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Saturday, May 26, 2018


May 26, 2018. Shanghai – Eight pioneering leaders from industries such as architecture, food and beverage, healthcare and entertainment took to the stage to share their  thoughts on how the concept of ‘origin’ has impacted their lives during the TEDxCEIBS 2018 event held today in the CEIBS Conference Centre on the Shanghai Campus. Organised by CEIBS MBA students, the sixth annual TEDxCEIBS event drew a crowd of more than 700, while over 110,000 have logged on to watch the event online. CEIBS Vice President and Co-Dean Prof. Zhang Weijiong and Associate Dean and MBA Programme Director Prof. Juan Fernandez were among those who turned out for the event.

The event’s MC, CEO of Lanxi Healthcare Ltd. and EMBA 2014 alumna Qu Fanrui set the tone for the evening, welcoming onto the stage, in turn, speakers from the worlds of business, culture and innovation. Read on for highlights from their talks:

Founder of the China Europe Forum David Gosset shared with the audience his narrative on the origin of China’s renaissance, encouraging us to consider time as cyclical rather than linear. “China is returning to a position of centrality; would we have the China-led Belt and Road Initiative now, for example, if the original Silk Road had not existed before?” asked Gosset. He also shared his thoughts on China’s global outlook, saying the country is much more than a market. “It is a living matrix of civilisation and it is on a path to invent its own modernity,” he said.

General Manager of WeWork Greater China Alan Ai spoke about the origins of shared working spaces in China. Having previously worked for Disneyland and in the hotel industry, Ai told the audience how the enormous spaces left un-used and underutilised after breakfast in hotels were a constant irritation to him. At WeWork offices in China, the idea is to increase the experience and reduce the cost for professionals, maximising the utilisation of space through yoga classes, seminars and initiatives to bring professionals together. 

Founder and Chairman of the Chi Heng Foundation Chung To shared his inspirational journey that took him from the banks of Wall Street to rural China, where in 2002 he established a foundation to care for orphans who had lost their families due to aids. “China is like a bullet train, but it’s going so fast that many people cannot get aboard.  I like to think that through Chi Heng we are pulling people onto the train,” said To. His foundation, since inception, has gone on to support over 22,000 students, with 4,000 attending university.   

Co-Founder and Chairman of CCDI and EMBA 2005 alumnus Xiaojun Zhao is renowned as the Chief Architect of the National Aquatics Centre (Water Cube) in Beijing. He told the audience that the achievement is also a mixed blessing. “Every time I get to the top I am motivated to start something new, which is why after the Water Cube, I set up my own business,” said Zhao.  In his talk, which focused on the ‘Metabolism of enterprises’, he encouraged the audience to fill their lives with new things and not fear separation or stages of our lives when we face becoming obsolete. Instead we should embrace the new challenges that are coming.

Writer, Scriptwriter, Curator and Co-Founder of Fun Factory Dan Li entertained the audience by sharing the origin of a quote that went viral across social media in China. After watching the particularly sad ending of a play, Li posted ‘don't take life too seriously’ or (人间不值得) on his Weibo account. The words were taken out of context and spread across the internet. But Li has embraced the misunderstanding, creating a series of merchandise, wine labels and festival attractions that carry the quote.

Founder of Baman Beef Noodles Tianyi Zhang talked the audience through the origins of Baman Beef Noodles, his company that has now sold over 100,000 bowls of spicy beef noodles. Compared to the US, Zhang believes China’s food and beverage market is much more fragmented, and the next challenge is embracing the origins of Chinese cuisine – rice and, by extension noodles – to create a symbol of Chinese cuisine to rival that of McDonalds in the US.   

Founder and CEO of Beijing U-link Care Ying Yu talked the audience through the origins of her clinic and stressed why warmth should come before profit in healthcare.  “I can vividly recall the warm embrace of a daughter who had just lost her father. She thanked me for keeping him alive long enough for her to say goodbye,” said Yu. “Hospitals are not just about medicine, but also communication, which is why a clinic with warmth is the most sustainable model.” 

Founder of the Guanfu Museum Weidu Ma closed the event by sharing the origins of China’s first private museum. He encouraged the audience to pursue a career that involves something they excel at. He pointed to his own experience of establishing the museum after failing to achieve success in literature and film. Ma also provided the answer to a question he said he is often asked: how did he fund the Guanfu Museum. “I bought a plate for 60 RMB, which is now worth around six million RMB,” he said, “but we should remember that China’s growth and prosperity has empowered us, and we should embrace the notion of cultural confidence”.


In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a programme of local, self-organised events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection among a small group. These local, self- organised events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organised TED event, following requirements outlined by TED.

CEIBS MBA students have hosted TEDxCEIBS since 2013, sharing thought-provoking ideas with members of the CEIBS community and the wider public. 

James Kent
Charmaine Clarke