Venturing Off the Unbeaten Track
Ong Hui Kuan, Undergraduate student of Tsinghua SEM
Law Chung Ming
Tsinghua-MIT MBA Program Class of 2003
Group Director, China Group, International Enterprise (IE) Singapore
A Pioneer in Establishing Sino-Foreign Ties, Bottom-Up
Since the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008, the number of foreigners heading to China to complete their MBA program has drastically surged. However, back in the early period of this century, the thought of a Chinese education was unthinkable for most, except for Law Chung Ming. “Doing an MBA program in China was definitely not the norm. I did not have much reference at that time; I definitely was not able to seek anybody’s opinions on what the experience would be." recalled Chung Ming.
As the then Centre Director of International Enterprise (IE) Singapore’s Taipei Office, Chung Ming did not hesitate when he was presented with the opportunity to study in China under the Asian Business Fellowship program initiated by Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry. “Even though it wasn’t the norm, I could see that China was going to be a rising economic and political power back then; there will definitely be a strong interest in China everywhere around the world in time to come. To me, an MBA program is less of a program for learning but more of a platform for networking and making friends”.
Forging Long-Lasting Ties
During Chung Ming’s time in Tsinghua from 2001 to 2003, there were around 120 students in the Tsinghua-MIT MBA program. Out of these 120 students, less than 6 were foreign students. Even though he was a “minority”, Chung Ming tried to experience school life like a local would; eating in canteens and cycling around school on a bike became part and parcel of his life. “Beyond the classrooms, we went for tours, visits and drinking sessions together; it felt like we were part of them and they did not treat us differently as well. My Chinese classmates were definitely curious and wanted to find out more about our country”.
“Every time when I mentioned to others that I had graduated from Tsinghua University, everyone would go “wow” and that became a talking point. It had definitely established my credentials in a certain sense”, Chung Ming admitted. Even after Chung Ming graduated from the Tsinghua-MIT MBA Program, he continued to work in IE Singapore’s China offices for 7 more years, where it is evident that his previous experience in Tsinghua definitely allowed him to build rapport and cultivate a stronger working relationship with his Chinese counterparts and colleagues.
As all of his classmates had entered different industries after graduation, this had also led to the formation of a useful network of alumni and classmate contacts. As many of his peers had joined multinational corporations (MNCs) and big Chinese companies upon graduation, when Chung Ming returned to IE Singapore and had to work with these companies, his classmates were always the first people he could rely on.
“Although we do not often see each other physically now, we had formed a WeChat group, in which we will talk about anything and everything. When I visit China or vice versa, we will try to arrange for a gathering. All the friendships and relationships forged were, in my opinion, very long-lasting”.
Chung Ming is currently the Group Director for the China Group of IE Singapore As the Group Director of China Group, Chung Ming helps to drive Singapore's external economy, assists in spearheading the overseas growth of Singapore-based enterprises and promoting Sino-Singapore trade in the Greater China Region.