2009.09.10 Dean Qian Yingyi's Remarks at the 2009 Tsinghua MBA Program Opening Ceremony
Jul 12, 2020

Dear Incoming MBA Students,

Today, for the first time, we are holding an opening ceremony for all the Tsinghua MBA students together, including those of Full-time MBA, Part-time MBA, and International MBA in collaboration with MIT Sloan School of Management. On behalf of the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management, I would like to warmly welcome you to join the Tsinghua MBA program, and to become members of the Tsinghua SEM family.

I would like to extend my special welcome to our international students who come from many different countries and regions around the world. Your presence here is an evidence and symbol of globalization of the Tsinghua MBA program. Coincidently, exactly one hundred years ago in 1909, the Chinese government of the Qing Dynasty sent the first batch of Chinese students to the U.S. colleges on the scholarship funded by the money from the overpayment of the Boxer Indemnity returned by the U.S. government. This was the origin of Tsinghua, the school built two years later to prepare students going to the U.S. for higher education. Today, one hundred years later, we welcome international students coming to China and to Tsinghua. You are the ones who witness the great transformation of Tsinghua, the great transformation of China, and the great transformation of the world as well.

You are very lucky to enter Tsinghua in 2009. In the spring of 2011, you will participate in the celebration of Tsinghua’s centennial. And this year, the School will officially launch our new MBA curriculum, and you are the first class to benefit.

Last year, I attended the centennial celebration of Harvard Business School. On that occasion, the host opened his remarks with a reference to two important events happened in the year of 1908: the death of Empress Dowager Cixi of the Chinese Qing Dynasty, and the the initiation of the MBA program by the new Harvard Business School. It highlighted the importance of China in the world. Indeed, the death of Empress Dowager Cixi echoed in the beginning of the end of Qing Dynasty and the dynamics of China’s pursue of modernization in the following century.

Since then, the MBA program has spread from the U.S. to the rest of the world. The MBA program was introduced to China in less than two decades. But among a dozen of professional graduate programs offered in China at the present time, the MBA program is most significant, because of its scale and societal impact. Tsinghua launched the pilot MBA program in 1991, the very first in China. As one of China’s most influential and revered MBA programs, Tsinghua has, to date, awarded MBA degrees to over 6000 students. Tsinghua is also home to the Secretarial of the National MBA Advisory Board. The Tsinghua MBA program holds a special place in China.

At the time when we marked the MBA centennial in 2008, the School decided to review and reform its MBA curriculum. Last year, based on our research, the School finalized is its new MBA curriculum. We tested part of the new curriculum with the students in the fall of 2008. If the present MBA curriculum is regarded as the MBA version 1.0, then the new curriculum could be regarded as an upgrade to MBA version 2.0.

The launch of the new Tsinghua MBA curriculum was well received in China. At the press conference on September 24th, 2008, 32 medias were present, including a news agency, four television networks, 13 print medias and 14 internet medias. Later, several magazines also published in depth reports on our new MBA curriculum.

In this reform, we first clarified the positioning of our MBA program. We made it clear that MBA is a post-graduate professional education. The objective of the Tsinghua MBA program is to educate future leaders with a focus on general management and leadership. Our MBA program is not a specialized MBA. It is not easy to run a general MBA program as compared to a specialized MBA program, but as part of a premier university in China, we enjoy the environment that other business schools in China do not. In addition, we educate leaders in all types of organizations, and not limited to business enterprises, because we believe that the ability to manage is the same across different types of organizations.

At the conceptual level, the new Tsinghua MBA curriculum involves three ideas.

First, the MBA program is not just designed for the teaching of knowledge only, but also aids students in the development of their skills and attributes. In the past, our MBA curriculum mainly consisted of knowledge-intensive “hard courses,” but overlooked equally important “soft-skill courses.” Often, the students are too occupied by the rigid requirements of the “hard courses” to pay enough attention to the demands of the “soft-skill courses”. In designing the new curriculum, we put more emphasis on the development of skills and attempt to strike a balance between acquiring knowledge, skills, and attributes.

Second, the curriculum needs integrative courses in addition to functional courses. In the past, the faculty designed courses according to their academic disciplines. Thus, each course remains a silo and lacks integration among different academic fields. In reality, however, the problems a company faces are often multi-faceted, and the resolution demands an assortment of skills stemming from a variety of fields. The new curriculum establishes integrative courses to make up the past shortcoming.

Third, the curriculum must contain an aspect of experiential learning. The MBA curricula of the past are based exclusively on learning from textbooks or casebooks. The new curriculum will incorporate experiential learning to give students a chance to practice real projects.

These innovative ideas are reflected in the core curriculum. The core courses now consist of four teaching modules. The first module is called “self-awareness”, the second “the foundation of analysis”, the third “the foundation of management”, and the fourth “the integrative practice”. These four modules are designed not only for teaching of knowledge, but also include aspects of teaching meant to strengthen students’ skills and attributes. They are teaching modules created to facilitate learning from books and from practice. Together, the four modules combine to give rise to a core curriculum that allows our students to acquire the trio skills of “being,” “knowing,” and “doing.”

The new curriculum will implement the following four specific changes.

First, we will increase the number of “soft-skill courses” essential to the promotion of leadership among our students. Such courses include “Management Perspectives”, “Managerial Communication”, “Leadership Development Process”, “Career Development Planning”, “Business Laws and Ethics”, and so on.

We also adjusted the scheduling of classes so that the majority of these “soft-skill courses” will be held in the first semester of the first year.

Second, we created a new course called “Integrative Practical Projects”. In the last stage of the first year, students will work in groups to engage in a real business project. They will compose reports, and receive feedbacks from the faculty and practitioners.

“Integrative Practical Projects” has three tracks: “management consulting”, “entrepreneurial management”, and “management innovation in the information era”. The track of “management consulting” focuses on problem solving in strategic reorganization, IPO, merger and acquisition. The “entrepreneurial management” track centers on how to start a new business and how to prepare high quality and realistic business plans. The “management innovation in the information era” track combines new information technology with the management of a business.

Third, we will increase students’ exposure to globalization. To obtain global experience, a student can take part in an internship abroad, or engage in an international student exchange, or go on in short study trips. Some of the leading business schools abroad already require all of their MBA students to have global experiences, and we will do it gradually.

Tsinghua SEM has signed student exchange agreements with 82 business schools around the world to allow for tuition-free student exchanges. We are proud to possess the most extensive MBA student exchange program in all of Asia. We have also collaborated with Stanford in a project named STEP. Our School co-created with MIT Sloan the China Lab Project. With the Catholic University of Chile, we began a project called Doing Business in Chile. As well, numerous MBA student organizations abroad have organized trips to Tsinghua.

Fourth, the graduation thesis requirement will be replaced by a case analysis report. Before, the thesis was an essential component of the curriculum. In the future we will require MBA students to prepare a case analysis report instead.

Tsinghua SEM places a great importance upon the study and development of business cases. For this, the School has established “China Business Case Center.” The School has also obtained the right of access to the cases of Harvard Business School and of the Ivey School in Canada. In the future, the case analyses reports made by our students will become raw materials to the cases developed by the Case Center. Today, I am happy to announce that Warren McFarlan, renowned professor and former Senior Associate Dean of Harvard Business School has recently accepted our invitation to serve as the Co-Director of our Case Center. Professor McFarlan will take the leadership at the Case Center, and will supervise the research and preparation for the writing of new cases. Professor McFarlan has taught at the Harvard Business School for more than four decades. Among his students are formidable leaders such as the current dean of the Harvard Business School.

We at Tsinghua MBA are proud to be a leader among China’s business schools to launch the new MBA curriculum. After we made our announcement last year about our new MBA curriculum, several leading business schools across the country followed suit. This proves Tsinghua’s leadership role. Also, several leading international business schools succeeded in launching their versions of new MBA curricula in the past few years, including Yale and Stanford. We are part of this international trend as well.

Dear students:

A hundred years ago, in the year of 1909, a year after the death of Empress Dowager Cixi and the birth of MBA education, the Qing government designated a royal garden in the Western suburb of Beijing known as Tsinghua Garden to be the site of a future school to prepare students going to the U.S. for higher education. This is the origin of our campus and the name of our university. A hundred years later, today, Tsinghua turns a new page with the launch of a new MBA curriculum – this is an event worth remembering.

I know that many of you consider an education at Tsinghua a dream come true. I know, too, that you have high expectations for the new Tsinghua MBA curriculum. That is to be expected. While I delight in your excitement, I must caution you that in spite of the efforts we put in preparation, we are exploring in a new venture. There will be problems in its implementation. I hope you will understand the difficulties. To be successful, it requires joint efforts from the faculty, the staff, as well as the students yourselves. With your support, I am confident that we will succeed.

Because from today on, we are all a part of Tsinghua.

Thank you.

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