Increasingly, ambitious professionals from Africa, India and Latin America are looking to international business schools in China - rather than in the developed economies of Europe or North America - to attain the knowledge and the network which they can use to help spur development back home.
“China offers you the next frontier,” says Samwel Odundo, a Kenyan former KPMG consultant and current MBA student at China Europe International Business School (CEIBS).
“It’s a model emerging economy that you can learn a lesson from,” he says.
Samwel is the latest of a new generation of MBA students from developing economies, determined to take their careers to the international stage. After spending his early professional life working in finance in Kenyan capital Nairobi, Samwel attended the CEIBS Summer Pre-MBA Boot Camp, a week-long program which gives aspiring applicants a taste of the life of an MBA student in China.
“I decided on CEIBS because of the pre-MBA boot camp experience,” he says. “The way the professors delivered content was inspiring and - because of their contextual knowledge of China - very unique.”
Samwel chose CEIBS over both INSEAD and HKUST Business School for his MBA. 10 months on, he’s as confident in his decision as ever: “You have to be in China to know China,” he says. “An MBA in Singapore or Hong Kong is not China-focused; it’s just a proxy.”
The MBA experience at CEIBS has opened doors for Samwel, both in China and further afield. In a few weeks’ time, he’ll visit Europe for the first time, moving to Darmstadt in Germany for an 11-week consulting internship with Merck Group, the world’s oldest pharma firm.
At CEIBS, he’s been able to gain a rich international network with the school attracting students from all over the world.
“Shanghai is a destination that presents so many opportunities,” he says. “[At CEIBS] we have people from Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa, India and South-East Asia.
“I’ve improved my soft skills and I’ve been able to interact with people from very diverse backgrounds and cultures.”
Yet for Samwel, what sets CEIBS apart is the truly immersive China experience on offer. MBA students studying at CEIBS get a first-hand perspective on the world’s leading emerging economy that cannot be replicated from the outside.
“You get to understand why China behaves how it does, where China is coming from, and you’re in a better position to know where China is headed,” he says.
Ultimately, Samwel sees himself as a bridge between China and Africa, working in consulting roles for multinational companies with an African agenda, in order to help generate some kind of social impact on the ground.
“I look at china as a big brother in terms of emerging markets development,” he says. “I can learn lessons from this side of the world to take back to Africa.”
The MBA at CEIBS has allowed Samwel to pursue his dreams. And Samwel encourages prospective applicants to consider an MBA at the top international business school, one perfectly-placed at the center of the world’s future economic development.
“If you want to do an MBA program, the key is to look at where you see yourself in the next 5-10 years, and which market can you leverage from the experience,” he continues. “I would [therefore] recommend CEIBS to professionals from Africa and beyond.”
This year's CEIBS Summer Pre-MBA Boot Camp runs from July 13th to 17th. More information is available here.