MBA Summer Boot Campers on a company visit to Dow Chemicals in Shanghai

When asked to provide advice for future MBA applicants, Patrick emphasises the importance of knowing your story and staying relevant says that keeping these two notions in mind is what differentiates specific applicants from the general applicant pool. He points out that while a good education is crucial, it is just as important for applicants to consider the “fit” of the school and its surrounding environment. To that end, Patrick suggests that future applicants skip reading blogs on MBA rankings and reputation to avoid unnecessary stress during the application decision and process. “It’s of critical importance that the school is geared towards your future ambitions,” he says. “You wouldn’t likely do an MBA in the US if Asia was your end goal.  You shouldn’t just go to Harvard because someone said you should go to Harvard and the same thing applies to all other business schools – CEIBS included.”

Of course, Patrick is still adjusting his habits to Chinese customs and lifestyle, especially when it comes to the language barrier. Moreover, this is one of the reasons he signed up as one of the eight participants in the summer Mandarin course offered to newcomers at CEIBS. While he feels that the course progresses at a fast pace and requires a significant time commitment, Patrick understands how crucial the language is in developing his own career. “I think you can probably survive here just with English, but you’re never really going to experience it and enjoy it without some basic grasp of the language,” he admits.

At CEIBS, Patrick says he hopes to develop his business skill-set in order to pursue either investment management or consultancy – the latter of which he became interested in after lecturing a course and realising his passion for helping and imparting knowledge onto other people. As for investment management, Patrick undertook a short internship with a private equity firm in Shanghai in order to become better acquainted with the industry. Yet, despite his clear goals, he keeps an open mind. “There are a lot of industries which I know very little about,” he says. “And I may even end up working in an industry in which I never envisioned myself.”

Patrick addressing his new classmates at the MBA2020 Opening Ceremony

When asked what he considers a successful MBA is, Patrick says, “A successful MBA experience for me is coming out into a position where I’m happy, but also able to fit with the company culturally and I enjoy what I’m doing. A return on investment, yes, but not just in dollar terms.  There’s an MBA mind-set that values money over everything, but people often forget that you’ve got to have some sort of a life.” To force the mind to re-evaluate the measurement of success, Patrick says he recommends future applicants to read More than Money: Questions Every MBA Needs to Answer by Mark Albion.