BY TOM ZIEMER
They came to reconnect, to express their gratitude, and to share their insights. And, of course, to celebrate.
Chinese business leaders converged on the Carlson School May 12-14 to mark 15 years of the Carlson Executive MBA–China Program (CHEMBA). Program alumni from a variety of sectors returned to Minneapolis for a weekend that included a lunch discussion with faculty mentors, an alumni industry panel, tours of campus and the city, and a healthy dose of networking.
The group also watched one of its own from the third CHEMBA co-hort—Eric Jing, ’05 MBA and the CEO of Ant Financial Services—deliver the keynote address at the Carlson School’s commencement ceremonies.
“It’s a wonderful feeling,” said Carl Su, ’05 MBA and a general manager for Mars China, who especially enjoyed the opportunity to reunite with James D. Watkins Chair in Marketing Mark Bergen and Professor Emeritus Mahmood Zaidi, two faculty members who played influential roles in his executive education.
“We finally return and we meet them, and we can appreciate, we can thank them, and also we can do some very small things to contribute back to the school.”
One such contribution was sharing knowledge and experiences with younger alumni and current Carlson School undergraduates and MBA students from China. Sunday’s panel featured Jing, Su, and classmates Simon Luo and Ben Liu, both ’05 MBA, as well as Branden Chen, ’07 MBA, and Mee Warren, ’01 BSB—all senior business leaders from Chinese or multinational firms spanning the tech, finance, and consumer goods industries. The panelists discussed the future of retail, finance, energy, and manufacturing in China in a wide-ranging and frank conversation.
“China is very, very dynamic, full of opportunities,” Jing told the audience of students and alumni.
“We have an amazing and engaged group of alumni in China, and they are well-connected and they are so proud of their Carlson School and University of Minnesota degrees,” said Carlson School Director of Alumni Relations Sarah Oehler. “This was an opportunity to celebrate them and celebrate their achievements.”