MBA life: CEIBS, Shanghai
Denise Pu, center, 27, is in her first year of the MBA course at CEIBS (China Europe International Business School) in Shanghai. This year, CEIBS’ ranking on the Financial Times advanced five steps from last year to 17th in the world.
Can you introduce yourself briefly?
I used to work in the corporate banking department of Bank of America and Citibank in California for 4 years. I grew up in the United States but I can speak Chinese since my mother is a Mandarin teacher. I’m currently the president of the CEIBS student committee, where we take care of external fairs, social activities and career initiatives for fellow students.
Why did you choose Shanghai as the place for your MBA?
First of all, it all started with the fact that I always knew I would get a MBA degree since my career plan is to become a regional executive in the private banking division, and you need to have a MBA degree for it. While I was working, I had a lot of contact with clients, especially Chinese who kept bringing money and expanding businesses to the States. So I thought there would be a lot of opportunities in China and Shanghai is aiming to be the next financial sector. And also I wished to explore China’s appetite for private wealth management, given that there is a rise of new wealth in China and that private banking is a new concept in Chinese banking.
Isn’t Hong Kong more finance-oriented than mainland China?
That’s why I want to do an internship at Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management Asia in Hong Kong in the summer 2012. But the shift from Hong Kong to China is coming. It won’t be that soon because of regulations, but the shift is definitely coming. And I thought work experience here in Shanghai would be beneficial for my career since I will be able to interact and mingle with more local Chinese. If I were to study in Hong Kong and only mingle with foreign students, I could have just stayed in America.
Among many MBAs in Shanghai, why did you apply to CEIBS?
It’s the best business school in Asia and accredited by both AACSB International (U.S. standard for business school accreditation) and EQUIS (European standard). This is a good deal for me as an American studying in China. Most of the MBAs in China are only certified by EQUIS.
What kind of courses are you taking right now? Mostly finance?
Because I am only a first year student we don’t get many chance to take the classes that you choose. But I did take classes such as corporate finance. The concentration that I am going for is finance. I will be able to take classes such as portfolio management and derivatives after I am done with my internship next September.
Are courses mainly made to be applicable to the practical business in China?
Definitely all of our cases that were studied so far, at the end of the discussion, we always thought of how it could be done in China or how would the Chinese students look at this case. I think that’s what all our professors emphasized. Even for cases about American or European companies, when we do our discussion session, we always talk about whether the suggestion would work if it was in the situation of China.
What is the most memorable class till now?
It’s organizational behavior from professor Lorna Doucet. It’s because I am in the finance sector where I have to deal with people all the time, it’s important for me to really understand my clients. And then the way that the course was taught was interesting, looking at the situation from different angles. Personally, it was interesting because when you coach someone else, you try to interpret the emotions of them and that’s always really important. The reason why you get an MBA is to be a leader. In order to be a leader you need to have some concepts with you as far as why would people behave this way, how to deal with a certain situation and so on.
Could you tell us about some characteristics of your school?
Balanced mix of work and play: discipline and creativity, reserved and outgoing. The combination of different cultures and personalities reinforce us to become better leaders and teammates.
Is there anything you think needs to be improved in your school?
The school is only 16 years “young” so there are a lot of practical opportunities for the administration to implement changes based on student needs and current events.
Were there any interesting events recently that you experienced in CEIBS?
Korean Night, sponsored by the International Club but completely designed, organized and delivered by the Korean Night Committee. The event was greatly promoted and was the topic of the week before and afterwards. The buzz was crazy and the students truly learned in depth the Korean culture from food, trivial facts and music. It was the best event with the largest turnout of students last quarter.
Interview by Chung Min-uck