China 2024

5 Reasons for Simon to Increase Engagement in China 

February 28, 2024 | By Dean Sevin Yeltekin

In the late 1970s, the Chinese government implemented a “Reform and Opening Up” policy aimed at modernizing the Chinese economy and expanding its global footprint. Since then, China has become a leading source country for students studying abroad. Many students found a home at Simon Business School, where we have a long history of welcoming students and faculty members from every corner of the globe. Fast forward to today, when we count close to 5,000 University of Rochester alumni in mainland China and Hong Kong—and close to 50% are Simon alumni. 

In January, I made my first official trip to China on behalf of Simon. Over the course of 10 days, I had the opportunity to meet with alumni and their families, prospective students, and educational institutions across Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. I returned with a renewed appreciation for the value a Simon education brings to Chinese students—and the value they bring to Simon in return.

 Amid headlines pointing to the decoupling of the U.S. and Chinese economies, my time in China opened my eyes to the vast opportunity for Simon to build new partnerships. Now is the time to ramp up, not down. 

Below, I reflect on five reasons Simon should increase its engagement in China: 

1)    The presence of Chinese students makes every Simon student a more capable global citizen. 

Whether or not they are part of a global company, Simon alumni will work alongside an increasingly diverse pool of colleagues to serve an increasingly diverse customer base. Simon is an ideal training ground for understanding the ideas, backgrounds, and cultures that they will inevitably encounter. By interacting with classmates from China, non-Chinese students develop a more multi-faceted perspective on the world's second largest economy, gaining insight into the cultural norms that shape a starkly different business world. 

2)    Chinese students make Simon stronger. 

Simon’s faculty and staff have found that Chinese students tend to be judicious, efficient, and to the point. They are also incredibly well-prepared academically, especially when it comes to the quantitative skills they bring to the table. Across the board, we can testify to the ways in which Chinese students bring intellectual firepower and rich perspective to the classroom. 

3)    Simon opens up a new way of thinking for Chinese students.

In my time in China, I met with Simon alumni across industries, from manufacturing and tech to banking and entrepreneurship. Most ranged in age from their 30s to 60s. On the older end, these are people who came of age just as China was opening the door to the outside world. In my conversations with them, they credited Simon with preparing them to develop private enterprises and to manage effectively in a fast-developing, innovation-driven economy. They learned the nuts and bolts of a market economy from the inside. That perspective gave them an edge over their counterparts back in China, who did not have the same opportunity to observe a market economy up close. They have risen to positions of great influence in their companies and industries. 

4)    Simon prepares Chinese students to strengthen their economy in a time of flux.

Even a few years before the pandemic, approximately 70% of Chinese students remained in the U.S., while 30% returned to China. That ratio is changing quickly. As China experiences a massive demographic shift, we see a higher proportion of our students—many of whom are the only child in their family—choose to return home. And those that return are putting their Simon education to good use. As the Chinese workforce becomes more skilled, they are finding opportunities to make high-tech, high-quality products at a reasonable price, whether it is in the mobile phone or electric vehicle market. We are also seeing a wave of innovation and entrepreneurship sweep China, particularly in venture capital hubs like Shenzhen. Simon students return home with the training and experience to join these ecosystems and disrupt existing industries. 

5)    As Chinese business education improves, there are more opportunities for exchange and collaboration. 

China boasts excellent finance and management schools, and they are getting better every year. There are countless opportunities for exchange programs, partnerships, and joint programming that lie ahead. For students who are hesitant to complete a full degree overseas, short-term trips and semesters abroad can impart a global perspective without the same level of commitment. 

The Bottom Line

Whether it is making prospective students aware of a degree program that will change the course of their career, helping young alumni expand their network at a pivotal moment, or forging a new partnership with a top-tier educational institutional, my team and I are committed to connecting the dots between people and programs. Over the past few weeks, I walked away from every conversation, site visit, and event with a sense that Simon is just starting to harness the vast potential of its relationship with China. For those with the vision to welcome greater engagement, there is much more to come.

signature of Dean Sevin Yeltekin

Dean Sevin Yeltekin

Sevin Yeltekin is the Dean of Simon Business School. 

Follow the Dean’s Corner blog for more expert commentary on timely topics in business, economics, policy, and management education. To view other blogs in this series, visit the Dean's Corner Main Page.



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