In March, Chinese students gathered in Beijing and Shanghai for two weeklong residency programs. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the residencies were the first time many of the students met in person.
Members of the Weston Career Center team in both the US and China designed the programs, and undergraduate, MBA and specialized masters students attended.
Each day’s activities centered on one of Olin’s pillars of excellence: values-based, data-driven decision making; global experiences; entrepreneurial spirit; and experiential learning. The week culminated with an experiential learning project to solve a real-world business problem for the athletic footwear company New Balance.
Throughout the week, students interacted with classmates, engaged with alumni, listened to industry leaders and met with their career coaches.
The human connection
The opportunity to meet her peers face to face stood out to Ruxin (Andrea) Zeng, MSBA ’22. She’d met her cohort through Zoom, but the residency gave her opportunities to interact with her peers in a casual environment.
Learning from industry leaders
Wenxin (Hugo) Xue, MSCA ’22, enjoyed the opportunity to listen to industry leaders. As a business analytics student, he was excited to learn more about the future of big data and how it could affect his career.
Endless opportunities in business
Similarly, Yang Shen, MSBA ’22, found it helpful to learn more about different opportunities in business, whether he networked with employers or listened to various distinguished alumni.
The WCC team planned excursions for students to enjoy during breaks from their coursework. The Beijing students took a day trip to the Great Wall of China, while the Shanghai students took a night cruise down the Huangpu River.
After living in China as an expat for five years, Zach Frantz came home to the Midwest to start his WashU MBA. A few weeks later, he was back, viewing China with fresh eyes as he launched into a study of business models in a global environment.
Frantz, MBA ’21,
was one among nearly 100 first-year students on the final leg of a long ‘round-the-world
trip to launch their MBA studies. After two weeks in St. Louis, the
students spent a week in Washington, DC, two weeks in Barcelona and on July 25,
landed in Beijing to start the final phase of their journey.
The students had
two days to explore the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace
before they decamped by bullet train on a four-and-a-half-hour trip to Shanghai
“For sure, I’m
looking at China and business models very differently. Before, I’d try to look
at a business model and see how a company makes money, but this has really
given me a much stronger framework to understand how decisions are made,” Frantz
said in the midst of a morning excursion with his team, collecting first-hand
data on pastry and coffee shops.
was a key component of the “Business Models in a Global Climate” course taught
Elfenbein and Anne
Marie Knott. The students have divided their time between lectures and
simulations conducted inside a downtown Shanghai hotel ballroom and trips into
the field to collect real-world data to bring the lectures to life.
The course turns
on a simple question: Should St. Louis-based Strange Donuts consider an offer to
expand in the Shanghai market? Answering that question required a foundation in
business models and an in-the-field examination of the competitive landscape.
Great progress—and adjustment
For the most
part, the students’ time has been heavily programmed with classwork, team
projects, outside reading, presentations and field excursions.
morning’s excursion, Associate Dean Patrick Moreton—the chief organizer of the
global immersion—congratulated the students on the progress they’d made over
their first week in Shanghai.
and engaging with the environment in a way we’ve never seen before,” Moreton
said, citing the papers, presentations and simulation results students have
submitted. “You’re doing a great job and while you might not be seeing it, we’re
feeling good about the learning outcomes we’re getting.”
noted that the faculty and staff were responding to student feedback by tweaking
and adjusting the workload to ensure students could balance learning with additional
opportunities to get out into the community.
Frantz was enthusiastic about the work, however. A Midwestern boy who worked as a math teacher for four years in Kunming in China’s Yunnan province and a year as a translator in Shenzhen, he chose WashU Olin because he was ready to return to his network of friends and family in the Midwest—and because of Olin’s newly launched global immersion.
He said the
program had already given him new data-driven tools to help him evaluate
business in a more sophisticated way and that he was excited to return to St.
Louis to start the core curriculum.
“If school is
easy, why would you pay a bunch of money to come here?” he asked. “I came here
to be challenged and push myself.”
Coursework and data
collection in the field continues next week with course by Fuqiang
Zhang and Lingxiu
Dong on “Business Operations in a Global Context.” Students complete their trip
around the global on August 15 when they return to St. Louis.
Pictured at top: Duckenson Joseph, MBA ’21,
questioning a store clerk at one of the Shanghai coffee shops he visited with
his counterparts on team 10.
Sharon Mazimba, MBA ’19, wrote
this for the Olin Blog.
After what seemed like months of preparation, two flight delays, and the longest 16-hour flight later, we landed in Shanghai, China, a group of about 70 first- and second-year MBAs, exhausted but intact and ready for the intense week ahead. They were all part of a spring break overseas intensive designed to provide globally based education for the students and pilot the expanded global MBA experience for the incoming class of 2021 MBA students.
The next morning, we dove straight into our operations course, eager to understand how strategy is implemented through operations, specifically looking at the retail industry. The course would occur over the week, a mix of talks from retail industry experts, practical excursions—including visits to Zara, Uniqlo and H&M stores in the busy Pudong shopping area—a factory visit to Mudoo (a sports apparel factory) and the newly built Adidas distribution center in Suzhou.
the talks and excursions were an eye-opening look into the retail process from
end to end, as well as the nature of business in China and how different it is
from the US or other western countries. There is a highly relational and
perception-based approach in the Chinese market, aspects of which I observed
throughout the week. Two experiences in particular drive this home for me.
first was a talk by Olin EMBA student Salem Cibani, who attends the program in
Shanghai’s Fudan University, who shared key insights about the fashion
industry. He spoke about Ports 1961, a luxury brand launched in Canada, which
then moved to China to take advantage of opportunities there.
move required the brand to completely shift their strategy in China; their
products were priced significantly higher in the Chinese market because of the
perception that a higher price and a distinctly Chinese aesthetic equated
second was how long it took to plan and build the Adidas distribution center—a three-year
endeavor that involved significant pre-planning and relationship building to accomplish.
This was the example most salient to me; other speakers and our Shanghai
located mentors also gave a number of anecdotes about how you had to know
people and be well-connected to truly establish yourself in the Chinese market
and get things done.
While we learned a lot, we also had a chance to explore small but extremely cool areas of Shanghai. The city is vast and one week is not nearly enough to see it all. The Bund had amazing views of Shanghai Tower, the Yu Garden was a beautiful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, and the Tianzifang area had amazing souvenirs, quaint tea shops, and my favorite—lots of street food!
back on this trip, one of my most significant takeaways (and something I will
be carrying into my career moving forward) was how critical it is to tailor
your strategy to different cultures; especially if you are looking to be a
global player. Most businesses fail at this. The second was how incredibly
unique China is. The country’s manufacturing capabilities have allowed the
country to become a hotspot for major retailers to go for their apparel needs
while still maintaining a distinctly Chinese way of conducting business. It was
a fascinating phenomenon to observe and be a part of.
The annual China alumni dinner was March 9, 2019, in Shanghai, featuring about 400 alumni—incoming students, parents and friends of Washington University for the forum and meal.
The annual event aims to increase the visibility of Washington University overseas and to reconnect international alumni in China.
Kevin Xu, chair of the China Alumni Club and International Alumni, Michael Shen and EMOF Class 16 co-organized the event.
Kurt Dirks, vice chancellor for international affairs and Bank of America Professor of Leadership, attended the dinner and shared updates of Washington University with the attendees. He also thanked Kevin Xu for his outstanding leadership of China Alumni Club.
Faculty, staff and guest attendees included:
Ohad Kadan, H. Frederick Hagemann, Jr. Professor of Finance and Vice Dean for Education and Globalization at Olin Business School.
Steve Malter, senior associate dean of undergraduate and graduate programs at Olin Business School.
David Konig, professor of history and professor of law at Washington University School of Law.
Bill Xu, head of China office, Washington University in St. Louis.
Emma Zhao, international alumni and development programs.
Paul Shao, managing director for the Washington University–Fudan University joint Executive MBA program in Shanghai.
Roy Li, investment associate at Washington University in St. Louis.
Dean Xiongwen Lu, School of Management, Fudan University
If you’ve noticed a cluster of students moving around Knight Hall and Bauer Hall in similar garb, you’ve caught a glimpse of class spirit from the soon-to-graduate Shanghai EMBA class.
The 66 members of Shanghai EMBA 16 arrived in St. Louis this week for a final week of classes before today’s graduation ceremony. And their orange (for women) and blue (for men) cardigan sweaters turned more than a few heads—thanks to the inspiration of a few class members and the apparel company founded by a classmate.
Members of the EMBA Shanghai class 16 attending a last week of class before graduation on October 26.
“They wanted to be good-looking when they were together taking pictures. And they also wanted a souvenir of their time in the class,” said Linus Fan, founder and owner of Nena apparel company in Guangzhou, China. He put his designers to work, interviewing 10 members of the class for more information about what they wanted.
Then, he rushed the uniforms into production. Within 45 days of hatching the idea, the class had its official uniform—donated by Fan’s company.
“Mainly, we just focused on the sweaters,” he said. “They wanted to be able to wear this for a long time, even after graduating, and something that would be satisfactory for everyday wear—not too formal.”
Fan founded Nena nearly five years ago after a long career in the apparel business and a master’s degree in Manchester, England. After a number of years, he decided he needed a more broad understanding of all aspects of business, which led him to seek his MBA. The reputation of WashU’s EMBA program in partnership with Fudan University—along with its standing among global EMBA rankings—led him to join the Shanghai program.
Fan took a two-hour flight each month to and from Shanghai for his courses while running his company, which employs 215 people focused on apparel design and manufacturing, serving clients who want to market and sell their own lines of apparel in their stores.