This interview is the latest in an Accepted blog series featuring interviews with MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now for a chat with Jesse Miller, a student at CEIBS.
ACCEPTED: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad?
Jesse: I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. I did my undergraduate at Brown University, where I majored in Political Science.
ACCEPTED: Can you share a fun fact about yourself?
Jesse: I did stand-up comedy 3 times here in Shanghai, all in Chinese. The third time I actually kind of killed it, got a great response from the crowd. I never did it again after that.
ACCEPTED: You are currently attending CEIBS. What year are you?
Jesse: MBA class of 2017
ACCEPTED: Why did you choose that program? How were you a good fit?
Jesse: To me CEIBS has a very clear point of differentiation – that is China depth.
My classmates come from every major industry in China, for the CEIBS’ class of 2015 85% took jobs based in China, and there is a large of array of courses and activities at CEIBS with a China focus. Last semester I took a class on China’s economy with Professor Wu Jinglian who has been an adviser to the highest level policy makers in China for decades — that is an opportunity you only get at CEIBS.
At the same time however, CEIBS is also very international. That is actually what attracted me most to the school. While the majority of CEIBS students are Chinese, there are also students from all around the world, including many from other high growth regions like South East Asia, India, and Africa. Students are coming to CEIBS from all around the world because they see the important economic ties between China and their home country. The school also really pushes for international scope. CEIBS is one of the few top ranked business schools with an EMBA program in Africa, and that connection really benefits the entire CEIBS network.
I was a good fit for CEIBS because I had been working in China for several years and wanted a career focused on high growth markets where the biggest changes are happening that will have the most significant effect on the future of the world.
ACCEPTED: What is your favorite thing about that program? Is there anything you’d change?
Jesse: My favorite thing about the program is how international it is. I’m one of only a few Americans. So you are exposed to many different ideas and perspectives, and you are always working with a very multicultural team.
If there is one thing I would change it is the air quality. That is probably something most MBA applicants from the United States do not think about, but in China and in many places around the world the air you breath, the water you drink, and the food you eat are all a cause for concern. That is the reality of high growth markets, it is not just the big GDP growth numbers you see on a screen.
ACCEPTED: Can you share some tips for international students?
Jesse: Don’t think you can learn a little about China and then just waltz into a job here. Deep knowledge of business in China is a prerequisite, it gets you onto the field where you can compete. But to get a job here you really need other experience and skills to differentiate yourself, and the competition is fierce.
One way international students here are differentiating themselves is with expert knowledge of their own home country. 2016 has been a record year for Chinese investment abroad, and the international students at CEIBS can definitely feel it. A lot of international students have received offers from Chinese companies going abroad. For example I have a classmate who previously worked in India’s e-commerce sector and received an offer from a Chinese company looking to expand into that area, and a European classmate with a background in law who received an offer from a Chinese firm doing overseas M&A deals. That is the sort of differentiation you need.
Also, learning Chinese before coming here is of course highly recommended, not only for those who want to work in China, but also to get the most out of the CEIBS experience.
ACCEPTED: What inspired you to become fluent in Mandarin?
Jesse: Working in Chenyang, Shangdong for 3 years. I was the only foreigner in the office so it was all Mandarin all day.
ACCEPTED: Where are you currently working?
Jesse: Currently I am doing a summer internship at a firm called Clean Energy Associates in Shanghai. They provide quality assurance, supply chain management, and engineering services to clean energy project developers around the world.
Next semester I will go for study abroad at the Indian School of Business. I am still pretty open about what I will do after graduation, I have some ideas but I don’t want to say anything too soon.
ACCEPTED: You recently organized a sustainability conference on campus. Can you tell us how that came about?
Jesse: We organized the Sustainable Energy Conference in order to bring guests and alumni to CEIBS from two industries that are booming in China – renewable energy and new energy vehicles. In 2015 China invested more in renewable energy than the US and Europe combined. China was also the world’s number 1 market for electric vehicle sales.
There is huge demand for clean energy and sustainable business in China. No one wants major air pollution and environmental degradation, but at the same time high growth countries are not willing to sacrifice their economic growth rate which is raising the standards of living for millions. This is a major challenge of our times, and the business leaders of our generation are looking for ways to deliver economic growth in a clean sustainable way. This is an area that is of interest to many CEIBS students, not only because clean energy is a booming market in China, but also because it directly relates to quality of life at home.
Bringing guests and alumni from the clean energy sector to our conference helped us to learn about careers in this dynamic and fast changing sector.
You can follow Jesse by checking out his LinkedIn profile. Thank you Jesse for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!
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