China is in a dramatic transition –from a traditional to a modern society, from a socialist to a market economy. This transition has created sharp contradictions between theory and practice. Effectively, the “peasant-proletarian alliance” has given way to government courtship of an affluent middle class. “Socialist values” have been eroded by profit incentives and materialistic ends. The “egalitarian dream” has been shattered by vast disparities in wealth. Despite the “abolition of private property,” capitalist ventures peacefully coexist with state-run enterprises. Business activity flourishes within a state that has yet to whither away.

This is the China that belies the spectacle of modern high rises, cutting edge architecture, massive freeways, and gigantic Olympic stadiums. It is the China that Hult students will discover during six weeks of intensive study in Shanghai. This year’s Hult in China Program has been eye-opener for seventy-one Hult MBA students. It has featured five electives taught by several outstanding professors:

  • Jay Zif, “New Product Development”
  • Yael Zif, “Leadership in the Global Village”
  • Lloyd Tanlu, “Financial Statement Analysis”
  • Patrick Courtin, “International Negotiations”
  • Rob Anthony and Fudan University visiting professors, “Doing Business in China”

The program has also featured field trips to the Asian offices of major multinationals, participation in trade fairs and industrial exhibitions, networking with Chinese executives, interaction with local government officials, speeches by Communist Party leaders, and a myriad of rich and rewarding cultural events.

To date, Hult students have been the honored guests of the Municipality of Changzhou, a city with a population of Chicago’s that few Westerners have even heard of. They have visited the local offices of several Fortune 500 companies. They have participated in seminars led by senior executives, dabbled in basic Mandarin,experimented with Chinese acupuncture, dined on a Huangpu River boat cruise, and discovered how to make dumplings. Many have mastered the art of barter, savored Shanghai street food, trekked across the Great Wall, and learned how to survive in places where English is neither written nor spoken.

The learning objectives of the Hult in China Program are five-fold:

  • First, to enable Hult students to experience first-hand life in a major emerging market
  • Second, to expose them to Chinese business practices
  • Third, to allow them to network with Shanghai business executives
  • Fourth, to immerse them in the Chinese culture
  • Fifth, to teach them how to navigate in a foreign country

Having witnessed the progress made by Hult students during the first two weeks of the program, I can confidently say that these objectives have been, or soon will be achieved.

Hult students in Shanghai are not only smart, but also magnanimous. Toward assisting families afflicted by the devastating Sichuan earthquake, they recently sponsored a fund-raising event at the EF Mega Center in downtown Shanghai. During the event, they staged a candlelight vigil, sang songs that they had composed in memory of the victims, and created a commemorative video, soon accessible on You Tube,and at Central China earthquake tremors were felt as far away as Shanghai. On the day of the earthquake, Hult students at the EF Mega Center were evacuated from the building as a precaution.

Based on student feedback, I can honestly say that the Hult in China Program has been a resounding success.

Hult in China is about business education in a globalized world. It is about experiential learning, cultural immersion, social understanding, and personal growth in a key emerging market. It is about receptivity to novel ideas, adaptability to a dynamic economic environment, professional development, new adventures, and self-discovery. It is about realizing who we as educators are, actualizing what we as an institution aspire to be, and fulfilling the School’s mission of forging the international business leaders of tomorrow.

Richard J. Joseph, Dean
Hult International Business School