Here's what it’s like to study an MBA in Beijing |

Here's what it’s like to study an MBA in Beijing

By Linda M

Updated May 4, 2021 Updated May 4, 2021

Sponsored by Tsinghua University

Doing an MBA abroad is a goal many MBA candidates share. Between learning a new culture and exploring new ways of doing business, studying abroad is undoubtedly an enriching experience, one that can make you stand out in a competitive candidate pool.

In terms of business hubs, China is sure to take the lead within the Asian region. Home to one of the biggest economies in the world and multiple successful firms and start ups, the country is a popular destination for business school students looking to develop new skills and gain invaluable business knowledge.

Tsinghua University – located in Zhongguancun, the Silicon Valley of Beijing – is one of the most renowned institutions in the area. Its good partnerships with leading Chinese and global companies and a strong alumni network makes it a great option for ambitious MBA candidates looking to be challenged.

TopMBA caught up with Global MBA graduate, Jeremy Tai and current Global MBA student, Marvin Freericks to find out more about their business school experiences and what makes Beijing a special place to do an MBA.

Why did you decide to move to Beijing to study your MBA? And why specifically Tsinghua University?

Jeremy: All roads in China lead to Beijing. Government policy is directed top-down, especially with large initiatives such as economic transformation, reform and opening-up, and multi-year policy plans still unfolding. Being in Beijing, you can go beyond the official record and hear views from academia, think tanks, industry, and local government players, that help provide crucial context for these policies.

The job market also has been evolving quickly in China. A decade ago, an overseas degree was in many ways a golden ticket. Today, top firms in diverse fields from finance to internet companies are benchmarking domestic top five with global top 25, so domestic competition has increased. With industries in upheaval, you will be competing with recent graduates and also experienced professionals.

Marvin: The fact that Tsinghua has a great reputation in China certainly is one factor. But the main reason is because the Global MBA programme has a very strong focus on China in its curriculum. I wanted to make sure that I got the opportunity to study Chinese business cases and I wanted to make sure that studying in China actually allowed me to gain deeper knowledge of local companies.

Being an MBA student at Tsinghua also gives you access to a lot of resources that can be very helpful when it comes to your career. Tsinghua has the largest alumni network in China, which allows you to connect with alumni from all regions and companies.

What have you enjoyed the most about the MBA?

Jeremy: That would have to be building friendships. In our class, we had so many personalities: the flamboyant HK market maker, the quiet anime-perfect engineer/model, the glamourous big data entrepreneur. Building history with people excited about making waves in their fields was exhilarating. While we have become progressively busier as we reentered the workplace, catching up is great as we trade stories over comfort food.

Marvin: Getting to know my classmates and learning from them. More than half of my classmates come from various places all over China, while the rest come from all over the world and have previously worked in all kinds of industries. As most of my classmates have more work experience than me I feel like learning from them has been the most valuable aspect of my MBA. I’ve really appreciated the opportunity to work with such a diverse group of people as it has definitely helped me to better understand the mentality and culture of different countries.

Jeremy, in what ways do you think the Global MBA helped get you to where you are today as an international business manager at Harvest Firm Management?

First – the school’s location. The MBA gives you two full years on the ground in China where you can get to know the industry players and network your way to a job post-graduation. Being at an elite institution, you can use the time to grab coffee with alumni, visit companies, and build the business sense that helps you operate in the market.

Compared to graduates entering China for the first time or perhaps returning to China, you enter the job market with at least a full year of networking and interning, which can be the edge you need to stand out in a saturated job market.

The second is exposure. Due to its preeminent position in China, Tsinghua attracts an eye-opening roster of luminaries. During my time there, we had lectures and events by the former head of China Investment Corporation, David Zhang who succeeded Jack Ma at Alibaba, Robert Kaplan from the Federal Reserve, the top man at State Asset of Foreign Exchange – the industry movers and shakers. You gain a frank exchange of ideas perhaps more in-depth than the public record and the opportunity to speak with these individuals in person.

And the last is support. Asset management, especially in the institutional space, is all about building trust over time. As an enrolled student at Tsinghua, I was able to access the extensive alumni network, speaking with prospective employers and future industry peers, starting to build a new personal network crucial to a candidate changing industries. Tsinghua won’t guarantee you a job, but it will definitely open doors and earn you preliminary access to some of the tight industry circles.

And finally, what advice would you give to someone who is considering moving to Beijing to study their MBA?

Jeremy: Have a clear game plan for where you want to end up, because time flies and options close quickly when you’re having fun. Set goals early on and explore options aggressively, while taking time to evaluate feasibility and explore adjacent options. Taking an unexpected route may result in dissatisfying career choices.

Marvin: If you’re considering working in Asia in the future or if you would like to experience living and studying in China, I would say go for it. Doing an MBA in Beijing is a great way to learn more about business practices in China, while also meeting ambitious and excellent classmates who can become friends for life.

I would recommend studying the Chinese language for a few months prior to starting your MBA. Having at least a basic understanding of Chinese will not only make your day-to-day life a lot easier, but it can also help you get a better and more comprehensive MBA experience.

This article was originally published in February 2021 . It was last updated in May 2021

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Written by

Linda is Content Writer at TopMBA, creating content about students, courses, universities and businesses. She recently graduated in Journalism & Creative Writing with Politics and International Relations, and now enjoys writing for a student audience. 

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