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Engineer Accelerates Career In Artificial Intelligence After CEIBS Global EMBA

Xavier Zhu used the CEIBS Global EMBA to swap engineering for business, enhancing his career in artificial intelligence with tech company, Nvidia, in China


Tue Aug 25 2020


Xavier Zhu has worked with autonomous vehicles since graduating from an electrical engineering undergraduate degree in 2008. The China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) Global Executive MBA program allowed him to expand his career, merging business with engineering and landing an AI job with self-driving cars in China, for tech company Nvidia.

He graduated from the 20-month program in July 2020 and credits the EMBA with preparing him for his career move. When he joined the program, he was the senior manager for automated driving systems at Chinese automobile manufacturer, NIO. It was a few months into the EMBA that he landed his current job, as a technical product marketing manager.

Xavier has Chinese heritage but grew up in the US. He says he moved to China to further develop his understanding of the autonomous vehicle industry—China, alongside Germany and Silicon Valley, he says, is one of the world’s strongest hubs for self-driving cars. 

How the EMBA aids career development

The Global EMBA program enhanced Xavier’s career in two ways. First, it provided him with the academic knowledge he needed to combine his engineering background with business. 

As Xavier progressed in his engineering role, he found himself arriving at the confluence of technology, business strategy, and the amalgamation of old and new business.

The Global EMBA program taught Xavier to successfully navigate the differing mentalities of the established players and the fresh-faced startups in his industry. 

“You have the traditional automotive companies, big brands like GM, BMW and Jaguar, then all these startups coming together. You have to figure out how to work across different industries, and a lot of business discussions that come as a result of that.”


The degree provides a strong analytical foundation in organizational behavior, operations management, marketing, financial reporting, managerial accounting, and corporate finance. It also provides a fundamental understanding of how to integrate and successfully tie together multiple business functions. That prepared Xavier to excel in his new role. 

The knowledge acquisition of the Global Executive MBA program extends to teaching students the unique challenges of operating in China’s business environment as an integrated part of the global economy—one of the key learning objectives of the course. 

Xavier says it’s not possible to expand in the kind of role he has without that understanding. 

“As you expand in your technical role you have to gain additional tools that business school will give you. Understanding about finance, how to read the trends in the industry, leadership—these are tools that you don’t get coming out of electrical engineering.” 

The second way the degree enhanced Xavier’s career was by exposing him to China’s expansive market.

In his role with Nvidia he is essentially the person who decides on product strategy and presents the firm’s product lineup to potential customers. 

“If I did the same role in the US, I’d probably be talking to four or five major customers, big car makers like GM, Ford, Chrysler, Tesla, and maybe a few others. 

“But in China that number is in the dozens, so I need more of a network, and coming to CEIBS allowed me to build those connections and build that network.”