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Yan Anthea Zhang is professor of management at Ceibs in China, ranked seven in the 2012 FT EMBA ranking. Her research areas include chief executive succession and dismissal, foreign direct investment and technology entrepreneurship in emerging markets. Her most recent work, titled Leadership Lessons for Women from Chinese Boardrooms, highlights the progress made by women in Chinese companies compared with western companies and argues against legislative quotas.
Before joining Ceibs, Prof Zhang was a professor of strategic management at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business. She has a PhD in business policy and strategy from the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.
In her spare time, Prof Zhang enjoys reading novels and history books, playing classical Chinese instruments and practising yoga.
1. Who are your business heroes?
We typically read about ‘star’ executives and turnaround heroes in media outlets. But for me, real business heroes are executives who manage their companies so well and maintain such corporate stability that they don’t make the headlines.
2. What would you do if you were dean for the day?
I would increase the proportion of females in both professor and student populations. To increase female presence in company boardrooms, we need to identify and educate more female talent. Business school education is one of the most important ways to achieve this purpose.
3. What is the best piece of advice given to you by a teacher?
Always try your best instead of just meeting the current requirements.
4. What academic achievement are you most proud of?
I became a full professor, an associate editor of the Academy of Management Journal and won the Strategic Management Society Emerging Scholar Award all by the age of 40 and within 10 years after graduating from my PhD programme.
5. What advice would you give to women in business?
Focus on your work and strive for excellence. Eventually it is track record, competence and credibility that matter.
6. What is the last book you read?
I read Steve Jobs’ biography recently. I can link many details in the book to my research and teaching in the areas of innovation, alliances, leadership and corporate governance. I have recommended this book to many of my MBA/EMBA students.
7. What is your favourite business book?
I don’t read many business books. However, I read business articles, both for academics and practitioners, on a daily basis. Business articles offer more updated and rigorous knowledge for someone in my profession.
8. Where is your favourite place to teach?
I have taught in the US and China. It is fascinating to observe how students with different backgrounds may respond to the same issues differently. I would like to teach in other regions as well.
9. What inspires you?
High quality work with great impact on societies, done by both men and women, inspires me to do more – and better – in my own career. My philosophy is to focus on what you are fascinated by and good at and not to be bothered by things that you cannot control.
10. What are your future plans?
Do more research on Chinese companies so that I can help westerners better understand Chinese companies and help Chinese companies adapt to overseas markets as they become more global.
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