TIEMBA Alumni Story: “Li Jian, a role as a hub to integrate startup and social services”

Li Jian, general manager of Yinghua Material Technology Company, is an alumnus of TIEMBA Class of 2015. He studied and worked abroad for more than a decade. Before running Yinghua in 2015, his startup business specializing in environmental protection material, he worked as an executive with a multinational company. During his entrepreneurial period, Li Jian was greatly inspired by his classmates at TIEMBA programme. After his company got on the right track, he volunteered to take part in various public service projects and offered to help people from poverty-stricken areas. Here, we’re delighted to invite him to share his experience in his “lifelong relationship” with TIEMBA.

Planning to stay in the multinational company he has worked for years and get a step-by-step promotion, but turned out to run a startup business from scratch; living in a wealthy eastern province, while contributing to the poverty alleviation projects in China’s least developed areas. Li Jian has made various choices seemingly contradicted to his original plan, while taking his philosophy into consideration, everything looks reasonable and natural.

Li’s story starts from what he called a “dramatic change”.

Before joining the Tsinghua-INSEAD EMBA programme (hereafter as TIEMBA) at Tsinghua University in 2013, Li Jian has worked and lived overseas for over a decade.

Just a week after graduation in 2015, Li Jian was notified all of a sudden that the Asia-Pacific office he was working with as an executive was abolished. He had to make a choice.

Even if Li Jian described his decision of running a business as a “passive” move, he knew it was the most realistic one for him at that time concerning his personal experience as well as the favorable environment for business startups in China.

What can be done? How to run a company? What if you have no entrepreneurial experience? These question have been confusing Li Jian for a while until he thought of his classmates at TIEMBA, whose unconstrained way of thinking once made Li Jian feel “shocked”, “as if opening a window for me so that I could see how wonderful life can be. ”

In the first half of 2015, Li Jian went to Beijing, Shanghai, Qingdao, Shenzhen and other cities to visit his classmates for advice. “They gave me a lot of comfort and instructions on how to run a business,” said Li Jian. “But most importantly, they told me to be down-to-earth and have a sense of responsibility.”

“Looking back, every step I could get help from very talented people. You must suffer, but it does save a lot of detours, and things can be relatively smooth.”

LI Jian together with this classmates
LI Jian together with this classmates

In 2015, Li Jian founded Yinghua Material Technology Company in Zhangjiagang, Suzhou, Jiangsu. The name of the company gets inspiration from both INSEAD and and Tsinghua University, symbolizing his lifelong relationship with the two.

After graduation, Li Jian still insists on going back to the School of Economics and Management almost every year to participate in TIEMBA alumni classes. “Every time I’ll meet with my teachers and my supervisor to tell them my progress and then go back to run my company full of energy.”

Tsinghua SEM EMBA class of "nowing China by Seeing"
Tsinghua SEM EMBA class of “nowing China by Seeing”

His bond with Tsinghua has brought him not only emotional sustenance but also actual business opportunities.

In the past few years, Yinghua has helped several research teams in Tsinghua University get financial support and assisted those research projects implemented. Among them, the technology of the core component of the fuel cells, after five years of development, has reached the world’s leading position.

The reason why Tsinghua’s research teams are willing to cooperate with Li Jian, according to him, is in a large part due to the professional training he has received at TIEMBA. “They believe I have received qualified academic training, business training, and my sense of values and international vision are something they agree with. ”

The more success Li Jian has achieved from his startup business, the more social roles he is undertaking.

Executive director of Western Returned Scholars Association Jiangsu branch, member of Zhangjiagang CPPCC, executive member of Zhangjiagang Federation of Industry and Commerce, industry professor of Jiangsu province. Among all of these titles and labels, the most prominent one of Li Jian is “social responsibility”. So is Yinghua.

“The indoor environment is very important to human health. The use of a large number of furniture, soft decoration like paintings, often leads to the release of excessive pollution. In an indoor environment with poor ventilation, volatile air pollutants will even remain for several years at a heavy concentration level which poses a threat to health.” That’s why Yinghua is committed to protecting public health with environmentally friendly technical material through healthy indoor decoration and environmental treatment.

An entrepreneur focus on environmental protection field
An entrepreneur focus on environmental protection field

Apart for environmental protection, Li Jian also made a lot of efforts to the poverty alleviation and rural revitalization projects in recent years after his career took off.

In 2018, Li Jian, joining the Poverty Alleviation Expert Group of Western Returned Scholars Association, went to Jiangtaipu, Ningxia Hui autonomous region, where the Red Army joined forces over eight decades ago and now one of the poorest areas in China. “It takes the villagers several hours to go down the mountains to fetch water. Every drop of water is precious. They’re fighting to survive in the extreme conditions.”

The Poverty Alleviation Expert Group at Xiji, Ningxia in 2018
The Poverty Alleviation Expert Group at Xiji, Ningxia in 2018

After this experience, Li Jian and his group proposed to hold a cross-regional support class in Jiangsu. Many of those invited to attend this one-week training class from Ningxia went out their village for the first time in life. “This project is not a one-time practice. We have been continuously upgrading it over the past four years, and we hope to continue to play a role and keep the fire alive.”

When many people discuss how to balance personal career and social service, Li Jian has already adopt a “matrix philosophy” which he learned at TIEMBA to integrate and optimize all of his experiences and resources.

Willing to describes himself as a “hub”, Li Jian is a veteran in connecting domestic and overseas, industry and research, east and west.

In this process, Li Jian has helped a lot to bridge the gap between the richest eastern region of China and the poorest western region in terms of talents, technology and industrial projects from.

“I think we have a social responsibility to cooperate with local governments to do something to improve social and people’s livelihood,” said Li Jian. “The combination of regional development and business will bring many opportunities. It’s good for our own company, and it’s good for the local area.”

Li Jian believes his career progress is inseparable from the experience of TIEMBA. “Tsinghua has taught me a lot. This kind of empowerment is not just a certificate, but also a lifelong relationship.”

Graduation ceremony at Tsinnghua
Graduation ceremony at Tsinnghua


TIEMBA is a unique and modular dual-degree programme that offers our participants the best of both institutions: one of China’s most elite universities and one of the world’s top international business schools. It is always an important part of the programme to combine theory together with practice, which leads the program to invite global executive leaders walking into the class.

This article was originally published by TIEMBA on WeChat. Read the original post here. 

Tsinghua-INSEAD’s Executive MBA Program

The TsinghuaINSEAD Executive MBA (TIEMBA) is a unique partnership between INSEAD, one of the world’s leading business schools, and Tsinghua, one of China’s most prestigious universities. The TIEMBA Double Degree program, designed for international students, is taught in the English language over a period of 22 weeks. Students will have the opportunity to exchange perspectives within an elite, dynamic, culturally diverse class of experienced managers and be part of two powerful alumni networks. The TIEMBA is where life-changing leadership development meets the technical mastery of key business disciplines. It is the best of East and West, learning and working, technical knowledge and soft skills — in a single programme.

Learn more and apply for the program through the China Admissions platform.

The Tsinghua–INSEAD Executive MBA (TIEMBA) is a unique partnership between INSEAD, one of the world’s leading business schools, and Tsinghua, one of China’s most prestigious universities. The TIEMBA Double Degree program, designed for international students, is taught in the English language over a period of 22 weeks.
Tsinghua – INSEAD Executive MBA (TIEMBA)

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