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China passes test with flying colors

By Cecily Liu in London | China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-17 07:32

China passes test with flying colors

Leela Greenberg and her CEIBS MBA 2017 classmates on the streets of Shanghai filming an episode of the online series China Business 101, which she hosted and co-produced. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The country has become a popular destination for Western business school students in the past few years

When Jason Klanderman arrived in Shanghai in August 2016, he noticed bicycles made by Mobike Technology Co Ltd scattered around the city.

He was in China to complete a year of overseas studies as part of his global masters management program with the London Business School.

Three months later, Mobike cycles were popping up in groups of hundreds and thousands all over the city. That was followed by the fast rollout of more than a dozen similar bike-sharing schemes.

Klanderman was even more surprised when he started noticing Mobike cycles appearing on London's streets a year later.

"Very quickly, Mobike became a popular case study across various classes, from supply-chain management, to e-commerce and marketing," he said.

"Being able to see Mobike's unbelievable growth with my own eyes and then discuss my observations with our professors was so exciting," Klanderman added.

The mind-boggling speed of the startup's expansion is perhaps an indicator of the vibrancy and disruptive innovation which has fueled China's economic miracle during the past three decades.

A desire to understand the country's economy has made it an increasingly popular destination for business school students worldwide because of the increasing availability of courses.

London Business School's global masters program in management, which started two years ago, sends students to the Shanghai-based Fudan University in their second year.

So far, the program's graduates have recorded the highest rates of employment from LBS programs. More than 95 percent of graduates have found jobs within three months of graduation, and half of them chose to stay in Asia to work.

Similar China-focused initiatives can be found at other academic institutions.

University College London recently launched a new entrepreneurship-focused MBA program in partnership with Peking University in Beijing.

And Oxford's Said Business School takes all its executive MBA students to the world's second largest economy for studies and visits to companies.

Harvard Business School runs an incredibly popular China immersion program, which requires MBA students to be sent on internships with domestic firms.

China passes test with flying colors

Leela Greenberg and her CEIBS MBA classmates participate in the National MBA Dragon Boat Race, which is held each year in Shanghai. [Photo provided to China Daily]

They are instructed to conduct market research in the country with the help of translators. They then combine academic theories to propose suggestions to the companies they work with.

"Because students are paired with Chinese companies that have innovation challenges, they get to work with managers who really think about innovation," said Felix Oberholzer-Gee, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School.

"Since they have already tried things, the managers are interested to see the perspective of someone not from China," he added.

The Grenoble Ecole de Management in France offers a China-focused doctorate of business administration program in partnership with Tongji University, Sun Yat-sen University and Chongqing University.

The program supports students in conducting in-depth research into unique Chinese business phenomenon.

Examples of past students' research include analysis of how traditional medicine experiences are incorporated into modern hospitals, the rapid expansion of high-tech Chinese companies, and supply chain management practices of multinationals in the country.

"When our students' research papers were published in international peer review journals, they found a keen audience among leading Western academics who were really curious about China's economic growth story," said Jeff Yan, an associate professor of management, technology and strategy at the Grenoble Ecole de Management.

Data from GMAC, administrators of the GMAT business school entrance exam, showed that since 2008, German, Spanish, and Swiss citizens have sent more GMAT scores to China than some regions of North America and Europe.

According to 2016 statistics from the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, China ranked the leading host nation for universities' international branches.

Examples of business schools that have branches in the country include the Hult International Business School and UBC Sauder, both of which have campuses in Shanghai.

Meanwhile, the number of foreign students directly attending Chinese business schools has also grown. The Shanghai-based China Europe International Business School, which is also known as CEIBS, is now teaching its MBA degree in English.

Up to 34 percent of its students are non-Chinese.

The effort seems to be paying off. Students on some of the most prestigious Western programs can expect to earn 80 to 100 percent more after graduating. And CEIBS graduates earn 157 percent more on average after completing an MBA.

Programs at schools based in China now occupy 14 percent of the Financial Times' top 50 MBA rankings, with Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and CEIBS the top performers.

The familiarity and excitement that business school students develop for the country during their studies there often prompt them to remain after graduation.

"Life and studies at CEIBS definitely helped me to acclimatize to the Chinese business environment and Chinese culture," said Leela Greenberg, 29, a graduate of the CEIBS MBA program who is from the United States.

After graduation, Greenberg joined a global leadership trainee program at the Hangzhou headquarters of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

"I'm amazed by Alibaba's incredibly fast pace of globalization," she said. "This also gives me many learning opportunities and allows me to develop a career as a bridge between China and the world.

"It's the best thing that CEIBS helped me to achieve," Greenberg added.

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