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GK Stories | Rising to the Challenges of Tomorrow

November 30, 2021

Dr. Nicolas Depoorter may seem like an unlikely candidate for an Executive MBA program.

Having studied in France, he obtained a Ph.D. in mechanics while beginning a career at Bosch group, the largest automotive supplier in the world. Over the next 15 years, he would continue his career at Bosch, working in various countries in Europe.

Finally, his career led him to the booming automotive market in China in 2017, where he continues to work to this day, having risen to the rank of Engineering Director at Bosch Rexroth in Beijing.

With such a wealth of academic and professional experience, some questioned Nicolas' need for an EMBA. However, rather than deterring him, the lessons of his years of experience convinced him of the need to expand his network and knowledge of business in order to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing world.

With this in mind, Nicolas began his search for an EMBA program that met his requirements and could position him to handle the challenges of the future.

A Uniquely Positioned Program

For Nicolas, the decision to join an EMBA program in China was obvious. Although Nicolas had already obtained some experience in the country, he felt the need to build a greater understanding of business locally, driving his decision to study an EMBA at Guanghua. Furthermore, with China's economic growth in an increasingly multipolar world, a keen understanding of the world's second-largest economy was too important to pass up.

"A leader cannot ignore China," he remarked. “What place would be better to understand the complexity of China than the Guanghua School of Management?”

Guanghua's position as one of the leading and most influential academic institutions in the country cemented Nicolas' conviction that the program would be the best suited to building the expertise he was seeking in China.

"Having the possibility to learn from distinguished professors, who are even helping to shape China's newest policies: this is definitely a unique chance which is unmatched", he remarked.

With his rich international experience gained while working in different countries, Nicolas also wanted a program with an international perspective that could provide him with the ideal tools applicable across borders, particularly in the west.

"Personally, I am currently lacking in global business know-how", he said. "Kellogg was recently nominated the best business school in the US, and if I want to understand business at its core, I need to understand the American view on it."

A Shortcut to Success in a VUCA World

While working as a busy executive in China, Nicolas quickly came to realize that the obstacles he was encountering were growing in scope, requiring a new approach.

"In my current role, I often need to deal with new business challenges, which require proper strategies and priorities" he explains. "In recent years, the challenges have been growing in complexity and I do not have the time for the 'trial and error' while learning on the job."

Consequently, in addition to the academic foundations of the program which would provide him with a deep understanding of the frameworks and mechanics at work in the business world, Nicolas looked for a network capable of helping him adapt in an increasingly challenging business environment.

"Clearly, the world is having more and more Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity", he added. "In such a chaotic environment, one person alone cannot be smart enough to understand it, no matter how deep his experience is. The only way to stay ahead of problems is to keep open and exchanging regularly with different people from different backgrounds."

With a global alumni network of over 70,000 executives across a wide range of different industries, Nicolas saw that the Guanghua-Kellogg EMBA network would be an invaluable resource to turn to and collaborate with in the future.

"Learning and networking are crucial nowadays", he stated. "This program offers opportunities for lifelong learning and connects us to a huge network spread over various industries and expertise. In our VUCA world, this is an outstanding and priceless advantage."

Making a Difference

For Nicolas, he did not see his EMBA journey solely as chance to improve himself. It was also important that he could use his new knowledge and connections to better the world. With the program's focus on connecting individuals and businesses around the world, ethical management, and assisting in cross-culture communication, Nicolas saw the opportunity to make a positive impact.

"We have to contribute to a better world with our ideas and actions, by caring about people and bridging different cultures", he stated. "As responsible leaders, we must be aware of the chance that we have and be ready to give back to society. I hope to create meaningful projects, to impact positively people's lives and fight against bias, while using my new learnings."

Now having started in September as a member of the program's newest cohort of GK08, Nicolas has no regrets about his decision.

"Being here today is definitely the right choice, and I am looking forward to meeting and learning from everyone", he concluded. "This unique program will provide me with the key enablers to become a global leader, fit for the future."

About the Guanghua-Kellogg EMBA Program

The Guanghua-Kellogg Executive MBA program is a global partnership between Peking University's Guanghua School of Management and Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. With 12 week-long modules spreading across a period of 22 months, the program empowers business leaders to inspire growth in themselves and their organizations while building an international network capable of driving future collaborations.

Admissions for the GK Class of 2024 starting in September 2022 are open. To learn more about the program, we invite you to book a 1-on-1 chat with our admissions team. You can also download the program's brochure.