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CEIBS President (European) Dipak Jain: Our New Journey

Volume 2, 2019

“The first and foremost duty or responsibility of a business school is to focus on academic excellence. Academic knowledge, by itself, is not enough. We need to relate that to businesses. Because if you don't have the relevance, people will just ignore the theory. 

Moving forward, I think a very important part of any business school should also be a focus on social significance: how we make a difference in the lives of people who come in contact with us, in the lives of people who live in the communities we belong to, and in the society that we represent. A good business school should have all three dimensions. And I will share with you how we are going to do that.

What are our priorities as we move forward? We have achieved a very high level of recognition but now we need to make sure that our international reach increases. We would not like to be seen as a business school [that is] just in China. We are truly a business school that will educate our students about what's happening in the world, so we need to increase our international visibility. And I will be more specific on that [later].

We also need to increase our presence in the U.S. The economic gravity is moving to Asia but we still have lots of the great minds, the great business schools in the U.S. We should, as President Li mentioned, have the right partners, which would also help us increase our international visibility. We would like to do more with schools and companies in the U.S. and [later] I will share with you what our plans are. 

The third element is how we strengthen our European and African initiatives. A lot of Chinese companies are investing in Africa. But we are the only business school in the world that is investing in the future talent of Africa. President Li used a very important word, he said there has to be a purpose before performance. That purpose has to be how we create the leaders of the future.

[Going forward] our focus should still be China knowledge. This is our major differentiation from other business schools of the world. That's why [the words] ‘China essence’ are a part of the new theme. It is like when you squeeze a lemon and the juice comes out. The juice has to be China and China knowledge, the Chinese way of doing business, because that will attract people to come and be a part of this excitement.

Now let me go in depth with respect to all three priorities [mentioned above].

What are our plans for international visibility? We are creating something called CGI, CEIBS Global Initiatives. Our most successful programme is the EMBA in Chinese, [the largest in the world]. We want every student and every executive in the EMBA programme to have global exposure. We are going to create overseas modules for EMBA, and I have been given the responsibility to create these modules in the U.S. This September, we will start the first module with Northwestern University, where I spent 25 years: 12 years as a professor and 13 years in the Dean's office.

Our plan is that we will target major cities in the U.S. and then link with business schools in those cities, so that our students get exposure not only to the academic side but also to business institutions. So next year, our plan is to do something in Washington D.C., to do something in Los Angeles and, over time, Miami. [We will be in] all the big cities which are globally connected.

The second element is, we also need to build global partnerships. Lots of business schools today are looking for a way to do something in China. But for any institution to set up their own base, it is going to be quite demanding. We can offer them a home at CEIBS, so it would be a nice marriage: we give them a home, they bring their expertise. So not only will we have programmes where our students go out, but we would get lots of people from different institutions around the world bringing their classes here. If they mix with our students, it would be a very enriching experience. So that's on the international side.

On the U.S. side, on May 15 we will have a forum in Boston. While we are there, we will be visiting Harvard and MIT, the two leading institutions there. And our purpose is, first, to increase our visibility. When you look at any business school, it has three parts to it. One is input, attracting students from all over the world. Second is throughput, which is the curriculum and faculty. We would like faculty from different parts of the world to be associated with this institution. And the third is output, we want the global corporations of the world to come to CEIBS to recruit.

In order to do that, we need to start doing different forums. We [regularly] do forums in Europe. We have done forums in Asia, in different countries. We did a U.S. forum three or four years ago. We want to make it a regular event where we target major cities with major institutions. And we want U.S. business schools to create a China module in their curriculum. People need to experience [China] and that experience is something that we would be willing to give, not only by our students going [overseas] but also by bringing the top institutions here. 

[Now let us discuss] strengthening [our presence in Europe]. On October 7, we are going to have an official inauguration of the new Zurich Campus. This is a very good location for us to [welcome] people from different parts of the world to experience Europe. We already have our GEMBA programme modules there but now we have invested in building a new space. For business schools all over the world, if they want to have a China module, they can come here. If they want to have a European module, we can be their partner in Europe. This way we can spread our wings everywhere that we would like to be.

The other [component] is Africa. I think Africa is a part of our social significance. This is [our way of] giving back to countries where they may not have the resources to go for a world-class MBA or a world-class Executive MBA programme. [We provide] opportunities for people who may not have such opportunities in their own country. So, moving forward, China will still be the essence. But [there is also the aspect of] global significance, making a difference in the lives of people. And this will be the next chapter of CEIBS’ [journey].

Moving forward, we don't just want campuses all over the world; these campuses need to be integrated. We want to create a one-CEIBS culture, which means we have a unified team and a unified mission to accomplish. All the rankings have shown us that we have achieved a certain level of respect in the minds of business institutions and executives all over the world. Moving forward [there] is a much bigger journey [which will involve] making a difference in various parts of the world.

Before I conclude, I want to share a personal story which I think should also be the culture of CEIBS. On the morning of December 26, 2004, my wife, three children and I were on the beach in Thailand when a tsunami struck. The waves came towards us like the Niagara Falls [but not] one drop of water touched us. Lots of people died.

But not a single animal died, though [there are usually] lots of animals running around the beach. I asked myself, why did this happen? [It’s] because animals have their feet on the ground, they could sense [the change in the terrain]. So they all moved away from the seashore towards the mountain.

The reason I bring up this story is, at CEIBS we need to practice humility. [We need to] keep our feet on the ground and not be too egoistical about what we do. We should be silently making a difference and let the world speak about us, rather than talking about ourselves a lot. I am a big believer in practicing humanity, humility, and integrity. And I want to thank all of you for giving me this chance to be a part of this exciting journey. After having spent time in many great institutions, this is my journey from success to significance. 

Dipak means light. Let's work together to bring light to many institutions all over the world and create a CEIBS that will always be growing with peace and prosperity.”