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Rise Of Chinese Businesses In The West Means More Opportunities For China-Savvy MBAs

Chinese companies are looking to expand—and MBA grads like Egor Prokhin know that knowledge of Chinese business practices is a huge help in the job market


Fri Jan 11 2019

Chinese businesses are expanding rapidly—and it’s no secret that they’re looking to the West to aid their global expansion.

China has already put a total of $22.5 billion in foreign direct investment into Europe and North America this year, in the form of mergers and acquisitions of European and American companies.

And at home, Chinese businesses are rapidly growing. Forbes recently released their 2018 Growth Champions list, an annual look at the top performers from the Forbes Global 2000 list.

This year, Chinese businesses occupy seven spots in the top 10—with the top five places all being occupied by Chinese companies.

And these companies are all considering new ways of targeting Western consumers.

E-commerce giant Alibaba—number 39 on the Forbes Growth Champions list—is even eyeing up the recent Silk Road train line as a possible route into European expansion.

With more Chinese companies looking at ways to conquer the West, there are more and more opportunities for MBAs with specific knowledge of Chinese business practices to build careers worldwide.

A program with international links

Fudan University's International MBA program—taught in collaboration with MIT Sloan—is preparing their students for work in Chinese companies at home and abroad.

This begins with the school's faculty: over 40% of the professors in Fudan’s IMBA department are international, and students are also taught by up to five visiting professors from MIT Sloan every year. 

This collaboration between American and Chinese scholars means students are taught both international and Chinese business practices. For alum Egor Prokhin, this aspect was key when it came to looking for a job after his MBA.

“For someone that wants to work in Asia or work with Asian companies, it’s very important to understand local culture, local management practices, as well as Western business skills,” he says.

Originally from Russia, Egor graduated from the IMBA at Fudan two years ago as now works as a senior overseas investment and strategy manager for a large Chinese corporation.

His interest in Asian business was first piqued when he visited China on an exchange during his undergraduate degree in engineering—and his belief in the importance of Chinese business for future employment led him to choose Fudan University for his MBA.

“I was very impressed by Asian culture and history, as well as economic growth—China and Asia are both fast-developing economies right now,” he explains.

“I decided that to study an MBA and continue my education in China—learn about international management practices and also learn additional Chinese language on a business level—would allow me greater employment opportunities in the future.”

The importance of Chinese business knowledge

On the International MBA program, Egor also had the opportunity to do an exchange at Keiko University in Tokyo, Japan. Through the integrated iLab project, he spent time consulting for PPG Industries, an American Fortune 500 company with a base in Shanghai. 

“iLab was a kind of real-time internship, or consulting project, during our MBA—we worked with top management in various international companies both in China and outside China,” Egor says. “For these companies, it’s very important to find the right person who can understand their culture and who can speak in the same business language as them.”

But experience in Chinese industries isn’t just important for students who want to work in China after their MBA. With Chinese businesses growing globally, it’s crucial for MBA grads to understand Chinese management practices to cooperate with Chinese corporations in Europe, the US, or elsewhere in the future.

“The IMBA at Fudan provides amazing opportunities for Chinese students and foreigners as well to combine Western and Eastern business skills,” Egor adds, “so we can essentially work in Asian companies or Western companies, and do cross-border business.”

“Right now I’m working in a Chinese company, and this kind of experience, with international links, will be a good advantage for my future career.”