Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pls Pardon The Excessive Use of Superlatives!

It’s truly fascinating to watch a diverse set of individuals who have had no previous connection with each other collaborate and come up with a solution to a strange problem. Imagine a Korean taxation expert, a Chinese entrepreneur, a Singaporean government employee, an American credit card industry expert and an Indian Pranic healer trying to consensually arrive at a solution to a problem. Superficially, one may be fooled into thinking that all of them have nothing in common with each other and that they will find it difficult to collaborate.

Group discussion

S3 Asia MBA students from different nationalities

However, all of them have many things that link them to each other. Each one of them has an immense willingness and drive to learn from the other. Each one of them possesses the mental strength and agility to appreciate the distinct viewpoints that the other expresses and has an even greater respect for the other’s individuality. Each one of them has dedicated a significant portion of their life and has made many personal sacrifices in the effort to learn about business in three different countries – China, South Korea and Singapore. Each one of them is a sincere professional. And finally, they are all students of the current S3 Asia MBA batch. (2011 intake)

Every individual in this batch of 34 students has an equally fascinating and unique background. I feel very proud and privileged to say that I am a part of this batch. When signing up for the program I was keenly aware that the S3 Asia MBA is very different from any other MBA program – but I don’t think there is anything in world that could have prepared me for what was in store.


There is a huge sense of rush when moving to a new city and country. I am sure you understand when I write that there are not enough words in my vocabulary that can help me explain the first rush of moving to a city like Shanghai as a student. The bright lights, superb infrastructure, really tall buildings and fast cars are surely impressive. Any S3 Asia MBA student should get used to this feeling as within a span of 2 years we will be moving be living and studying in three of biggest cities in Asia –Shanghai, Seoul and Singapore - as the course progresses.

For the time being, I am only equipped to write about my experiences in Shanghai at Fudan University, where I am currently studying for the first semester of the course. I was almost awestruck when I first got to the campus of Fudan University. The two imposing Guaunghua Towers, surrounded by lush green lawns and boulevards on which thousands of students from all nationalities hurry to their respective classes on their bi-cycles is a sight that would welcome any student. I have never come across an environment which is so conducive to studying and learning. Coming to Fudan University truly made me feel like a student for the first time in nearly 8 years, after I graduated from college. I warmed up to the prospect of studying the first semester at Fudan University immediately after I saw the campus.

Barely did we settle into the new environment and meet our classmates and we were thrown into the most memorable experience of our life – the famous orientation. The orientation at Fudan University is a three day, intense, extremely well managed, well planned and large event that is meant to “break ice” with your classmates. It works wonders, as we are not just classmates - we are all very good friends. I now understand the meaning of the phrase by the famous Greek philosopher, Pluto - “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”

The orientation is an outbound event in which, over a course of three days, all the participants are split in smaller groups and are given numerous tasks. All the tasks require you to work closely with and depend heavily on your group members. Nearly 500 students of all the programs offered by Fudan University School of Management converge on the campus for this event. Planning for this event starts nearly six months before. And the reaction from all the participants after it is over is one big WOW!

Orientation - Getting together

After such a welcome, we all looked forward to the prospect of starting our classes. Fudan University certainly manages to exceed expectations in every aspect. And classes were no exception. One of the classes that left an impression on me was conducted by Professor James Yuann for a course – Business in China. Apart from his cool swagger and calm disposition, I was completely impressed by his long and rich experience of doing business in the Asia- Pacific region. He was able to articulate and explain many of the subtle nuances of doing business in the different cultural environments of the region. I feverishly took notes every time he spoke because I was sure that I will learn things from his experience that no text book will teach me.

Meanwhile, we have other subjects like Managerial Economics, Financial Accounting, Data Models and Decisions, Managerial Communications and Organizational Behavior. All the professors have ensured that we are kept very busy. For all our subjects we have group assignments and individual assignments. We have so many groups meetings for so many assignments that it gets tough to keep track of all the meetings we have scheduled to discuss the assignments.

Despite this, our class works like a well -oiled machine. It’s one of the mysteries that I would like to solve - how do so people of different ages, experiences, cultural backgrounds, educational backgrounds work so effectively and efficiently with each other?

However, this mystery will remain unsolved for now as I now need to ponder on another mystery thrown at me by our Data, Models and Decisions (DMD) professor. We all love the subject so much that we have nicknamed it Death, Murder and Destruction.

But before I go, I would like to apologize for the excessive use of superlatives in this entire blog. It’s just that my classmates are outstanding, incredible and simply superb and the S3 Asia MBA experience is awesome, fantastic and amazing.

Yogesh Thakkar (Indian)
S3 Asia MBA - 4th Batch, Class of 2013