Part-time masters students find studying in Suzhou inspiring

"All of our students work for multinational companies or are entrepreneurs, and we're very selective."

Kirsten Johnston has over 20 years of experience in brand strategy and design and is enhancing her already substantial knowledge by studying part-time for an International MBA in Suzhou.

"I'm gaining an excellent cross-border view of business in and out of China," said Johnston. “The knowledge I’m acquiring is helping me to bring ever more valuable consultancy to my clients, who are largely internationally motivated.”


Kirsten Johnston

Johnston is the chief executive officer of international brand design firm JWDK, which she founded in London in 2003. Now based in Shanghai, she travels to nearby Suzhou on the weekends to attend classes at International Business School Suzhou.

IBSS is a department of Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University that offers fully-accredited degrees from the University of Liverpool.

“Having owned and managed a business for many years, this IMBA is far more relevant to me now than if I had chosen to study for one ten years earlier,” said Kirsten. “The part-time nature of the course means I can run my business and study at the same time, and I’m able to extract knowledge and apply it to my business immediately.”

Director of the IBSS IMBA program Ewout van der Schaft explained that the curriculum was designed to meet the needs of senior executives like Kirsten, and that as with all of the University’s degree programmes it is subject to the UK quality assurance system.

“All of our students work for multinational companies or are entrepreneurs, and we’re very selective,” said Schaft. “Furthermore, we have a diverse international faculty who are focused on the local context. It's not a ‘fly-in-fly-out’ experience.”

Another student on the part-time IMBA programme is Cao Zihao, business development manager for the China operation of auto parts company Federal-Mogul.

“The teaching staff here are really top-notch,” he agreed, “and the state-of-the-art campus is a good learning environment for me to concentrate on study. I’ve also been impressed by my classmates’ stunning career trajectories. They inspire me, and we all learn from each other.”

By studying on the IMBA programme, Cao feels he is strengthening his business knowledge, improving his understanding of how to manage financial resources, and boosting his leadership skills.

“We are all honing our overall management skills, making ourselves more able to lead a team or run a business in a dynamic environment,” said Cao.

“After completing this programme I plan to explore new business opportunities domestically and internationally that will have positive impacts on society and improve people’s lives,” he added.

The IMBA is just one of several part-time masters degree options offered by International Business School Suzhou at XJTLU, with programmes covering all aspects of the business world and catered to people at different stages in their career development.


Hua Taojie

Hua Taojie, who is a production manager at German electronics and engineering multinational Bosch’s Wuxi branch, is studying on the part-time masters programme in Operations and Supply Chain Management.

“I’m learning about the approaches different companies take to lean production processes, and adding academic theory to my considerable practical experience,” said Hua.

He said that in addition to learning from the academics and experienced practitioners he, too, gains a lot from other students on his programme who bring valuable experience from different areas including third party logistics, chemical production, electronics, as well as from those who also work in the automotive industry.

Significantly, Hua commented that he is able to maintain a good work/life balance while completing his masters degree:

“The programme moves at a reasonable pace compared with others I looked at,” he said. “It only occupies one day of my week, and I find I’m able to complete my assignments and still have one day free to spend with my family.”

IBSS also offers a part-time masters degree in project management, equipping students with the necessary skills and knowledge to manage projects in a variety of industries and contexts. Programme director Roland Berberich explained more.

“On our programme, you will learn how to effectively plan, implement, control and monitor, and handover projects of various sizes and complexities in a highly competitive global marketplace,” said Berberich.

“China has the most projects in sustainability, renewable energy, and low-carbon industries, and is out-investing all other countries,” he continued. “It’s an ideal context to be studying project management, and we offer a tailored learning experience to suit your work background and future goals.”


Tao Liping

Tao Liping is a student on the part-time MSc Project Management course:

“I’m learning how to focus on details and monitor each project, along with specific techniques and skills I can definitely use,” she said.

“Project management is a strategic exercise,” she continued. “As a project manager you have to keep on top of all the information available so that you can make strategic decisions. We’re learning how to do that, as well as how project management integrates with businesses as a whole.”

Founded in 2006, Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University is the largest international collaborative university in China, a partnership between Xi'an Jiaotong University and the University of Liverpool. XJTLU's vision is to become a research-led international university in China and a Chinese university recognised internationally for its unique features.

On Thursday 17 May, 18:30, IBSS are hosting a live video webinar about the IMBA with programme director Ewout van der Schaft. Click here to join in.

Visit XJTLU for more information about programmes of study.

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