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#12 CEIBS MBA Admissions Q&A with Mr. Roy Chason

Roy Chason

“Ask yourself, where will the US, Europe and China be in 10-20 years?  Where do you want to be in 10-20 years? I think in the 21st century Shanghai will become the economic center of the world.”

This week Mr. Roy Chason, Senior Manager, Admissions and Marketing, CEIBS, joined the show to talk about Mainland China’s top ranked MBA program. Started in 1994 with a joint arrangement between the Chinese Government and the European Union, the CEIBS MBA was ranked 15th in the world by the Financial Times in 2013.

What differentiates this program is its reputation and reach in China. The school boasts over 13,000 alumni, many of whom are top level executives in China. 3 of the 15 required classes have a purely China focus. And the vast majority of faculty – whether Chinese or foreign – are based in China and consulting for companies doing business in China.

Yet the school is also very international. All classes are taught in English and 40% of the student body is from outside China. CEIBS has also partnered with Cheng Wei Capital to invest $100M USD in early stage businesses founded or managed by CEIBS alumni.

Roy emphasized that the program is looking for forward-thinking and flexible candidates who will proactively take advantage of the education and network offered by CEIBS. For those who want to build a base in one of the most dynamic cities (Shanghai) and countries (China) in the world, this is an excellent option.

Roy got his bachelor degree in the US, MBA in Europe, and has worked in China for nearly 20 years in a number of business development roles before coming to CEIBS.  He has a very unique perspective to offer about business education in China.

The CEIBS MBA in 3 words: Location, Location, Location.

Listen on for much, much more!

Touch MBA’s CEIBS MBA Crib Sheet

Program Highlights (3:14)

  • 18 month program
  • 200 students, 40% of students are international
  • Ranked number 15 by Financial Times 2013
  • 1/3 of faculty are from China, most foreign professors (2/3) live in China, many of whom consult for MNCs and Chinese companies
  • Focus is on global management practices along with how business is done in China
  • 13,000 alumni, mostly comprised of Chinese executives in China,
  • Mentoring program matches each MBA student with a CEIBS EMBA alumn
  • Just launched entrepreneurship concentration, to go along with Finance, Marketing, and General Management Concentrations
  • The CEIBS-Cheng Wei Venture Fund has over $100M to invest in CEIBS students’ startups
  • Has “coordinated programs” with John Hopkins (public health) and Fletcher School (Law and Diplomacy)
  • Campus doubling in size in next few years
  • 3 core curriculum courses on China: Chinese Economic Reform, China Within the World, China Human Resources
  • Program taught entirely in English, and on Shanghai campus (CEIBS has 3 campuses in Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzen)

Admissions (20:49)

  • Deadlines are in November, January, and March
  • Applicants will be notified within a few days about whether they qualify for an interview, whether on campus (preferred) or over Skype.
  • Interview holds a lot of weight
  • 2-3 weeks after interview applicants receive a decision
  • Applicants are encouraged to apply early, in the first and second round, as there are less spaces available to third round candidates and as most scholarships are awarded in the first two rounds
  • Average GMAT score is 690, applicants encouraged to score above 600
  • Show that you can find work quite quickly after you graduate. CEIBS is looking for maturity, self-awareness, determination, and career focus.
  • If you don’t speak Mandarin, show you have the initiative and foresight to find new and interesting career opportunities in China.
  • CEIBS has an alternative test to the GMAT than can be taken in China for the second or third round. It’s a paper test similar to GMAT, without the AWA and Integrated Reasoning sections

Financing (29:47)

  • Tuition: $61,000 USD
  • If you live in a modest way, you can get by on $800-1,000 USD / month in living costs
  • 1/3 of CEIBS students receive some form of scholarships or financial aids
  • CEIBS offers merit based scholarships, covering 25% – 80% of tuition. Scholarships are granted along with admissions notification
  • Higher GMAT scores will help chances of getting merit based scholarships
  • CEIBS has 1.8 million of scholarship funding available, and a number of government and company sponsored scholarships
  • CEIBS has loan collaborations with Germany, India, Mexico
  • CEIBS working on student loan guarantee program for students

Career (35:48)

  • Students encouraged to find job in China, where CEIBS has a strong and prestigious brand name
  • Although Mandarin will help open more job opportunities in China, many MNCs come to CEIBS to recruit for global leadership positions that don’t have a Chinese language requirement
  • 50% of foreign students stay in China to work post-graduation,
  • Western Chinese cities (i.e. Xian, Chengdu) are also booming and companies there are looking for employees with foreign expertise
  • Students can take Chinese intensive course one month before classes start in July
  • Most students finish up the program in January, and then student visa lasts till April (graduation). So students have a few months to look for jobs.
  • Career services include: 1) almost 80 companies present on campus (Apple, Novartis, Chinese MNCs) 2) networking events 3) interview training from professionals

Get In Touch

Show Notes

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CEIBS MBA Full Transcript

Darren: I’m here with very special guest, Mr. Roy Chason, who is the Senior Manager, Admissions and Marketing of the China Europe International Business School, which is better known as CEIBS, of their MBA programs. So, it’s a pleasure to have you on the show, Roy!

Roy Chason: It’s a pleasure to be here, thank you very much for inviting me!

Darren: Roy, could you tell us a little bit about your background and how long you’ve been at CEIBS and what you were doing before?

Roy Chason: Sure. I did my BA Degree in the US at UCLA and then I went on to do an MBA in Europe at one of the top European schools. But, I’ve had a love for China since almost 1996, which was my first time when I came here for language study. And then I fell in love with the country since then and I’ve been back and forth working in different positions and areas of essentially marketing and business development over the last ten years.

And most of the positions have involved China. I think China essentially evolved from what it used to be to what it is today, which is almost completely different. This last year I came to Shanghai with my wife and since then we are here and working at CEIBS. I work as you said as the Marketing Manager to push the program and talk about what this program has to offer to international students worldwide who are considering a Global MBA.

Darren: What an incredible perspective to have. I can’t imagine what Shanghai must have been like, or any part of China for that matter, in 1996. And to see it today, in 2013, what an amazing window to see the country!

Roy Chason: Yes. For example, I remember in 1996 I took an overnight train, it took about 20 hours I think from Beijing to Shanghai, it was with my Japanese roommate at the time, Jita, and we came down here to stay one night. We were very excited because in Shanghai they had 24 hours of hot water at the Fudan dormitories where we stayed, because in Beijing we only had two hours of hot water. Then we went across the river and went into the Pearl Tower, the famous, emblematic tower of the city, and that was the only building around on the Pudong side, on the east side of the river at the time. There was nothing around except farmland.

That’s completely different than what’s happening today, obviously. You know now they’re building I think the third building over a hundred stories right next to this and the whole east of the city has filled up and become a huge metropolis. So, yes, it’s almost unreal and it’s almost unexplainable, the difference between Shanghai then and Shanghai now.

CEIBS MBA Program Highlights

Darren: Amazing! So if we could talk a bit more about CEIBS. We know CEIBS had a very early start in China for a business school, but what makes the CEIBS MBA unique and what makes it unique in China?

Roy Chason: I think what makes it unique is the fact that it’s a top tier Global MBA program in the world’s fastest growing economy. I think today we can proudly say, although we don’t have the history of Harvard or Wharton or some of the other schools in Europe, we definitely have the framework to become and to be one of the leading schools in the world and as most of you know we were ranked #15 by The Financial Times this past year, which is just an incredible feat for a school that is so young.

As you said, we started in 1994 here in China, so we’re less than 20 years old, and since then we’ve really grown to the leading business school in China, which offers a global education which is comparable to anything you would get at a top tier school in the US or Europe. And it gives a very unique and distinct feeling of being in China, as China is becoming more and more open to the world. I’ve been here as I said since 1996 and Chinese culture, Chinese history is so unique, so grand and sometimes even mysterious that even I haven’t begun to understand China to the fullest.

So this gives the opportunity to people who are interested in becoming part of what’s happening here in China and the opportunity to really firsthand live this change, to get to understand the society, the culture better and to receive at the same time a global education that’s comparable to any top tier school, while learning the unique facets and the unique intricacies of the Chinese economy and the way of doing business here. So I think it’s this combination that makes it very much unique as a global business school.

As a Chinese business school, it’s very important to know that we’re very, very different than most of the other programs out there, because in China you either have a program sponsored by the major public schools, like Beijing University, Fudan or Shanghai Jiaotong University, which are historically the well-known universities here in China, and then you have some foreign programs which have recently launched programs in the last years.

Just to very quickly make the distinction, the universities, and they’re very good ones, are very much public universities, they’re owned by the government, they’re given funds by the government and the classes very much go the way the traditional classes have gone here in China in terms of lectures, type of classes, in terms of the ambience, the atmosphere that the students feel there, and obviously this has its pluses and minuses.

That’s on the one side and on the other side we have the global business schools which have come in in the last few years and there are of course some good ones and some are very well-known names, but in general these are relatively new schools. Most of the professors that they have are flying professors, so people perhaps that are teaching in Boston or New York and are coming to teach a course here in China.

I think in that respect we’ve found the sweet spot that we’re on the one hand very much a Chinese school, a third of our faculty are from China and of course our staff and most of our administrative body is also from China, but on the other hand we’re the China Europe International Business School, so since inception we were started along with the European Union, we have an European dean, we’re a completely independent body. So we’re not related directly to any of the universities here in China or any external university and our foreign professors, which are about two thirds of our staff, most of them do live here, they work here, they understand China.

So it’s this kind of fusion of East and West, the independence that we have as a joint venture between China and the European Union and the very, very global atmosphere that someone feels here, about 40% of our students in the MBA program are international students, is I think the unique sweet spot which makes this program so, so different than anything else you can find in China and also anything else you can find anywhere else in the world.

Darren: I noticed that a large part of your core curriculum was focused on China-based courses, like China human resources, China economic reforms and China within the world, which I found to be very unique. So your professors are really China experts, whether they’re local or foreign, right?

Roy Chason: We do get sometimes visiting professors coming from abroad for short periods of time that teach specific courses, but the majority, I would say our permanent staff of professors, are definitely China experts and most of them, again, have lived here and operated here for many years and do consulting for Chinese companies or multinationals doing business in China. So it really is bringing the best of both worlds, the kind of global, modern management practices along with the knowledge of how business is done here, which is very, very different, as most of you know, than is done in most western countries.

Darren: Just one interesting question to you might be, because you’ve done an MBA in Europe and now you’re helping to run this MBA program here in China. What differences do you notice between those two experiences?

Roy Chason: I think a lot of the European programs are very global programs, so they definitely have a kind of global outlook, most of the people going to study in Switzerland, Spain or France don’t necessarily have the intention to stay there afterwards or continue to work specifically with those countries.

I think it’s very important to emphasize that we are a global business school and we have the Chinese component. The fact that 60% of our student body in the MBA are Chinese, the fact that our alumni network is composed of in a large majority Chinese executives from all over China of very high level and many of them c-suite executives in their companies means that the clear advantage of our program is China and Asia and that’s I think what makes our program so unique and so distinctive.

Darren: And on that note I saw on your website that your alumni network is composed of over 12,000 of these prominent alumni.

Roy Chason: It’s already up to 13,000.

Darren: 13,000, okay, that’s a huge number. But my question is how accessible are they to students?

Roy Chason: I think they’re very accessible. Obviously, it really depends on the person you’re contacting, but I think one of the big advantages of our school is this alumni network for the clear reason that China relationships and also belonging to a unique community like CEIBS holds a strong value for a lot of our Chinese alumni coming out of here and many of them show a very high level of loyalty to the school because of their experience here, because of the CEIBS brand across China, which has a very high value.

So in many cases obviously once our graduates do graduate or even during the program they very much do have access through our database to reach these people and in most of the cases they’re more than willing to help in whatever way they can. Also, during the MBA program, we offer what’s called a mentoring program, and the mentoring program essentially matches our executive EMBA alumni, that are currently out on the market, that have some experience behind them, with our MBA students, and they give them mentoring in terms of better focusing their career, giving them some tips in terms of how to do business here in China and so on and so forth. And this is just one example of the very unique intermingling we have between the executives and the MBA students here at CEIBS.

Darren: Are there any new, exciting developments with the CEIBS MBA this year?

Roy Chason: All the time. We’re constantly launching new programs and improving and evolving the program and this year we’re launching the Entrepreneurship Concentration, where students can take up about eight to nine classes in the area of entrepreneurship, both the first and the second year of school and concentrate on that.

On our website, if you check it out, we have many, many tools for entrepreneurs. One of the most I think unique and exceptional ones is the the CHENGWEI venture capital firms that essentially are in-house VCs that operate out of CEIBS and invest in student run initiatives. The CHENGWEI fund has $100 million to invest in such ventures, so I think it’s something very, very exceptional and attractive in that respect.

Other things other than entrepreneurship would include the John Hopkins and the Fletcher School Program. The John Hopkins Program is what we call a coordinated degree between CEIBS and the John Hopkins School of Public Health, its main focus is for people who want to go into the healthcare and public health sectors, whether it be in China or other places around the world. And as you know the whole healthcare sector in China is booming in a way that’s difficult to explain in terms of the opportunities that are offered here.

So that’s one program and the other one is along with the prestigious Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and again it’s a coordinated degree between our MBA, so you get two degrees, one is our MBA, and then the Fletcher Master’s in Law and Diplomacy. Both these degrees are done in a shorter period of time and the student can spend some of the time here in Shanghai and then in the US at each of the schools, depending on the degree they choose.

So these are just part of the exciting developments. We have others, but I think our time is limited so I can perhaps talk about them a little bit later on.

Darren: Got it. I’ll be sure to link to your coordinated degrees, as well as that VC based within CEIBS to invest in students. So I’ll link to both of those in the show notes. And, Roy, why should candidates get their MBA in Shanghai of all places?

Roy Chason: Well, if you’ve seen our brochure, it’s very simple. We say, “Location, location, location.” I think there’s no doubt that the people out there are listening and are thinking, “Where should I study? What should I do?” I tell prospective students all the time, there’s a famous quote by a gentleman called Wayne Gretzky, he’s a famous hockey player from Canada, and when he was asked what’s the secret to his success in hockey he said essentially it’s, “Don’t go where the puck is, go where the puck will be at.”

And the issue is when right now young people are considering their MBA, it’s not enough, and I think I can’t stress this more, to look at the current economic situation in the world and say, “Okay, I want to study in the US or I want to study in Europe or even I want to study in China.” Everybody knows that Asia is right now booming, but the issue is just ask yourself where will Asia, China, Europe, the US and the rest of the world be in 10 years, 20 years? Where will you be in 10, 20 years? Where do you want to be?

And my argument is very clear to say back in the last century the place to be would have been a place like Manhattan in New York. I think right now, in the 21st century, Shanghai is no doubt the place. It is really the center, the economic center of Asia and I think in the next few years it will become the economic center of the world and I think the trends are clearly there. Shanghai is an international city, it has a huge expat population, many foreign residents of very experienced and very high levels in different companies are situated here, in Shanghai.

Actually CEIBS is located in a very international residential neighborhood. Right across our school we have top high tech and med-tech companies from all over the world, multinationals, stationed here. Of course in the neighborhood live essentially Americans, Europeans, Latin Americans from all over the world, Asians, of course, Koreans and Japanese, that work in these companies.

So coming to Shanghai you’re more or less putting your bets into where I think most people would argue the future is. It’s building yourself a base in one of the most dynamic, if not the most dynamic city in the world. It’s coming to a city that’s very much a global city that has its unique Chinese traits and has its very quaint and historical areas, but today has become very much a global city with all the advantages and some would say disadvantages of a big metropolis, which is a very vibrant night life, cultural life, vibrant business, community, of course, huge transport system.

I would say that the city does suffer sometimes from a lot of traffic, but you have a great underground and a very cheap metro system. And sometimes there’s more pollution than I would like to have, but in general it’s a very, very pleasant city to live in and it’s actually becoming more and more pleasant as the government here is trying to make Shanghai a more modern and essentially a global, modern city.

Darren: But what would you say to candidates who are almost intimidated by the whole thing? They say, “Well, I would love to work in China, but I don’t have a Chinese language background and can I, as someone who’s not Chinese?” We’ve all heard of guangxi and the importance of guangxi in China, but can someone without any sort of connection to China come to CEIBS and make a good career for himself or herself after the program?

Roy Chason: I think very much so. I don’t think that you need to have any China experience to successfully incorporate yourself in China or with China after you graduate. I think there’s one very, very clear prerequisite and that means a person has to be flexible and open-minded when coming to China. I would definitely not recommend this program to the typical MBA profile that’s considered their whole life to go to an European or to an American school, that wants the job right after graduation, consulting and investment banking.

That’s not the typical profile we normally go for. The profile that is attracted to CEIBS are people that have a lot of initiative, flexibility, open-mindedness, a desire to learn more, curiosity. If you have that, then I think you can make yourself a very interesting career in China and find opportunities that are unlike any others you would find in the world.

Now the caveat here is that Mandarin is still a barrier, this is not an English speaking country. Although our program is completely done in English and the atmosphere within CEIBS is very much international and English-based, the bottom line is that the opportunities after one graduates without Mandarin are more limited. So this is where the initiative and the flexibility have to come through, because I know many graduates of ours and many people that are my neighbors and live here, in China, that don’t speak a word of Mandarin and are doing some incredible business here.

But the bottom line is that the opportunities without Mandarin are fewer, and that takes more initiative, more creativity and more I think foresight into seeing where your personal strengths are before the MBA, after the MBA, once you have the knowledge and being able to incorporate that after you graduate. And that means either finding new and interesting opportunities both here in China as well as opportunities perhaps in your home country, in a third country with China.

That’s I think where it gets interesting. I would just like to emphasize though that we do have many international recruiters coming here to China from the multinationals and we’ll talk about it a little bit later, but do come and hire for global leadership positions here, many of them that don’t have a Chinese language prerequisite. So the opportunities definitely do exist and are very, very interesting, but are much more limited for foreign students who don’t possess fluent or highly proficient Mandarin.

Darren: So flexibility and initiative. Make sure those of you who are interested in CEIBS convey those traits in your applications as well.

CEIBS MBA Admissions

Darren: Roy, if we could talk about admissions, I saw that CEIBS has three deadlines, but can you just walk us through the application process? Give us a high level summary of what happens between when someone submits an application to when they hear back from you.

Roy Chason: Okay, excellent. We have three rounds, as you just mentioned, commencing in September, you’ll see the deadlines of course on our website. You can submit your application anytime before the deadline of that specific round, but you will only be notified after the deadline and in terms of your acceptance.

A little bit regarding the process, first of all you submit your online application and after the deadline period arrives you will be notified within a few days after our initial review, looking over your application, if it’s a go or no go, if we think you met the minimum requirements to go further in the process.

So if you receive the go ahead and the green light, we will send you an interview date. If you live abroad, you can do the interview by Skype, or if you’re nearby we would be glad and prefer actually that you come over to our campus in Shanghai and interview with us directly. And that interview holds a lot of weight.

So essentially once we have all your application information analyzed and then the interview analyzed, we will inform you about two – three weeks afterwards whether you receive the final yes or no, accepted or not accepted into the CEIBS program.

I very much also encourage most students to apply early. That means by the first round or the second round, if you can. And that is for two simple reasons. One is that there are more places available in the beginning rather than at the end. Once we fill up the places during the first and also the second round, there are less spaces available for candidates who come during the third round.

And the other issue is scholarships. We have a pool of scholarships here, which we can talk about in a bit, and those usually get also taken up during the first and second rounds, with few available during the third round. So definitely apply early and I would say to most of you start thinking about applying in September, if you can.

Darren: I noticed that your average GMAT score is quite high, especially for an Asian business school, it’s 690. So I wanted to ask if CEIBS has a minimum GMAT score first of all and second of all if candidates score below that average, what can they do to improve their chances of getting into the program?

Roy Chason: Some students have a fear and an obsession about their GMAT. In most cases I would say that that fear is unwarranted and I think the GMAT should be thought of as a very important component of your application, but not as the main component of your application. Now, we don’t have a minimum score, our average GMAT score is 690, so I would say that most Chinese students and Korean and Indian students on average have a higher score than students coming from other countries. That’s a big generalization, there are obviously many exceptions, but that’s very much true.

But if we’d just look at the GMAT, we wouldn’t have a very diversified class. The whole selection process at CEIBS is very much from a holistic point of view. So we would like you to have a strong GMAT so we know you can succeed in our classes, especially the quantitative, like Finance and Counting and so on, it’s very important that you have a strong analytical base in terms of numbers. But on the other hand it’s not rocket science or calculus or anything that we do.

If you’re within the 600s of the GMAT, you have a reasonable chance to be accepted if you have a strong application. Below 600 is tricky and although we do make exceptions, it would be on a case by case basis.

So to answer the second part of your question, essentially if you have a lower GMAT, let’s say within the lower 600s, then I would very much encourage you to work on your other things, which means your interview skills, because the interview holds a very important part of the application, process to highlight your international experience, any certificates you may have, honors, awards, extracurricular activities that you do, you can always also mention in your essays. Work on your essays, show your maturity, your self-awareness, your determination, your focus for the interviews and as well as the essays.

Most of our people that work here have gone through hundreds, if not even some thousands of essays and interviews, so we know very much to be able to screen and to look for people that are frank, honest, have a certain amount of self-awareness. Don’t script your interview or don’t overanalyze your essay. Be real, know what your focus is, know where you want to go in terms of after the MBA, know what the added value of the CEIBS program can offer to your career and be able to synthesize that well while with us and in front of us.

And I think if you get that component right and combine it obviously with if you have a good GPA, that can help, or if you’ve gone through a top tier university, all of these different types of components, including your GMAT, your grades, your certificates, your work experience, this is another issue that I forgot to mention. Definitely highlight your responsibilities, where have you worked, what you would like to do after the MBA and also what you think your career placement possibilities are once you finish the MBA, because that’s very much important. Placement is in our priorities, to be sure that if you’re a candidate coming in that you’ll find work quite quickly after you graduate.

Darren: Wow, Roy, you just dropped a lot of value bombs there! Do many candidates take the CEIBS Admissions Test? I noticed that you also have an alternative test to the GMAT.

Roy Chason: We encourage you to take the GMAT, because obviously the GMAT is applicable to other schools, but yes, we do offer the CEIBS Exam as an alternative during the end of the second and third round. It’s not relevant for the first round candidates. For those interested, they can come to our Shanghai, Shenzhen or Beijing campuses.

The MBA by the way is taught strictly out of the Shanghai campus, but we do have other campuses for executive programs in the south and north of China and you can come to any of these three campuses on the specific date of the CEIBS Exam, which is given twice a year, and you can take the exam there.

The examination is, unlike the GMAT, a paper test, but it reflects the first two sections of the GMAT, the multiple choice sections of the GMAT. We do not ask for an essay or the new Integrated Reasoning like the GMAT asks for.

Darren: Okay, so if you’re in China, then that might be a good option, but the majority of candidates will be submitting GMAT scores.

Roy Chason: Again, if you live around the area or you would like to come to Shanghai for the first time, which I very much recommend, then it could be a good opportunity to come see the school and see Shanghai and then take the exam, so killing two birds with one stone.

Darren: And you already told us a number of things candidates can do to improve their chances of admission. Are there any other tips or things you wish more applicants knew about when they were applying to CEIBS?

Roy Chason: I very much encourage the students to do their due diligence to find out more about China, about CEIBS, and talk to our students. We have kind of an open door policy, so you can go on our website, we have a link that says “Talk to our students” and you can contact our student ambassadors and speak with them. They come from different countries, different sectors and industries, you can try to find the one that matches your profile and what you would like to know about the school.

Or you can just send me an e-mail and tell me a little bit of your background, what type of graduate or current student you would like to speak to, whether it be in the type of function you want to do, let’s say you want to go into consulting or into a certain industry, like IT, and we’ll be glad to put you in touch.

Darren: I’ll be sure to link to both the student contact ambassador pages and your e-mail, Roy, in the show notes.

CEIBS MBA Financing

Darren: If we could talk about financing the CEIBS MBA, I notice your tuition is roughly around US $61,000. What percentage of your class gets scholarships and what are your average scholarship amounts?

Roy Chason: Good question, Darren. We’re not a cheap program. Definitely $60,000 is not small money, but if you compare it to other top tier schools around the world, I think it’s still very much a considerably better value in terms of an 18-month program. So the tuition is about $60,000, I think it’s also important to consider the cost of living. Shanghai, I always say, is kind of a two-tier city, because if you want to pay a lot of money, the city probably offers the most opportunities than any other city in the world. There are a lot of very expensive places to go to and very expensive restaurants, where you can pay hundreds of dollars for dinner for example.

So there’s no lack of that. But if you want to live a more modest life, it’s very much possible as well in Shanghai, whereas it might be more difficult to do in other European or American cities. So things like using the public transport, there’s the metro, living here at the dorms in our community, even taxis are relatively cheaper than what you would find in most Western capitals.

So that is also something to consider. I think if you live in kind of a modest way and eat a lot of meals here at our business school here, then you can get along with around US $800 to US $1,000 a month. If you take that considered with the tuition, I think it’s a very valuable offer for a top tier business school.

Nevertheless, we understand obviously that some students have difficulty in meeting that and we do offer scholarships. Most are merit-based scholarships. Around a third of our students receive some form of scholarship, financial aid, from us, once they decide to come to CEIBS. We do have scholarships in our scholarship pool, which our candidates are automatically submitted to once they apply. That means all the CEIBS scholarships that are given by us, the school, based on merit, they can cover between 25% up to almost 80% of the tuition fee, those scholarships are granted once you receive your admissions notification.

So for example, and this goes back to your question about the GMAT, Darren, although you may be admitted with a GMAT score lower than 600, you might consider retaking the GMAT if you want a better chance to get one of our merit scholarships. So that is where the GMAT score holds a lot of importance.

By the way, as a side note, I would just like to say and perhaps you would like to link to it, Darren, we do have a state of the art GMAT model exam or simulation exam on our homepage. So I encourage all of you studying for the GMAT to go into it, it’s free of cost, there’s a database of more than 5,000 questions, it’s one of the most sophisticated GMAT exams on the market today. You can use it for free, online, on our website. So I definitely encourage you to practice that.

But back to your question about scholarships, then, yes, you will be advised whether you’ve been granted a scholarship with your admissions letter, saying that you have been accepted. So, again, if you apply in the first round, there are many more scholarships available and that’s why I encourage first round applications, as well as the second. Third is a bit more tricky.

In addition, we have a few other scholarships, which you will see online, under our Financial Aid section, which you can apply for separately, like the Shanghai Government Scholarship or some company sponsored scholarships. And those you would be notified for separately. But for the majority of scholarships that we offer, you don’t have to apply for on a separate basis, just by sending in your application you’re automatically considered and notified with the admissions statement.

Darren: And what about student loans in China. Are international students able to get loans at Chinese banks?

Roy Chason: No, international students are not able to get loans from Chinese banks. There are a few options, we do have several collaboration agreements for example in Germany and in India with Credila and in Mexico with some agencies that do offer types of loans. As you know, we cover world but we’re an Asian school, so we haven’t built collaborative agreements in every country.

I would definitely encourage students to find opportunities in their local market for student loans. In many countries, student loans are offered by banks and I encourage you to go that route. We might be able to have a few student loan guarantees this year for some international students, but it’s a new initiative and I’m not sure if it’s gone through complete approval yet with some of the Chinese financial institutions we work with. If you want more information regarding that, just send me an e-mail and I’ll be glad to inquire and tell you the status of that case.

Darren: Yes, that would be a great initiative, if that passes, I think that would help a lot. Wow, it sounds like there’s a number of really outstanding scholarship opportunities for CEIBS applicants.

Roy Chason: This year, we have almost $1.8 million in scholarships, so it’s not small money.

CEIBS MBA Career

Darren: If we could now shift the focus to career opportunities for CEIBS graduates. What is the MBA’s reputation with employers? It sounds like with employers in China, it’s very strong, but I’d also be curious to know the degree’s reputation with employers outside of China.

Roy Chason: The answer is “that depends.” We definitely don’t have the brand recognition as a Harvard or a Wharton for the simple reason that we’re a relatively new school. On the other hand, we are definitely known in different sectors, in different areas. So in many multinational companies that do have kind of an Asian focus, they definitely would know CEIBS and definitely in certain sectors, consulting and so on.

What I would definitely encourage though is foreign students coming in here to try to find a job opportunity in China if they can, because the name recognition of CEIBS amongst local and multinational companies operating here is very, very high and very prestigious. Of course, outside of China, it’s going to take time, we’re working on getting our global branding around the world. But, again, people’s expectations should be in line to know that there’s a very good possibility that perhaps if you do have a CEIBS degree when you return back home, that it’s not necessarily something that’s going to be recognized by the people you interview with at firsthand.

It’s important to know that we do have The Financial Times ranking, putting us up there with the top tier schools, but, again, branding is something that takes years, if not decades, and slowly we’re working our way across different regions of the world, but that takes due time.

Darren: I appreciate that earnest answer. I noticed 60% of your foreign student body ends up working in China, at least from last year, so how many of those stay in Shanghai?

Roy Chason: I think the majority stay in Shanghai. I don’t have the stats in front of me; we actually have a career board which details all the different numbers and does different statistics in terms of the career placement after graduation. But the ones that do stay, I would say the majority stay in Shanghai after they finish and some decide to go to cities like Beijing, where there are plenty of opportunities, or even Southern China.

I would like to add one more thing. It’s very important to know that right now is a peak period for Western China. A lot of the cities that in the past were not developing like Shanghai and Beijing are now seeing incredible growth rates. Cities like Chengdu for example in the Sichuan province or Xi’an in the northwest or even as far as Guizhou, which is in the southwest, these are areas in China that are now experiencing incredible double-digit growth, 12%, 14%, 16%.

The number of foreign students there with foreign expertise is probably even higher than you would find in a city like Shanghai, although in some cases you would need a decent level of Mandarin. But the opportunities there are just absolutely amazing and fascinating and a lot of these cities also have a very nice quality of life as well.

So I would definitely encourage people, if they want to live the Chinese experience to the fullest, even considering perhaps taking a smaller salary, you have to consider that these cities have a much lower cost of living as well, and then thinking of living a little bit of the modernization of Western China. I recently landed in airports in Xi’an and Chengdu and I was just awed at how modern and how big and just amazing they were. They’re no longer these outback cities, but rather in the first line of modernization and have a lot, a lot of opportunities on offer.

Darren: And how long can a CEIBS graduate stay in China to look for a job? Let’s say someone wants to explore an opportunity in Chengdu and needs to build contacts there after graduating. How long can international students stay?

Roy Chason: Our visas are until graduation, which is in April. So our foreign students who want to start Mandarin, who want to take the Chinese intensive course, start in June, otherwise our classes begin in mid-July, and then most of our students, depending obviously if you’ve taken any summer courses or if you’ve done exchange or not and where you’ve done exchange, can finish around January the following year, January or February.

Our graduation day is in April, so your visa is applicable from when you start until the April graduation and you have that window of opportunity when you finish your classes until the April graduation to stay here and look for job opportunities.

Darren: Got it. And, Roy, can you highlight one or two ways in which Career Services helps students find jobs?

Roy Chason: Yes, Darren, there are many ways in which Career Services can actually help students and I very much try to always emphasize that the Career Services Office at CEIBS, although offers a really large amount of support and different services on offer to our students, students should never rely on it as an exclusive source for finding their jobs. And sometimes many students I think in all business schools around the world can come with very high expectations of the Career Services Office and might get disappointed if they don’t meet that.

So I very much say, “When you come to business school, try to enjoy all the different opportunities to network, to meet people with the final objective of finding a job and use the Career Services Office as a supplement to help you and to support you during your job search process.”

So to quickly answer your question more specifically in terms of the services on offer at the CDC, the Career Development Center, here at CEIBS, there’s really a platter of services that they offer. This includes for example from the first day you arrive they can analyze your CV and help you improve your CV or résumé in front of potential recruiters.

There are company presentations, several dozen companies. I think almost 80 come here, every year, making company presentations, companies from Apple to Rose Diagnostics to Novartis to Chinese or multinationals that come here and present their company, their opportunities, and our students go and attend these sessions. So that’s another service that they offer.

We have our networking events during the year. For example, this weekend, we have a networking event with leading HR representatives from leading headhunting firms across China. They will be here, at our campus, to network specifically with our MBA students and alumni.

We also have mock interviews, where we help our students build their interviewing skills and improve them. About a couple of weeks ago we had a leading American professional in the area of coaching for case interviews. Case interviews are being used more and more in consulting companies, but also in other sectors.

So we offer a whole gamut of opportunities for our students to be able to improve their chances of landing a very interesting, competitive package after they graduate and also supplement that with other services, like the job postings. So once a week, our students receive a new, updated job posting of MBA specific jobs that are for MBA candidates here at CEIBS.

Darren: We’ve covered so much over the course of this podcast. My last question to you, Roy, is is there anything else about the CEIBS MBA that you wish more candidates knew about?

Roy Chason: That’s a very good question and I think most of the objectives or the dry information you can find on our website, you can find on our brochure, but to really know what CEIBS has to offer, you have to be here and feel CEIBS firsthand. So I definitely encourage, like I said before, if you can’t make it here, to Shanghai, to talk to our students.

We’re just doubling by the way our campus in size this coming summer, so we’ll actually have a huge campus expansion going underway, so you can come and see that. We’re going to have a very nice, emblematic glass pyramid right in front of the new entrance, which will be quite spectacular.

So I think definitely to feel the environment at the campus, outside the campus, come talk to our students, come sit in the classes and feel the global atmosphere, I think that’s what CEIBS is all about. And I think just as important as the school is being in China. I think for those of you that have been here, you already know what I’m talking about, but for the people that haven’t, just the incredible change you see in China is unprecedented in human history.

Last year, if you would have looked across the road, you would have seen almost an empty construction site and a little bit more than a year later, right now, I can tell you there’s a huge almost American-type suburban neighborhood right across the street, with over several hundred homes with full-grown trees, with swimming pools. And this is the type of very rapid change, just a very small example of the rapid change that takes place in China that I think doesn’t take place in any other part of the world.

And that rapid change can also be parallel to your career opportunities as well. So coming here and seeing this change and feeling this change is something I think very, very unique to China and very, very unique to the CEIBS experience. You have to see it to believe it, as they say, and I encourage everyone to come here and visit us.

Darren: Love that! And to summarize, if you could leave us with three words you would use to describe the CEIBS program.

Roy Chason: Oh, a lot of words, that’s a hard question. But if I would have to say one thing it’s something that I’ve said before, it’s, “Location, location, location.” Really, if you’re planning your future, try to look into the possibilities of what the future has to offer and then see where you want to study and I think this is the place.

Darren: Thank you, Roy, for your time and for being on the podcast.

Roy Chason: Thank you very much!

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