It has been over a year since Jiaqi Nie (EMBA 2017) first began his EMBA journey at Cambridge. Learn about his international travels and experiences in his latest post.
“Swift fly the years”, as the famous quote goes. Over a year has flown by, with last year’s matriculation day still as vivid as yesterday. Falling in love with Cambridge certainly needs no justification, but if I have to point out what strikes me the most, it would be how international the Cambridge experience has been.
To start with, the Cambridge EMBA student body is very international, coming from different countries and different industries. For my part, I fly from Canada to London every month. It would have not been easy without the peer support and encouragement from my classmates to go through this monthly, especially when the weather was extremely hot or cold and when there were flight cancellations or train delays. The travels are even harder for those who fly in from Australia, Peru, Zambia, Hong Kong and Japan monthly, for which I admire their perseverance whole-heartedly. Perhaps it is because coming together takes such great effort, we are always so happy to meet each time and the classroom discussions are particularly open and sincere. Similarly, Cambridge faculty members are also truly global, renowned for their cross-country experience in teaching or working in other prestigious universities. In such an international environment, it is inevitable that the sparks of thoughts are flying – which is the essence of the fascinating Cambridge.
The activities in Cambridge are also distinctively international. In addition to busy classes, exams and assignments, there are a wide range of school activities as well as self-organised student activities around the world. For example, for the International Business Study Trip at the beginning of the year, we went to San Francisco to visit companies and non-profit organizations in Silicon Valley. In October, the Team Consulting Projects enabled students to work in more than a dozen countries including Italy, the United States, China, Zambia and Germany.
I feel truly lucky that I am part of this. Looking back at the past three months, I found myself participating in activities in a different country every month.
In August, my classmate Sonia organised a trip to Stockholm. It was great timing because we just finished our marketing exam and everyone was relaxed. During our stay in Stockholm we not only visited the local palaces, museums and the old town, but also the headquarters of Ericsson, completely soaking up the history and culture of Swedish companies. On the last day in the city, we enjoyed the most beautiful moments of summertime in Sweden — everyone jumped from the yacht into the warm lake; someone told a thrilling story of how he started a company which was later on acquired by McKinsey. What an unforgettable experience!
In September, at the invitation of my classmate Paul, I flew to visit the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York. Although I passed by this unique building countless times in the past, it felt special to have the opportunity to entre the place for the first time and witness the ringing of the opening bell. Paul gave me a detailed introduction to the NYSE’s history, operation rules, and the new leadership team. On the trading floor, the CNBC live hosts broadcast the stock market dynamics in real time, and the traders stared intensely at the ever-changing numbers on the large screens. Immersed in the hustle and bustle of the phones ringing and keyboards typing, I felt as if I was in the global capital market game myself, and the excitement was beyond words.
In October, as members of a Cambridge Team Consulting Project to China, we flew from different countries to Beijing. We had only a few weeks to come up with a strategic solution for Ericsson China. Although I have been to Beijing many times before, this time felt very different – since I was the only person in the team who could speak Chinese, I naturally assumed the role of the host, introducing China’s traditional culture and corporate management to my team. During the Ericsson China project, we had the opportunities to have direct dialogues with the company’s CEO of Greater China and the heads of various departments to understand the opportunities and challenges that foreign companies faced in China. Although we worked long hours every day, it was very rewarding. Everyone kept themselves busy on the weekends too by being adventurous about tasting Chinese food, climbing the Great Wall, visiting the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. This trip to China also gave me a deeper understanding of what China is like from the perspectives of the non-Chinese and how multinational companies view China’s market and core competitiveness.
Without doubt, Cambridge has influence across the world. In conversations with many organisations, there is a clear message that Cambridge University students are welcomed. Our team members also took half a day to visit Peking University, which has had a good relationship with Cambridge University for many years. When it was time to leave Beijing, all of us had become very reluctant to say goodbye to the city.
Studying at Cambridge is very busy, but in all fairness, it is because of the Cambridge EMBA experience that my plain life has become vibrantly colorful. The distinctive international characteristics of Cambridge provides a platform for everyone where one helps the other and everybody learns from each other. It also opens a door for me — a door that leads to every corner of the world and makes my life full of possibilities.