Can you identify with the insecure overachiever Hermione Granger, of Harry Potter? © Alamy
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Welcome to the FT Business school newsletter, a weekly serving of management wisdom, reading recommendations and business-related challenges. FT subscribers can sign up here to receive the newsletter by email every Monday. If you have any feedback about FT Business school, please email

Educating the Next Chinese Business Leaders

China’s elite business programmes are increasingly international in their focus and have mostly escaped a clampdown on "western" values, but there are tighter controls on EMBAs and there are signs of more scrutiny. Read our report, which also includes a listing of business schools in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Andrew Hill's challenge

The FT's management editor sets a weekly test of your business, strategy and management skills.

The professional services sector is full of "insecure overachievers". In fact, according to Cass Business School's Laura Empson, whose new book Leading Professionals looks at how to manage this tribe, the human resources director of at least one big accountancy group went out of her way to hire such people. My column looks at the potential problems with such a strategy, notably the risk that "voluntary" overtime leads to overwork and breakdown.

For this week's challenge, imagine you're leading one of these groups. What novel policy would you introduce to keep these anxious strivers keen without driving them into a dangerous stress spiral? Send your suggestions to

Last week, I asked for your ideas for mundane management jobs that could be handled by artificial intelligence. Joseph Lee suggests: "Have bots deal with the vast amount of admin created for customers every time a subscription or contract comes to an end, for example car insurance". They could "save people time by analysing price comparison websites and automatically selecting the cheapest deal".

In further reading, I enjoyed The Atlantic's story about the parallels between Amazon's recent bricks-and-mortar strategy and Sears' evolution from mail order company to department store chain in the 1920s. It appeals to my fascination with business history and innovation. In fact, I first wrote about the parallel myself in late 1999, but Derek Thompson goes into the fine detail. "Although Sears eventually became a dominant physical retailer, the transition was bumpy," he notes, and adds that Amazon may find, like Sears, "that size can be both an advantage and a bull's eye" for competitors.

Professor's picks

Every week a business school professor or academic recommends useful FT articles.

Robert Siegel, lecturer in management at Stanford Graduate School of Business, selects:

New Uber chief aims for IPO within 18-36 monthsThe FT analyses the first steps that new Uber CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, will take. Initial actions at the company will include not only preparing the company for an IPO in the next three years, but also a massive overhaul of the organisation’s cultural challenges. Left to be determined is how Mr Khosrowshahi will stabilise the finances of the money-losing organisation, as well as the role of the controversial but visionary founder, Travis Kalanick, who is on the board of directors. The successes and struggles for Uber’s next phase will provide business students with many learning opportunities for years to come.

Tech sector struggles to prepare for new EU data protection laws Aliya Ram highlights how American technology companies such as Facebook, Google, Amazon and Microsoft are investing millions of dollars in personnel and product changes to meet the requirements of the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), designed to protect consumer privacy rights. While the absolute dollars are not significant compared to the overall revenues for these companies, numerous headcounts in the engineering, research and tax functions are being mobilised to address the most expensive regulation in the sector’s history. As data protection regulation continues to evolve, business students should prepare by studying the responses of these technology leaders.

Baidu bets its future on AI revolution Chinese technology giant Baidu is investing hundreds of millions of dollars per year to catch up on other global technology behemoths in the race to develop better AI solutions. Chinese companies such as Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu are behind their American counterparts in using AI to create new products such as autonomous vehicles, facial recognition solutions and voice-operated products, such as Amazon Echo. However, Baidu is developing operating systems, such as Apollo for autonomous cars, and DuerOS for conversational digital assistants. Students need to understand the business opportunities that are being shaped by tech giants investing heavily in AI.

Jonathan Moules' business school news

Often it helps not to be the early adopter, but the one who learns from other’s experiences. That is certainly the case in China. Its embrace of capitalism began after the creation of credit cards — so few people use them in China, compared with developed nations. Instead people use electronic payment systems, such as the smartphone app WeChat, to pay for everyday items, from bus fares to the weekly grocery shop.

It is a similar story with business education in China, a country where most MBA courses are barely two decades old. I spent a day on the campus at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management, where textbooks have been replaced with bespoke materials, containing the latest case studies on fast-growing Chinese companies, such as e-commerce sites and Alibaba Group. The next stage is online materials, MBA course director Longkai Zhao told me.

Ask the academics Got a question for leading business school experts? Send it to  and we will publish the best replies in future newsletters.

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Compiled by Wai Kwen Chan —

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