As the second-largest economic power in the world, China is not only an important trading partner for Switzerland; as recent corporate acquisitions show, it’s also an impressive source of investment in this country. Added to this, more than 600 Swiss businesses operate in China, and this number is increasing. To operate successfully in the international arena, each country needs to gain an in-depth understanding of the other’s economic system and culture. The new MAS in European and Chinese Business Management is geared to graduates from Europe and China who have acquired initial professional experience and are up for an intensive intercultural exchange and the experience of immersing themselves in another business culture abroad.
The cornerstone of this innovative collaboration between UZH and New Huadu Business School is an agreement signed in 2013 under the auspices of Swiss Federal Councilor Ueli Maurer and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang. Last Wednesday the new continuing education program was officially launched at an inaugural ceremony held at UZH.
Traditional meets modern
Many invited guests attended, including Geng Wenbing, China’s ambassador to Switzerland. In his address he stressed the importance of this type of Sino-Swiss collaboration and joint program going forward. He attributed the particularly dynamic partnership between UZH and New Huadu Business School among other things to the fact that it involves a meeting of two very different institutions: UZH, with its longstanding academic tradition and reputation, and New Huadu Business School, a very young and ambitious establishment in China.
Professor He Zhiyi, Chairman of New Huadu Business School, expressed especial thanks to former UZH Vice President Andrea Schenker-Wicki for constantly supporting and encouraging collaboration between Chinese and Swiss universities. He also said he was convinced that students benefiting from this intercultural training would be able to make an important contribution to a globalized future. Current UZH Vice President Christian Schwarzenegger echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the importance in terms of business and mutual understanding for people in both cultures – Europe and China – to get to know each other well.
Learning business etiquette
Past experience has shown that European business leaders often don’t make a great deal of headway in China with their western management style. They need to familiarize themselves with Chinese forms of etiquette and respect hierarchies, which are a much more important feature of everyday working life than in the west. “Intercultural skills are the key to success,” said Harald Gall, UZH professor and Dean of the Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Informatics, which sponsors the program at UZH. The four-month internship at a Swiss or Chinese company, one of the focal points of the training, offers students the opportunity to gather experience with standard local business etiquette. Acquiring the language of the country in question is a necessary and helpful part of this. The continuing education program will be taught in English.
Michelle Bantel, speaking on behalf of the European students taking part in the program, described her fascination with the Chinese language, which has prompted her to travel to China a number of times for language courses. Now, she said, she’s looking forward to finding out more about Chinese business culture. Guo Nanqing, a student from China, was also enthusiastic: armed with courage and commitment, he said he intended to enjoy the MAS to the full.
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