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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Diary of a CEIBS Summer Pre-MBA Boot Camper

July 11, 2017. Shanghai – As many prepare to leave their desks behind in search of a refreshing summer vacation, 58 young business professionals from 17 countries took a different approach last week, opting instead to come to Shanghai and get MBA fit as part of CEIBS annual Pre-MBA Summer Boot Camp. Diving into the action-packed lifestyle of full-time MBA students at CEIBS, the boot campers got a taste of life both on and off campus through a series of lectures, case studies, company visits and alumni sharing.  Read on to for highlights of the five-day programme:

Day One – MBA Briefing, MoBike Case Study and Kung Fu

Associate Dean and Director of CEIBS MBA Programme Professor Juan Fernandez opened the boot camp by summarizing the three major aspects that set the CEIBS full-time MBA apart from other top tier MBA programmes:

Experiential: Dive into the action in China through the integrated China Strategy Project, Gobi Desert Challenge and CEIBS Real Situation Learning Method™.

Rigorous: Strengthen your business fundamentals with globally-recognized core courses and electives.

Future:  Study in a location that offers a cutting-edge digital business environment, and vibrant innovation and start-up culture outside of the classroom – China’s financial capital, Shanghai.

Associate Professor of Strategy Zhang Yu introduced the boot campers to ‘Building Competitive Advantage for Innovative Organizations’ through his case study on China’s globalizing shared economy champion MoBike. One key takeaway from the discussions on the bike-sharing startup MoBike and its competitors was the applicability of competitive advantage lessons to career development strategies. Prof. Zhang Yu emphasized this point by quoting Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Charlie Munger, who said, “The safest way to get what you want is to deserve what you want”.

To help their recovery from jet lag, boot campers joined a kung fu master class in the evening, ensuring that on day one they were challenging both their mental and physical flexibility.

Day Two - Sustainability in China, Fintech’s Future and Dow Chemical Exploration

Professor of Marketing Lydia Price kicked off day two with a lecture on ‘Sustainability in China, Hot or Not?’ which explored some of the prominent challenges that society will face and the conditions that future business leaders will have to adapt to. “Tackling these challenges will need everyone in the company to be involved, not just the communications team. We are in need of entirely new business models, which just goes to show the importance of culture and people to achieve this shift,” she said.

Head of Innovation and New Initiatives at Santander China Mr. Miguel Solana shared some of the myths about China that he commonly has to debunk along with the major reasons why China has been catapulted to the forefront of fintech development on the global stage.  When asked about the skills set required to succeed in fintech, Mr Solana said that an entrepreneurial mindset is critical.

Building on Prof. Price’s lecture, the boot campers then visited Shanghai Dow Centre to explore their sustainability and R&D projects in China.  Greater China Sustainability Leader Linda Zhu shared the third phase of Dow’s sustainability blueprint to redefine the role of business in society by 2025.  She said that designing with the circular economy in mind, for example, has led to recent collaborations with clients on projects such as the eco-washing machine with Haier that reduces water consumption by 50%.

Day Three – Dancing with Gorillas in the Startup World, China Career Exploration and a Behind-the-scenes Look at Disruptive Business Models in Luxury Retail

Associate Professor of International Business and Strategy Shameen Prashantham discussed the entrepreneurship management toolkit and conditions that foster success. For the many boot campers keen on becoming entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs (entrepreneurship within a large corporation), Prof. Prashantham said everyone should be aware of the importance of timing, shared values and the division of reward and leadership before taking the plunge.

CEIBS is the first MBA programme in mainland China with a dedicated Career Development Centre (CDC), and colleagues from the department shared their insights on job opportunities and market trends in Asia with the boot campers over a networking lunch. 

For those keen to develop their careers in luxury, retail or real estate, a visit was arranged to Value Retail, the company behind the most profitable retail space by square footage in the world. A year on from the launch of Value Retail’s second village in China, Shanghai Village, Value Retail China COO Gary Rosen discussed the power of doing the unexpected to increase word-of-mouth. He gave the example of Vogue China’s champagne launch party which took place in Shanghai Village’s bathrooms; photos from the event still trend on social media.

Day Four – MBA Alumni Insights, Shanghai Tower and Startup Sharing at Naked Hub Co-working Space

After six promotions in four years during his tenure at Bayer in China, MBA 2009 alumnus Jeff Pi was well-placed to share some tools for career success with the boot campers. “The higher you get, the fewer peers you have, so if you have a reputation for screwing people over, it will catch up with you,” said Pi. It is just one of the many practical insights he shared with the boot campers.

Jeff was then joined by some of his fellow alumni for a networking panel in which they shared their experiences on everything from GMAT prep to bonding with MBA classmates through dance routines.

China is on course to be home to 10 of the world’s 20 tallest skyscrapers by 2020, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. Boot campers got the chance to explore one of them – Shanghai Tower.  Never far from CEIBS community, boot campers were able to walk in the footsteps of  Shanghai Tower General Manager Gu Jianping and Chief Engineer Ce Qing who are graduates from the CEIBS EMBA programme.

Surrounded by ping pong tables, beer taps and a gorgeous roof terrace, current GEMBA student Paul Hu welcomed the boot campers to China’s leading co-working space ‘Naked Hub’ on Nanjing West Road.  After sharing some of his own student experiences at CEIBS, Hu invited two entrepreneurs to share some of the lessons they learned from starting and scaling up businesses in the sustainable farming and VR gaming industries.      

Day Five – Multipolarity and WeChat Moments

Mr. David Gosset brought the boot camp lecture series to a close by sharing his perspective on ‘China’s New Normal, Beyond the Headlines’. In his lecture, he told the boot campers that in a multipolar world facing increasingly complex possibilities and probabilities, empathy and finding complementarities are two vital skills.  

Assistant Director of CEIBS MBA Marketing, Admissions and Financial Aid Mr. Steven Ji closed the boot camp by encouraging the participants to reflect on how on their understanding of both China and themselves has changed throughout the course of the programme.  After bonding over case study debates, kung fu and explorations of Shanghai, the boot campers return to their corner of the world filled with memories, new knowledge, and WeChat Moments posts. 

If you are interested in registering for CEIBS Summer Boot Camp 2018 please email James Kent kjames@ceibs.edu for further details.

James Kent
Janine M. Coughlin