Understanding China: Students of the 12th Executive MBA program visit Shanghai

Students of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz gain local insight into the second largest economy in the world


"Nowadays people don't come to China anymore in order to manufacture things cheaply but in order to gain access to its market that is both enormous and growing rapidly. You can get some idea of the massive potential of the place by merely thinking of the revenue that would be generated if each one of the 1.3 billion Chinese just bought a single toothbrush." The words are those of Dr. Saša Šarić, lecturer at the Sino-German School for Postgraduate Studies (CDHK) of Tongji University in Shanghai and they sum up the reasons why German companies and the next generation of executives will no longer be able to ignore China. The students in what is now the 12th intake for the Executive Master of Business Administration degree program at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) were given the opportunity to gain local insight into the second largest economy in the world. A total of 15 participants in the Mainz EMBA degree program traveled to Shanghai for a week to experience the dimensions of the up-and-coming Asian country and its growing market.

The Sino-German School for Postgraduate Studies (CDHK) has been organizing such trips to Shanghai and the related course curriculum as part of its 'Understanding China' program since 2012. The local lecturers are either Germans who have already been resident in Shanghai for several years and are China enthusiasts or they are Chinese who have already studied or taught in Germany for longer periods. One of the great benefits for the participants is that they can profit from the knowledge of these insiders. "The combination of German and Chinese lecturers meant that we had access to a wonderful mixture of experience and also information on China. The extraordinary candor of the lecturers is what surprised me the most," said Johannes Kneip, speaker for the 12th EMBA program at Mainz University.

The curriculum tailored specifically to the requirements of the Mainz Executive MBA degree program included an introduction to Chinese history and culture together with a look at the financial system in China and subjects such as "Logistics and Supply Chain Management", "Leadership and Human Resource Management", and "Entrepreneurship and Corporate Strategy". But the participants were not only taught such theoretical aspects; they also visited the Shanghai Stock Exchange, the Bosch factory in Wuxi, and that of the mechanical engineering company Trumpf in Taicang, where over the years more than 180 German companies have set up shop. A tour of the World Financial Center, a cruise along the Huangpu River, and sightseeing tours in Shanghai rounded off the trip. "The trip to China has provided me with an unbelievable number of new impressions and has shown me a China that is completely different from the one portrayed in the media. As China becomes an ever more important economic partner for Germany, such insights create a huge professional advantage," said Kneip.

The Executive MBA degree program at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz has been organizing student trips to China for 12 years now. The first ten program intakes visited Dalian in Liaoning Province. Last year, the EMBA study trip visited Shanghai for the first time. Some of the EMBA program graduates now even work in China. One is Dr. Volker Weng of the 6th EMBA program, who was appointed General Manager for China at BorgWarner Turbo Systems in Ningbo on 1 January 2013 and is thus now directly responsible for the activities of a German company in China.

The Executive MBA degree program at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is one of the oldest Executive MBA degree programs in Germany and already has a long tradition. Graduates of the extra-occupational degree program have the skills to assume responsibility for complex leadership and management tasks in companies and public institutions. Over the two-year program, the participants complete 30 courses taught by business, law, and social science professors, executives with educational skills, and professional trainers who are all among the best in their fields. The degree program is supplemented by two obligatory trips abroad, one of which brings the students to Shanghai.