Steve Cai is a model of an internationalism—he was born in Taiwan, raised in Texas, completed his MBA at China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) and now works in the pharmaceutical industry in Cambridge in the UK.
With a background in electrical engineering, he managed to change job role and industry with a switch to AstraZeneca China on completing his MBA. After a work assignment took him to the UK, he saw the opportunity to take on a more global role and completed the career triple jump—a change of job role, industry, and location—by relocating to the UK.
His decision to study an MBA at CEIBS was driven by the desire to do well across economies and achieve success anywhere in the world.
“I wanted to be flexible,” said Steve, speaking at a CEIBS alumni event in Cambridge in November. “Seeing the economic downturn in the US, and the impact that it can have on a country, it made sense for me to be globally-mobile and able to be where there’s more growth. Now, in the UK, I’m in a role working across multiple countries.”
CEIBS alumni are perfectly placed to build international careers. The CEIBS MBA is ranked first in Asia and 11th globally by the Financial Times. This year, 92% of CEIBS MBAs landed new jobs after graduation; 81% switched careers. A healthy 20% found jobs outside Asia.
For Steve, studying at CEIBS was about more than academics—the school’s venture capital case competition took him to India and the US.
“We were judged by real VCs on our decisions,” he says. “Myself and four classmates went to India for the regional competition, and won it! We then got to go to the US to compete against other regional winners. Although we didn’t win, it was a great bonding experience.”
CEIBS 20,000-strong alumni network is the largest among business schools in mainland China. The school’s Alumni Association has 65 regional chapters spread internationally.
CEIBS’ UK alumni chapter meet around once a month. Relocating to a foreign country can be a daunting prospect, but being able to meet like-minded individuals who have shared similar experiences makes the transition easier.
Sharon Cheng completed her Executive MBA at CEIBS in 2007 and relocated to Scotland with Clyde Blowers Capital, an independent industrial investment firm. When she moved over to the UK, she reached out to the local CEIBS alumni chapter for support.
Sharon believes that her insight into the Chinese market is something she’s able to maximize in the UK—it’s an added value for CEIBS grads.
“As an MBA grad, you have to differentiate yourself. If you’ve studied at CEIBS, then one of the best things you can do is work for a foreign company focused on China.”
Like Steve, it was China’s economic upturn that was behind Sharon’s decision to study at CEIBS.
“Back when I was applying, everyone was thinking about going abroad for their education. I was thinking of going to the US, but changed my mind because the Chinese economy was doing well.
“There were more opportunities in China. That helped me make up my mind and I decided to pursue something there.”
Wendy Zheng, a 2005 CEIBS graduate who has also relocated to the UK, did the same. Wendy worked in property investment and development before relocating to the UK with her family.
“The year I started was when the Chinese economy picked up. If I’d studied abroad, I’d have missed the whole thing. I managed to stay and I benefited a lot.”
“Everything I’ve learned in the UK has also added value,” she continues. “It’s a mature market whereas China is a developing one, so exposure to both is helping me see new business opportunities.”