Sunday evenings are usually for winding down or preparing for the coming week but this didn’t stop 30-odd MBA applicants and some CEIBS students and alumni from getting together yesterday night to discuss how China will shape the careers of young executives.
The event, organised jointly by CEIBS and BusinessBecause, took place at funky workspace for social entrepreneurs, the HUB Kings Cross, London. Roy Chason, Senior Marketing Manager at China Europe International Business School
gave an extremely insightful presentation which highlighted China’s economic history and how we can expect it to grow in the coming years.
It was incredible to hear how China, a country that Roy first visited in 1995, had changed so drastically. During Roy’s first visit, the dorm he stayed in provided hot water for only two hours each day! Today, China has over 84,900km of roads, compared to 92,000km of road in the US in 2010. Since 2009, auto production in China has exceeded the US, Europe, and Japan combined. Beijing is expected to surpass London as the world's busiest air hub, with the opening of its third airport by 2015 and Beijing International Airport's Terminal 3 is already larger than all five terminals at London's Heathrow combined!
The list goes on... Guangzhou, whose 2011 GDP of $190 billion is bigger Algeria's, is the capital of Guangdong province which, if it were its own country, would rank among the world's 25 largest economies. The train from Wuhan to Guangzhou is the world's fastest intercity train, reaching top speeds of 217 miles per hour. Qingdao boasts the world's longest sea bridge, which spans 26.4 miles across Jiaozhou Bay and cost $1.5 billion to build. And these are just a few of China's rising cities!
Another interesting fact that we picked up from the night is that China is quickly moving on from being a producer of low-value goods that depend on cheap labour, into high value-added industries such as cars, smart phones and medical equipment.
People have argued that China's break neck growth over the last 10 years will inevitably slow, or even collapse, but Roy Chason believes that there are still plenty of opportunities for growth. As the Chinese government introduces policies to shift from an export-led model to one that's more balanced by domestic demand, China's 1.3 billion consumers will be buying more sophisticated products, requiring greater investment in technology and hiring more managerial and marketing talent.
At the same time China's multinationals, from telecoms firm Huawei, to SAIC Motor (which bought UK classic car brand MG) to oil giant Sinopec are extending their operations and investments abroad, and want to employ non-Chinese people across their business functions.
From Roy’s perspective, there is a lot for young executives to take advantage of, and what better way of learning about business in China, forging local connections and gaining hands on experience than attending a business school in China?
Most of the MBA applicants we spoke to were interested in heading to China because they thought the experience would accelerate their careers. We asked a number of them what they thought a career in China could offer them that one in Europe couldn’t, and money was one of the first mentions.
Cedric Hoffman an undergraduate student in Economic History at the London School of Economics said that Chinese companies are paying more for Europeans who understand both European culture and Chinese culture. Cedric speaks Mandarin and has lived and worked in China and he said he would be keen to work for a company where he can use his special advantage.
Other attendees we spoke with from project management, consulting and finance felt similarly. Laura told us she was interested in a career change, but wanted to work in a place where there was less income tax and where the economy had a long term potential. Jim was interested in getting a better standard of living for his money while Jeff was also interested in getting a salary increase.
Roy Chason confirmed that 85 per cent of CEIBS' MBA students get jobs in China after they graduate. The placement rate is 94 per cent, three months after graduation and the average salary for international students was around RMB 586,000 (US$90,000) compared to RMB 486,000 for local students. On average MBA graduates experience a 91 per cent salary rise!
CEIBS is the longest running, largest, top-ranked business school in mainland China and its motto is to offer students “China Depth and Global Breadth”. They recently appointed Prof. John A Quelch, as their new Dean - a heavyweight who has taught at Harvard Business School and was Dean of London Business School.
The school is now working hard to different itself by offering a unique programme taught by faculty from around the world, a powerful 12,000-strong alumni network including thousands of C-suite executives thanks to its Executive MBA, a CEIBS entrance admissions test that you can take in place of the GMAT and excellent career opportunities. Around 30 per cent of MBA students receive some kind of scholarship.
Of course, there are still a number of issues that China needs to work through. There are environmental concerns, the large disparity between public healthcare and private healthcare (it cost Roy US$500 for a 10-minute consultation with a private dermatologist), and the question of whether it can build a sustainable finance regime, avoiding the instabiility of the West.
Nonetheless, there are exciting opportunities and room to grow in many industries. The top employers of CEIBS graduates are: consulting, which Roy said is growing very fast; financial products, industrial products and technology. Other big employers are oil and gas, renewable energy; and healthcare, biotech and pharmaceuticals.
He mentions that there are many leadership development programmes within firms that foreign nationals can get into. The entrepreneurial route is also friendlier than people think it is, with the government offering incentives for certain industries such as grants for research and development in new technologies and in food and agriculture.
Getting a work license can also take just a few weeks if a company is sponsoring you and there are plenty of opportunities to dip your toe in China’s job market through CEIBS
’ internship programmes, business plan competitions, and independent student projects.
Roy ended his presentation with a quote from Wayne Gretzky, a former professional ice hockey player who said, “Skate to where the puck is going, not to where it is”. In other words, look at where the world economy is going and follow!
Here are some photos of the event!
Roy Chason giving his talk
Current SOAS students who are interested in working in China
Roy Chason with some CEIBS students currently on exchange at London
Current CEIBS student and US National Brian McMahon introducing himself
There was also a chance for attendees to network and exchange contact