As I sit here in my suite at Kempinski Shenzhen reflecting on the last three weeks I have mixed feelings. It seems like I’ve been in China and Hong Kong for three days but also for three months. So much has happened in so little time.
On November 14 I landed in Shanghai. My brother Jeffrey flew up from Shenzhen where he lives and we toured the city for three days before my classes began. After being with him in China I see why he likes it here so much.
On the 18th I reunited with 28 classmates at Fudan School of Management. Learning strategy with Prof Dr. Beatrix Dart was eye opening. She gave us case studies to apply different strategic frameworks like the Porter 5 Forces, VRIO, and Blue Ocean Strategy. Having a toolbox of structured strategic frameworks is good for making better decisions.
The guest speaker for Strategy 1 was Leigh Gui, the CFO Ebay International. He shared with us several inspiring stories and was honest about the struggles Ebay has had here in China.
In Shanghai and Suzhou we worked on our Capstone Project which is essentially intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship. We listened to several presentations with venture capitalists and business leaders. It was enlightening seeing how international business comes together.
My favourite part of the trip was microeconomics with Professor Doug Hyatt learning about iso-costs and iso-quants, efficiency and elasticity, and demographic changes and population pyramids. Having this understanding helps better allocate recourses and decide where to invest. Winning $150 HKD at Happy Valley racetrack betting on horses with Professor Hyatt was a highlight of my trip.
We finished off the week in Hong Kong with Corporate Governance with Professor David R. Beatty C.M., O.B.E., F.ICD, CFA. We learned about long term sustainable competitive differentiated advantage. For Corporate Governance we met with Craig Smith the President and Managing Director of Marriott International at the Ritz Carlton. We also met with Martin Hirt, a Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company and author of Strategy, Beyond the Hockey Stick.
The main theme of this module is learning how to play and win. As important as this is I find myself struggling to find real meaning in it.
On the personal side being in China for three weeks without my family has been a huge emotional challenge. Another emotional challenge is the feeling that I’m in high school again trying to find out where I fit socially. Being an executive MBA program there are very aggressive personalities driven to succeed. And others are just trying to survive and get through.
At one point I asked myself, “what the hell am I doing here?” and “why does it matter so much to me what others think of me?” For me the real challenge is not in the academics, it’s in managing my emotions.
If I am able to choose where my place I hope to be an inspiration even if its in a small way. One of my classmates told me that true leadership is not aggressive domination its being inspirational to others. I believe that!
Reflecting back on my experience in China I am questioning if I want to aggressively pursue building a large company, greatness, and wealth. Forming a vision that truly benefits others and helps them to express their creativity feels much important and fun than pursuing audacious goals. Living well, loving family, and inspiring creativity are is how I plan to play and win!