08 September 2012

MBA in China, anyone?

It present, there is a significant shortage of about one million managers and business leaders in China and business schools all over this nation are scrambling to get their share of professionals who can ably fill the gap.
According to John Quelch, vice president and dean of the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai, China, the past 10 years have seen a proliferation of MBA (Master in Business Administration) programs due to the surge in demand for managerial talent. Right now, he says one million managers are needed to be able to extract the most value from China’s economy which is at 7.8 percent growth for the first half of the year.

“The average age of a chief executive officer (CEO) in China is approximately nine years less than a CEO in the US. That’s 46 versus 37. What that tells you is that its shortage in China is such that people are being promoted in many places more rapidly. But if you do not have management quality, that reduces productivity in the economy. And when there is a shortage in quality managers, it has a definite effect on the economy,” points out Quelch.
Hence, he says, there is a pressing need for MBA programs and executive education programs for more established executives in China who are more focused on innovation, research and development (R&D). This required skill set, Quelch adds, is a result of China’s big shift to R&D in a bid to accelerate its per capita income that is growing slower than it used to be.
But if this shift to R&D is successful, more managers are trained with the proper skills and stability is sustained, Quelch predicts that China may gradually close the gap with the U.S.
At the CEIBS, students who are high-potential leaders are trained in what Quelch calls a “leadership microwave.”
Here, their skills development - in leadership, strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship — are accelerated to make them better equipped to take on bigger and more challenging responsibilities.
To date, CEIBS runs the world’s largest Executive MBA program with about 800 Chinese and non-Chinese professionals taking it every year.  In addition, it is also considered the largest business school in Asia in executive education.
Each year, about 200 professionals take its 18-month MBA program, which ranked 23rd in the last Financial Times global rankings. Of this number, half are Chinese and the other half are of different nationalities.
CEIBS also has an Executive MBA program and a Global Executive MBA program taught in English. Quelch says the latter has been ranked 11th worldwide in executive MBA rankings. Interestingly, about 50 percent of the class in the global MBA program are Chinese.
The business school also offers a wide range of short, non-degree courses that include strategy programs on how to do business in China for new expatriates. It likewise designs specialized leadership programs for international companies.
Currently, CEIBS has about 12,000 alumni with degrees, 10 percent of whom are now sitting as CEOs in Chinese companies.
Quelch, who was in Manila recently to launch the CEIBS Alumni Association Philippines Chapter, points out that the Filipinos, particularly those interested in investing or working in Chinese companies, stand to benefit from the programs at CEIBS.
With a US$3 billion in bilateral trade every year between China and the Philippines, the Filipino businessmen should really make an effort to understand China, he adds.
“I believe we should have more Filipinos on our program. The Philippines is only three and a half hours from Shanghai, it’s very convenient. The future economic health and development of the Philippines, whatever the current climate, is linked to the future of China. There’s no escape. It's geographical reality. If trade, investment and education ties are strong, it is difficult for politics to overcome," he underscores.
Quelch hopes to increase the number of Filipino students taking MBA programs at CEIBS from two to at least six students a year.
Quelch says that unlike other business schools, CEIBS offers students the unique combination of the China depth and the global breadth.
“No non-Chinese business school knows as much as China than we do.  So our China depth is better than Harvard, Stanford or Chicago. In addition, we have the global breadth because 50 percent of our faculty are non-Chinese,” stresses Quelch, who has had extensive experience as dean and professor at the Harvard Business School and London Business School the past decades.
He reveals that a growing number of teachers from Europe and North America are coming to CEIBS to take advantage of its robust business model and opportunities available for them such as research grants for faculty.
Another factor that lures western faculty to China is the growing interest in the Mandarin language. More and more educators, he observes, are now moving with their families to China so their children can learn Mandarin. Moreover, spending a part of one’s academic career in Asia seems to have become a requirement for most faculty these days.
 Quelch believes that apart from its programs, this cultural diversity of faculty, and CEIBS mission to consistently become a major contributor to China’s economy are among its best features.
 “We are offering a culturally ambidextrous program where you have appreciation of both east and west so you can equally operate in both societies effectively," he ends.
By RACHEL C. BARAWID , Photos courtesy of Ceibs




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