Liu Xian­grui

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE -

edro Nueno, a Span­ish busi­ness man­age­ment ex­pert, has com­pared his launch­ing of busi­ness schools around the world to “build­ing bridges of peace” at a time of grow­ing global com­mer­cial ex­changes.

Dur­ing his first visit to Bei­jing in the early 1980s, he was im­pressed by the boom­ing econ­omy of China, which had started its re­form and open­ing-up by then.

Nueno, sens­ing the need and con­fi­dent of the coun­try’s po­ten­tial, im­me­di­ately planned to start a busi­ness school here.

Nearly three decades later, his vi­sion is re­flected in the China Europe In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness School, one of China’s largest busi­ness ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions, and Nueno, now in his early 70s, still serves as its pres­i­dent and a pro­fes­sor of en­trepreneur­ship.

Nueno has taught at dif­fer­ent in­sti­tutes around the world, such as Har­vard Uni­ver­sity, and has been a fre­quent speaker at in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ences.

He has been a con­sul­tant for many in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tu­tions and cor­po­ra­tions, in­clud­ing the World Bank, and has been a mem­ber of the ad­vi­sory board of many busi­ness schools, in­clud­ing IESE in Spain.

Ac­cord­ing to Nueno, his in­ter­est in busi­ness schools was sparked by one of the pro­fes­sors at Har­vard, where he re­ceived his doc­tor­ate in busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The pro­fes­sor helped es­tab­lish sev­eral busi­ness schools around the world af­ter World War II and saw this as a means of build­ing bridges be­tween coun­tries, and Nueno wanted to do the same.

So, the first thing he did af­ter fin­ish­ing his stud­ies was to help launch a busi­ness school called IAE in Ar­gentina, a well­known place for re­lated stud­ies in the coun­try.

He then helped launch busi­ness schools in Colom­bia, Mex­ico and Por­tu­gal.

In the early ’80s, he came to re­al­ize “now it’s the mo­ment of China”, as he be­lieved the fledg­ing mar­ket econ­omy would gen­er­ate de­mand for busi­ness man­age­ment knowl­edge.

So, he first launched a twoyear MBA pro­gram — with around 50 stu­dents — in Bei­jing in 1984, in co­op­er­a­tion with some Euro­pean busi­ness schools as the pre­cur­sor to a full-fledged cam­pus in Shang­hai later.

Nueno says build­ing a school from zero was not easy.

He and his Chi­nese part­ners first found a space with help from the lo­cal govern­ment. They then spent time search­ing for in­struc­tors and fi­nally formed an aca­demic board.

He also drew on his own re­sources, in­clud­ing reach­ing out to busi­ness in­sti­tu­tions around the world and invit­ing friends who are pro­fes­sors to teach in China.

A few years later he and his Chi­nese part­ners planned a cam­pus in Shang­hai.

They then con­vinced the Euro­pean Foun­da­tion for Man­age­ment De­vel­op­ment, which is an as­so­ci­a­tion of Euro­pean busi­ness schools, to get in­volved in the pro­ject, and also raised funds from in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies based in Hong Kong for the cam­pus.

“Peo­ple trusted us be­cause they saw we were a com­mit­ted Chi­nese-Euro­pean team, and I think this has al­ways been the case,” he says.

The Shang­hai govern­ment also de­cided to sup­port them with land in the Pudong area, which has now turned into a vast well-equipped cam­pus.

How­ever, be­fore the cam­pus opened in 1995, they had to use class­rooms in Shang­hai Jiao­tong Uni­ver­sity and even hold lec­tures inside lo­cal ho­tels, says Nueno.

Now the school has grown sig­nif­i­cantly. It has three cam­puses — in Shang­hai, Bei­jing and Shen­zhen — and two in­ter­na­tional bases, one in Ac­cra, the cap­i­tal of Ghana, and the other in Zurich.

The school has around 800 EMBA stu­dents and holds three full-time MBA classes ev­ery year, with about 40 per­cent of the nearly 200 MBA stu­dents from over­seas.

“It (the school) is be­com­ing more global. But we will con­tinue to grow in China and also in­ter­na­tion­ally,” says Nueno, adding that many Chi­nese stu­dents from the early years have be­come top man­agers with Chi­nese com­pa­nies.

Ac­cord­ing to Xu Dingbo, the as­so­ciate dean at the China Europe In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness School, mod­ern man­age­ment ed­u­ca­tion was pretty much a blank slate in China in the early ’80s.

“Nueno re­al­ized that China lacked mod­ern man­age­ment ed­u­ca­tion, which would be­come a bot­tle­neck for its eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. So he be­came one of the ear­li­est to make ef­forts in this re­spect,” says Xu.

Xu adds that he re­spects Nueno for his ef­forts to com­bine Chi­nese prac­tices and tra­di­tions with mod­ern man­age­ment skills in the school’s teach­ing, re­search and busi­ness prac­tices, while em­pha­siz­ing in­ter­na­tion­al­iza­tion at the same time.

The school also part­ners with top-notch re­search in­sti­tu­tions, such as Har­vard Busi­ness School, to run joint mod­ules world­wide.

“Man­age­ment is a global thing,” says Nueno.

“China is a big econ­omy and has some as­pects that are pe­cu­liar and some op­por­tu­ni­ties and risks. So, what we try to ex­plain is all these lit­tle dif­fer­ences in a global mod­ule.”

Nueno’s ef­forts to ex­pand China’s global busi­ness pres­ence led him to a meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping in 2012.

The meet­ing was held soon af­ter Xi was elected as the top leader and was at­tended by 20 for­eign ex­perts.

Nueno in his speech talked about how the Chi­nese govern­ment was per­ceived by the rest of the world. And he also shared his opin­ion on what should be China’s pri­or­i­ties.

Nueno says he thought Xi sent pos­i­tive sig­nals when talk­ing about China’s fur­ther open­ing-up.

Nueno has high opin­ion of the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive pro­posed by Xi.

“I think it is a fan­tas­tic pro­ject. It’s a way to in­di­cate that China is open­ing to the world,” he says, adding that he be­lieves the de­vel­op­ment of one coun­try is not a threat to an­other, but an op­por­tu­nity.

To rec­og­nize Nueno’s con­tri­bu­tions to busi­ness ed­u­ca­tion in China, the Chi­nese govern­ment hon­ored him in 2009 with the Friend­ship Award, which is the high­est honor given to for­eign­ers for their con­tri­bu­tion to the coun­try’s so­cial and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

Nueno, who vis­its China al­most twice a month, says he is now used to this busy life and even makes use of his flight time to write.

He has au­thored more than a dozen books, in­clud­ing the re­cent Thanks, China.

The book, pub­lished in Span­ish a few months ago and which will be avail­able in Chi­nese soon, is about China’s con­tri­bu­tions to the world.

For in­stance, since pur­chas­ing Volvo Cars in 2010, Chi­nese com­pany Geely Auto has grown the for­mer Swedish com­pany and cre­ated many new jobs.

He adds that though there may be doubts and op­po­si­tion to Chi­nese com­pa­nies like Huawei en­ter­ing for­eign mar­kets, just like what Amer­i­can or Ja­panese com­pa­nies faced be­fore, these com­pa­nies are cre­at­ing em­ploy­ment.

“The ma­jor­ity of com­pa­nies are do­ing things cor­rectly. So, I think it makes sense to say ‘Thanks China! Come!’” he says.

Pe­dro Nueno, pres­i­dent, China Europe In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness School

Con­tact the writer at li­ux­i­an­grui@ chi­


Pe­dro Nueno, pres­i­dent of China Europe In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness School, speaks at a grad­u­a­tion ceremony in Shang­hai.



Nueno talks with celebrity TV an­chor Yang Lan, a for­mer MBA stu­dent of his school. Right: Nueno meets with Chi­nese econ­o­mist Wu Jinglian.

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