Why Pursue an MBA at CEIBS China? An Interview with Fay

Fay Surya is an MBA student studying at China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai, China. She left Indonesia, and her job to pursue her dream of obtaining an MBA degree in China.

Fay already has international experience studying at Columbia University in New York. She’s keen to learn more and contribute her knowledge to the future development of her beloved country of Indonesia. Here is more about Fay and her journey in CEIBS!


Hi Fay, tell us something about yourself.

I’m Fay from Indonesia. I had my Bachelor in Political Science and Economics degree at Barnard College, Columbia University, New York. Before coming to CEIBS, I was working in a shipping company in Jakarta, Indonesia for 5 years.


What made you decide to study in China?

I always wanted to get an MBA, and I thought China would be more relevant for my future.

China is important in the world economy. It has a huge influence on Indo-domestic market. There are a lot of new products, technology, and companies entering Indonesia. In my previous job, our customer base was growing from Chinese investment companies coming to Indonesia.

I want to understand how it works and get more exposure to Chinese business environment and culture. Besides, I’ll learn Mandarin and it will give me an advantage. It’s killing two birds with one stone!


When did you first come to China?

I came when the school year started in August. That’s two months ago. However, I spent a month in Shanghai in 2014 after I graduated. I decided to study Mandarin. It was my main motivation to continue studying in China.

The Shanghai of 2014 is different from the Shanghai of 2019. 2019 represents China’s development, and every year it’s progressing.

Source: China Daily


How is the Shanghai of 2014 different from the Shanghai of 2019?

In 2014, I was at Shanghai Jiaotong University in Puxi District. This time I’m in Pudong District. The environment is different. There are new buildings and the apps are more advanced. Back in 2014, I didn’t have the chance to thoroughly use the China mobile ecosystem. Now, I have and it’s amazing.


How’s your living experience in China so far?

Apart from convenience, Shanghai is a very nice place to be. I like the culture, business environment and Shanghai in general. I go to museums like in the Shanghai Urban City Planning Museum which was excellent.

You can see the city planning over the years and how Shanghai is becoming a green city. Every area is different, it’s like a different city. For example, the French Concession is a throwback to the old-time while the Pudong Area is modern.

The expat community in Shanghai is good. There are many international schools apart from CEIBS.


Do you have any interesting experiences while studying in China?

So far, I’ve had no bad experiences. If you speak Mandarin, it will be easier for you to adjust in China. My Mandarin level is HSK 4. It is enough for daily life here. My goal is to get HSK 6 by the time I graduate from CEIBS.


Out of so many universities in China, why did you choose CEIBS?

I was looking for a top-ranked business school and CEIBS ranked 5th on the Financial Times. It was an easy choice for me. CEIBS is an excellent school for international students, and I have an American Undergraduate degree. Through CEIBS, I know I can gain more international experience

Strategically CEIBS is located in Shanghai. It’s an exciting place in China. CEIBS’ slogan is ‘’China Depth and Global Breath’’ is true. CEIBS helps international students understand China from a global perspective.

Inside the classroom, professors provide many Chinese cases. They also introduce us to Chinese companies, and China’s economy culture and history. This is the main reason I chose CEIBS. Number one is because of its global ranking and number two is because of its slogan, ‘’China Depth and Global Breath’’.


How did you know about CEIBS?

I knew about CEIBS through the internet and the Financial Times ranking.


How is your experience studying at CEIBS? Do you find it interesting or advantage to your future?

The business school at CEIBS is unique. The MBA/EMBA population is inverted. Most business schools have larger MBA classes and smaller executive education or EMBA program.

However, CEIBS is different. There are more students in the EMBA program compared to the MBA program. In fact, we are only 170 students in our MBA batch, while there are 1,000 students for EMBA.

This number means two things: there is a larger network of directors and top leaders of Chinese companies and this network is strong in China.

You get to leverage this network as a CEIBS student because it provides access to CEIBS alumni. CEIBS helps you to tap into this network even though you are an international student, not being able to speak fluent Mandarin.

Another benefit of studying at CEIBS is all MBA students are matched with a mentor. The mentor is either an alumni of the MBA or EMBA program. It’s nice to talk to them because they’ve been in your shoes. They went through the same experience. Your mentor also helps you prioritize your goals and how you can achieve them throughout this MBA program.

The mentors are all very accomplished and respected in their industries. They are directors of Chinese or international companies based in China. It’s a good opportunity to build a network and figure out what you want to do.


How are the classes at CEIBS?

CEIBS does a good job at making the class more participative. The classes are not all lecture-based. Professors assign numerous CEIBS and Harvard business cases to students.

Impressively, CEIBS writes their own business case studies. Topics include Chinese companies or the CEIBS professor’s research on foreign companies.

The professor wraps it up with a lecture to make sure things are orderly with the theoretical framework. In general, class discussions are fulfilling.


How are your classmates? What are their backgrounds and where are they from?

Majority of my classmates are Chinese. Around 70% are Chinese and 30% international students. The international students are coming from India, Japan, Korea, Europe, U.S., Kazakhstan, South Africa, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.

I am the only one from Indonesia in my batch. It’s a diverse group, with different backgrounds and nationalities. I have classmates who are doctors, engineers, military personnel, government employees, and some have family businesses.

I’m exposed to diverse ideas and perspectives. I am able to work with a multicultural team. International students who come to CEIBS have a common dream. They know that China will somehow fit into their life, narrative, in one way or another. Some of these international students have already been working in China or in their home country. As for me, I see how important the economic ties between Indonesia and China.


How do you think studying in CEIBS will impact your future?

First, I want to graduate fast. There is a one-year option at CEIBS. The cost of my leave from work for more than a year is huge and I already know what I want to do after graduation. I plan to go back home to Jakarta and returning to my previous company.

China is important to the global economy. It’s more relevant right now with all the Chinese foreign investments in Indonesia. What I have learned at CEIBS, the people I have met, and the network I’ve gained will be my leverage to the future.


Do you think China is a good place to study MBA?

Yes, very much. MBA in China teaches you all the best management practices.

China is a different dimension. You’re able to be in an interesting country at an interesting time. China is very developed but it’s still rapidly developing. Shanghai and Beijing are tier one cities, and they are highly advanced. But tier two and tier three cities are also rapidly developing.

Countries like Indonesia that are also in the path of development can learn from China. For example, we can take pointers from Chinese logistics and infrastructure and technology. The advancement of these industries improve quality of life.

You can learn many things in China. You carry these lessons, go back home, and see what you can do to contribute to your country.


If you can undo everything, would you still choose China as your destination to study MBA?

Yes, for sure. It is more relevant to learn in a country which is continuously developing. U.S. is an already developed country but China, even though it’s also developed, has many areas that are still in progress.

In China, there are exciting things happening. Observing how China can do everything very fast is interesting.


What did you gain after studying abroad (U.S. and China)? What did you learn from being a foreign student?

In addition to the formal education you obtain, you get to see different things and different people. You immerse in the new culture, food and experiences. Visiting historical sites and museums, makes you realize how big the world is.

You start to think about the opportunities beyond what you see now. It teaches you to seek for more, and constantly be hungry to learn new things. Studying abroad experience is really valuable.  Indonesia is already big enough but there are a lot of things in the world that can make you think on how to make Indonesia better.


What is your advice to Indonesian students who want to study abroad?

When you study abroad, you are alone and you might get lost sometimes. Every day, you’re busy making assignments, going to events, and outings. It’s important to prioritize and have self-discipline.

It is easy to feel homesick, you don’t have your family around, no Indonesian food nearby. Where I’m at there is no Indonesian food available. It is fine to feel down sometimes, but don’t lose sight of the purpose of why you’re here. Make sure you have a clear purpose and consistently motivate yourself.

Do you have a parting message you want to share?

If you want to study in China, it’s good to learn basic Mandarin first. It will be very helpful in your daily life. You can easily make new friends. Mandarin is not an easy language but it is worth studying.


Great experiences, helpful insights about CEIBS and valuable advice to fellow students in China. Thank you for sharing your inspiring journey in China, Fay. I wish you all the best in achieving your dreams!

Do you want to follow Fay’s Journey and do an MBA in China? Complete the form below for a free advisory session.



Student Recruitment Manager at China Admissions. Originally from Indonesia but based in Beijing, China since 2017, and has been loving her life and journey in China ever since. Got a Master's degree from the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) in Beijing back in 2019.
Nadia Wijaya

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