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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Three Days in China’s Silicon Valley

March 27, 2019. Shenzhen - Three days in Shenzhen, China‘s Silicon Valley, gave more than 40 MBA students the opportunity to study entrepreneurship in China, explore career opportunities in the Pearl River Delta, and connect with executives and CEIBS alumni.

The MBA module on The Rise and Make of a Global Innovation Hub, led by CEIBS Associate Professor of Strategy Dr. Zhang Yu, comprised of visits to a total of six companies. As the companies included start-ups, mature companies, and venture capital funds, students were able to learn about the whole innovation ecosystem in Shenzhen. The module was focused on getting insights from CEIBS alumni, applying class learnings for recommendations to senior executives, and getting a new perspective on career opportunities.

First hand learnings from a founder’s challenges

One insight students took from visiting multiple innovative companies was how difficult it is to find the right talent. CEIBS alumnus Chen Wenming (EMBA2016), founder of the disruptive conference technology company eMeet, shared during the visit to his company that his biggest challenge is to find the right employees to take his product to the next level. Similarly, Felix Li, Peter Lei, and Lisa Zhang, founders of cross-border e-commerce platform Hofan, saw talent as their biggest current bottleneck.

Applied learning: Advice to senior executives

A special feature of the module was that students could apply their learnings from classes from the first three terms of the MBA programme – such as strategy, marketing, and organisational behaviour – to advising real companies on their way forward. For instance, Wang Rulin, COO of UBTech, a unicorn valued at more than $5 billion (USD), asked the students which sectors they should target with their education and entertainment robots.

Students also had to familiarise themselves with the cloud computing business in order to advise Jeremy Wu, VP at Tencent, on a viable strategy to beat their competitors in this area. Students were further motivated to see how the executives listened carefully to the recommendations and took notes.

Building a career path in Shenzhen

The module also helped students make plans and connections in preparation for their future career. Not only did they get the opportunity to explore Shenzhen for a few days to see if they might want to live or work there in future, they also listened to an impressive talk from CEIBS MBA alumnus Peby Gao about his first steps at a venture capital fund and how his values shaped his career path.

Graduates from the CEIBS MBA Class of 2018 introduced the students to vivo’s new flagship store. In doing so, they suggested that students consider joining a Chinese company competing on the international stage rather than a foreign enterprise in China – a step which would allow them to be in the heart of the company where the key decisions are made.

Students also attended an alumni dinner with former students who are now successfully working in Shenzhen. The networking event helped students learn from the alumni members’ experiences and to secure internship opportunities.

Exploring a booming region

Following the module, many students decided to explore other cities in the Pearl River Delta region, including Hong Kong and Guangzhou, before flying back to Shanghai to kick off their fourth term at CEIBS.

Andreas Glaefke
Michael Thede