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Tsinghua-MIT Global MBA Alumni Mentor Program – New Beginnings

——By Kenneth Yang, Tsinghua-MIT Global MBA Class of 2018

The 2016 Tsinghua-MIT Global MBA Alumni Mentorship Program (AMP) officially begun as of October 17, 2016. From the immense efforts of the Tsinghua MBA office, fifty-seven alumni mentors, from a wide range of backgrounds and industries, have agreed to dedicate themselves to selflessly share their knowledge, experiences, and insights with the Tsinghua-MIT 2016 Global MBA class. The number of alumni mentors committed this year represented an impressive ratio of less than 2 students per alumni mentor for the 2016 Global MBA class of 101 students. 


The AMP adheres to the core concepts of "sharing, inheritance, and win-win.” The Tsinghua AMP is designed to help students in learning and career development as well as to provide the alumni opportunities for sharing alma mater resources by inviting MBA alumni to act as mentors for MBA students. In addition to developing a relationship with an alumnus or alumna in their field of interest, students can also get technical advices on interviewing and résumé-writing along with career guidance to help them envision a career trajectory and manage career transitions. After 9 years of development, the AMP has 1,100 alumni and 3,200 MBA students participated in the program. The AMP played an important role in learning and career development for Tsinghua MBA students.

As Chinese New Years approaches in 2017, the AMP closed the first semester of the 2016-2017 school year with 13 events of different types, including formal speaking events, company site visit, and informal gatherings. These large and small events saw over 200 student attendance in total and help connected many students in the 2016 Global MBA class with our alumni mentors.

New AMP Format
2016 marked the first year of a new experimental format launch for the AMP that was vastly different from how the AMP operated in the past. Instead of assigning students to alumni mentors randomly, the new format aimed to create an environment where the AMP would give opportunities for both the students and alumni mentors to freely choose one another to start a mentorship relationship. Based on industry backgrounds, the AMP grouped the alumni mentors into five different groups and each student can choose to join up to two groups based on his or her personal and career interests. 

Student leaders from each industry group and AMP representatives then arranged activities with the alumni mentors that students could choose to attend that gave both sides opportunities to connect with one another. The types of activities that the AMP plan to arrange includes but not limited to the following formats: industry discussion, career sharing, career counseling, project cooperation opportunities, business visits, professional skills training, and formal lectures.

The MBA office and the student committee anticipated that this new format can promote freedom of choice for both the alumni mentors and the student body as well as contribute to the long-term development of the AMP program. The new AMP format’s objective is to help the Global MBA class to establish deep relationships with Tsinghua alumni mentors.

Kick-Off Event

On November 12, 2016, AMP held the formal kick-off events with a majority of the alumni mentors in attendance to introduce themselves to the 2016 Tsinghua-MIT Global MBA class. The event was hosted by 2016 GMBA class alumni relations representatives, Kaifu Han and Kenneth Yang, who introduced the new AMP format in detail and explained the expectations for both students and alumni mentors going forward.



 Kick-Off Events Student Hosts


Alumni mentors were grouped into five different groups based on their industry backgrounds that included the following: PE/VC Group 1, PE/VC Group 2, General Finance, TMT, and Other Industries. Each alumni mentor gave a brief 2-minute introduction in front of the entire Global MBA class. In many of the introductions, alumni mentors gave interesting stories that made the room filled with laughter and personal insights that benefited the students. 



                                                         Alumni Mentors and Students Listening Intently     

                                

At the end of the event, students signed up to different groups according to their personal interests and based on the introductions of the alumni mentors. Many students continued behind to have further discussions with the alumni mentors and to start building future mentorship relationships.


Kick-Off Event Group Picture

Formal Speaking Events
Over the first few months of the school year, the AMP had arranged 5 speaking events from 6 different alumni mentors that covered various topics that are related to different industries ranging from private equity to healthcare. We are very grateful to each of the alumni mentor that dedicated himself or herself to prepare for the speaking engagement and share their wealth of knowledge with the Global MBA class. 

The AMP formal lecture series started off strong with the our first speaker, Cynthia Ma (蔡小嘉 ), engaging over 30 students to share her personal experience from making the transition from an engineering background to business. Her talk especially touched a number of our female classmates in attendance as she candidly and openly discussed the difficulties that women faced in the workplace as well as offered some strategies for women to increase their chances of success. She also shared the challenges that she faced as a Chinese female professional in a white, male dominated industry. Overall, she offered a positive outlook and embraced her experiences that made her who she is today.



 Students Engage In Conversation with Alumni Speaker 蔡小嘉  After the Event


The speaking series followed the great start from蔡小嘉 with an incredibly insightful lecture into the venture capital and private equity industry by another distinguished alumni mentor, 于彤. Our speaker took time from her very busy schedule during a business trip to Beijing to share her experiences in the industry with our Global MBA class. She presented the detailed inner mechanics of each of the different functions within the investment process from angel investment round all the way through to when the investment firms would exit the project. In addition, our guest speaker highlighted the importance of finding a function that suits the personality of the individual. Since there are many different functions that requires different skill sets and personalities, joining the industry does not require specific types of people. Everyone has a place in the industry and the most important thing is to find what suits you and that would translate to a higher chance of long-term success.


于彤 encouraged our classmate to pursuit a career in the investment industry as she noted that the industry is always looking for talent in this fast changing environment. She stressed that it would be unnecessary to start a banking or consulting career first before joining the industry. Get your foot in the door and work hard to learn everything you can was her advice to all the students in attendance.



 Group Picture After Speaking Event with 于彤

Alumni mentor 章勇, while on a business trip from Hong Kong to Beijing, also took the time out of his busy schedule to hold a discussion panel with our MBA class on December 20, 2016. He shared his personal experiences and insights from the investment banking industry. 章勇 was a strong advocate for the investment banking industry and he encouraged the attendees to pursue a career in the industry.



 Alumni Mentor 章勇 Sharing His Personal Experience and Insights

On December 22, 2016, two of our alumni mentors from the healthcare industry, 庞瑞 and 王梦良, held a joint discussion panel on the state of the healthcare industry in China.  Alumni mentor 王梦良 gave a detailed overview of the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry with concrete statistics, detailed explanation of current regulatory situation, insights on profit generation, and future industry outlook. Coming from the media background with specialization in the healthcare industry, alumni mentor 庞瑞 held a lively discussion on branding and marketing strategy for the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry and dissected a few well-known cases with the participants to demonstrate the role of public relations in the healthcare industry.



 Group Picture After the Healthcare Industry Discussion Panel

The formal speaking series closed strong with alumni mentor张涛holding a large information session on the topic of merger and acquisitions on January 2, 2017. Over 40 students attended the event where alumni mentor 张涛 shared two real life acquisition cases with the attendees. During the session, our fellow classmates learned the inner workings of the actual deals as well as the strategic considerations from behind the scenes. The informative session was a great exposure for our MBA class to peek into what actually goes on in real life mega deals.



                                           Alumni Mentor 张涛 Sharing With Full Room of MBA Students

Site Visit
Company visits are valuable experiences for students to gain exposure to the internal workings of different industries. They offer great opportunities for the students to get to know how the industry works. An exposure, no matter how brief it is, is very helpful and can give deep insights about the company and the industry. For example, a visit to a manufacturing sector can help understand different processes, see different machines and learn best practices. Site visits also give good option to interact with company employees and managers to understand their industry. These are very useful for students who wish to take up similar career in the future.

On November 25, 2016, alumni mentor 杨宁, together with the Tsinghua MBA office and Tsinghua Career Development Center, organized a site visit to tour the General Electric (GE) Beijing Technology Park. Thirty-three 2016 Global MBA class students were invited to join the tour where the participants witnessed state of the art research facilities and equipment. 


Global MBA Group Picture at GE Beijing Technology Park

In addition to the tour, GE arranged six informational lectures, which were all held by Tsinghua alums, for the participating students. The informational lecture topics cover an overview of GE business and the newest developments in aerospace and medical sector of GE.



 Information Session at GE for the Visiting Tsinghua MBA Students

The site visits conducted in the first semester not only included established firm like GE, on December 16, 2016, students were invited to visit a technology start-up company. Led by alumni mentor 刘昕, 20 students attended the company visit to 出门问问, which is a rising start-up company specialize in artificial intelligence in speech recognition and voice search. Participants were able to get a glimpse into how a start-up functions in the cutting edge technology sector.


 
Alumni Mentor刘昕 invited 20 students to visit出门问问 on December 16, 2016

Alumni mentor 刘昕 demonstrated how the artificial intelligence voice recognition technology works to the student who participated and gave an overview on the history of the company and how the current situation of technology start-up scene. 



     Students Listening Intently to the AI Technology Demonstration

Informal Gatherings

Small and informal gatherings are often one of the best ways for people to connect with one another in intimate settings. Throughout the first semester, many alumni mentors arranged small lunch and dinner gatherings with students from their industry group. Although these gatherings were informal, the alumni mentors shared personal experiences and deep industry knowledge with those that attended. These small lunch and dinner gathering have been tremendously beneficial to our fellow MBA classmates. 

Lunch Gathering with Alumni Mentor许峥 on November 12, 2016

 

Dinner Gathering with Alumni Mentor 许少波 on December 23, 2016

 
Lunch Gathering with Alumni Mentor 戴永 on December 4, 2016
 

Dinner Gathering with Alumni Mentor 刘继楼 on December 11, 2016

 
Lunch Gathering with Alumni Mentor 吴强 on January 2, 2017

Conclusion and Outlook
2016 marked the launch of the new AMP format and we have witnessed a tremendous amount of active exchanges between alumni mentors and the Global MBA students in the first semester. The exchanges took various forms that included formal talks, panel discussions, site visits, and private lunch and dinner gatherings. The entire 2016 GMBA class is grateful for the commitments that our alumni mentors have shown in the first semester and we are confident that the AMP can assist the students in developing meaningful mentorship relationships with alumni mentors. The abundance of resources that Tsinghua provides in terms of alumni network and the committed alumni mentors for the Global MBA class is remarkable and we are very fortunate to have such caring and passionate MBA office working so tirelessly to make the AMP happen.

Moving forward to the second semester and into the second year of our MBA journey, the AMP will continue to arrange activities with alumni mentors to offer our MBA class with more and more opportunities to get to know the alumni mentors. Procedures to encourage active engagement will also continue to be improved upon to strengthen the AMP for future Tsinghua MBA classes. It is the mission of the AMP to encourage and cultivate strong relationships between alumni mentors and students and we believe that we are on the right track to achieve that mission.