Bath MBA Graduate Secures Graduate Entrepreneur Visa to Shake Up Chinese Travel Industry

A recent graduate of the Bath School of Management MBA program stated her own venture at the University of Bath Innovation Centre which, if successful, could change the way Chinese travel abroad.

Zheng Ge decided to take her career into her own hands and challenge the male-dominated Chinese business industry by acquiring an MBA degree form the Bath School of Management.

During her studies she won a scholarship from Moog, where she also conducted her dissertation, as well as the “Entrepreneurship in Action” competition held at Bath. Since graduating she has started her own business, leveraging the knowledge acquired to try to change the way Chinese people travel abroad. If successful, her venture could disrupt the whole Chinese travel industry!

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at that stage in your career?

I decided to pursue an MBA for a variety reasons. Education level is one of the most important criteria if one wants to progress his/her career in companies in China. With only a bachelor degree, I felt that I didn’t have a competitive advantage as a lot of professionals of my generation have or are doing their master degree. I also felt that there was a bottleneck in my career – being a female, I found it hard to progress in a male dominated industry. My previous roles involved working across functions and I was involved in setting up and improving the process in the company, which stimulated my interest in business management. I had worked eight years by then and I thought it was time to take a break and equip myself with more business knowledge which hopefully would help me break through the bottleneck and stand-out.

Why did you choose University of Bath School of management and not a business school in China for example, where currently there is a rapid increase of MBA degrees offered? What was it that separated Bath from other business schools?

I researched many business schools before finally making the decision to apply to University of Bath School of management. My decision was based on the course fees, the duration of the course, the modules included, students diversity, location, etc.

Quite a lot of full-time courses are 2 years, for example in the US and China. Taking two years away from work to do a full time course was financially unrealistic to me. And if I could learn everything I wanted to learn in a year, there was no reason to choose a two-year course for me. Some business schools take a large number of MBA students every year. That feels to me rather like a mass production “factory”, while in Bath, the number of students is smaller which allows more interactions in the course with the lecturers and peers, etc. There is also a good diversity of students in Bath, which enables one to learn more about different countries, cultures and industries. 

What are the main takeaways you got from the school's program?

First, of course, the business knowledge. There are interlinking elements in a business. When managing a business, one needs to look at each element as well as having a big picture in mind on how each element interacts with another.

Secondly, when I was doing the course, I was not only learning new knowledge, but also learning and developing the ability to learn, which is equally important and enables me to continue learning and explore different fields after finishing the program.

Nowadays, it is unlikely that one will work on his own in the business world. During the program, for each module, we were put into different groups. Different cultural background and personality have a big impact on an individual’s way of thinking and working. When I work with others or in a team in the future, I should always bear this in mind and work out the best approach to work with them. 

Would you recommend Bath School of Management to prospective MBA students, and why?

Yes, I enjoyed my year at Bath. It has been an exciting adventure for me - learning business knowledge, working with peers around the world, participating in the “Entrepreneurship in Action” competition, doing my final project in a leading company in its industry, etc. The staff and lecturers in the course are very nice, supportive, and knowledgeable in their area. And needless to say, Bath is a very nice city in which to live. 

During your studies you won the MOOG scholarship, which included not only a scholarship package but also sponsorship of your dissertation. Can you tell us a bit about you key take-aways from this great opportunity?

First of all I need to thank Moog for not only the financial support, but also the time they invested in order to help me during my studies. I spent three months in their Industrial group in the UK and did a study on “spare parts management in a service environment” for my dissertation. This is an area in which I had no prior experience. But my supervisors at university and in the company were very helpful and provided guidance and advice to keep me on the right track throughout the project.

The dissertation is a piece of academic work and needs to present the theories one researched and studied. However, to a company, these academic theories need to be interpreted into specific actions that can be implemented in order to benefit their bottom line. Moog is very open – they explained the details of their process and provided all the information I needed, which enabled me to have a good understanding of their business and operation, and therefore helped me to develop practical methods that they can implement on the basis of recent academic research findings and theories. When I started my project, I knew nothing about their field. But at the end of the project, I completed a dissertation achieving the academic requirement and developed some methods that can be implemented in a real business. I have to say that I really enjoyed the whole process!

You also won, along with your team, the “Entrepreneurship in Action” competition, sponsored by the Santander Group. What was your business idea for the competition and how do you think you managed to stand out from the rest of the teams that participated?

The “Entreprneurship in Action” is one of my favorite modules in the course. There were six of us in the team. Our business idea is a Franchise food truck business that would target office workers in industrial parks in China. I think we had a good and diverse team and this helped us to develop a good business plan. Compared to the ideas of other teams, there is nothing cutting edge in our business idea. However, with the knowledge in the team, we combined different existing elements and put them to a market with a huge potential. I think that is how our team managed to stand out from the rest of the teams.

Now that you have graduated, you are planning to launch your own business venture at the University of Bath innovation centre. Can you share a bit about your business idea?

I’m setting up a travel business. With the strong economic growth in China in the last decade, more and more Chinese tourists can afford oversea holidays. In the past, the majority of Chinese tourists chose group guided tours. However, there are an increasing number of people preferring to travel with their own itinerary. In order to do this, people will need access to local resources and travel products, which is still not very easy due to the language barriers, payment and local knowledge. My business is aiming to fill the gap by coordinating tourism resources in the UK and providing service and product to Chinese tourists.

Last but not least, where do you see your career heading in the future, let’s say 10 years from now? Would you say that you have definite plans or is everything fluid still?

I do have plans but I think they are subject to external factors so I would say everything is still fluid. I think at the moment I’ll work hard and try to make my business succeed, as I only have one year to prove that the venture has the potential to grow and stay in business. If the first year is successful, my goal is to grow the business to become the leader in the industry in the following years.

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