For the first time ever, Stanford GSB held an information session in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, a vibrant modern city of 14 million people and a key inland Chinese metropolis with offices of major Fortune 500 companies. It all started when Paul Chen, a first-year MBA from Chengdu, offered to hold an event for us when he was home for the winter school break. Over 160 prospective applicants turned out at the Shangri-La Hotel to hear Paul and a panel of GSBers talk about their experiences. Both working professionals and college students were there. Even some parents attended and milled in the lobby enjoying the sweets and tea. We were honored to have the deputy director general from the Office of External Affairs of the Chengdu government, the president of the Sichuan Youth League, and the vice-president of a local university in the audience.
Paul talked about his personal journey from Chengdu to Stanford and how he's learning from real global leaders like Dr. Condeleeza Rice, former Secretary of State, who is on the GSB faculty. Frank Hawke, the GSB's director based in Beijing, talked about Stanford's activities in China. The panel, comprised of first-year student Altaf Saiyed, and alumni Kevin Choo (CEO, Accessen Group, a Shanghai-based Sino-US joint venture and the second player in China's Plate Heat Exchanger industry), James Liu (COO of Renren.com), and Yi Xu (Founder of FocusEdu, an education startup based in Beijing) shared their experiences, took questions, and then chatted informally with the crowd.
Some of the comments from those who attended:
"Stanford students have the reputation of being innovative and down-to-earth. The interactions today further confirmed this to me."
"The thoughts of the alumni are very innovative and creative."
"Stanford has a great alumni network in China."
"I liked the openness of Stanford including faculty, alumni and curriculum."
"I felt the panel did a good job of addressing important issues."
Several people said they hoped that Stanford would host more events like this in Chengdu. Based on the tremendous success of our first event, we plan to be back again soon.