First IMBA China track students complete month-long international residency.

“Who gets to go to China for a month, learn Chinese in China, meet Chinese people, and travel in the country?”

Shirley Lowe (IMBA ’06) posed this question and had a simple answer: “I did.”

Shirley Lowe (IMBA ’06) at the Summer Palace, Beijing, China

She and Bruce Welch (BBA ’05), financial analyst, consumer products, MTV Networks Latin America, Viacomm, were the first students to travel to China as part of the China track option offered in the College of Business Administration’s International MBA (IMBA) program. Begun in 2005, the track offers students the opportunity to study Mandarin stateside and during an intensive one-month residency at a university in China.

“We recognize that language proficiency is key for people who want to expand their careers into China, where some of the most exciting business opportunities in the world now exist,” said Paola Moreno, associate director, international graduate programs.

In addition to extensive class time studying Mandarin at Nankai University in Tianjin, Lowe and Welch had eight sessions of a course called Graduate Business Economics, practiced tai chi, had demonstrations on calligraphy and Chinese food, and saw many of China’s renowned landmarks, including Tiananmen Square, the emperor’s Summer Palace, and the Great Wall.

Track positions professionals for global success.

Lowe chose the IMBA because her parents both have business dealings abroad—her mother in Latin America and her father, who is Chinese, in China—and she wanted to be able to help.

“I was interested in the IMBA, and when I found out about the China track, I called Moreno immediately to find out more,” said Lowe, who recently began a position as a financial planner with John Hancock. “I thought the twelve-month, full-time structure of the IMBA was great, and the China track is what really decided me on it.”

“MTV is already doing licenses in China, so I can see future opportunities in China or elsewhere in Asia,” said Welch, who expects to graduate in March, 2007, with a joint Master of Science in Finance (MSF)-IMBA.

Bruce Welch (BBA ’05) at the entrance to the Forbidden City, Beijing, China

Surprises greet the travelers.

Though both had read about the country, some of the realities were more dramatic than they were prepared to encounter.

“You know things about the country, you study it, but it’s not until you see it with your own eyes that you realize that it’s true,” Welch said. “For example, the number of people on bikes was amazing.”

And while they were aware of the impressive development the country has achieved, Lowe and Welch did notice one of the unavoidable consequences.

“The pollution was very heavy and it affected us as well as the Chinese,” Lowe said.

Future students will benefit from the trail blazers.

As the first two students to go to China as part of their IMBA program, Lowe and Welch have been able to offer valuable input to the program’s staff to help shape the experiences for future participants.

For example, next year Qingdao University, situated in the Chinese eastern seaside city of Qingdao, will host the residency, and students will take more business courses.

Despite the challenges associated with being the first to make the trip, neither has any regrets.

“Learning Mandarin will be a huge help in my future business plans,” Welch said, and, according to Lowe, “The trip was awesome, and I would say to anyone considering the track, ‘Don’t think twice. Do it.’”

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