You can’t ignore the rapid rise of China and the strength of business schools in the East, and so it’s no surprise that companies like Amazon are attracted to the diverse MBA talent in the region.
Rishabh Ralhan and Andrew Kim are two MBA graduates from China Europe International Business School (CEIBS). After graduating they entered the world of Amazon in China.
Program Manager, Amazon
WHY MBA: CEIBS
Rishabh entered the CEIBS MBA with an educational background in computer engineering. He also had work experience as a tech consultant with Deloitte and AIG, and as a product manager for a travel startup in India.
But he always worked on the tech side and he wanted to complement that with business knowledge. There were questions he wanted to be able to answer: How does a business move forward with the product he’s built? How do they take it to market?
His eyes were on Asia when looking at business schools—“I think right now Asia is the place to be,” he says—and CEIBS came out on top as the best business school in China, with strong return on investment figures.
Arriving in Shanghai was a culture shock, and Rishabh recommends any prospective CEIBS MBA candidates to take the pre-MBA Mandarin course the school offers.
“I learned more about the culture and the language,” he says. “That really helped me transition smoothly into life in Shanghai.”
How the CEIBS MBA curriculum led Rishabh to Amazon
He adds that the CEIBS MBA curriculum equipped him with a strong understanding of digital strategy and leadership that would allow him to thrive. The Case Development Centre (CDC) at CEIBS also creates in-house case studies focusing on Chinese companies. These are complemented by western cases giving students a firm grasp on how business differs between the east and west.
“That’s one highlight of CEIBS,” Rishabh explains. “The balanced mix of Chinese cases and those focusing on US or UK companies was really important to understand the entire view of the world of business.”
Then there was the Integrated China Strategy Project. The group consulting project is for all second year CEIBS MBAs and has them working in real time with companies to solve real-life strategic challenges. Students might develop an entry strategy for a new market; improve and expand supplier relations; or recommend entry options into a new business sector.
Rishabh also gained further project management experience as a management consultant summer intern with PwC in Shanghai. Amazon then came to CEIBS’ campus in January 2020 for a jobs fair, which is when Rishabh first met representatives from the company.
Landing a job with Amazon in China
His experience in data and tech, the MBA education, and his consulting experience, meant he was primed for a program manager position in the Shenzhen office. After seven interviews he was made an offer and has been working remotely from India since August 2020.
During the interview process, CEIBS’ Career Development Centre (CDC) put Rishabh in touch with alumni who worked for Amazon. He built a network from the school’s database and tapped into his mentor’s network who had ex colleagues and friends at the company. They prepped him for the interview with interviewing tips and cv refinement.
Rishabh is confident an MBA in China, and CEIBS specifically, is invaluable. “There’s the right mix of cases covering Chinese as well as western companies,” he says.
“You learn how Chinese people think compared to how western people think, and that’s something that other schools cannot give which schools like CEIBS can. That makes a huge difference.”
Senior Program Manager, Amazon Private Brands
Going from finance to tech
Andrew Kim came into the CEIBS MBA with a background in business and IT. He’d built a career in finance with a consistent focus on tech.
He decided to pursue an MBA in Shanghai for a few reasons. First, he’d always had a goal to pursue higher education, and felt after seven years career experience the time was right. He’d also visited Shanghai before and loved the city.
After learning about CEIBS—a school that has been slowly climbing the Financial Times Ranking over the years and has now consolidated a place in the global top five—his interest was piqued.
Andrew landed at Amazon in China via Walmart, a company he spent nearly two years with after graduating from the MBA. His role with Walmart was owed to the strength of the CEIBS network. A classmate of his working in the strategy department put in a referral with his hiring manager.
During his time at Walmart, Andrew worked across all of Walmart China. He touched different departments, processes, operations, and was able to build a team of developers, project managers, and lean 6 sigma experts.
How the MBA classroom prepared Andrew for a career with Amazon
At CEIBS, Andrew was dropped into an environment that helped him adapt and thrive when his post-MBA career began. There are 26 countries represented in the cohort, and 33.8% of the class are international students.
“I learned a lot about the Chinese culture on the MBA,” he recalls. “My cohort consisted of about 70% Mandarin speaking individuals familiar with Chinese culture. That’s a big help for international students.
“The biggest help on the professional side would be the management skills. There’s a big focus at CEIBS on how to become a leader.
“There’s a strong focus on servant leadership, and I had the chance to put that into practice in Walmart China. I want to be the best leader I can and motivate people by helping as well as serving them.”
An Amazon recruiter reached out to him after nearly two years at the firm. Andrew says he was very motivated by her, and saw the company was planning to expand greatly over the next five years, so decided to make the switch.
Andrew works a lot in English for Amazon’s private brands. He connects a lot with North America and the EU5 countries—France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK—and says CEIBS is a great platform to launch a career between east and west.
That’s what makes CEIBS MBAs attractive to Amazon.
“They’re looking for lots of international talent and people with international exposure,” Andrew says, “and CEIBS brings that. The pool of students is so diverse, and I think that’s what makes CEIBS MBAs very attractive.”
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China Europe International Business School (CEIBS)
Shanghai - China