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For Xiang Bing, professor of accounting and dean of Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing, China, the success of the school rests on one factor: its faculty.
And not just faculty, but world-class faculty with a strong research and teaching pedigree.
CKGSB has 28 full-time faculty, says Prof Xiang, another vital component of a successful school. Prof Xiang stresses he does not want people who parachute in for a few days before leaving for a job elsewhere. Commitment is paramount.
CKGSB was established in 2002 with funding from the Hong Kong philanthropist, Li Ka-shing, and with Prof Xiang at its helm.
Prof Xiang had experience of setting up a business school – he was one of the seven founding faculty members who established Ceibs in Shanghai and pioneered the EMBA and executive education programmes at Guanghua School of Management, Peking University. So, from the outset, he had an idea of how he wanted CKGSB to develop. He planned to create something different, a new generation of business school, and feels that he has succeeded.
When setting up CKGSB, Prof Xiang looked at top schools in the west and noted their limitations – such as research, which was concentrated on corporations in mature markets. In China, he says, the framework is different. Private family businesses, state-owned enterprises and multinationals operate within the same business framework.
“The players are different, the dynamics are different, and this is not well understood by the west.” CKGSB, therefore, needed to be different, he says.
“We are not trying to be a Harvard or a Ceibs. From the beginning, we decided to go way beyond the training institute model. We wanted to emphasise our knowledge generation.”
The school runs a small full-time MBA programme but the main focus is on the EMBA, with its 500 participants. A large percentage of the intake are either chairmen or chief executives, adds Prof Xiang, and this makes the teaching very challenging.
Such senior students are used to dealing with complex issues, says Prof Xiang. Consequently, they are demanding. They are aware of the opportunity costs: their studies are taking them away from their companies.
“If they don’t learn something really useful to their business and their life, then our programme is not serving them.
For Prof Xiang, teaching goes beyond the nuts and bolts of management education. Humanities, history and religion feature in the curriculum. “We do not look at our students as sorts of machines. We look at them as human beings and we like them to lead an enriched life, which is very important in China.”
Everything CKGSB offers must be global, adds Prof Xiang. “If you don’t have a global view, you don’t understand China. You have got to have a global perspective; you have got to see the whole picture.”
It is this philosophy that Prof Xiang is convinced will propel CKGSB into the top-ranked global schools in the near future.