CEIBS 25th Anniversary

1994 - 2019

Speeches from CEIBS 25th Anniversary Launch

The dual-city launch, which brought together audiences in Shanghai and Beijing, was rich in content and context, telling a story of CEIBS’ impressive history while offering a look ahead to a bright future. Read on for excerpts of speeches delivered by Presidents Li Mingjun and Dipak Jain, as well as CEIBS’ beloved Honorary Professor Wu Jinglian.

CEIBS President Li Mingjun

“Dear alumni, students, faculty, and staff,
Distinguished guests,

Good evening!

I am delighted to join you here at the Launch Ceremony for CEIBS' 25th Anniversary Celebrations. Throughout the rest of this year, we will be hosting a series of inspiring forums across Asia, the US, and Europe. These will offer our global staff and alumni a platform to spark discussion, share insights, celebrate CEIBS' hard-won achievements, and help us prepare for the long road ahead.

The year 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and the 25th anniversary of CEIBS. The year got off to a great start on news that both of our flagship MBA and EMBA programmes climbed to #5 in the Financial Times’ global ranking, a feat never before achieved by an Asian business school. Some have remarked about the serendipity of this dual top-five ranking. After all, five times five equals 25! Whether coincidence or not, such an achievement would not have been possible without the confidence we place in the path we have chosen.

In recent decades, China’s growing global influence and integration into the global economy have tilted the focus of global management education toward China. It is within this context that CEIBS, together with the support of the Chinese government and the European Union, has developed a range of world-class business programmes rooted in China, but with a global scope. Our top-five global ranking gives us every reason to believe that CEIBS will continue to play an important role in the future. Today, I would like to begin by reflecting on the path we travelled to get to this point so that we might preserve our fine traditions.

Over the past quarter of a century, CEIBS has delivered on its long-term mission and vision with unwavering commitment. The management education cooperation project between China and the European Union began in 1984, since its inception in Shanghai in 1994, CEIBS has viewed China's integration into the global economy as inevitable, and believed that this process can benefit people around the world. Generations of CEIBS leaders, faculty, and staff have held true to this vision, steering the school to success beyond their wildest dreams. In the 1980s and 1990s, we turned out China's first cohort of entrepreneurs and executives familiar with modern Western management theories and practices. Over the decades, we've cultivated a world-class team that offers China depth and global breadth; developed the excellent repository of China business case studies; and pioneered our patented Real Situation Learning Method, which marries theory with practice. Our courses are taught on campuses across Asia, Europe, and Africa, enabling Chinese companies to go global, while helping the rest of the world to better understand China. We also boast the largest and most influential alumni network among Chinese business schools. CEIBS owes much of its success to the leadership's strategic vision and commitment to innovation.

Over the past quarter of a century, CEIBS has brought China and the rest of the world closer together, while refining its own brand. Our school's history is replete with stirring anecdotes about past leaders, who are united by their keen sense of responsibility and duty, their innovation and dedication. Six European members of the CEIBS leadership have received the prestigious Magnolia Silver Award for major contributions to Shanghai, while many members of our foreign faculty and staff have rendered invaluable services to the school. We are prouder still of the close integration between our five campuses on three continents, and our supportive network of over 22,000 alumni dispersed across the globe. Our school emblem is based on the shape of the Chinese character “合” (, which means “mutual understanding”), because we embrace the values of “collaboration on the basis of mutual respect for common development”. Going forward, it is our responsibility to write an exciting new chapter in the story of the CEIBS brand.

Over the past quarter of a century, we have constantly honed the school's operations to ensure its long-term success. By benchmarking ourselves against other world-class business schools, we have successively launched MBA, EMBA, Executive Education, Finance MBA, Hospitality EMBA, and Entrepreneurial Leadership Camp programmes. While pursuing our own development, CEIBS has also contributed to China's economy and national talent strategy, promoted the Belt and Road Initiative, and spurred innovation and entrepreneurship. CEIBS also fosters economic and cultural exchange between China and the rest of the world, hosting forums in important European cities every year, inviting Chinese diplomats to expound on China's strategies, and providing networking opportunities for Chinese and foreign entrepreneurs. We may now be bigger and our administration more complex, but we still apply the same rigorous academic standards and quality requirements to our courses. Our goal is to build a genuine learning platform that delivers lifelong learning to the world's business elite.

Over the past 25 years, CEIBS has built a close-knit community of alumni, students, faculty and staff. Most of our early graduates are now retired, and a growing number of students are now children of our alumni. Therefore, we take it upon ourselves to offer a community where older members feel at home, where friends can trust one another, and where we can nurture the next generation. By creating such a community, we can ensure that the CEIBS spirit is passed on from generation to generation.

What is the CEIBS spirit?

Firstly, CEIBS community members have global vision, and are dedicated to their country. The CEIBS community is incredibly diverse. The school maintains exchange programmes with 37 renowned business schools around the world, while overseas students account for nearly 40% of the intake on both the MBA and GEMBA programmes. CEIBS brings together a world-class line-up of faculty from 16 different geographies, including former ICBC Chairman Jiang Jianqing, Shanghai Municipal Government counselor Sheng Songcheng, former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, former French Prime Ministers Jean-Pierre Raffarin and Dominique de Villepin, former WTO head Pascal Lamy, and eminent professors chosen from the annual “Most Cited Chinese Researchers” list. At the same time, CEIBS believes that people should learn from each other on an equal footing. As a traditional Chinese saying goes, "No distinction should be made between the noble and the humble or the young and the old. Where lies the truth, there is a teacher.” CEIBS Professor Wu Jinglian once said, “CEIBS is credited with propelling China’s economic development and improving management practices in Chinese companies.” What CEIBS upholds and practices speaks volumes about the school's determination to advance China's national rejuvenation.

Secondly, the CEIBS community strives for excellence and believes in learning by doing. Our goal is not only to outdo competitors, but also to outdo ourselves. Nietzsche once wrote, “He who has a ‘why’ to live can bear almost any ‘how’.” An organization or an individual with a clear mission can move forward against all odds. I hope that each of you can find meaning in your lives and achieve worldly success, while making the world a better place in the process.

Finally, the CEIBS community is virtuous and fully assumes its responsibilities. There is an ancient Chinese saying that goes, “A man of virtue should care for all people and all things.” While creating knowledge and value for the world, we also need to sow seeds of faith and virtue. We have made business ethics a compulsory course since the inauguration of our MBA and EMBA classes. Generation after generation, we have seen it as our social responsibility to contribute to people’s well-being. There is an ancient Chinese saying that, “It is no use keeping oneself morally impeccable without a sense of responsibility to help others.” We do not seek to cultivate egotists. Instead, it is our aim to educate individuals who will instigate change; thinkers who return to education after experiencing the working world; leaders who are caring and grounded in life; and creators who are willing to spend a lifetime in pursuit of the essence of entrepreneurship.

CEIBS will do everything within its means to achieve its mission and live up to the expectations of this new era. I am certain that our lofty ideals, our solemn promises, our unremitting efforts, and our captivating stories will be written into the history of CEIBS. Dear alumni and friends, in the years to come, let us work together to elevate CEIBS—a name and brand dear to us all—to an even higher level!

Thank you!"

CEIBS President (European) Dipak Jain

“It's a great honour for me to be here today to celebrate what this institution has achieved in a very short period; 25 years is not a long history. My colleague, President Li mentioned all that we have achieved. I will take a few minutes to share with you our plans moving forward.

The first and foremost duty or responsibility of a business school is to focus on academic excellence. Academic knowledge, by itself, is not enough. We need to relate that to businesses. Because if you don't have the relevance, people will just ignore the theory.

Moving forward, I think a very important part of any business school should also be a focus on social significance: how we make a difference in the lives of people who come in contact with us, in the lives of people who live in the communities we belong to, and in the society that we represent. A good business school should have all three dimensions. And I will share with you how we are going to do that.

What are our priorities as we move forward? We have achieved a very high level of recognition but now we need to make sure that our international reach increases. We would not like to be seen as a business school [that is] just in China. We are truly a business school that will educate our students about what's happening in the world, so we need to increase our international visibility. And I will be more specific on that [later].

We also need to increase our presence in the U.S. The economic gravity is moving to Asia but we still have lots of the great minds, the great business schools in the U.S. We should, as President Li mentioned, have the right partners, which would also help us increase our international visibility. We would like to do more with schools and companies in the U.S. and [later] I will share with you what our plans are. 

The third element is how we strengthen our European and African initiatives. A lot of Chinese companies are investing in Africa. But we are the only business school in the world that is investing in the future talent of Africa. President Li used a very important word, he said there has to be a purpose before performance. That purpose has to be how we create the leaders of the future.

[Going forward] our focus should still be China knowledge. This is our major differentiation from other business schools of the world. That's why [the words] ‘China essence’ are a part of the new theme. It is like when you squeeze a lemon and the juice comes out. The juice has to be China and China knowledge, the Chinese way of doing business; because that will attract people to come and be a part of this excitement.

Now let me go in depth with respect to all three priorities [mentioned above].

What are our plans for international visibility? We are creating something called CGI, CEIBS Global Initiatives. Our most successful programme is the EMBA in Chinese, [the largest in the world]. We want every student and every executive in the EMBA programme to have global exposure. We are going to create overseas modules for EMBA, and I have been given the responsibility to create these modules in the U.S. This September, we will start the first module with Northwestern University, where I spent 25 years: 12 years as a professor and 13 years in the Dean's office.

Our plan is that we will target major cities in the U.S. and then link with business schools in those cities, so that our students get exposure not only to the academic side but also to business institutions. So next year, our plan is to do something in Washington D.C., to do something in Los Angeles and, over time, Miami. [We will be in] all the big cities which are globally connected.

The second element is, we also need to build global partnerships. Lots of business schools today are looking for a way to do something in China. But for any institution to set up their own base, it is going to be quite demanding. We can offer them a home at CEIBS, so it would be a nice marriage: we give them a home, they bring their expertise. So not only will we have programmes where our students go out, but we would get lots of people from different institutions around the world bringing their classes here. If they mix with our students, it would be a very enriching experience. So that's on the international side.

On the U.S. side, on May 15 we will have a forum in Boston. While we are there, we will be visiting Harvard and MIT, the two leading institutions there. And our purpose is, first, to increase our visibility. When you look at any business school, it has three parts to it. One is input, attracting students from all over the world. Second is throughput, which is the curriculum and faculty. We would like faculty from different parts of the world to be associated with this institution. And the third is output, we want the global corporations of the world to come to CEIBS to recruit.

In order to do that, we need to start doing different forums. We [regularly] do forums in Europe. We have done forums in Asia, in different countries. We did a U.S. forum three or four years ago. We want to make it a regular event where we target major cities with major institutions. And we want U.S. business schools to create a China module in their curriculum. People need to experience [China] and that experience is something that we would be willing to give, not only by our students going [overseas] but also by bringing the top institutions here. 

[Now let us discuss] strengthening [our presence in Europe]. On October 7, we are going to have an official inauguration of the new Zurich Campus. This is a very good location for us to [welcome] people from different parts of the world to experience Europe. We already have our GEMBA programme modules there but now we have invested in building a new space. For business schools all over the world, if they want to have a China module, they can come here. If they want to have a European module, we can be their partner in Europe. This way we can spread our wings everywhere that we would like to be.

The other [component] is Africa. I think Africa is a part of our social significance. This is [our way of] giving back to countries where they may not have the resources to go for a world-class MBA or a world-class Executive MBA programme. [We provide] opportunities for people who may not have such opportunities in their own country. So, moving forward, China will still be the essence. But [there is also the aspect of] global significance, making a difference in the lives of people. And this, will be the next chapter of CEIBS’ [journey].

Moving forward, we don't just want campuses all over the world; these campuses need to be integrated. We want to create a one-CEIBS culture, which means we have a unified team and a unified mission to accomplish. All the rankings have shown us that we have achieved a certain level of respect in the minds of business institutions and executives all over the world. Moving forward [there] is a much bigger journey [which will involve] making a difference in various parts of the world.

Before I conclude, I want to share a personal story which I think should also be the culture of CEIBS. On the morning of December 26, 2004, my wife, three children and I were on the beach in Thailand when a tsunami struck. The waves came towards us like the Niagara Falls [but not] one drop of water touched us. Lots of people died.

But not a single animal died, though [there are usually] lots of animals running around the beach. I asked myself, why did this happen? [It’s] because animals have their feet on the ground, they could sense [the change in the terrain]. So they all moved away from the seashore towards the mountain.

The reason I bring up this story is, at CEIBS we need to practice humility. [We need to] keep our feet on the ground and not be too egoistical about what we do. We should be silently making a difference and let the world speak about us, rather than talking about ourselves a lot. I am a big believer in practicing humanity, humility, and integrity. And I want to thank all of you for giving me this chance to be a part of this exciting journey. After having spent time in many great institutions, this is my journey from success to significance. 

Dipak means light. Let's work together to bring light to many institutions all over the world and create a CEIBS that will always be growing with peace and prosperity.”


CEIBS Honorary Professor Wu Jinglian

“My CEIBS story can be summed up in one phrase: ‘growing up together’. After returning from an academic visit to Yale University in 1984, I taught at CEMI (China-EC Management Institute), CEIBS’ predecessor, and later sat on its academic committee. In those early days, CEMI's primary mission was to introduce Western management practices to China.

In 1978, delegations from China's State Council visited Japan and other Western countries. Upon returning to China, they shared their observations about Western management practices with Chinese entrepreneurs, leaving a profound impression. However, in those days, most Chinese entrepreneurs only had a superficial understanding of Western companies; those with a firm grasp of modern management practices were few and far between. Therefore, CEMI's mission of providing education was of great importance, and the institute also had a great impact on my personal development.

Before I joined CEMI, I had very limited knowledge of how Western companies operated. However, in 1988, a company called Sitong Group, a former township enterprise, commissioned CEMI to conduct research into modern enterprise management. This spurred me to fill in some gaps in my knowledge, including information about the organizational structure and operating mechanisms of modern enterprises. I learned a great deal from lectures given by foreign colleagues at CEMI, which proved to be an invaluable resource. With this basic understanding of the ways in which modern companies operated, I was able to complete the research project.

However, as China's economic needs continued to evolve, the promotion of Western management practices alone was no longer enough. This became even more apparent in 1994, during the foundation of CEIBS in Shanghai. In 1993, the Third Plenary Session of the 14th CPC Central Committee passed a resolution on pushing forward economic reform and establishing a socialist market economy. The slate of reforms that ensued, which included enterprise reform, left China grappling with an assortment of problems. It became apparent that the teaching and research conducted at CEIBS should be geared to the practical needs of China’s business community. Indeed, this approach later became the inspiration for the CEIBS mission, which calls for the cultivation of ‘China Depth, Global Breadth’.

During the 1990s, I was asked by CEIBS to offer a compulsory course entitled ‘China’s Economy’. To prepare, I carried out thorough research into China's reform process and the challenges encountered along the way. I later converted the substance of this series of lectures into a book, Understanding and Interpreting Chinese Economic Reform, which is still available in print today.

On a separate note, my teaching experience at CEIBS has offered me deeper insights into enterprise reform and how capital markets work, and my colleagues and students have also offered me considerable intellectual inspiration; the school has been a major influence on my academic journey.

Since the turn of the century, as China's economic reforms have gathered momentum, the country has faced increasingly complex issues. I believe that it is the responsibility of entrepreneurs, professors, and scholars alike to propose solutions to these. One issue that is particularly dear to CEIBS professors is corporate social responsibility. CEIBS has long attached great importance to entrepreneurial behaviour. Indeed, as early as 1995, CEIBS made business ethics a compulsory course for the first MBA class. As China's reforms have progressed, it has become ever more apparent that businesses should not only generate profits for their shareholders, but also fulfil their social responsibility. That means working with the government and non-governmental organizations to tackle increasingly complex social problems.

This observation was reflected in an update to CEIBS' mission statement, which now calls for a ‘keen sense of social responsibility’ in addition to its original goal of cultivating business leaders with ‘China Depth, Global Breadth’.

Today, I view the fundamental nature and mission of companies in a new light. In the 1980s, the corporate theories that we studied stressed that a company's responsibility was to maximize profits for shareholders, although this viewpoint was challenged by management scholars in the late 1990s.

Since 2018, some scholars have pointed out that companies should hold themselves accountable not only to their leadership, but also to their other stakeholders, including employees, communities, and society as a whole. Therefore, we need to fully reconsider an entire framework of theories on corporate governance. I have personally been revising and updating my own theories in line with colleagues at CEIBS.

To conclude, although I may not have as much energy as I used to, I'm still ready to work towards further progress in this field alongside my colleagues and students at CEIBS.”