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Broadening My Horizons

I am originally from Indonesia and have lived in Australia and the US. After graduating from Barnard College, Columbia University with a double major in Political Science and Economics, I returned to Indonesia to work for a logistics company specialising in bulk commodities. I knew I had always wanted to get an MBA; however, timing was an issue and I was unsure which school would best fit my future goals.

In 2019, I decided to commit to getting an MBA. As fate would have it, leading up to my decision I was able to witness the sheer scale of Chinese investments in Indonesia working for a company that provided logistics services to Chinese enterprises. I knew that China would play an important role in my life and CEIBS was the only school that would be able to provide an immersive Chinese experience combined with a top-tier business school education, in line with its slogan of “China Depth, Global Breadth”.

 

Inside the Classroom

The first three terms have broadened my horizons on business strategy, innovation, entrepreneurship, and core business management skills. This experience has been magnified by learning from my fellow classmates, each of whom hail from different countries and diverse backgrounds. I have continuously been inspired by their ways of thinking and speaking, and their work ethic.

In particular, I have enjoyed the Chinese and overseas elective modules which have incorporated CEIBS’ Real Situational Learning Method (RSLM). To read an article I co-wrote about the Nanjing Module (Globalization of Chinese Companies), please click here.

In December 2019, I participated in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Japan elective. Taking this module at the halfway point of my MBA was important because it taught me important Japanese concepts such as mindfulness and kokorozashi (personal mission), which have reminded me of the goals I want to achieve for the remainder of the MBA. Even more so, these are important concepts to practice for a more fulfilling life.

One highlight included visiting Ishizaka Sangyo, a waste management company in Saitama that was so impressive and clean that it felt almost like a museum or a park. Ishizaka Sangyo’s mission to create a resource-recycling society taught me what it means to build a company that has the essence of kokorozashi. From being a source of pollution in the local community to being the pride of Saitama, it is inspiring to see a company that was able to turn itself around and become even more successful. The company also contributes to the environment and industry through waste management R&D and education on recycling and permaculture.


Students at Ishizaka Sangyo

Another highlight was visiting Kohno Guitar Manufacturing, where we met master luthier Masaki Sakurai. Being passionate about music myself, I was amazed by the finesse of craftsmanship and integrity of sound that is the signature of the factory’s heritage and its position as a world leading guitar maker.

 
Mr. Masaki Sakurai explaining about guitar making at Kohno Guitar Manufacturing

We also learned about Japanese companies that have sustained steady growth over generations by taking a long-term, conservative, and strategic approach that can weather external pressures such as financial crises, regulatory changes, and competition from globalisation. These companies build up capabilities and resilience over generations, which is in stark contrast with the “unicorns” in the world today that experience euphoric rises and meteoric falls. Overall, the Japan module was an eye-opening experience.

 

Outside the Classroom

CEIBS has given me a breadth of opportunities to get involved with the school community and learn more about China.

Being chosen as a Student Ambassador has been an honour. As the only Indonesian in the MBA 2021 cohort, I believe my ambassadorial contribution is not only to help Indonesians navigate their journey to CEIBS, but also to share with my classmates more about Indonesia – the fourth largest country in the world by population, the largest economy in Southeast Asia, and the largest archipelago in the world with 18,000 islands.


MBA 2021 Student Ambassadors at Student Reception

During my time at CEIBS, I also visited Ningbo with Family Business Club members to attend the annual 6th China Family Business Succession Forum & CEIBS 8th China Family Heritage Forum. The forum focused on the theme of “Constancy and Change” and hosted insightful discussions and keynotes about the sustainability of family businesses amidst global uncertainties and generational shifts. There were keynote speeches by Mr. Carl Elsener, CEO of Victorinox AG, third generation of the Elsener family, and Mr. Hanno D. Wentzler, President and CEO of Freudenberg Chemical Specialties, fifth generation of Freudenberg family. It was inspiring to get a peek into how their families and companies have navigated challenges over generations and delivered sustainable growth.

I have also been excited to contribute to the class by being the MBA 2021 batch’s resident DJ for various parties throughout the year, including the Golden Week Party, Halloween Party, and Shanghai Night. These parties are great opportunities to get to know classmates, faculty, and exchange students better.

 
DJ Fayzin at CEIBS parties

INNOVATEChina is CEIBS’ flagship business plan competition. In the vein of rapidly developing cutting-edge technologies such as 5G, big data, cloud computing, OMO (online-to-offline), and IoT (internet of things), this year’s theme is “Connectivity for the Future”. My team proposed an innovative clinical trial patient recruitment platform powered by China’s ubiquitous connectivity and artificial intelligence. Through this experience, I have been able to learn more about the Chinese healthcare industry (an industry I have never had exposure to before) and to explore the power of technology in the Chinese mobile ecosystem.

Being a foreigner living in China for a few months with limited Mandarin, I realised I have only scratched the surface of the Chinese mobile ecosystem with must-download applications like WeChat, Alipay, Eleme and Dianping. Paying for anything with only my fingerprint in China feels like something out of the future. With China leading the way for such cutting-edge technologies, it is a strategic time to be in the Chinese ecosystem and explore how the technology revolution will shape the future to come.

 

Adventures in China

As third-generation ethnic Chinese, I also wanted to explore my Chinese heritage. Luckily, CEIBS is located in Shanghai, a historic city and home to many interesting museums and buildings. My favourite museum is the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, which details Shanghai’s evolution from a historic trade hub to a sprawling modern city with 24 million people. Shanghai’s architecture is beautiful and includes traditional shikumen houses juxtaposed with art-deco landmarks and modern skyscrapers.


Rooftop view at The Bund

During term break, I had the chance to visit Yunnan in Southwestern China. It is one of the most ethnically diverse Chinese provinces and borders Sichuan, Guangxi, Guizhou and Tibet, as well as Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar. While I was there, I went on the most memorable hike of my life – an unpaved trek up to 4,600m above sea level across the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain range.


View from hike through Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

I also did a more leisurely hike (it was beautifully paved) through Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) in Anhui province. Its granite peaks have served as inspiration for ancient Chinese ink paintings and even James Cameron’s Avatar film.


View from Huangshan mountain

From just a few cities I have been fortunate enough to visit over the past few months, I have been astounded by China's vastness, diversity, and beauty. For any adventure-seeker, China has much to be explored.

 

Going Forward

Already half-way through my MBA journey, I can say the past few months have been extremely rewarding and eye-opening. Being in a new environment, learning new things, meeting new friends from diverse backgrounds have given me the opportunity to reflect on my personal mission in life. Most importantly, living and travelling in China has unlocked my vision to the unlimited vastness and potential of the world. I look forward to continuing my MBA journey and exploring more of China.


At one of China’s high-speed railway stations – ready for the next adventure!