CEIBS: A Road into China Paved with Opportunity for Malaysians

My name is Calvin Yong and I am a second year student at China Europe International Business School.

Whenever I go home to Malaysia there is usually no shortage of family and friends who are keen to ask me about the value of an MBA, especially one done in China. This is not surprising as completing an MBA is far from a well-trodden path in Malaysia, perhaps because there is less demand for professionally trained managers in Malaysian businesses. However, as businesses across Asia become more mature and international, managers who have had systematic training will be increasingly sought after. This trend is already evident in China as the number of MBA graduates grows to keep pace with the demand. Though China’s growth rate is starting to slow, it is still jaw-dropping compared to that of large developed economies. China is one of the world’s largest economies and the sense of opportunity and excitement one gets here is simply indescribable.

But let’s put flattery aside for the moment; at the end of the day, an MBA is an investment, so how does CEIBS deliver?  MBA2015 placement data saw over 300 recruiting companies posting upwards of 800 job opportunities for CEIBS MBA students. As an international student keen to foster opportunities between Malaysia and China, I take confidence in the fact that nearly 78% of students were able to achieve a career switch in industry, function or both and 85% of international students went on to work in Asia Pacific following graduation. These figures don’t even factor in the increased chances you have of bumping into various opportunities by virtue of working in China’s large, and still fast-growing, economy.

Equally if not more alluring than becoming a high-level manager is the idea of starting your own business by leveraging the China-Malaysia connection. One mega trend to keep in mind is China’s ongoing transformation from a manufacturing-based economy to one that is driven by consumption and service industries. This is great news for the up-and-coming entrepreneur. Successfully develop an innovative service or product that addresses a need and the whole of China may be your market. The previous statement might be a slight exaggeration; however it is true that even niche markets in China may be as big as national markets elsewhere. An industry that Malaysians can consider is tourism. According to the Financial Times, Chinese outbound tourist spending hit USD 215 billion in 2015. That magnitude of outbound tourism spending is unprecedented. Fortuitously, Southeast Asia is one of the top destinations for Chinese tourists. Now consider that only 6% of Chinese tourists currently hold a passport – think about all that potential!

Not to be forgotten is the CEIBS alumni network, by far one of its greatest resources. As an entrepreneur, this is an invaluable source of mentorship and support. The big muscle in this network is the CEIBS EMBA programme. Executive MBAs have already been successful in their careers, but choose to participate in a programme that will push them to an even higher level. CEIBS definitely has one of the largest and most mature alumni networks in China among all the Asian B-schools.

So far I have painted a rosy picture of the prospects here in Shanghai. Needless to say, there are some caveats. The ability to speak Chinese is important. Today most companies — local and foreign, big and small — see Chinese as an advantage. This may have to do with how businesses are more inward looking today as China’s economic development model is in transition.  How well you “localize” will play a huge part in determining how much you get out of your time here in Shanghai. For example, mingling with alumni or people from the business world on a meaningful level can be much harder if you don’t understand how to communicate and socialize. Fortunately, locals are very accepting. As long as you show interest and effort in learning about their culture they are more than happy to accommodate you.

Now that we are around 10 months into the MBA programme, most of us will go on to a two-month internship and then overseas exchange to other top b-schools like INSEAD and London Business School to round out our MBA journey. As for me, I will be spending my summer with the finance team at Intel in Dalian. I would never have been able to jump straight into finance from my previous occupation if it were not for the MBA programme at CEIBS. It is truly giving me returns that cannot be quantified numerically.

If you have any question about CEIBS or China feel free to email me at calvin.ky.yong@gmail.com. I’m always happy to meet more Malaysians who are interested in China.