MBA students visit China–the land of one billion customers–explore the country's economic ecosystems

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Suliman S. Olayan School of Business Master's in Business Administration (MBA) seniors took their practical learning to China to explore innovation hubs, startup entrepreneurship landscape, and emerging domain of internet finance, through a collaborative partnership with Zhejiang University International Business School ​(ZIBS).

The student group focused their visit on the Yangtze River Delta, a hub of entrepreneurship and innovation at the heart of China's rapid economic growth, and visited businesses such as Ant Financial, China Astroenergy, Confirmware, New Development Bank, and Guotai Junan Securities, in addition to startups YIWISE.AI, Neuhelium, and Hinounou.

"What we learnt in the classroom, and observed in China, is that in order to thrive, companies must find new ways to innovate, reinvent their services and products, and even themselves. China has quickly moved up the economic value chain; moving from copier to copied, where 'made in China' is becoming a sign of innovation and scale," explained Lina Tannir, director of the MBA program, and lecturer in finance. "There is so much happening in China today that we feel it necessary for our students to experience China on the ground, to get a better sense of the challenges and opportunities that China business development creates."

For visiting students, a special panel discussion was hosted by the Academy of Internet Finance, in Hangzhou. The panel featured Hainin province government representatives, who shared and explained their experiences about how municipalities can foster innovation through their economic development plans.​

​"It was an eye-opening, thought-provoking, and inspiring experience that will continue to broaden my horizons; push me to get out of my comfort zone; and think outside the box," pointed out Abdul Afou Halabi, adding, "the MBA program at OSB is a must for every student."

Abdul's classmate Haifa Hamdan was exposed to the culture and business environment secretary, who'd inspired her to learn more about the strategic efforts China is making in the fields of technology and innovation. "The trip gave me a lifetime opportunity to meet top industry experts, who are shaping the future of China," said Haifa, adding, "and to benefit from their insights, vision, and experience."

"Instead of learning from books about how to enhance our country's businesses, we were lucky to have the chance to visit successful companies that tought us lessons in concrete and effective ways," said Julia Ghotaymi, OSB MBA graduate. 

When Joe Saad signed up for this trip, he thought it is going to be like any other course trip. However, he learned something in China that may change his career forever. "After being exposed to fintech companies, and the concept of internet finance, I am seriously considering expanding my current line of work to cover the technology sector."​

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