„1+1“ is a new project. Can you tell us something about what this project has achieved thus far? Could the engagement with the CEIBS international community be strengthened?
Zhang: The “1+1” program is designed to strengthen CEIBS’ reputation through the interaction between alumni and prospective students in the international community. Each participant is encouraged to bring with them [an additional guest] or ‘plus one’ who is a qualified prospect for our MBA, GEMBA or corporate programs.
Ding: Who better to recommend CEIBS than those who know it best? Our alumni are our best promoters. In Europe, however, promoting CEIBS is still a challenge, because the school is not yet well-known here. Similar „1+1“events have only recently taken place in Taipei and Hong Kong. Two other events will be held during the coming week in Singapore, and then also in Accra, Ghana.
What feedback have you received so far?
Ding: Taiwan and Hong Kong were very successful. What I have learned is that our name [CEIBS] is a remarkable advantage, but particularly so in the Asia-Pacific region. Even in Hong Kong, where we have strong competitors, we are doing well. People are coming to the events, and we receive excellent feedback. The participants enjoy the lectures, and they compare these to other business school experiences.
Recently, we had a participant, a lady who was a graduate from Wharton and who was working as an investment banker in Hong Kong. Out of curiosity, she came to the event—and afterwards, she was convinced that she should join our GEMBA program. One thing I said moved her a lot. I said that our lecturer that evening was great, but that we had thirty more of such top faculty members. In addition to our top faculty, prospective students also value the relationship the school has with its alumni.
The topic of this „1+1“ lecture is Chinese Foreign Direct Investment, or FDI. Also, Mergers & Acquisitions has been a hot topic for a couple of years. How can a business school prepare its students for big international deals such as Chem China with Syngenta or the „Dalian Wanda case“?
Zhang: Simply put, in three ways: first, through the textbook knowledge and conceptual framework taught in the classroom. Second, through case studies on previous M&A deals. Third, students may share their experiences and learn from one another in the classroom setting.
Ding: I must add that we did not have any M+A courses before 2012. But even then, there was a demand for such courses. We then invited professionals as visiting professors, but this attempt failed because there was no teaching structure behind it. Sharing an experience is not teaching.
So, from my own personal interest, I suggested to Prof. Zhang that we develop a course. At that time, I was involved as a consultant in different companies and in different M+A deals, and we used our experience, went through the books and developed the course from scratch. It was immediately well received. Two years ago, we reached a peak: we taught the course eight times. In the meantime, we have established a research center with a multi-disciplinary approach and have written almost thirty cases.
The cases have been published, and are being translated into English. This September, we will expand the course and include various new aspects regarding cross-border M+A.