Cambridge, Mass., December 6, 2010 – The founding partner of two consulting companies, an investment executive at a hotel chain, a logistics manager for a French sporting goods company, and a general manager of a women's handbag manufacturer are among the many successful graduates of the MIT Sloan School sponsored international MBA (IMBA) program with Lingnan (University) College of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou.
The IMBA program is part of the MIT Sloan China Management Education Project, which was established in 1996 to strengthen graduate management education in China. MIT Sloan and three Chinese institutions, including Lingnan, Tsinghua University in Beijing, and Fudan University in Shanghai, developed an English-language management program – the IMBA – that emphasizes the international dimensions of business and the global competitive environment.
"When we began this program, these schools had virtually no international outreach," says Alan White, Senior Associate Dean at MIT Sloan, who is responsible for the school's international activities. "Rather than establish just another MBA, we worked with colleagues in China to establish an international MBA, the first in China. The goals were to both train Chinese students who want to work for Chinese companies in international business, and to train students who want to work for international companies that plan to do business in China."
The program brings Chinese faculty to MIT Sloan for professional development, and sends MIT Sloan faculty to these Chinese campuses to offer lectures and seminars. It also provides IMBA and MIT Sloan students with the opportunity to work in small teams on a consulting project, also known as “China Lab”, with a Chinese entrepreneurial firm in China and at MIT in Cambridge.
Upon graduation, all IMBAs are offered affiliate alumni status with the MIT Alumni Association – a designation that greatly increases the size of their network. To date, the IMBA program has had 3,415 graduates, 1,272 from Lingnan.
Jing "Daisy" Tian, who graduated from the program in 2002, went on to found two consulting companies. She oversees a staff of 37 who help electricity-related businesses with human resources planning, materials management, and professional services.
As an entrepreneur, she's made use of almost everything she learned from her IMBA. “During my program, I learned about supply chain management and production management. I learned how to conduct in-depth market research and data analysis. I learned how to interpret statistics and write a thoughtful business plan,” she says. “I use these skills on the job practically every day, and I credit my rigorous IMBA training.”
Yan “Brittany” Yi, who graduated in 2008, is now the investment manager at 7 Days, a fast-growing Chinese hotel chain based in Guangzhou. In the second quarter of this year, the company earned $52 million in net revenues.
For Yi, the best part of the program was China Lab, a three-month consulting project she worked on with students from Lingnan and Sloan. “It was my first real taste of what the working world was like, and it was exciting and challenging,” she says. “To strengthen communication within the team, we visited the MIT Sloan students in Cambridge, and they visited us in Guangzhou. During the course of the project, we communicated over the Internet, exchanging ideas and assigning tasks. It gave me the experience of working in a cross-cultural team, and the confidence to incorporate different perspectives and make strategic decisions.”
Another alumnus, Sunny Liang got his IMBA in 2003, and now works as a logistics manager for Oxylane Group, a leading French sporting goods company. Liang says the IMBA program enhanced his ability to compete for jobs. “The degree not only exposed me to people from very different cultures and backgrounds, but also gave me a strong social and professional network all over the world.”
Guang Zeng earned his IMBA in 2005 and is now a general manager at Happy Girl Handbags, the fashion accessories company based in Guangzhou. He says the strong MIT brand helps him stand out to employers. “MIT Sloan is one of best business schools in the world, and being an MIT Sloan affiliate not only gives me a sense of belonging and honor, but also makes me a much stronger job candidate in the global business community,” he says.
Happy Girl has about 100 employees, and last year had revenues of about 20 million yuan. Zeng says the IMBA's emphasis on workplace issues, such as leadership, teambuilding, and career development, have been especially useful in his professional life. “These things are typically not part of Chinese business school curricula, but these lessons are prominent in the IMBA training,” he says. “I learned so much about problem solving from our case studies and group discussions. And now that I am a general manager at my company, I am learning from my daily work. It's like the old Chinese adage—practice is the mother of wisdom.”