Discover how experiential learning at Tsinghua MBA could benefit you
Business schools aim to train future leaders of business. It’s therefore important to get a hands-on understanding of your subject, based on real-world case studies, practical assignments and experience with businesses.
Tsinghua University’s Global MBA is tailored for future business leaders who want to gain an understanding of Chinese business practices, while preparing to work in international companies.
At Tsinghua University,experiential learning is a fundamental part of the Global MBA programme, combining various learning styles: lectures, practical learning, online learning, field learning and competitions.
Tsinghua University offers a business case competition as part of its Case Study and Practice course. This gives candidates the opportunity to work in teams to find a solution to a real business problem. The case competition started in 2005 and has been successfully held for 16 sessions so far.
TopMBA spoke to Tsinghua University graduate Zhifeng Zhong (Fonzie), who came third in the business case competition in 2019, to find out how he benefitted from practical learning in his Global MBA.
Expand your professional skillset
Tsinghua University’s experimental learning approach to its Global MBA immerses students in the Chinese business environment, encouraging them to work on the most cutting-edge business issues in mainland China.
“Experimental learning is one of the ways that Tsinghua’s Global MBA enables students to dive into business in China. Throughout experimental learning, students are able to access the best of mainland China to grow their Chinese business focus,” said Tsinghua University professor Yu Chunling.
This intense, data-driven environment helps students develop hard skills such as research and analytical methods, applying critical thinking to solve problems. Students also cultivate soft skills from working in a team, enabling them to improve their cooperation, communication and leadership skills.
This combination of practical hard skills and soft skills means that students will be well prepared to take on leadership positions in the future.
Gain real experience which you can apply to industry
While working directly with companies to solve real business problems, not only will you enhance your CV, but you’ll also gain skills and experience which you can directly apply to roles in the future.
The Case Study and Practice course at Tsinghua MBA aims to combine theory learning and practical learning. Students will take a class and two lectures with industry professionals and consultants and will then practice what they learn to do field research and case analysis in the case competition – which is marked as part of the course.
The competition is result orientated and students will undertake in-depth research to find solutions to real business problems, building connections with the company and professionals at the same time.
To organise the case competition, the Tsinghua MBA education centre contacted more than 30 cutting-edge companies in mainland China spanning a large range of industries. From these companies, three were selected that focused on the current pressing issues in the market. These case competition partners were from the most active and innovative enterprises in the current Chinese business world.
These three partnered companies are required to disclose real data about their operations, marketing situations and financial situations, clearly demonstrating their real problems to students working on the competition.
In just 30 days, candidates will apply independent thinking and problem-solving techniques to work as a team and develop a solid and credible solution to this problem.
The competition is marked on three elements:
The depth and breadth of the case research
The feasibility of the business solution
Whether the report could deal with the real problems to improve management practices
“The case competition benefits students in various forms of learning from both inside and outside of classrooms, such as competitions, lectures, field research, etc. The focus is on students' multi-disciplinary ability to integrate practical knowledge across different industries,” said Professor Yu.
For several graduates, the case competition plays a vital role in the companies they work in after graduating, with some students even securing roles in the companies they work with in the case competition.
“After completing the case competition, students have often been invited to work for the case enterprises as consultants to brainstorm and discuss problems with management team,” said Professor Yu.
Gain extensive industry insight
By working directly with companies on practical projects, students will gain an exclusive insight into Chinese industries they might want to work in.
As part of the case competition, and through using up-to-date case studies throughout the degrees, students at Tsinghua University will explore a variety of industries.
Fonzie’s team were tasked with preparing a globalisation strategy for Chinese smartphone brand ViVo.
While preparing for the competition, Fonzie’s team spent a lot of time researching the smartphone industry. Students in the competition must submit a detailed case research plan into their focused industry which is then assessed and marked.
“The case competition was very similar to a consulting project because we learnt about a particular industry from scratch,” said Fonzie.
Students also visit the company they are working with to ask questions and interview leaders and executives. Fonzie said: “We did a lot of surveys and interviews as part of our research, to try to get more understanding about the smartphone industry both in China, and internationally.”
In the analytical stage of the project, students submit a case analysis report which is graded by the professor and executive managers of the company.
Each of these aspects of the course build up candidates’ research skills and help them better understand the industry in China they’re working with.
Work with classmates and industry experts to solve problems in different ways
Experimental learning encourages cooperation between classmates and industry professionals to solve complex business problems.
Tsinghua’s Global MBA promotes a sustainable ecosystem of cooperation between students, industry experts and the business school. Students are encouraged to work together to solve problems.
Tsinghua’s case competition encourages collaboration across year groups and schools. The course is not limited to the business school but is instead open to all disciplines within Tsinghua University’s 21 schools and 59 departments, including undergraduates, master’s students, MBAs and PhD students.
Professor Yu said: “Students will gain a variety of learning opportunities in diverse ways in the case study competition, typically include interacting with peers from different majors and industry backgrounds, consulting professionals, and enterprise executives. This allows students to think outside the box and achieve multi-dimensional growth.”
Fonzie says he learnt a lot from his group members. “I have learned how to conduct a market survey, how to evaluate the market size of a particular industry and identify the opportunities and risk industries,” he said.
Outside of the business case competition, MBA students are given frequent opportunities to network with Tsinghua University alumni.
As one of the most historical and prestigious universities in mainland China, Tsinghua’s alumni network is extensive and successful. Notable alumni include Chen-ning Yang and Tsung- Dao Lee, Nobel Laureates in Physics, as well as several important and impactful national leaders of China.
“The powerful and supportive Tsinghua alumni network has been the foundation of sustainable and win-win cooperation between Tsinghua MBA and enterprises to provide such great practical learning projects,” said Wu Yingna, director of alumni development and corporate relations at the Tsinghua MBA education centre.
“Because of the great efforts of Tsinghua alumni in communications and execution of the collaboration projects, these practical learning opportunities have given students access to the best of mainland China,” she added.
Deal with business problems under pressure
As in business, practical projects often require you to work under pressure. This may be overcoming challenges, reaching tight deadlines or dealing with difficult people.
Tsinghua’s business case competition offers its own challenges. For example, once the groups of students have formed a business solution, they must present and defend their final report in front of the managers of the enterprises, professors at the university and industry professionals from investment and consulting firms.
For some students like Fonzie, this can be a nerve-wracking experience.
He said: “I was slightly nervous presenting because before I did the case competition, I was not someone who would often talk in front of a big crowd of people.
“It gave me a really good chance to improve myself and to pushed me out of my comfort zone. I think this was a really good experience for me.”
Fonzie and his team had thoroughly done their research which helped him in the presentation. They came third in the competition overall.
By Chloe Lane
Additional edits by Liyang Chai.