Q: HEC Paris offers an EMBA under the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC). What’s the biggest challenge in training professionals who work in Chinese state-owned enterprises?
A: Our EMBA program in Shanghai and Beijing is the same program offered worldwide. EMBAs help develop management skills, but what goes beyond that is the understanding of international best business practices – what works in China might not work elsewhere, and vice versa. Part of the challenge with SOEs is how to internationalize and open up managers’ mindsets to the global business environment. They have to understand decision-making processes and governance structures in foreign companies. This is the value that we bring compared to traditional Chinese universities. For us, there are also issues with language barriers and cultural adaptation. Not all top-level business Chinese executives speak English well enough to follow the program completely.
Q: How has HEC tried to mitigate these language issues?
A: We don’t want language to be a barrier to knowledge. We want to bring in our expertise to these senior executives in Chinese firms, understanding that not everyone has the opportunity to work on language during their careers. We address this by translating all of our case studies, PowerPoint slides and in-class materials into Mandarin. We also have simultaneous translation and local Chinese teaching assistants.
Q: HEC also offers custom programs for Chinese corporations. What kinds of firms have you worked with?
A: All kinds of companies, from energy firms to financial institutions. Typically, a firm will identify a business challenge – which could be strategies for growth, performance, leadership or making transitions – and we’re asked to design and deliver a program that is specific to the company’s business context. Some of the programs have learning expeditions. Staff are brought to another region outside of China where the company is doing business.
Q: What are HEC’s future expansion plans in China?
A: We’re pretty well established in Beijing and Shanghai. Our biggest challenge is to maintain growth in our EMBAs and in-house custom programs. Developing our corporate approach is really where we’re focusing our energy. We are No. 2 in the world for custom programs right now, according to the Financial Times, and this is where we see the most potential in China.