Ye-Sho Chen: Mak­ing stud­ies come to life

The pro­fes­sor at Louisiana State Univer­sity plays key role in fa­cil­i­tat­ing Chi­nese in­vest­ment for US state

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By MAY ZHOU in Hous­ton mayzhou@chi­nadai­

The work of Ye-Sho Chen, pro­fes­sor and di­rec­tor of glob­al­iza­tion at the E. J. Ourso Col­lege of Busi­ness at Louisiana State Univer­sity (LSU), goes way be­yond the class­room.

He is fre­quently con­sulted by the Louisiana Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Agency on at­tract­ing Chi­nese in­vest­ment, he serves on the in­ter­na­tional com­mit­tee of the Ba­ton Rouge Area Cham­ber and teaches en­trepreneur­ship with higher education in­sti­tu­tion part­ners in China and Brazil.

He also keeps in touch with many of his stu­dents, some of whom have be­come en­trepreneurs in dif­fer­ent coun­tries af­ter grad­u­at­ing from LSU.

Through his con­nec­tions, busi­ness re­la­tion­ships have been forged across oceans and bor­ders.

Chen’s pas­sion for turn­ing aca­demic teach­ing and learn­ing into prac­ti­cal ac­tion came from his early ex­pe­ri­ences. He had a hard time find­ing work af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Tai­wan’s Na­tional Cheng Kung Univer­sity as a math ma­jor, de­spite all of the schol­ar­ships he had won in col­lege.

“I re­al­ized that aca­demic pur­suits were of­ten dis­con­nected from so­ci­ety, and I have been pon­der­ing this is­sue since I be­gan my PhD,” he said.

In 1985, Chen se­cured a po­si­tion at LSU af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Pur­due.

“When I came to Ba­ton Rouge, it was very sim­i­lar to to­day. Oil prices were low and the econ­omy hit the bot­tom in 1988 when many fac­to­ries were closed and mas­sive un­em­ploy­ment fol­lowed. I be­gan to pay at­ten­tion to eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and how to con­nect what we teach in school to prac­tice in the real world,” re­called Chen.

In 1990, in or­der to help the state de­velop and di­ver­sify the lo­cal econ­omy, LSU es­tab­lished a busi­ness in­cu­ba­tor on cam­pus, and Chen has been in­volved with it ever since.

In 2000, Chen was in­vited to the Chi­nese main­land to in­tro­duce US busi­ness mod­els.

“I vis­ited Bei­jing, Shang­hai, Guangzhou and Shen­zhen, and found that a lot of Chi­nese man­u­fac­tur­ers wanted to ex­port their prod­ucts to the US, and I re­al­ized that there was a lot of po­ten­tial and de­mand. Peo­ple in China needed to un­der­stand how to do busi­ness in the US,” said Chen.

Chen dis­cussed his find­ings with LSU lead­er­ship and col­leagues. With their sup­port, he spear­headed and es­tab­lished the China Ini­tia­tive at LSU in 2006. Work­ing with Cen­tral Univer­sity of Fi­nance and Eco­nom­ics in Bei­jing and other higher education in­sti­tu­tions in China, Chen un­der­took the task of teach­ing the Chi­nese how to de­velop their busi­nesses glob­ally.

Un­der the China Ini­tia­tive, Chen de­vel­oped an in­no­va­tive en­tre­pre­neur­ial cur­ricu­lum for Chi­nese small and medium-sized en­ter­prises go­ing abroad. Ti­tled Fly­ing High, Land­ing Soft, the cur­ricu­lum has ben­e­fited more than a few Chi­nese en­trepreneurs who had am­bi­tions to de­velop their busi­nesses be­yond China.

One of Chen’s Chi­nese stu­dents, with the help of the LSU in­cu­ba­tor and Chen, formed the com­pany Hit­lights, which mar­kets LED light­ing in Ba­ton Rouge. It suc­ceeded and con­tin­ues to grow. An­other stu­dent of Chen’s suc­cess­fully built a re­new­able en­ergy com­pany which has trans­formed from do­ing busi­ness be­tween China and the US to a multi-na­tion global en­ter­prise.

“Asia- East, a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany in Bei­jing, was so im­pressed with our pro­gram that they sent peo­ple to study with us in 2010. Al­though they post­poned their plans to en­ter the US mar­ket be­cause op­por­tu­ni­ties in China at that time were greater than in the US, they are now plan­ning to come to the US and are al­ready armed with the knowl­edge of how to pen­e­trate the US mar­ket,” said Chen.

When LED se­lected 10 coun­tries as its top choices for seek­ing in­ter­na­tional in­vest­ment, LSU formed a part­ner­ship with a top univer­sity in Brazil, and the China Ini­tia­tive was broad­ened into an emerg­ing mar­ket pro­gram un­der Chen’s lead­er­ship. Last year, LSU fur­ther ex­panded it to its cur­rent glob­al­iza­tion pro­gram to in­clude all in­ter­na­tional busi­ness, with Chen as di­rec­tor.

Chen en­joys es­tab­lish­ing real re­la­tion­ships with his stu­dents that last be­yond their school years.

“I found that a lot of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents are hun­grier prob­a­bly be­cause most of them came from less wealthy coun­tries. I like to find out what their pas­sions are, what kind of re­sources they can of­fer and I try to help them with my con­nec­tions and re­sources through the in­cu­ba­tor. In turn, they be­come my re­sources also,” said Chen.

Un­der the US sup­ply di­ver­sity pro­gram, large cor­po­ra­tions are re­quired to help small com­pa­nies be­come sup­pli­ers, and Chen said he had helped to con­nect lo­cal sup­pli­ers in Louisiana with some Chi­nese man­u­fac­tur­ers over the years. This net­work ben­e­fits Chen’s stu­dents and busi­ness part­ner­ships have been formed from China to the US, Brazil and Africa.

Chen has been on the in­ter­na­tional com­mit­tee of the Ba­ton Rouge Area Cham­ber since 2008, and has of­ten been con­sulted by the LED when it comes to in­ter­na­tional in­vest­ment, es­pe­cially when Louisiana ac­tively seeks in­vest­ment from China.

“I of­ten pro­vide trans­la­tions and per­ti­nent in­for­ma­tion to them for free, and give them tips when they lead del­e­ga­tions to China,” said Chen.

When rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Heze, Shan­dong first vis­ited Ba­ton Rouge in 2007, the mayor of Ba­ton Rouge asked Chen to in­ter­pret for them.

“Af­ter­wards, the mayor wanted me to find out what kind of city Heze was. I had served as ad­vi­sor for the Chi­nese Stu­dent As­so­ci­a­tion at LSU for a few years, so I sent a no­tice to the as­so­ci­a­tion. The next day, five Chi­nese stu­dents showed up to tell me all about Heze. Then I made a re­port to the mayor,” re­called Chen.

Last year, Shan­dong Yuhuang Chem­i­cal from Heze made a $1.8 bil­lion in­vest­ment in Louisiana to build a large chem­i­cal plant com­plex by the Mis­sis­sippi River.

Chen likes bring­ing his re­la­tion­ships — with govern­ment, stu­dents, com­pa­nies and busi­ness or­ga­ni­za­tions — to­gether to make things hap­pen.

“When I con­nect peo­ple, sto­ries hap­pen, and I like to teach busi­ness by telling sto­ries,” he said.


Ye-Sho Chen, pro­fes­sor and di­rec­tor of glob­al­iza­tion at the Ourso Col­lege of Busi­ness at Louisiana State Univer­si­tyin Ba­ton Rouge, helps the state de­velop busi­ness and China’s small and medium-sized en­ter­prises to go global. Ye-Sho Chen, LSU busi­ness pro­fes­sor, dis­cussing his aca­demic phi­los­o­phy

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