[MBA life] CEIBS: good return on investment
Adeline Chong, 31, is halfway through her 18 month-long MBA program at the Chinese European International Business School (CEIBS). The school, ranked as 17th in the world by the Financial Times this year, was established in 1994 as a non-profit joint venture between the European Union and the Chinese government to facilitate economic exchange between the two regions.
Can you tell us about yourself?
I’m Singaporean. I grew up in Australia and went to university in Singapore where I studied computer engineering. After graduation, I joined Singapore Telecom — I had received a scholarship from the company on the condition that I work for it for at least five years after university — and built a career first as a solutions consultant, then as a business manager and business planning manager. During my work as a business manager I helped to manage SingTel’s Indian investment and then as a business planning manager, increased my scope to developing a regional regulatory group for the SingTel group of companies.
Why did you choose to do your MBA in China and not India or other Asian nations that are also growing fast?
I was originally planning to do my MBA in the U.S., but after the 2008 financial crisis, I had to give it second thoughts because I didn’t want to go $200,000 into debt afterwards. Asia became an attractive option, with relatively low tuition. I thought I would be able to expose myself to growing cultural diversity in China — Shanghai has become a melting pot. In CEIBS alone, there are many international students like me coming to learn more about China, the next global economic superpower. Looking at the good combination of international and local students at the school, I was confident that I would be able to transition into China easily.
How do you like CEIBS?
It’s a very good return on investment, I think. You can get a top quality MBA for a relatively inexpensive tuition. Before coming to CEIBS, I was worried that language barrier might pose a problem, but I was pleasantly surprised at how international the faculty and student body were. All faculty members are fluent in English, having spent more than ten years abroad, receiving PhDs from top universities in the world. Their level of teaching is excellent. As for the student body, nearly 40 percent are foreign born. The majority of the international students are from Europe or America.
Is there anything you dislike about CEIBS?
The first two terms — when the workload is the heaviest throughout the program — were academically demanding. Students have more flexibility in the third term to look for internships and pursue other interests. I’m using my time to brush up on my Chinese.
What is the course you enjoyed the most at CEIBS?
It’s a core class that I took in my first term, Economics by Bala Ramasamy. He’s everybody’s favorite teacher. He delivers the materials in a lively and energetic way, making the material all the more interesting. I also took “China within the World” that he taught in the second term.
Did you do something exciting outside the classroom?
I enjoyed a hiking trip to Luoyang organized by the school. About 20 students from the class of 2010 participated in the trip. It was nice to physically and mentally challenge ourselves outside the classroom. It was also a great opportunity to network with EMBA students who also participated.
Are there many scholarship opportunities? How is the financial side of CEIBS for you?
Yes, there are scholarships available for Chinese students such as the EU scholarship, as well as the EU-China BMT MBA Exchange scholarship for Chinese students going to Europe for international exchange. There are also scholarships available for European students such as the La Caixa and Casa Asia scholarships for Spanish students. I myself was awarded the Shanghai Municipal Government scholarship for international students to encourage them to study in China. Scholarships, available for all types of international students, are great incentives for them.
Do you think the school is fulfilling its founding purpose of connecting China and Europe?
Yes, the purpose has been fulfilled by encouraging cross-learning between Europe and China in two ways. First, through the exchange of students. Like I mentioned, because of ample scholarship opportunities, a lot of European students come to CEIBS, exposing themselves to a different culture and working style. Of course, with their enrollment, vice versa is achieved for local students. Secondly, as the partnership between EU and Chinese government brings in many European dignitaries as speakers, students have great opportunities to get perspectives on both regions of the world.
Interviewed by Lee Sun-kyo