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Alumni Stories | Expanding Horizons with Guanghua-Kellogg EMBA

June 13, 2020

For Xiao Wei (GK05, Class of 2020), Guanghua-Kellogg Executive MBA represented not only a way to improve her credentials, but also the opportunity for leadership training and even a chance to connect with and learn about China.

For nearly 15 years, Xiao has been rising up the ranks of the fashion industry. As the former director of design, production, and Asian market development for Canadian luxury brand Want Les Essentials, she reached the highest position of any Chinese born person for that position in a luxury brand in Canada. Xiao Wei left the company to found Su-Shin in 2020, a trading and manufacturing company specializing in leather goods based in Guangzhou, using the knowledge and resources she gained while studying the Guanghua-Kellogg Executive MBA.

A recurrent theme of Xiao Wei's life and career has been the willingness to leave her comfort zone and test her limits, a factor that drove her to pursue an EMBA. “Most of my past experiences have been in managing design and production so I lacked knowledge in certain business areas such as accounting and economics. What I needed is professional leadership training.”


Why the Guanghua-Kellogg EMBA?

With the view that business consulting would play an increasingly important role for her in the fashion industry, Xiao Wei decided to take her career to the next level and utilize her many years of firsthand experience. To that end, she decided to research various MBAs and EMBAs. A key consideration was the increasing importance of the Chinese market to the luxury industry: “The whole luxury industry is increasingly focused on China. In the future, China will play a more central role.”


Xiao Wei is studying at Kellogg

As Xiao Wei wanted a better understanding of China, she looked for a program that could help her better understand management in the context of China while still maintaining a global perspective. “Kellogg and Guanghua are the leading business schools of the US and China. By combining advanced management concepts with China's economic development's characteristics, the program creates opportunities to understand real China.”The program also represented an opportunity to study in and immerse herself in China: “I had studied in Europe and Canada, but I was short of Chinese experience which I regarded as a missed opportunity.”

Xiao Wei at Kellogg Evanston

As well as the program's expertise on China, Xiao Wei was also drawn by Kellogg's global alumni network. “What attracted me was Guanghua and Kellogg's huge alumni network and global campuses. I think it's very important to build a close interpersonal network.”The strength of the bonds between the members of the network was also a key benefit. “A GK program alumnus told me about how he met his best friend at the program. At that time, his story deeply influenced me. Now having studied at the program, I have also made a lot of friends and connections from all over the world.”

Xiao Wei and students from different partner schools are experiencing traditional Chinese culture in Shanghai

The Rewards of Going Back to School

The program has brought her many unforgettable memories. Xiao Wei found the teaching methods of the professors to be very creative. An example she highlighted was that professors would guide students to understand bottlenecks in the management process using games, and the vivid experiences deepened students' understanding and intuition of various management processes. She was also impressed by the excellent negotiation course taught at the Chicago Campus which focused on the use of different negotiation strategies in different cultures. “Another very effective way of learning is group work, which is a good opportunity to get to know each other. Learning is not limited to the classroom, nor are you limited to learning from the professors. You learn from students from all over the world, which expanded my thinking and helped me develop an international perspective.”

Xiao Wei with Prof. Steven Franconeri and students from different partner schools during the global weeks in Shanghai

The rich global electives offered by the program is another highlight. Kellogg has a strong business school alliance, which brings together students from all over the world in one classroom, to learn from each other, and inspire each other.“ After class, we formed deep friendships and traveled together. I signed up for an elective course in Israel to learn about startups, which laid the foundation for starting my own company later.”

Xiao Wei and students from different partner schools during the global week at Recanati

A High Impact and Low Ego Community

Having spent 2 years studying, Xiao Wei is keen to share the benefits the program has brought her. “Before I enrolled in the GK program, my experience was limited to management design and production. The detailed and academically rigorous courses of the GK program filled in gaps in my knowledge in other business areas, cultivated my ability to think strategically, and taught me how to evaluate each situation and choose the best response based on analysis instead of replying solely on intuition. This has made me a better leader.”

Xiao Wei and students from different partner schools during the global week in Isreal

“I have made many friends from different countries and backgrounds. As the GK program consists of people from a wide range of different backgrounds, you always can find someone knowledgeable to consult with for almost any problem. At the same time, we have found many opportunities to cooperate. If I had to use one sentence to describe GK alumni, it would be high impact, low ego. We all have the courage to leave our comfort zones and challenge ourselves. 


Xiao Wei and high impact low ego GK alumni

Like many GK alumni, Xiao Wei recommends the program to anyone wishing to develop their career and expand their network with other business leaders. “The GK EMBA has expanded my horizons. Whether you feel you are at a bottleneck with your career, want to build new connections, or even just want a change, you should join the GK EMBA. It has been a lifechanging decision.”


Xiao Wei and her fellow classmates during the global week at Kellogg Evanston

About the Guanghua-Kellogg Executive MBA Program

The Guanghua-Kellogg EMBA Program is the first Sino-US joint EMBA Program in mainland China, bringing together the world-class faculties of two premier business schools and featuring a rigorous and cutting-edge curriculum. The program prepares executives with integrated management skills, Chinese business expertise, and a global perspective to lead their organizations in a dynamic environment. Kellogg's EMBA global network offers students opportunities to engage in collaborations with peer leaders across the globe. If you are interested in learning more about the GK EMBA applications, you can contact us at gkemba@gsm.pku.edu.cn.