Although students at the Executive MBA program have already achieved success in their careers, Mao Jiye, Dean of the School of Business at Renmin University of China, insisted that providing students with quality curricula and a platform from which to learn from peers are the most fundamental and important criteria for a quality Executive MBA program.
Returning to the core of education is the basis for running the program, Mao said.
“For a long time, our program has emphasized learning as a fundamental, which is the key to any education program,” Mao said, adding that his team aims to offer quality content for students.
Content is “not pure Western-style management theory but relevant, true cases that took place in China,” Mao said. The content was developed by faculty members.
Learning will also extend to out-of-class activities, Mao said, adding that EMBA students also learn from their peers.
“It is also important for them to build their network,” he said, adding that the school organizes activities and created a platform for alumni to keep in touch with each other.
The Executive MBA program at Renmin ranked 43rd in 2014, up 18 slots from 2013. Financial Timescalled it the highest riser in 2014.
Management education, originated and developed in Western countries, sprouted in China after the open-door policy of 1978. It became urgently needed after former Chinese President Deng Xiaoping toured Shenzhen and encouraged development nationwide.
More private businesses entered the market, which led to a vibrant economy in China.
Management education, which had been ignored for decades, was in urgent demand then, Mao said. MBA education first entered China to cater to the country’s needs in the 1990s. A decade later, in 2002, the Executive MBA program was authorized.
Applicants sprouted rapidly at the beginning. Successful business people since China’s opening-up were clamoring for some systematic management education, Mao said, adding that the Chinese Executive MBA program differed from Western ones, especially at the beginning.
EMBA programs usually remain small, especially compared with MBA programs. Some top business schooldon’t even have such programs.
Chinese programs, by contrast, usually took on up to 100 students, especially in the first few years.
Comparing students’ profiles, Chinese EMBA students were in their 40s and even 50s, anda majority of them were business founders or entrepreneurs. In Western programs, students are in theirlate 30s or early 40s, on average, and are pursuing higher positions or expect a transition intheir career.
The Chinese student profile has changed over a decade, Mao said. He has witnessed that more company executives, instead of founders, enrolled in the program gradually, and more executives came from private companies versus State-owned enterprises or multinationals.
“Founders went through the program and gradually sent their executives to receive management education,” Mao said, adding that the younger generation more or less received management education in higher education, and their needs were less urgent than the first batch of students.
The School of Business at Renmin University of China started the first EMBA program in the country with the University at Buffalo, part of the state university system of New York, in 1998.
Its Chinese Executive MBA program, authorized by the Ministry of Education, officially launchedin 2002.
According to Mao, Renmin offered its EMBA program in Chinese because a majority of founders andentrepreneurs speak only Chinese.
The language was a barrier, he recalled, adding that some programs even tried simultaneous interpretation in class at the beginning.
“That module did not last for long,” Mao said, adding that information was greatly reduced through interpretation.
However, those early steps bought time for the growth of local faculty members, who gradually accumulated the knowledge and experience necessary to teach Executive MBA courses, Mao said.
Mao said he believes the peak enrollments for Chinese EMBA programs has passed, and the programnow shows more similarity with international counterparts.
In Renmin’s program, the average age of enrollment is 39, and the average working experience is 18 years. Executive levels account for 62 percent.
The next move of for Renmin is to form a relationship with a prestigious international businessschool and offer an EMBA program together.
“The program will benefit Chinese business people aiming overseas, and international professionals targeting the Chinese market,” he said, adding that globalization will be the next trend.
By Luo Wangshu ( China Daily )