Lei Ji wanted to work in corporate strategy, but instead the full-time MBA at The University of Saint Gallen has taken him from the Swiss Alps to South Africa to spend the summer working with global e-commerce incubator, Rocket Internet.
A few weeks before graduation, St. Gallen MBAs can take on a corporate project as an alternative to writing a thesis. The projects are a great way for individuals or teams of MBA participants to work with companies, putting a practical spin on what they've learned.
The MBAs are tasked with producing innovative solutions for management at the firms. These can take the form of a business plan or a strategy project and can include things like market entry research, technology assessment, or the introduction of new management principles.
This year, around 88% of the full-time class are undertaking a company-based project that has been sourced by the St Gallen career team through the school's corporate partners, alumni network and faculty.
Some of the companies that St. Gallen MBAs are working with this year include Roche, Unilever, Infosys, UBS, Siemens, and Project-Firefly.
Lei is currently working with 5rooms, a Rocket Internet company based in Cape Town, South Africa. The e-commerce company offers an extensive range of local and international home and living items, and Lei’s project involves working as an operations management & supply chain consultant
Lei was born in China but has spent the last nine years studying and working in Switzerland. He gained his Swiss Higher Diploma in International Hotel Management, Event and Hospitality from the Swiss Hotel Management School in 2007, and then went on to gain his BS. International Hospitality Management and Finance from Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, Switzerland. He worked as a revenue and strategy manager for five star luxury hotel Park Hyatt Zurich prior to joining the St. Gallen MBA.
Lei says he was initially sceptical about the opportunity to work with Rocket Internet because of the controversy that has surrounded the company, which was called a “clone factory” in tech magazine Wired.
However, Lei’s impressions of working at 5rooms have been positive. “It's the first time I’m working so passionately. It’s not your typical corporate culture, everyone sits in the same floor and colleagues are very approachable. Its definitely the kind of company I want to work for”, he said. He is enjoying himself so much that he is now considering taking on the challenge of setting up his own e-commerce start-up when he graduates!
Read more about students doing an MBA in Europe here