China week for Gothenburg Executive MBA students


During eight intense days in Hangzhou and Shanghai, the participants of the Executive MBA program at the University of Gothenburg have had the opportunity to study China’s economy on site. Given the global uncertainty about how the Chinese growth will develop this year’s study tour participants is extra valuable. The stay in Shanghai and Hangzhou, which in May ran without interruption over a week, is an integral part of the Executive MBA program. Parallel to the study of Chinese and multinational companies, participants have studied logistics and Chinese business culture at two of China’s top universities, Zhejiang University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Participants of the program have diverse backgrounds and are active in various industries. The common denominator is that they all are business leaders, in this year’s group representing global companies such as SKF, AstraZeneca, Volvo Cars, AB Volvo, AECOM and Etteplan. The Executive MBA program, which stretches part-time over 21 months, has a clear focus on growth markets in Asia and aims to strengthen the participants’ skills in terms of business in countries like China and India.

The Education week in China is divided into two parts: four days in Hangzhou and four days in Shanghai. Hangzhou, with its population of nine million people is the capital of Zhejiang province, which is characterized by a tradition of Chinese entrepreneurship. Geely and Alibaba are two well-known examples of successful growth companies with headquarters there.


“China is a very interesting market that is now clearly about to leave its role as the factory of the world economy factory and instead mainly be driven by domestic purchasing power. Staff turnover in Chinese companies is a common problem, affecting all businesses. During their stay in China, I understood more about the culture that drives people’s decision to change careers. I hope to discuss this insight with our HR business partners to see if we can improve our current personnel policy in China, “says Anna Sundgren-Andersson, Head of Clinical Development at AstraZeneca.

“What would I say to someone who asks for advice to sell to China? It’s easy to fall for the sheer size of the Chinese market, but you still have to carefully choose the segments you focus on and be clear about what differentiates your offering. The pitfalls are many, and therefore I would advise to first find a Chinese partner with the right local networks, “concludes Lionel Boubli, Head of Demand Chain and IT on SKF Aerospace BU.

During their eight days participants visited among other companies Geely, Sunwin Bus, Shanghai Harbour and Jiashan Green Logistic Center. They also met managers working on site in China for companies such as Volvo Car Group, AstraZeneca, Ericsson and SEB.

“Thanks to the School of Economics’ long-standing relationships with partner universities and companies in China, we are able to provide the participants with visits to innovative and successful companies and teaching modules at reputed universities. Through roundtable discussions and networking meetings with managers stationed in China, one also gets a much better understanding of what is required today in order to have business success in China, “comments Håkan Ericson, President GU School of Executive Education at the School of Business, Economics and Law in Gothenburg.

The different phases of the course during the trip includes themes such as innovation in China, Chinese business practices, culture and leadership, CSR and sourcing, the establishment of start-ups in China, as well as logistics. Both Zhejiang University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University are ranked as among some of China’s best universities.

GU School of Executive Education provides Sweden’s only AMBA-accredited Executive MBA program, as well as customised educations aimed at Nordic companies with an international focus. The educations are provided in the U.S, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, China and South Korea, among others.

About Joakim Persson

Freelance business and lifestyle photojournalist

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