Crystal Qian and French-born Vincent Hasenfratz are students currently enrolled in Washington and Fudan University’s joint EMBA program, an 18-month program based in Shanghai.
Students meet once a month during the duration of their studies. At the end of the program, they are required to complete a two-week course at the Olin School of Business at Washington University in the US.
Graduates receive an MBA degree from Washington University in St. Louis and an Education Certificate from Fudan University, becoming alumni at both institutions.
Qian and Hasenfratz wanted to pursue an EMBA to improve their existing management skills and learn new ones.
Qian previously worked in marketing and corporate affairs, and is currently the head of marketing in the consumer banking division, at Standard Chartered Bank in China. She has knowledge of the marketing and banking systems, but wants to gain management skills such as global supply chain management from the EMBA program.
Hasenfratz is a manager of a trading company and is responsible for local Chinese operations in the China and Asia markets. He wants to learn new concepts and methods to gain a broad perspective on the corporate management approach from the EMBA program.
While Qian is sponsored by her company and chose the Washington-Fudan EMBA program as part of her personal development plan, Hasenfratz pays for the program himself, taking time off work from his company when he needs to attend courses.
So far the EMBA has fulfilled both students’ expectations, they said.
As part of the EMBA program, Qian and Hasenfratz attend courses once a month for four days, focusing on a different course every month. These courses range from managerial economics to entrepreneurship.
Extensive pre-course reading is required to prepare for group discussions, assignments and class presentations. Hasenfratz completes one hour of reading every day and has 15 days to prepare each assignment. Fulfilling this while holding down a high-pressure job means commitment to the program is essential.
“You really have to be motivated to be able to manage both your day to day business and your school requirements,” Hasenfratz said.
Professors of the program encourage students to relate topics studied in the classroom to real life situations in a business environment, and the diversity of the student body contributes to this experience. Hasenfratz’s EMBA class is made up of 12 to 15 different nationalities.
“Westerners might have more international experience, but the Chinese students I’ve met are very open and already have international exposure if they’ve been in contact with different customers and different markets.” Hasenfratz said.
The skills that students from different cultures bring to the classroom in an EMBA setting vary. Professor Suresh Govindaraj at Rutgers Business School noticed that Chinese students on the International EMBA program had a better grasp of numeric skills but were less outspoken than their Western classmates and less experienced in group work.
“North American and European students come here and pick up the technical skills. But at the end of the program, they’re pretty much on the same platform,” he said.
For MBA schools catering to these students, bringing an international program into the mainland is a challenge. The HEC EMBA in Beijing, which was established in 2006 and mainly has an intake of employees of state-owned companies, is an example.
Joshua Kobb, Director of International Programs at HEC Paris Executive Education, said persuading Chinese students to learn in a more proactive manner, dealing with language issues and the continual struggle to adapt an international business program to a Chinese context are major challenges.
“In order for state companies to compete internationally, they must train their managers,” Kobb said.
The EMBA in China was first offered in 1995 by the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS). It recruited 42 students in Shanghai and the following year launched a similar program in Beijing.
In 2006, there were around 50 EMBA programs offered in mainland China, according to The Complete China MBA Guide 2006, and the number of US and European business schools forming joint ventures with Chinese universities is growing daily.
Whether you choose to enroll in an English-language foreign-affiliated program or a more China-focused course, studying an EMBA requires substantial time, effort and money. But from the experiences of course mates Hasenfratz and Qian, the decision to take on an EMBA has, so far, been a sound business investment.
At a glance
Each year, the program enrolls 60 students, and for the past six years, 80% of the intake has been Chinese with the remaining students from North America, Europe and other countries in Asia.
Each candidate has an average work experience of 14 years under their belt. For the program tuition fee of US$47,756, between 50% and 80% of the EMBA candidates are sponsored by their companies. The average annual salary for alumni three years after graduation is US$238,372.
The Fudan-Washington EMBA program is 90% taught by Olin faculty with support from professors at the Fudan Management School and international staff makes up 92% of the faculty who teach the EMBA program.