From the 22nd to the 23rd of October 2015, the “Tsinghua Students Dialogue with Board Members” was in full swing as part of the series of activities of Tsinghua SEM 2015 Advisory Board Meeting. 12 Board members entered 12 Tsinghua SEM classrooms to interact with students in an intimate setting.
Advisory Board Members arrive at Tsinghua SEM
(from top left clockwise: John L. Thornton, Chairman of Barrick Gold Corporation, Co-Chairman, Board of Trustees, Brookings Institution; LI Rongrong, Former Chairman of the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission; Mike McNamara, CEO of Flex; Jim Breyer, Founder and CEO of Breyer Capital, Partner of Accel Partners)
The 12 Board members participating in the dialogue sessions were: John L. Thornton, Chairman of Barrick Gold Corporation, Co-Chairman, Board of Trustees, Brookings Institution, Jim Breyer, Founder and CEO of Breyer Capital, Partner of Accel Partners, Henri de Castries, Chairman and CEO of AXA Group, Christopher B. Galvin, Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of Harrison Street Capital LLC and Former Chairman and CEO of Motorola Inc., LI Rongrong, Former Chairman of the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, Mike McNamara, CEO of Flex, Nitin Nohria, Dean of Harvard Business School, David M. Rubenstein, Chairman of the Tsinghua SEM Advisory Board, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, Martin Senn, CEO of Zurich Insurance Group, Risto K. Siilasmaa , Chairman of Nokia Corporation, Chairman and Founder of F-Secure Corporation, Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO of The Renault-Nissan Alliance and Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company.
John L. Thornton delivered a speech on the topic of "Leadership" and answered questions from Tsinghua SEM students including Sino-US cooperation on climate change, similarities and differences in Chinese and Western education and how China should tackle future economic challenges, etc. Upon mentioning Sino-US relations, Thornton drew upon his experiences of accompanying three American congressmen to China to say that most Americans do not understand China. Hence they are often biased in their views towards China and its policies, presenting an awkward disproportion contrast in the current opportunities for cooperation between the two countries. He expressed hopes for Americans to enhance their knowledge on China, taking the opportunities of Chinese President XI Jinping’s recent visit to the U.S. and the economic, education and cultural cooperation between the two countries.
John L. Thornton, Tsinghua SEM Advisory Board Member, Chairman of Barrick Gold Corporation, Co-Chairman, Board of Trustees, Brookings Institution,
Jim Breyer shared his insights on the future hotspots of venture capital, predicting that with the commercialization of innovative technologies, the industries of IT, healthcare, financial services and film entertainment will be the points of future investments. The development of smartphones will also provide further impetus for SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) and entrepreneurs. On the topic of making career and entrepreneurial choices, he advised to choose an industry that one is passionate in, seek out the best leaders and teams and focus on building a good product.
Jim Breyer, Tsinghua SEM Advisory Board Member, Founder and CEO of Breyer Capital, Partner of Accel Partners
Henri de Castries presented on the topic of the past and future of AXA and the insurance industry, answering questions raised by students. He summed up AXA's secret of success - “clear and ambitious company vision” and “a successful M&A strategy”. During his speech, Mr. de Castries mentioned cultivating and choosing the right talents, emphasizing the importance of EQ by saying that only employees with high EQ could be able to work and cooperate well with others in a team.
Henri de Castries, Tsinghua SEM Advisory Board Member, Chairman and CEO of AXA Group
Christopher B. Galvin spoke about the Galvin family management philosophy with students, sharing his entrepreneurship strategies and innovations that he drew from his career experiences. He narrated the Galvin family philosophy and how his grandfather started up what came to be known as the greatest company in the 20th century, Motorola and how he developed Harrison St Capital to become one of the biggest heavyweights in the US real estate investment industry. "To take the road less travelled by" was the entrepreneurial strategy Galvin gave to the students. In the tea session after the dialogue, Galvin shared how he educates his children, achieves work-life balance and his take on the meaning of work.
Christopher B. Galvin, Tsinghua SEM Advisory Board Member, Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of Harrison Street Capital LLC and Former Chairman and CEO of Motorola Inc.
LI Rongrong advised students “not to work blindly even if you are in a leading company”. He stressed on the importance of reflection from practical experience. He also reminded students to see through problems and solve key conflicts with the help of tools such as the Pareto Principle. He recommended two classic works by MAO Zedong - On Practice and On Contradiction. According to Li Rongrong, "Practice gives you confidence, since rightful thinking comes from practical experience. Contradiction gives you more methods."
Li Rongrong, Tsinghua SEM Advisory Board Member, Former Chairman of the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission
Mike McNamara had a special lesson for the students, "Flex and its role in the leadership of manufacturing". McNamara brought up the concept of "The intelligence of things", emphasizing the importance of smart data sharing to the world. McNamara also shared several insights on how he managed the company. He believed that in a constantly changing corporate environment, effective implementation of strategy was absolutely crucial. The key element to achieve this effectiveness is corporate culture, he remarked, and that is the biggest, most important asset that remains constant in a company.
Mike McNamara, Tsinghua SEM Advisory Board Member, CEO of Flex, on his way to the classroom with the teaching assistants
Nitin Nohria brought across in his speech the theme of "Leadership: Knowing, Doing and Being". Dean Nohria talked about the curriculum of the Harvard Business School Leadership program, including how to make better decisions(Knowing), how to have a better group implement decisions (Doing) and some of the qualities that a leader should possess(Being).
Nitin Nohria, Tsinghua SEM Advisory Board Member, Dean of Harvard Business School
David M. Rubenstein delivered a speech on "Trends of private equity growth and future investment opportunities" and answered questions. Rubenstein shared his views on life, contending that one should pursue the things that one loves and money can be only seen as a benchmark for success, not the thing to pursue. Rubenstein mentioned that he started his current career at the age of 37. His previous experiences in the government and other law firms are now, looking back, precious assets of his life.
David M. Rubenstein, Chairman of the Tsinghua SEM Advisory Board, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of The Carlyle Group
Martin Senn shared his experiences working in Asia and emphasized on the importance of maintaining good relationships at the workplace. Alluding to more than 30 years of experience in the financial and insurance sector, he encouraged students to see the world from a wider perspective rather than narrowing views only on money. When asked how to achieve work-life balance while managing a world class financial insurance company, Senn shared his experiences in the army from more than 30 years ago, urging students to seek that 'mesmerizing dawn' no matter how stressful life turns out to be.
Martin Senn, Tsinghua SEM Advisory Board Member, CEO of Zurich Insurance Group
Risto K. Siilasmaa shared his insights on leadership with students along with the precious experiences he obtained as he led Nokia through the transition. He began with his self-introduction in Chinese, saying that he was very fond of his Chinese name as the words "Si" and "Tuo" were the key success factors of a company. In his opinion, entrepreneurs are a group of people willing to try regardless of how large the risk is. Professionalism was also not about working 24 hours a day, to him it was rather a way of life. Drawing on the story of Nokia, Senn shared some of his reflections. He felt that a leader should always treat any criticism with the best intent. Instead of being defensive, a leader should seek to see things from the critic's point of view. A good leader should learn to establish trust with the company and its employees, run everything on a transparent basis and consider the emotions of others.
Risto K. Siilasmaa, Tsinghua SEM Advisory Board Member, Chairman of Nokia Corporation, Chairman and Founder of F-Secure Corporation, receiving a gift from students
On October 23rd, Carlos Ghosn engaged in dialogue with Professor JIAO Jie, Associate Dean of Tsinghua SEM, Tim Hesler and WANG Yue, Tsinghua GMBA students. Ghosn shared his insights and experiences on leadership, cross-cultural communication and the growth of the auto-mobile industry. He also provided personal advice on the development of the Tsinghua SEM MBA Program and how MBA students could maximize their self-improvement in the program.
Group photo of Carlos Ghosn, Tsinghua SEM Advisory Board Member, Chairman and CEO of The Renault-Nissan Alliance, Professor JIAO Jie, Associate Dean of Tsinghua SEM, and Tsinghua GMBA students
Muhtar Kent shared his experiences regarding brand positioning. Coca Cola’s brand is its greatest asset and the brand value is realized through interaction with consumers. No matter where he goes, Kent finds that locals will always know the name of Coca Cola. This is what Coca Cola has been very proud of. However he emphasized that despite the brand name of Coca Cola belonging to the company as a legal entity, it actually belonged to consumers since they determine the value of the brand when they talk about the Coca Cola Company. Coca Cola Company is also a strong advocate of taking on corporate social responsibility to promote its brand.
Muhtar Kent, Tsinghua SEM Board Member, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company
Tsinghua SEM Advisory Board Members Mike McNamara CEO of Flex and Martin Senn, CEO of Zurich Insurance Group, in a dinner session with students
The 2015 Tsinghua Students Dialogue with Board Members has come to encompass students from a larger variety of backgrounds. Apart from Tsinghua SEM’s undergraduates, doctoral, Master’s, MBA and EMBA students and EMBA alumni, students from Tsinghua’s other schools and departments, including those from the Tsinghua SEM’s undergraduate duel-degree programs in Economics and in Management and the students of Tsinghua x-lab’s projects also participated in the Dialogues.