Diversity despite Adversity – MBA 2023 Class Opening Ceremony
October 11, 2021. Shanghai – The welcoming of every new class is a special moment for CEIBS, but against the backdrop of the ongoing global pandemic and a seemingly endless array of delays, disruptions and travel restrictions, the MBA 2023 Class Opening Ceremony held particular significance. For students, faculty members and CEIBS staff, it may have felt like a moment that would never come. Fortunately, the latest class has now arrived and assembled on campus, and was able to celebrate the commencement of their studies.
After a brief welcome from MBA Programme Director and Professor of International Business and Strategy Shameen Prashantham, the ceremony officially commenced with a word from CEIBS Vice President and Dean Ding Yuan, who spoke remotely from Europe.
“We are all experiencing another difficult year, living with the pandemic. But we continue to overcome, to adapt, to evolve. For this new year, we are so proud to maintain the quality and diversity of our student intake. This is no easy task, it is the direct result of the exceptional efforts of our admissions team, ably supported by our tireless faculty and alumni. We welcome you, the class of 2023, and I hope you enjoy your time here to the fullest,” Prof. Ding said.
Small, but perfectly formed
As MBA Director Michelle Zhu then remarked in her speech, this year’s class is the first to fully bear the brunt of the pandemic – a factor reflected in its reduced size of 120. She added that, while the class is smaller in size, it by no means suffers from a lack of quality. A recurring theme throughout the ceremony, Ms. Zhu highlighted that the academic and professional accolades of class members were as wide-ranging and diverse as the students themselves.
The members of MBA 2023 have been drawn to Shanghai from 20 different countries and regions around the world, with over one third of the class originating outside China. Over 75% of the international students have China-related experience, while more than 50% of Chinese participants have international study experience. Their industry backgrounds range from financial services and technology to manufacturing and consulting – and these are just the top four professional groups represented. Perhaps the most significant milestone, this class is also the first in the programme’s history to represent a complete parity in gender.
Eager to begin
Following tradition, student representatives from both the current and preceding classes address those in attendance. In an entertaining yet profound speech, MBA 2023’s Archie Preston continued the theme of valuing diversity, while highlighting how everyone has their own unique path to tread at CEIBS.
“I expect everyone is coming here seeking something slightly different, and no two people are looking for exactly the same experience. At the same time, everyone brings a slightly different value to the family that we will build here. I have been struck by the diversity of my fellow classmates, with the only consistent thread being their shared exceptionality. I’m eager to share my experience, and in turn, learn from all of you,” he said.
MBA 2022’s Linjia Huang then advised the new students to take their time and leverage the school’s abundant resources in a way that will help them discover long-term sources of contentment, both personally and professionally. Central to her message was the idea that, at CEIBS, learning opportunities can be found whenever and wherever you look for them.
“Be proactive, but also be humble. Learning opportunities come not only from those who are smarter, more experienced, or have a higher position than us. If we have a humble eagerness to learn something from everybody, our learning opportunities will be unlimited. Try to talk to more people – our programme director, professors, coordinators, the Career Development Centre team, peers, guest speakers, everyone you can. At the same time, make your contribution to better this community we love,” she said.
Professor of Strategy Jinyu He also advised the class to take their time when mapping out their path at CEIBS. In his seven-point plan for becoming the best version of themselves, he urged them to “form opinions slowly,” and to “Choose wisely. Choosing what not to do is even more important than choosing what to do.”
Developing the latest generation of responsible leaders
In closing, Prof. Prashantham, reiterated both the wider mission of CEIBS and the more specific aims of the MBA programme. He emphasised that while aiming to instil ‘China Depth, Global Breadth,’ the school also wants to develop innovative and entrepreneurial – yet responsible – leaders, something that the whole world desperately needs.
“The UN Secretary General has characterised the 2020s as the ‘Decade of Action,’ where we have to accelerate our efforts across all of our shared sustainability goals. Then the pandemic struck. So now we’re in a situation where it is more challenging, yet more urgent than ever, to be thinking sustainably and acting responsibly. This is a time when you, the leaders and managers of your generation, are going to be ‘on the ground’ during this decade of action, with a big role to play. It’s a challenging time, but also an exciting one that is full of opportunities for those who are entrepreneurial enough to seek them out. One of the key facets of being entrepreneurial is to be proactive, something that all the speakers have alluded to in some form. At the same time, with all the uncertainty and volatility around us today, it’s likely that there will be moments when you feel slightly blown off course. So be proactive, but keep calm, and I have no doubt that in April 2023, we will all have ample cause to celebrate,” he said.
Reflecting on the words of wisdom, levity, pride and encouragement delivered by the various speakers, we would like once again to give a warm welcome to the students of the MBA 2023 Class. The Opening Ceremony marks the beginning of your learning journey at CEIBS, as well as a lifelong connection to a community dedicated to developing mutual understanding and responsible leadership across the entire world. We are delighted to have you with us, and hope that the experience was worth the wait.
About CEIBS MBA
The MBA Class of 2024, kicking off in October 2022, is now open for applications. In the VUCA era, CEIBS welcomes candidates who have demonstrated the resilience, courage and growth mind-set required to venture into a changing world.
The full-time English-language MBA programme is an intensive 12- or 16-month journey combining academic rigor, experiential projects and personal transformation. Designed with the school’s motto of ‘China Depth, Global Breadth’ in mind, students build on business fundamentals before taking deep dives into electives on digital business, finance, entrepreneurship, marketing and more.