10 years of STEP(Stanford-Tsinghua Exchange Program): SEM Students’ experience at Stanford GSB
Jul 13, 2020

Time flies. The Stanford-Tsinghua Exchange Program has already a history of 10 years. Over these years, both universities have been encouraging the relationship in order to connect China and USA through connecting their students with this unique experience. 

After hosting Stanford GSB (Graduate School of Business) students in Beijing at the end of November 2015, Tsinghua SEM students were given the opportunity to fly to Palo Alto, CA (USA), experience Stanford students lifestyle and continue building lasting friendships. GSB friends, who made Tsinghua SEM students’ stay as pleasant and interesting as possible, were really looking forward to the week’s academic activities, company visits and social activities. 

The adventure at Stanford GSB was a truly unique; the academic activities were inspiring and fascinating since this year the Stanford GSB STEP team organised not only lectures with specific topics, such as Management of organisational Conflicts, American Economic Policy, Venture Capital in Silicon Valley and Strategic Thinking, but also gave the SEM friends the chance to attend regular classes, such as Path to Power, High performance Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital, and Managing Growing Enterprises. 

The academic lectures were taught by remarkable professors, who were able to provide a deep and insightful analysis of the current American and global markets: Prof Ge Wang, Co-Founder of Smule, talked about his research, which includes programming languages and interactive software systems for computer music, mobile and social music, new performance ensembles (laptop orchestra and mobile phone orchestra) and paradigms, and musical visualization. Prof Lindy Greer, who teaches Organizational Behavior, focused her lecture on the impact of team composition on intragroup conflict and team performance. She has a strong interest in how start-ups are composed in terms of power, status and leadership structures. Lecturer Keith Hennessey, who spent more than 14 years in Economic Policy roles advising senior elected US official, explained American Economic Policy and policy making process. Prof Robert A Burgelman, whose research has focused on the role of strategy-making in firm evolution, proved the importance of strategy-making processes involved in how companies enter into new businesses and exit from existing ones to secure continued adaptation. Lecturer Robert E Siegel, General Partner of XSeed Capital, talked about his VC and its investment areas, which include enterprise software, business operations and computing platforms. 

Regarding company visits, since Stanford is close to Silicon Valley, going to companies such as Facebook, Google or Uber was a “must do”: SEM STEPers met with Facebook’s Growth and Corporate Development teams at its new headquarters; they talked about Go-to-Market strategy, Customer Acquisition and Retention, international Expansion and Regulation with Uber Growth team; and they had the chance to see the balloon-based Internet service (Project Loon) at Google X. Tsinghua SEM students also visited AXA Lab, which is the digital innovation-sourcing unit of AXA, the French global leading insurance firm founded in 1817. AXA Lab has the goal to accelerate the digital transformation of its Group. The last company visit, but not the least stimulating, was at StartX, which is a non-profit organisation with the mission to help Stanford’s top entrepreneurs and their start-ups by charging zero fees, taking zero equity and offering customised programs. 

Despite of the full schedule of lectures and company visits, thanks to GSB friends, SEM students were also able to enjoy San Francisco and life in Palo Alto: they went to see a NBA Basketball game at the Oracle Arena, where the Golden State Warriors played the home game and won it; they went sightseeing at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf and walked through the Golden Gate Bridge; in Palo Alto, they experienced GSB students’ life by having small group dinner hosted by GSB peers, which is a typical social activity that most GBSers do every week in the first year of their MBA.

In GSB Town Square, everyone can read: “ There comes a time in every life when the past recedes and the future opens. It’s that moment when you turn to face the unknown. Some will turn back to what they already know. Some will walk straight ahead into uncertainty. I can’t tell you which one is right. But I can tell you which one is more fun.” – Philip H. Knight, MBA 1962. SEM students enjoyed a lot STEP 2015, and after this adventure they all know, not only their right path, but also “which one is more fun”. 

——By Yiting Daniela Cai (Class of 2016)

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