Ready to Embrace Change for a Better Future - 5 years anniversary of GEMBA 11

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8 years ago, 52 business leaders, who were already very successful in their careers, made a big decision to come to CEIBS to start a reflective study journey. This decision would end up opening up a better career and a better life for the participants. This is the story of CEIBS Global EMBA Class of 2011.

The last 5 years have seen rapid change in the global economy. The 52 alumni from GEMBA class of 2011 are examples of the ongoing changes that are taking place in their countries, businesses and cities. The different careers and lives they have built contributes to the overall success of this class.

At the reunion 5 years after graduation, they gathered at CEIBS and shared among the classmates their life and work developments. Listening to their stories, we are very proud that they are always ready to embrace change.

Gaining Confidence in Finance and Dealing with Cultural Differences
Patrick CHEN

Senior Operations Director, Coca-Cola
“CEIBS courses and top professors’ teachings have really benefited my career and work, especially my confidence to talk about financial related topics, and my comfort to deal with cultural differences when facing business partners from domestic and overseas, said Patrick.

Before joining the CEIBS Global EMBA class, Patrick was struggling to persuade local bottlers’ GMs to put down intensive investment in cold drink equipment, sales teams, and distribution centers to drive sales growth and build up competition advantages. Very often he got pushed back by local bottler’s GMs questioning him “Do you know how much it may infect my P&L and do you know how many extra cases I need to sell to cover that capex cost?” But after graduating from CEIBS, Patrick feels much more confident to talk about such topics especially when he developed 3-5 strategic investment plans with his business partners with the help of the knowledge gained from CEIBS.

Another case relates to overcoming cultural differences. Before 2012, Patrick’s main working partners were those with a state-owned enterprise background. He was very used to working with them and felt quite comfortable. The way to communicate with them required soft language which is more indirect and relationship oriented. In 2013, he was assigned to a new position in Guangdong Province. The new partners’ came from a Western background. In the beginning, he drew on his previous experience in communication, but it did not work. It is from CEIBS that he learnt that successful communication with Western companies should be direct, fact-based, solution-oriented, with a forward-looking mindset, and always with a clear role allocation. He then became more effective and ultimately gained the respect from new partners after he quickly changed his way of communication.

Fully Embrace the Challenges and Happiness from Entrepreneurship
Yuhong Zhang
Founder and CEO, Volta Materials Ltd

Yuhong Zhang finished her postgraduate study in Materials Engineering in Alberta University, Canada. Afterwards, she joined AMAT, an American corporation that supplies equipment, services and software to enable the manufacturing of semi-conductor chips and display equipment. She worked for the company for 10 years and later made it to the position of Senior Manager of Asia Pacific Region Key Accounts. Later on, she moved on to the role of GM of China and SEA in a semi-conductor equipment and material company called ATMI (acquired by Entegris). It was at this time when she started to further her studies with CEIBS. In her 21-year career, Zhang stayed with the materials industry, moving from an engineering position to a managerial role. In October 2013, she rose to a new career challenge – starting her own company. Volta Materials Ltd, based in Nantong, is a high-tech enterprise that focuses on the R&D, manufacturing and sales of the new generation of materials such as storage materials, super capacitors and batteries.

5 years on after graduating from CEIBS, the time came for her to build her own company. The transition from a corporate executive to entrepreneur is bittersweet. “At first I felt excited but a bit lost. I am excited about the new journey. What I felt lost about is working without a secretary or drivers, traveling in coach, living in convenient hotels instead of five-star hotels. Starting one’s own business is a journey full of happiness and difficulties, which is like raising a child. The challenges are way more than I expected. In the process of starting a business, there is no boss or company I could rely on. I have to be strong and face everything myself”, said Zhang. “As a founder, fighting for the company’s success is my job. Such responsibility and pressure accumulates day by day in the course of the company’s development. When I look at my employees, especially those who are very young, I know I need to work harder and fight to win. This motivation I never had before. In short, life as an entrepreneur is not easy, but we try to work hard and happily for it.


Heart-felt Connection with CEIBS
General Manager, ComsanSanitaryware

David learned science, industrial engineering, and mechanics for almost 8 years during his time at university. But he is most certainly not a science geek. As a matter of fact, he feels comfortable networking with people and is also quite good at leading teams, so early in his career he transferred to a management position and started to learn business management knowledge. In addition to joining some short-term programs that looked into specific topics like global business strategy, leading change, and managing innovation that were all provided by famous business schools, David applied for the CEIBS Global EMBA programme to broaden his learning map in business management.


“From my perspective one of the most appealing aspects of the CEIBS journey that lasts until nowadays has been interacting with many people from all kinds of industries, governments, nations, nonprofits, and careers,” said David, “Learning from professors and classmates from so many different cultures and industries was one of my main motivations when I applied for GEMBA at CEIBS and the experience is still exceeding the highest expectations day after day”. That is also one of the reasons why David has been trying to keep connected with CEIBS and his fellow classmates.”


From a Beginner to a Marathon Runner
Jian Gang SUN
Client Director of Financial Services Sector EBU, Greater China, IBM

Jiangang Sun has another identity as a marathon runner. He looks forward to finishing a full marathon in 3 hours in 2019, making it as a top amateur marathon runner. To one’s surprise, he rarely did any sports 8 years ago. It all started when a classmate of his invited him to go for a run. He found it impolite to refuse the invitation but really struggled in the beginning. But once he started, he couldn’t stop. “Little by little, I discovered the joy of running – I feel fit and happy. So I stick to it even though I’ve graduated”, said Sun.

What’s more, Sun joined the CEIBS Gobi Club. He said, “Getting to know the fellows in the club and their stories, I am very inspired. The atmosphere, spirit and the calling of Gobi Club are very appealing, and I was eager to be a part of the team. I enrolled in the Ge10 training, and expected to be a member of the A-team, but I failed. I didn't give up the A-team dream and kept running. Finally, I got the last ticket in Ge12 A-team after 3 years of continuous efforts. During this period, I transformed myself from no sports to a marathon expert.”


From Sun’s perspective, this is a personal transformation. “I reshaped myself from body to spirit. I become a running advocate, I am more positive in work and life, and my leadership style also mixed with coaching and pace-setting. The key words of the journey of this transformation are (1) Persistence - keep running, and (2) Team spirit - we are together. Persistence is the most difficult part. I have to challenge myself and drive myself very hard. The A-team dream motivated me to run faster and longer. Without the team, I couldn’t make the transformation progression. My CEIBS Classmate encouraged me, my Gobi-friends cared for me, my teammates supported me. I have been embraced by a Great CEIBS Big Team.”

Rethinking Success
Julie Wong
Head of HR, JLL Greater China

When I was preparing for the 5th year reunion of Global EMBA class of 2011, I was wondering if we would just talk about the weight we gained and family life. Only when we met each other, I found great changes beyond my initial imagination that happens to most of us, just like the internet era we are living in.

Although the stories shared by our fellows are different, one thing is in common: with the help of the diverse values and open-minded cultures in CEIBS, many of the classmates have started a new chapter in life, tried to live a different life and created a positive rapport with people around them.

For me, success is not about one’s title or income, but rather being able to do what one is inspired to do and enjoy the process and its outcome. I am so happy that all of us are living the life they want. These 5 years brought us so many changes, and I believe changes will keep on coming. When we get older, are we still able to continue thriving towards success and fearlessness as we first met? I am fully convinced that nothing is impossible, and the best time to act is now. I am looking forward to hearing more inspiring stories when we meet in 5-year’s time.


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