Chinese tourists are everywhere. And despite the country’s recent economic downturn, they’re spending more than ever before. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, Chinese tourists spent $215 billion outside the mainland in 2015, up 53% from the previous year.
Diego Garcia Fernandez has dollar signs in his eyes. His aim: to bring high-end Chinese tourism to his native Spain.
A current MBA student at China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), Diego wants to leverage his new-found knowledge of the Chinese market. First, in management consulting roles in the Asia-Pacific, and then by starting his own business.
Already, his travel venture is gathering pace; selected for the CEIBS startup incubator where Diego will receive backing and mentorship from a host of industry experts as well as access to a worldwide network of over 17,000 alumni.
The aspiring entrepreneur has a background in consulting and finance. At CEIBS, he’s landed two top consulting internships at multinational pharma firms AstraZeneca and Bayer. He’s also the MBA committee’s social affairs director and a starter on the school’s soccer team.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m planning to work in consulting for a few years before starting my own travel business, bringing Asian tourism to Spain. Specifically, organizing personalized tours for high-end Chinese customers.
They generally have little holidays and are happy to spend big for unique experiences. The German, British, Italian and French tourism industries have done a better job at attracting Chinese tourists and adapting their value proposition to them. But Spain has huge potential.
The plan is to also provide a consultancy service for local companies looking to adapt their tourism offering to the Chinese market.
How is the CEIBS MBA helping you to achieve your goals?
As well as core and elective courses in entrepreneurship, CEIBS has given me a seat at its startup incubator to refine the idea and talk to investors. Having CEIBS as a base is a unique way to trial the product, get free advice, funding and initial customers.
Plus, an MBA in China offers the best combination of language and business learning opportunities while understanding the local business culture and making local connections.
It has been invaluable to leverage CEIBS’ EMBA alumni who are working on related topics. With an MBA from CEIBS you quickly learn the preferences of the Chinese affluent type. And I even took my Chinese classmates to Spain last year to trial the idea.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at CEIBS?
I wanted to switch career, see the challenges of emerging markets, and move to Asia.
CEIBS gives you a China perspective, and the opportunity to learn a completely new culture, way of doing business and language, while earning a world class MBA. It’s the number one school in Asia, and provides mentors, internship opportunities and student-led consulting projects with local companies.
What should applicants think about when deciding to do an MBA?
Look for something more than the brand of the school. It’s key to understand where you want to be five to ten years after the MBA to identify the unique opportunities a specific school can give you.
Does consulting experience help an MBA application?
It’s very helpful. Consulting provides you with a problem-solving mindset and the ability to bring in frameworks to solve business issues. It also trains you to be deal with different industry challenges and manage multiple stakeholders. These are valuable tools both when dealing with the MBA's heavy case study load as well as performing well in post-MBA managerial positions.
How did you secure your consulting internship at Bayer, and what advice do you have for others looking to do the same?
Through the school! CEIBS invited Bayer to campus for a talk and networking session, and supported us in polishing our resumes and practicing for case interviews.
I would suggest creating strong personal relationships with the school's careers service consultants, clearly defining your career blueprint and getting feedback from senior managers on your resume.
What’s the highlight of your MBA experience so far?
Becoming social affairs director was one of my most valuable experiences at CEIBS and most helpful to my career.
Part of the role involved organizing events for up to 400 people which required leading teams of up to 15 Chinese classmates as well as Chinese state-owned companies and local vendors. After situations of miscommunication, mismatches of expectations and management styles, I can say that I learned the basics of leadership in China.