Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 4pm

Mark Zuckerberg and Wharton Dean Join Tsinghua Board: MBA News

Mark Zuckerberg joins advisory board at Beijing's Tsinghua SEM

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, and Wharton’s new dean, Geoffrey Garrett, are among the latest additions to the advisory board at Tsinghua School of Economics and Management (Tsinghua SEM)

Tsinghua SEM’s advisory board reads like a who’s who of the world’s most prominent business leaders and also counts the deans of leading US business schools – HBS, Stanford and MIT Sloan - among its members. It will hold its annual meeting this Friday in Beijing.

Mark Zuckerberg is one of three new appointments announced by Tsinghua SEM, whereas Wharton’s Garrett is one of five cases where a person has replaced their predecessor.

  • Read an interview with Wharton dean, Geoffrey Garrett.

The other two new additions, besides Mark Zuckerberg, are Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO and top of Fortune’s most powerful women in business list for the last three years, and Carlos Brito, CEO of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the multinational beverage company that has Budweiser, Becks and Brahma on its roster of brands.

Aside from US deans, such as HBS’s Nitin Nohria, existing members of Tsinghua's advisory board include: Nokia’s chairman, the CEOs of both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, the co-founder and CEO of Baidu as well as the man behind the marketing and development of the Walkman and former Sony CEO, Nobuyuki Idei, who now runs Quantum Leaps Corporation, a firm that aims to help Japanese startups get off the ground. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, is also a member having joined this time last year.

What is the purpose of Tsinghua SEM’s advisory Board?

According to the school: “The Advisory Board provides advice to help develop Tsinghua SEM into a world-class institution of higher education, promotes faculty development, supports the establishment of research centers, and contributes to the scholarships for students.”

However, it also enjoys strong connections to China’s central government - Chinese president, Xi Jinping met with the board last year, for instance. For this reason, it is held to act as “a social network of sorts and an informal meeting ground for Chinese policymakers and international business people seeking closer ties to China,” according to Reuters.

Speaking of social networks, the suggestion is that Mark Zuckerberg’s inclusion may help him in his quest to gain a footing in the Chinese market – where Facebook has been blocked since 2009. It could also be a useful platform for IBM’s Ginni Rometty, who has made regular visits to China over the past year in an attempt to ensure that IBM’s image is not tarnished at a time when there have been some calls from within China to abandon foreign technology.

Cast in this light, Tsinghua SEM’s advisory board could be construed as one of the world’s most remarkable networking circles – and the presence of leading US deans should ensure that any lessons it has to offer won’t go unnoticed in the business education world.

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Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).

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