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Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Desire to Explore Brings these Elites Together

The frontrunner of an Internet enterprise; a talent returned from overseas; the HR Director in a massive private company, or a senior manager coming to China for new opportunities... These elites may all come from different countries and have different characteristics, but they all share the same hunger for a challenge. They are curious, ambitious, courageous and embrace learning. They are confident in China's future, and aspire to communicate with the world.
It is one key similarity that brings these elites together. They are the CEIBS Global EMBA Class of 2016. In keeping with its strong history, this Global EMBA class has an international and diverse culture. 31% of the 59 participants are international, coming from 16 countries and regions, with 19 formidable female leaders. Each student has on average 16 years of work experience, working for multinationals, state-owned enterprises and private companies. Nearly one in five are entrepreneurs or company owners.

"From functional to intelligent, automobile design has witnessed massive changes, and still has many new things to try. There are risks, of course, but this is exactly what attracts me."

Wang Yu stepped into a new exploration after he started his venture in 2014.

Wang graduated from Tsinghua University with a degree in Civil Engineering, and chose to study a Master’s and PhD in the US. During his PhD studies at the University of Michigan, he joined Hoff Auto Design Company. He did not continue pursuing his degree, because he was assigned to lead the China division just three years after joining the company. After he left Hoff in 2008, Wang joined Peugeot-Citroen. During his four-year experience, he spent more than half of the time in China as the manager for global projects. As a result, he has spent a great deal of his career shuttling between China and the world.

In 2011, Wang co-founded a car design consulting company, and remains involved in this company. In 2014, Wang founded another company with an innovative concept called "Internet+Cars", in which the "Chinese Tesla" is being developed.

"Intelligent, new-energy vehicles are one of the major future trends. From functional to intelligent, automobile design has witnessed massive changes, and still has many new things to try. There are risks, of course, but this is exactly what attracts me," said Wang.

Though working in a start-up with a hot concept, Wang is remarkably humble, and has his own thoughts about the modern business environment. In his opinion, the Chinese market has passed the accumulation stage, and entered a break out phase. Meanwhile, issues arise with people’s hunger for profit and using money-making as the only criteria of judgement. As a result, projects without a quick pay-back often have very low recognition. Wang observed many foreign companies aiming for long-term sustainability during his time abroad. He thinks Chinese companies still have large room to improve, including in contract-making and social responsibility.

An important reason Wang chose CEIBS Global EMBA is for a dedicated environment for knowledge and skills development. Though he still has a large role in his start-up, for which he has to devote 60 hours a week, where new challenges keep arising; he is still willing to find time to study at CEIBS.


“I want to be a road paver, not a follower, so I can see views others haven’t seen.”

YooShim, although short in stature, is actually a big challenge seeker. “I want to be a road paver, not a follower, so I can see views others haven’t seen,” said YooShim.

It is hard to imagine that YooShim’s first job was as a production assistant in a Korean film studio. Three years of experience made YooShim realize her talents in film, but she did not follow the common script. Though internet speeds were still very slow at the time she was doing film research, YooShim foresaw the huge potential with this new industry. She changed jobs: “This was the first turning point in my career.”

Since then, YooShim has worked for three IT companies, with the longest being 11 years. She would leave a company when she sensed conservatism in the organization which contradicts her challenge-seeking attitude. To YooShim, the experience in Google four years ago was the second turning point, “Standing on such a high-level platform, I learned the business logic of this internet tycoon and enjoyed its leadership.”

Last year, YooShim left Google to pave herself a completely new business route. Here in Global EMBA, YooShim wishes to equip her career with something new. In fact, YooShim is the first Korean female student Global EMBA ever, and she will fly to Shanghai for monthly lectures. “I have deep curiosity toward China, so I want to know more about this country and its culture. I believe that Chinese market is trending for the coming future.”


"Living standard are higher in the West, and the peer pressure for children is lower. But I still prefer China, because cultural identity is important to us."

Bu Haiyuan always makes careful decisions, such as when he chose to go to Sweden ten years ago, and when he then chose to come back to China this year. His decisions also reflect the change happening in his life.

Having graduated with a Computer Science degree in 2000, Bu worked as an engineer in a joint venture for three years, and then moved to Alcatel. Two years later, he went to Ericsson. And, in 2006, he got the chance to work in the headquarters in Sweden. He and his wife moved there, and soon started to enjoy a stable lifestyle.

Bu always looked for breakthroughs in his job. He hoped to excel in not only technical works but also management, and was eager to communicate more with the clients so he could understand how the business works. Gradually, he became an outstanding manager.

In 2014, Ericsson decided to shut the chip department Bu was in. This confused him, "our team had been re-structured 5 times in 4 years. It was just when we felt things were turning for the better that the company strategy changed again."

So he started to plan for a return home to China. As a result, he received a phone call from his previous boss, who tried to persuade him to join Fingerprint Cards, which included team members from Ericsson's chip department. It holds core technology in biological recognition, which currently has a very promising market outlook. In 2015, sales of this market grew nine-fold. Furthermore, this Swedish company is mainly selling to the Chinese market, and most of the mobile phone manufacturers in China are its clients. Bu took on a role leading customer projects and establishing new business modules. The timing couldn’t have been better.

"Living standards are higher in the West, and peer pressure for the children is lower. But I still prefer China, because cultural identity is important to us." Bu believes that, China might have valued the West 10 years before; but China is becoming more and more confident nowadays.

Bu just returned to Shanghai this July. Having left China for such a long time, Bu hopes to adapt to this society quickly, and to get up to speed with what is happening here.


“I felt something was missing, because I could not communicate with the outside world. I felt stuck in the office.”

“I could not speak a single Chinese word. And I couldn’t even tell the taxi driver in which hotel I was staying! Even worse, someone encouraged me to eat those preserved eggs during my first day here, and I nearly went crazy.” Recalling his first day in China five years ago, Onur still seems excited.

At that time, he felt that he could not last more than a few days; but time flies, and five years have now passed, during which he has moved from Shenzhen to Shanghai. Last time the plane landed at Pudong airport, he had the feeling of arriving ‘home’ after 5 years here. This is despite him being a native of Turkey.

After graduating with an Engineering degree in 2005, Onur joined Arcelik, one of the largest home-appliance companies in Europe, with its headquarters in Istanbul. Onur worked as a research engineer in one of Arcelik’s factory, while also studying a Master’s Degree in Engineering. In 2011, as the market expanded, Arcelik started looking for a procurement manager to work in Shenzhen. Onur took the chance.

“I felt my job was too relaxed after 5 years of experience. I could design while listening to music by my computer everyday. But I felt something was missing, because I only communicated with the factory, but not the outside world. So I felt I was limited. Besides, I always wanted to have some international experience. Thus, I made the decision.”

Nowadays, Onur is the Director of Product Management and Export for Beko China, a subsidiary of Arcelik. During his daily work, Onur still has to face problems caused by cultural differences. For example, Chinese people are more introverted and will not raise different opinions in front of Onur when he is allocating work. And the result is often an incomplete task. “I should have read and understood their faces better.” Onur is gradually adapting to this way of communication.

Onur sees this year in Global EMBA as a new start in his career. He believes that Global EMBA at CEIBS is the only choice in Shanghai for one wishing to deeply understand China and acquire a global vision.


"It is such a great experience to participate in the company’s management and decision-making."

"Our classmates are from all over the world. I have been experiencing an intense cultural shock these two days. It helps me to think from different aspects. So I believe this will be a very important experience in my career." Sitting in front of us was Crystal, an HR Director coming from applied the science field.  

Recalling her nearly 20-year career, Crystal thinks that, though she did not go for the common career path, her every step has been firm. Crystal's first job was in the procurement department of Master Kong; she was then sent to Logistics, and the Marketing department before she left. These experiences, though unrelated to HR, are seen by Crystal as something precious. "It is not hard to get into an HR job, but the further you go, the higher your ability will have to be."

After she left Master Kong, Crystal joined a world leading automobile parts manufacturing company, at which her career officially started. Though she entered HR by accident, Crystal feels that this job gave her more room to develop freely, as she enjoys communicating with others. Her engineering background brought her the necessary logic needed for problem solving.

Crystal has worked for three foreign-owned companies, all doing HR. "In the five years I spent at Mesto, my HR professional skills improved greatly." In 2013, Crystal made it to the HRBP of China.

Soon after, a China-based, global automobile parts supplier invited Crystal to join its new business department as chief HR officer. When she accepted the offer, many people could not understand -- giving up a well-paid job in a foreign-owned company and moving to a private company? But Crystal had her own understanding, "Chinese professionals finally had the chance to found their own company headquarters and to expand into overseas markets. It is such a great experience to participate in company’s management and decision making."

Crystal believes that there will be both more opportunities and challenges on this completely new platform. And the reason she chose to go back to school at this point is to take a break, revise management theories, acquire a global vision, and exchange ideas with classmates from all over the world. With this, she will be able to break the next "ceiling".


“I want to learn from different people. More importantly, I want to learn about myself.”

Claus, from Denmark, has a special bond with China. Throughout his career he has worked for three companies which are all closely related to China.

Coming from an Economics background, Claus continued studying for an MBA after graduating. Then, he joined a Danish company, and started his career in the construction business. It was only four months later that he was sent to China to help open an office for research and procurement.

For Claus, going to China meant a completely new start. From being a financial supervisor, to procurement manager, and then Vice President of the company -- such a career path often takes a decade to accomplish, but Claus only took 6 years: “I was highly engaged every day, and I tried many different roles. This was an intensive experience.” Claus originally planned to spend only a year in China before going back, but he met his Miss Right and thus decided to stay. Now, he is the father of two lovely daughters.

During these years in China, Claus has gradually become accustomed to Chinese culture. The fast-growing Chinese economy has enabled him to make a large leap forward in his career. His second job was to go and build a wind-turbine sub supplier in Guangdong province, which was again starting from nothing.

“I love to socialize with people. This is why I returned to campus. I want to learn from different people. More importantly, I want to learn about myself.” Nowadays, Claus is the China Vice President for a Finnish company: “My colleagues are all experienced, and the corporate structure is very mature.” Claus also learned to slow down and rethink himself. An important reason he chose CEIBS is that he found the environment here fits his background. He wants to continue looking for a balance between China and Europe, and testing the best pace between fast and slow lives.

Ruru Tang
Isa Luo