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Googlers And Entrepreneurs: Why Europe’s Millennials Are Eyeing MBAs And Careers In China

European MBAs were among the 70% of international CEIBS students who received job offers and pursued careers in China after graduation this year

Thu Sep 29 2016

Wherever you are in the world today, China is never far away from the headlines.

The world’s center of gravity is shifting eastward. And Europe’s hottest young business minds are looking to Shanghai’s China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) as a gateway to careers in China and further afield.

“Hands-on experience is crucial for developing a career in China,” says Yvonne Li, the CEIBS MBA’s director of admissions, marketing and career services. “And CEIBS places students right at the heart of the action.”

In October, Yvonne travels to Europe where she’ll meet with companies to discuss internships, sponsorships and placement opportunities for CEIBS MBAs.

She’ll visit Switzerland and CEIBS’ new EMBA campus in Zurich. And she’ll attend an eFellows MBA recruitment fair in Frankfurt, Germany, to network with prospective students looking globalize their careers and stand out from their peers.

At CEIBS - home to mainland China’s first dedicated MBA careers center – their well-placed to do so. In 2016, 100% of the international MBA students who received job offers chose to continue their careers in Asia after graduation, 70% remaining in China.

2014 grad Ibon Sotil landed a job at Google in Shanghai after his MBA. He relocated to China from Spain, determined to take his career to the global stage.

“My job allows me to work with different stakeholders, both local and international, balancing cultural differences and business interests,” he says. “At CEIBS, I learnt a lot about how business is done here in China. I wanted to capitalize on those learnings and put them in practice.”

China offers companies huge opportunities for growth. Startups, multinational industry giants, and an increasing number of globalizing Chinese enterprises are recruiting international talent to help support their expansion. In 2016, the first international CEIBS MBA joined Alibaba’s super-competitive graduate program.

Although Swiss MBA student Urs Casagrande is still considering his post-MBA career options, he’s certain that he’ll focus his attention on China. “With CEIBS, I have the ‘China Depth’ aspect while doing an MBA which is globally well-regarded,” he explains. “CEIBS gives me a personal edge over others, and it would be stupid not to utilize it.”

Career opportunities at CEIBS are not confined to China. CEIBS’ alumni network extends internationally with 17,000 ex-students across 79 countries.

“‘China Depth, Global Breadth’ is seen in every aspect of our MBA journey,” Yvonne explains. “Students seeking international careers have opportunities for study exchanges, overseas electives in Europe and a career reciprocity program with IESE, LBS, INSEAD, IE and Harvard, supporting students’ job searches abroad.”

German 2010 alum Johannes Muffler experienced an exchange year at IESE in Spain during his CEIBS MBA. Aged 24, he went to CEIBS on a scholarship, excited to try something different. He stayed in China for three years after graduation, working in agriculture for a big German multinational. Then, he quit his job, returned to Europe and started his own business.

Today, he’s managing director of Berlin-based Movoya, which offers high-end travel packages to Chinese tourists in Europe. The idea born after a Chinese MBA classmate came to him for an authentic tour of Europe, away from the tourist hot spots.

“CEIBS was huge in helping us to be where we are now,” says Johannes. “Once I decided to go for it, I went back to CEIBS, asked the alumni office to give me a list of people involved in tourism and pitched my idea. Through the CEIBS network I found an EMBA alumni who invested in the business.”

Wherever they are in the world, CEIBS opens up opportunities for Europeans who want to do business in China.

“I’ve travelled a lot and done business in a lot of countries,” Johannes continues. “To me, the cultural differences between China and the West are the biggest I’ve observed. How we deal with people, how we negotiate, how trust is defined; it’s very different.

“CEIBS prepares you and shows you how to navigate these differences. I'd recommend CEIBS to anyone who wants a top-level MBA and, at the same time, to experience something completely new.”