Some 60 leaders of companies based in China were on IESE’s campus May 20-25 for the Global CEO Program for China. The program is a special initiative led by IESE, Harvard Business School and the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS).
The program features residential modules at three locations - Shanghai, Barcelona and Boston. The first module was held in March at CEIBS, the second at IESE and the final module will take place in Boston at HBS, July 15-20.
Participant Michelle Chan said that during the Barcelona module she had gained key insights on how many European brands have successfully expanded their reach around the globe. A case study on the international expansion of Zara, the fashion retail company, was particularly eye-opening, she said.
“It was interesting because they are very systematic and very successful,” said Chan, who is managing director of A.S. Watson Industries Beverages and is based in Hong Kong. Originally founded in 1828 as a small dispensary in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, A.S. Watson is today Asia’s largest health and beauty retailer, operating more than 2,600 stores and 900 pharmacies.
Chinese firms can learn a lot from powerful European brands and the region’s strong family business culture, she said. The program also provides the chance for Chinese executives to form stronger ties with Europe, which will open the door for business opportunities in the future.
One of the key the key aims of the program is to help Chinese businesses develop on an international scale. The learning experience is especially designed for CEOs, board chairs and chief decision makers at fast-growing Chinese enterprises.
“The approach of the faculty members is very practical and down to earth,” said Chan.
Participants also learn from each other during the program. “It is interesting to get to know other CEOs and share ideas. I have learned how to tackle issues from others who are facing the same problems as me,” she said.